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Super Library Marketing: All kinds of marketing ideas for all kinds of libraries.

Make the Most Beautiful Library Marketing Print Materials For Free!

Many of you are struggling to make all the print materials you need for your library on a tiny or nonexistent budget. You want your print materials to look professional but your background isn’t in art. I want to help.

I’m lucky to have two graphic artists on staff to help create the print materials for 41 library locations but I do understand this struggle. In my spare time, I coordinate the marketing for my church. It’s a volunteer position with no staff. I’m a writer, not an artist. I have a teeny-tiny budget, which I share with the guy who maintains the video projector in the sanctuary and those babies are always breaking. So basically, I have no money for print.

Today I’m sharing some websites I use to design print materials–posters, fliers, postcards, bookmarks, door hangers, and more–all for free. They have templates that make the design process easy and give you a finished product that looks professionally designed.

But before you dive headlong into designing your own materials, it’s important to keep a few design basics in mind.

Keep it simple. Library marketers often try to put all the information about a program or event on their printed marketing materials. This makes the piece look cluttered and less inviting to the eye. Research shows the use of white space or negative space increases reading comprehension by almost 20 percent. Use bold graphics or well-produced photos in your printed material to draw attention to the piece. Include only the basic information–the points your audience needs to know and remember about what you are marketing. Then direct users to visit your website or to ask a staff member for further details.

Keep your design consistent with your brand. That doesn’t mean you have to use the same font for every print piece but it’s a good idea to choose several fonts that you can rotate. Include your logo somewhere on the piece and make sure the wording is brand consistent.

Here are my four favorite websites for creating professional looking print marketing materials for free!

Poster My Wall: They have about a dozen library-themed templates and dozens of other templates that are super easy to customize. Downloads are free, as long as you’re cool with a tiny watermark in the corner of the poster (I think it’s pretty unobtrusive). If you have a budget but no printer, you can order printed copies of your work from this company.

Canva: I use this for the majority of my church marketing materials and I know a lot of library marketers who rely on Canva for their work. They have the widest selection of templates and the most intuitive platform for custom design. You can download files as a .png, .jpg, or PDF and they recently added the option of ordering prints of your materials, which is awesome if you want to create postcards or other collateral. I pull from my list of free stock photos, upload them to Canva, and I get tons of compliments on my work. I am not a trained designer. I could not even draw a stick figure. That’s how intuitive this platform is.

Desygner: This is a new service. Their selection of free materials is small but I wanted to mention them because they do have some beautiful designs and they’ll likely expand as more people start to use the platform.

Adobe Spark:  If you’ve already got a Creative Cloud account, you’re halfway there. Adobe is used by designers everywhere and their free Spark plan lets you create beautiful print materials (and social media graphics) with an easy-to-use template. You can change the shape, color, font, opacity, and spacing to suit your needs. The Adobe suite of products is awesome and this is no exception.

Subscribe to this blog and you’ll receive an email every time I post. To do that, click on “Follow” button on the bottom left-hand corner of the page. Connect with me on Twitter and Snapchat–it’s where I talk about library marketing! I’m @Webmastergirl. I’m also on LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest. Views in this post are my own and do not represent those of my employer.

 

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How To Be a Journalist: Six Library Marketing Writing Tips

Sometimes, I really miss being a journalist.

My former profession was difficult. It was grinding. It sometimes felt abusive. I’m a pretty positive person but honestly, after 19 years of working on stories about crime, drugs, death, families in crisis, and dealing with all the viewers (or trolls, depending on your perspective) who came with the advent of social media to comment on our stories, I was feeling pretty beat up. My mental health was one of the reasons I left journalism to work in a library.

But I also kind of miss the work. There is a great joy and satisfaction that comes from telling stories about people who otherwise wouldn’t have a voice. To do it well and honestly is a reward and a privilege.

Lucky for me, marketers have realized the power of storytelling. The embrace of content marketing in library marketing departments means that we are using well-crafted stories about our customers, employees, and organizations to spread our message, educate cardholders, fight for more funding, and impact our communities. Which is why I was excited to attend a session led by Michelle Park Lazette at Content Marketing World. She works as a writer at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. If anyone can sympathize with the bureaucracy, technical language, and sensitive subjects that a library content marketer will need to write about, it’s someone who works in another government agency!

