A good outreach program for any organization includes an initiative to meet your audience where they are. Many Archival outreach programs include Facebook and Twitter profiles, and a growing number are appearing on Pinterest. Unfortunately, many Archives Pinterest accounts fail to inspire much interest.

In Archives nothing can be said to be certain, except shrinking budgets and multiplying responsibilities. Pinterest, like other social media platforms, is free of charge but time consuming. It’s no surprise, then, that so many are struggling to find a following.

In an effort to learn from the best, I’ve put together a list of the top 5 Archives Pinterest accounts. These Archives are getting it right; what can we learn from their success?

5. The Kansas Historical Society

The Kansas Historical Society is hitting Pinterest where it counts, with multiple Pin Boards for holidays and multiple Pin Boards for women’s fashions (popular Pinterest categories). My favorite board is “Historic Wedding Dresses from Kansas.” They have attracted a respectable 132 followers.

4. Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections

The Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections is capitalizing on Pinners’ interests with multiple fashion Pin Boards, and they are capturing their primary audience (Holyoke students) by maintaining Pin Boards on specific sports and other aspects of student life. With 266 followers, Mount Holyoke is doing great!

3. The Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington

The Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington is doing a great job with its 26 Pin Boards. In addition to capitalizing on Pinners’ interests with its “Weddings” and  “Food: Eat up!” Pin Boards, this group is showcasing its unique holdings. My favorite Board is “Buttons with Purpose.”

2. The Minnesota Historical Society

Most of the Minnesota Historical Society’s 24 Pin Boards capitalize on popular Pinterest categories, including “Food,” “Home Decorating Ideas,” and “Decades of Fashion.” Whomever is moderating this account did their homework on what the Pinterest community wants, and is doing an excellent job of giving it to them. At 736 followers, They are definitely getting noticed!

1. Archives of American Art (Smithsonian)

At 5,025 followers, the Archives of American Art has the biggest following on this list. Art is the third most popular type of Pin Board, which indicates a large artist community on Pinterest (my favorite Pin Board is “Dear Diary“). This platform is a perfect fit for the Archives of American Art.

So, what can we learn from these Archives Pinners?

  • Each Archives maintains at least 2 dozen Pin Boards
  • Each Pin Board has a narrowly defined topic
  • Each Archives dedicates at least one of those Boards to the Pinterest community’s top categories (Food & Drink, Women’s Fashions, Holiday’s & Events, etc.)

This is a short, but valuable list of best practices for Archives on Pinterest. The list illustrates (yet again) the importance of understanding that you need more than just good content (digital or digitized images) and the will to maintain a Pinterest account.

The most successful Archives Pinners have identified and are delivering content that the Pinterest community wants.

What are your favorite Archives on Pinterest? Did my list leave any great ones out?

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