Off Topic: If You Pin It, They Will Come

I created a Pinterest account in the autumn of last year (2015) for the sole purpose of finding and saving Halloween craft ideas (I get really into Halloween, okay).  After Halloween had come and gone, I used it sporadically, mainly as a place to save things I found on the Internet so that I didn’t have to save them to my iPad and lose space.  Eventually I quit using it entirely, though I kept my account so that if necessary, I could log in and look at other Pinterest user’s boards.

While being enrolled in this subject, I have been revisiting social media platforms with which I have accounts but, for one reason or another, do not use often, with the goal of incorporating them more fully into my own personal social media world.  I have even managed to make friends with Twitter, which is nothing short of amazing.  I have also found success with Pinterest, along with a surprising (to me, at any rate) piece of wisdom, namely: If you pin it, they will come.

Who are they?  Where are they coming from?  Why?  To be honest, I haven’t a clue.  All I know is that I log on to Pinterest (via the mobile app) around once a week, pin a bunch of stuff that I like, and as if by magic, I start receiving notifications that such and such has pinned one of my pins to their own boards, and so and so has liked several of my pins, and this other person has saved some of them.

I pin a significant number of things–I would guesstimate at least twenty to thirty for an average Pinterest session, more if I get really into it and start exploring around beyond my home feed.  Yet, it is only a small handful of pins that attracts these flurries of repinning and liking and saving.  Why is it those pins that attract all of the attention?  Some of it, I’m sure, lies with the images themselves; the images that are repinned, liked, and saved are often the more outstanding among my little collections.  But by the same token, there are other images that I have pinned that are just as outstanding.  What makes the difference?

If I had to guess, I’d say it has something to do with the algorithms working behind the scenes that influence how things are presented.  For someone with many followers, of course, it could also be explained by a pin being repinned by your followers, then your followers’ followers, and so on.  But for me, someone who has all of four followers who don’t repin my pins all that often, there must be something else going on.  The question is, what?  And the answer is, I haven’t the foggiest idea.

While not understanding fully how Pinterest works does not have any real impact on my personal use of the platform, I could see this lack of understanding presenting a problem for libraries or other information organizations that might want to include Pinterest in their social media strategies.  In order to implement something effectively, one must understand how it works, at least to the extent that is required by the nature of the social media strategy and the plan for its execution.  One can study the images that receive the most attention and strive to produce images that will attract similar attention, but without understanding how the platform itself functions, the battle is only half-won.


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