Michelle gave a bunch of tips for writing pieces that will really get the attention of your cardholders. Her approach centers on the journalist mindset–find the stories, tell the stories, explain the stories in a language your cardholder will understand, peak your cardholders emotions. Here are the top six lessons I learned in Michelle’s session. I’ve written a bunch of articles since attending her session, including a cover story for our quarterly magazine, and my writing has already improved. (Thanks, Michelle!)

Use the chicken test with every possible story. Ask yourself: Does my audience care about the chickens? Can my audience see themselves as the chickens? Are the chickens crossing the road now or are they about to? Does anyone care if they did it five years ago? Why and to whom does it matter that chickens are crossing the road?

Dig up fresh, differentiated ideas.   Start with the truth your employees and cardholders witness and broaden the scope with industry context. Localize with your insights and experiences. If you are bucking the trend, go ahead and say it. Look at surveys for content ideas. Reveal the story behind the numbers. You must monitor your data to find stories. With events, help an audience that was there AND the audience that wasn’t there. Do pre-event Q&A’s.  Changing customers tastes and budgets can be content ideas.

Start your piece with the powerful words. Michelle gave us an example in her own writing. She was putting together a piece on a customer of the Federal Reserve and shared her opening line: “If Lynn Tatum was staying in this depressing place, she was going to make it better.” Use details to take the reader along for the ride. Always ask follow-up questions.

Humble yourself before you subject matter experts. If you don’t know what a term means or how something works, ask. Regularly ask what the experts in the field-librarians, library directors, publishers, are seeing. What are cardholders struggling with? What are they, the experts, struggling with? What brings them joy? How do their jobs work? All of these questions can lead you to great stories which you can share with your cardholders.

Take it all in. When you write, set the scene. What does the place where you are doing the interview look like, smell like, sound like? Including these little details may seem completely unimportant, but it helps the reader experience more of the emotion with you. It makes them feel as if they were there!

Help the reader along. Try to convince your experts that jargon serves no one but them. Find new ways to explain things. (My biggest library marketing example: I never say “periodical” in my writing. They are magazines and newspapers.)

Finally, Michelle left us with one thought which I’ve printed out and taped to the wall of my office. If you are the 17th person to say or do something, are you delivering value? Deliver different and people will be so moved by your content that they’ll be compelled to share your content. 

Go to Michelle’s Twitter account to see examples of her work and to be inspired.

Subscribe to this blog and you’ll receive an email every time I post. To do that, click on “Follow” button on the bottom left-hand corner of the page. Connect with me on Twitter and Snapchat–it’s where I talk about library marketing! I’m @Webmastergirl. I’m also on LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest. Views in this post are my own and do not represent those of my employer.

Why No One Is Seeing Your Stuff and What to Do About It

Some people are just super smart. And you can tell the first time you meet them.

Two years ago at Content Marketing World, I went into the main hall for a keynote presentation. There are 4,000 chairs in that space and somehow, miraculously, I ended up sitting next to Arnie Keunn, CEO of Vertical Measures. Arnie immediately struck up a conversation with me about my work at the library. He seemed genuinely interested and supportive, which surprised me because he mixes with the big fish and I am a really small fish! But he was thoughtful and I could tell the guy knew what he was talking about. Keunn’s agency in Phoenix helps companies to drive more traffic to their content through a number of smart, scientific methods. (Sign up for this newsletter to get weekly insights on SEO and content amplification.)  When I saw that he was speaking at this year’s CMWorld, I signed up for his session.

I find nothing is as frustrating as writing a great article or shooting a beautiful video and then watching the days, hours, and weeks tick by without anyone seeing it. That’s where content amplification comes into play. Content amplification is the use of paid or organic channels to promote existing content to increase how many people see your stuff. You can use these principles on just about anything your library creates for marketing on digital channels, including search, social, blogs, and email.

Why amplify? Keunn says there is only a two percent chance of followers seeing your organic post. YIKES. To get the most reach, put a little money behind your content. I know a lot of libraries, mine included, simply don’t have the budget for paid content amplification (which is a real shame. We need to fix that, right?). But even without the budget, Keunn’s ideas can help to increase the reach of your organic posts.

Step one: Write down your objectives and goals. Are you trying to grow your audience? Do you want to increase traffic or get more people to convert or take an action at the library? Then you’ll want to identify your audience behavior and interests. You can do this by looking at how they interact with your website and by doing surveys and online research. The more you learn about your audience, the more content you can create specifically for them. That increases the likelihood your audience will engage with your content and share it, and that increases your reach. Anyone with knowledge of how the Facebook and Twitter algorithms work will understand this concept–it works for all kinds of content on all kinds of platforms.

Step two: Look at your website analytics to figure out how you should approach your content amplification. Ask yourself a couple of key questions.

Where is my traffic coming from?

Who is taking an action, like placing a hold or registering for a program? Which channels greet the audience? Which help? Where do people go after they take an action–do they head to another page on your website or do they leave? Which web page is their last touch point? (Hint: for most of us, its catalog, catalog, and catalog!).

Once you look at what people are looking at on your website, you’ll start to see the gaps are in the cardholders’ journey. It will become clear to you where your cardholders are going to find information and if they are getting what they need–or do they jump the ship for some other site. Those gaps in content are your opportunities.

Step three: Test, test, test. A piece of content is not a concrete creature. It’s has a thousand parts that can be tested and perfected. You can play around with the look of your graphics, the length of videos, the headlines you use on your blog posts, the length of the blog copy, what words you use in your call to action, how you layout the content, what your landing pages on your website look like, what custom URL’s you create, and how the content looks on desktop versus mobile versus tablet.

Step four: Find your fans on social. Keunn says 71 percent of people purchase a product after learning about a brand on social media or because someone in their social network gave a recommendation. The same concept applies to libraries. If we want to get more people in the door, we need to start asking our biggest fans to talk about us openly on social media.

Need more content to play with? Watch this video from Kuenn!

Subscribe to this blog and you’ll receive an email every time I post. To do that, click on “Follow” button on the bottom left-hand corner of the page. Connect with me on Twitter and Snapchat–it’s where I talk about library marketing! I’m @Webmastergirl. I’m also on LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest. Views in this post are my own and do not represent those of my employer.

 

Three Secrets to Delight People with Your Library’s Instagram

So, Instagram is a thing. A REALLY BIG THING.

700 million active users each month.

400 million active users each day.

250 million active users of Instagram stories each day.

4.5 billion photo likes each day.

59% of internet users between the ages of 18 and 29 and 33% of internet users between the ages of 30 and 49 use Instagram.*

In the crowd of millions who use and love Instagram, there are tons of library lovers, particularly in the younger demographic. There is huge potential for libraries on this platform. I’m not saying you should ignore other social media platforms and switch all your focus to Instagram. But libraries aren’t using it enough, and that’s a missed opportunity. We should focus more on Instagram!

I really love the Cincinnati library account but I cannot take any credit for it. It’s managed by two people in our marketing department–our social media specialist and our assistant, who happens to have a great eye for art and photography. Our staff talks about our social media platforms, our strategy, and goals once a month and we are always looking for ways to improve. We’ve used these three easy tips on our Instagram to improve our posts and get more engagement and they work. Now I’m sharing them with you so you can have success too.

Start using Instagram stories. At our library, we noticed that organic engagement of our regular Instagram posts is tied to our use of Instagram stories. The more we use Stories, the more people see our regular Instagram posts. We have noticed that you don’t have to use Stories every day, but you do have to use it a few times a week to see better results in your organic posts. And it is a chance for you to exercise your creativity!

If you use Snapchat, you’ll be able to jump in and create Instagram stories right away–it works nearly the same way. If you’re new to stories, start small and be positive. Stories are a chance for you to be creative. Think of something you’d like to tell your customers and break it down into three or four sections. You can even plot out your idea using a storyboard or an outline to help you save time when you start shooting. An easy story idea is the journey of a book from the stacks into the hands of a cardholder.  Shoot the book being taken off the shelf, rolling on a cart, going through the processing line, and then popping up on the holds shelf. How about a behind-the-scenes look at your drive-thru window? Or a peek at how your materials and selections department buys a book? There are so many interesting stories at your library and most of them can be broken down into three or four pieces of interesting video.

Don’t use your stories feed to talk directly to your audience… in other words, don’t post headshot after headshot of someone talking into the camera about something library related. Instagram is not the place for talking heads. The audience wants feel-good, “the world is a beautiful place” stories. Focus on showing your customers what makes your library and its workers and customers beautiful and different.

BONUS TIP: I’m a big fan of redistribution of content–who has time to shoot video more than once? Save each section of your Instagram story on your camera roll and then upload them to a folder on your desktop as soon as you get back to your desk. You can use a simple editing tool (here’s a great list of free video editors) and put together a longer piece to post later on YouTube, Facebook, or your own library website.

Really research your hashtags. Many library marketers feel lost when it comes to hashtags or they don’t spend enough time thinking about them. But they are the one tool that will help people who don’t know you’re on Instagram to find you. They’ll also help your avid fans see more of your posts.  My favorite free hashtag research tool is Hashtagify. The easiest way for me to explain how it works is to show you an example. I did a search of Jane Austen and got this great graphic, which shows me all the top related hashtags I can use in a post about my favorite classic author.

 

I would suggest that you keep the number of hashtags you use to five or less. The less cluttered your caption is, the more engagement you’ll get. You should also check each hashtag before you use it to get a sense of how “crowded” it is. I like mixing my hashtags up with a few popular and a few rarely used ones. This helps increase the chances that someone will be able to find your photo!

Think through your caption. There’s no right or wrong length. You can take up to 2200 characters so if you have something really fascinating to say or a big announcement to make, you don’t have to limit yourself. You really need to focus on providing context about the photo. It’s okay to write out your caption before you post if it helps you to think through the process. Stay within your library’s brand voice and use conversational words, not library industry language. You should also experiment with emoji’s, which help to communicate the mood or feeling of the photo and are eye-catching!  And if you’re talking about a follower or another organization in your caption, be sure to tag them for extra reach and engagement.

Do not use a call to action in your caption every time you post… I think doing that makes you seem pushy. But sometimes it makes sense, like in this recent post by my library for National Library Card Sign-up month.

Have you seen a library account doing great things on Instagram? Are you really proud of what your library has done on Instagram? Let me know about them in the comments section for a future post! For more inspiration, I found this in my research for this article. 12 Must follow Library Instagram Accounts.

*Thanks to Omnicore for these stats. See more here.

Subscribe to this blog and you’ll receive an email every time I post. To do that, click on “Follow” button on the bottom left-hand corner of the page. Connect with me on Twitter and Snapchat–it’s where I talk about library marketing! I’m @Webmastergirl. I’m also on LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest. Views in this post are my own and do not represent those of my employer.

 

Write Like the Dickens: How To Make Sensational Serialized Content

Library marketers don’t have time for long, elaborate content marketing pieces. Our staff is small (or one person, in many cases) and the demand on our time is huge. I believe this is one of the main reasons that many libraries don’t have a documented content marketing strategy and why many library marketers feel stuck, unable to fully commit to content marketing.

But I have an idea.

Let me introduce you to the idea of serialized content.  It is also sometimes called episodic content. Serial or episodic content lets you take one piece of content and turn it into many pieces, released on a consistent basis over a longer period of time. You’re probably most familiar with serialized content in fiction. Writers like Charles Dickens, George Eliot, Thomas Hardy, and Henry James all released their most-lauded novels not as one long book, but in sections published in magazines and newspapers over a long time. In the past few years, marketers have started to pick up on this idea again as an effective way to release their content marketing pieces. What was old has become new.

Serialized content has nine major advantages for libraries. In the age of binge-watching, serialized content feels different and fresh. You can gather a bigger audience for your work because serialized content builds suspense. Your audience will come back for more information on a great subject that is well-written, thoughtful, and provides them with new content. It’s also perfect for viewing or reading on mobile devices–shorter pieces of content are easier to digest on a small screen than larger pieces.

Serialized content gives your readers more time to digest and grasp concepts. It helps you take a big idea and break it down into smaller segments in which you can do a deeper dive into the topic. Serialized content gives you more flexibility in your marketing schedule because you can break up the writing and distribution of the content in smaller pieces. It’s easier to set aside a short time in your schedule to write and distribute a blog post than it is to set aside three days for a longer piece (just speaking from experience here!)

Serialized content can also help you get an idea of the topics your audience is really interested in. If your audience spikes week after week on a topic, you know there’s a demand for more information on that subject. And, in terms of website optimization, creating several posts on one subject and linking them to each other is a great way to increase your search ranking–Google loves internal links! And finally, serialized content can help fill out your editorial calendar without taxing you or your staff. It quickens the approval process.

I’ve used serialized content several times in this blog, like the time I turned my conference presentation for the Indiana Federation of Libraries on marketing to teenagers into a series of blog posts. The major marketing firm Ceros ran a series of episodic content pieces on serialized content (now that’s Meta!). And Coca-Cola created a series of video marketing pieces titled “Crossroads” about LBGTQ bullying and acceptance. But to be honest, there aren’t many other examples of serialized or episodic content to be found. That makes this is a huge opportunity for libraries.

You’ll know whether a topic is a good candidate for serialized content by asking yourself a series of questions:

Is the topic something my audience needs to know but is difficult to understand?

Can I build suspense with a series of pieces on this topic?

Would this topic make a great book?

Can I commit to a regular schedule of content releases?

If you answered yes, you’ve got a topic that’s ripe for serialization.

There are many ways you can create serialized content. You can break a long blog post into several smaller segments and publish them in your newsletter or on your website. You can also take one piece of content–say the same blog post–and repurpose it into a different format, like a series of short videos, a series of infographics, a Slideshare, or daily tip-sharing Tweets! The possibilities are endless. Serialized content is a creative exercise. The point is to build suspense and to publish your short segments so your audience looks forward to the next piece of content you’ll share.

Subscribe to this blog and you’ll receive an email every time I post. To do that, click on “Follow” button on the bottom left-hand corner of the page. Connect with me on Twitter and Snapchat–it’s where I talk about library marketing! I’m @Webmastergirl. I’m also on LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest. Views in this post are my own and do not represent those of my employer.

The Most Exciting Library Marketing Lessons from Content Marketing World

The future of content marketing at your library is stories, videos, and making personal connections between your cardholders and your libraries. That’s the big takeaway for me from the year’s Content Marketing World, a giant marketing conference in Cleveland. I’ve just returned with a head full of ideas and heart full of energy. Rubbing elbows with 4,000 marketers bursting with love for the profession will do that to you.

At #CMWorld, I attended 15 sessions and learned a ton of new information which I will flesh out here over the course of the next several months. Some tips can be put into action immediately and some will need time for processing in my brain, as I work to figure out how to make them doable for libraries of all sizes, shapes, and missions.

Here are the main takeaways I received from 15 sessions with links so you can check out more of the speaker’s work and get started on transforming your own library marketing.

Linda Boff, Chief Marketing Officer at General Electric:  Stories are everywhere, right under your nose. Find and embrace them.

Jay Acunzo, host of the podcast Unthinkable:  Content marketing is about inspiring your true believers, not coercing the skeptics. (This was an ah-ha moment for me!)

Drew Davis, a former marketer, best-selling author, and speaker:  Audience retention is the true definition of video engagement. Stop trying to just get views and get audiences to watch your whole video!

Doug Kessler, creative director and co-founder of Velocity Partners: It’s our job as marketers to expose the hidden marketing conventions and turn them on their heads. In other words, conventional thinking will get you nowhere. Now is the time to be creative.

Ian Cleary, founder of Razorsocial: Be smart when you publish your content because if no one sees it, what’s the point? Use smart keywords, collaborate with influencers, and promote yourself. During this session, I realized I know nothing about web optimization!

Amanda Todorovich, Content Marketing Director at the Cleveland Clinic: Never be content. Measure and test and test again. Ask “what if” all the time.

Casey Neistat, YouTube star: Do what you can’t. Make it count. Follow your gut. Cut through the bullshit. Yes, I put that all in bold because IT’S IMPORTANT.

Colson Whitehead, author of The Underground Railroad and a bunch of other books, Pulitzer Price Winner, National Book Award Winner, etc., etc., etc. You know him, you work at a library: If you have ideas and you’re not sure you can pull them off, it’s ok to wait until you are actually ready. I’ll be honest, I don’t know if I agree with this but I’m going to think about it for a while.

Amy Schmittauer Landino, vlogger, author, and speaker: The secret to great video is asking yourself…would you share it?? Really?? Not just because you think everything you do is fantastic, but because what you do is actually fantastic.

Arnie Kuen, CEO of Vertical Measures: There is only a two percent chance your followers will see your organic post. (YIKES!)

Scott Stratten, author, speaker, blogger, podcaster, promoter of unconventional marketing. This was a session on public speaking: Tell a personal story but only if it makes a point. Respect the audience’s time.

Tamsen Webster, speaker, and producer of TEDx Cambridge, during the same session on public speaking: Go ask for the stage you deserve. The way to speak more is… to speak more.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt, actor and creator of hitRECord, an online collaboration and creation website for video, graphics, music, and more: Community, fair compensation, and collaboration are the future of content creation.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Jonathan Stanley, Executive Producer for Lowe’s: Test all the time on YouTube. Fail fast and learn fast. Don’t spend years scripting.

Michelle Park Lazette, Content Marketer for the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland: Deliver different! Try your best to produce the “okra breakfasts” of content. Okra breakfasts are content that is unexpected but delicious and filling!

Subscribe to this blog and you’ll receive an email every time I post. To do that, click on “Follow” button on the bottom left-hand corner of the page. Connect with me on Twitter and Snapchat–it’s where I talk about library marketing! I’m @Webmastergirl. I’m also on LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest. Views in this post are my own and do not represent those of my employer.

 

The Bloody Hell of Library Marketing Data and How to Stay Sane

Let’s be real. When you work at a library, the process of collecting and analyzing data on your marketing initiatives can be messy, tedious, time-consuming, and boring as hell. I speak from experience. I am a data-collection freak but I just spent three weeks analyzing the numbers from six months of email marketing. I’m tired. My eyes are crossed. If I have to do any more math, I’m going to lose my mind.

I do this long-view analysis twice each year and about halfway through, I find myself caught in a serious case of what I call “dashboard envy.” I wish I had a program to do the calculations for me, like big brand companies. I go to one big conference every year–Content Marketing World. Their expo hall is filled with an amazing variety of marketing technology companies, peddling a number of products to make everything easier for marketers, including data collection. I almost never go to any of the booths to talk to the reps, but I do sometimes stand off to the side and watch them pitch to big companies. They’ve all got solutions for easy data collection and analysis and I am very envious of anyone who can afford them. Sigh.

It would be SO EASY to just chuck the analysis. I am so dang busy. I’m running email promotions, creating a strategy, writing for publications, taking phone calls, running meetings… etc. And I hate math. I mean, I really hate math.

But I do it. I make myself sit down and I go through all the data points, carefully and thoroughly, to analyze everything we’ve done with our email marketing, which is our most effective and most wide-ranging marketing tactic. I do it because it’s necessary and because the results always reveal something that guides my strategy for the next six months. It is so important to take a long-view look at what you are doing. Without data analysis, I am blind to the trends that emerge in my cardholders’ behavior. For instance, this round I’ve discovered:

I can send emails any time of day EXCEPT 7 a.m. to noon. We’re getting horrible engagement on emails.

Emails sent on Friday and Saturday TANK so no more sending on those days. When I discovered this fact, I immediately went into our library’s email calendar and changed the dates on five upcoming messages to avoid sending on Friday and Saturday.

About a year ago, we were really focused on sending messages to tiny audiences–less than 1,000 cardholders. The data showed that smaller audiences led to better the engagement. Now, we’re noticing that we get the best engagement with audiences of about 10,000 cardholders! That’s quite a shift and my theory is that we’re doing more promotion of services in our emails, which is of more interest to a wider range of cardholders. I also think I’m doing a better job at creating segments or clusters and matching their interests to the email (practice makes perfect!)

There are a couple of branches in our system that I won’t be sending email to anymore on a regular basis because their cardholders do not open, click, or act on anything… even special offers. We’ll be working on different ways to engage those cardholders.

Knowing how my cardholders are reacting to messages and how those reactions change over time makes the work we do more efficient. That’s why data collection and analysis, no matter how painful, is totally worth it. So now, I want to share with you some pointers for making it through the data-analysis process without losing your ever-loving mind.

Keep meticulous records of data as it comes in. If you start documenting rudimentary data after every campaign, as soon as the campaign ends, you won’t have to spend a bunch of time going back into your email system or into your social media platform dashboard or whatever you use for insights. I have a Word document for every email I send where I record the date, time, and number of cardholders who receive the email as well as the results–if it’s a circulation-based email, I record the number of books put on hold or checked out and if it’s a program promotion email, I record the number of attendees at the event.

Clear your schedule and set manageable time expectations for yourself. I calculate results of individual email campaigns monthly and then I schedule a six-month trend analysis. I schedule both of these tasks in my calendar like I would a regular meeting. That ensures that time won’t get taken away from me and that I won’t be tempted to give it up for other tasks. I make sure that six-month analysis happens during a slow time of year and I give myself 2-3 weeks to complete it. I set aside time each day to do my calculations–maybe an hour a day over a week (or three, if you’re slow at math like me). I shut the door of my office and hunker down. It takes discipline but it’s really worth it.

Keep records of everything you calculate. I literally wrote out the formulas for calculating the results the first time I did it so I could replicate it six months later. I write out all my results in case someone wants to take me to task later over a decision I make based on those results.

Talk about the results with your colleagues and share your results with other departments. Transparency in marketing is a good thing. It helps your co-workers and administrators have a clearer understanding of what you do in your marketing department! And they may look at the results and find some new insight that you missed. More eyes are better, honestly.

Subscribe to this blog and you’ll receive an email every time I post. To do that, click on “Follow” button on the bottom left-hand corner of the page. Connect with me on Twitter and Snapchat–it’s where I talk about library marketing! I’m @Webmastergirl. I’m also on LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest. Views in this post are my own and do not represent those of my employer.

Powerful Library Video Marketing Ideas To Delight Your Cardholders

If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I’m all in on video marketing. I recently hired a new social media strategist who has a background in documentary filmmaking… you can probably guess where the future of my library marketing strategy is headed.

Why am I so gung-ho on video? As a former broadcast journalist, I have seen the evidence first-hand of the impact a string of moving pictures has on people. It’s more powerful than any other medium, even print. You can read the story of how the library changed the life of a cardholder. But when you see them on the screen and hear their voice, you suddenly feel emotions–empathy, excitement, joy–on a level that you just can’t get with words in print.

And I know video marketing is a scary proposition to libraries. It seems difficult and expensive. I tried to allay your fears in a post I wrote a few months ago. I hope you’ve thought about it and are ready to commit resources to video marketing.

So get your iPhone or your DSLR camera ready, because I’ve got some ideas for videos you can create to get your video marketing strategy moving!

Facebook Cover Video: Facebook recently launched a feature that lets libraries use a video as their cover image slot. This is the perfect starting point for your library. If you have a beautiful atrium in your library, shoot a slow pan of the atrium during a busy point in the day. Or train a camera on the door when you open and record video of customers streaming into the building, then speed up the video for a time-lapse effect. Take your camera into the hidden stacks and roll as you walk among the thousands upon thousands of books. Shoot video of your processing area. Shoot video of workers loading your trucks for daily deliveries to your branches. Shoot video of your drive-up window. There are about a thousand possibilities! You can pick something that requires little or no editing, create an eye-catching visual for your Facebook page, and give yourself some confidence in video marketing.

A few notes about Facebook cover videos: They must be 20-90 seconds long, the resolution has to be 1080p (check your iPhone settings or use a DLSR camera), and be aware that the top and bottom of your video might be slightly cropped by Facebook, so shoot with a little extra room around the margins of your screen.

Video Book Reviews: Create a series of book reviews by librarians, volunteers, and customers. If you’re worried about someone going on and on about how great or awful a book is (readers are passionate!), set a time limit and use that as you shtick. “The 60-second book review” is catchy and gives value to the person watching without risking a diatribe that lasts ten minutes. Try to select reviewers ahead of time and give them a clear set of rules about how the segment is set up–they’ll want to say the title and author of the book at the beginning and end of the video. You can use a number of apps to add text to the video. Upload the video separately to Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, and your website. Do this because most social media platforms now penalize you for sharing video from another social media platform. For a great example of video marketing reviews, check out this series from the Columbus Metropolitan Library.

Librarian Stories: My library did a series of customer impact stories earlier this year that was extremely popular. Each was only a few minutes long and was loosely scripted. We asked librarians to tell us about memorable interactions they had with a customer. We did edit in b-roll (that’s the video that covers part of an interview and usually relates to what the interviewee is saying). We did five of these videos and, all told, it took us about two weeks to shoot, edit, and upload in addition to our other duties. Again, you can use these on multiple platforms. It’s a great piece of content marketing for your library and it also is a great way to boost morale for the front-line staff… they really loved talking about their work. We also took transcripts of their stories and used them in our print publications, so you can repurpose this content for other mediums too!

First Look at New Construction: Is your library building a new branch or doing a renovation? Shoot a video (when it’s safe) inside the building before all the paint is up and the furniture is in place, to give your cardholders a sneak peek at what’s coming! They’ll love it. Here’s a great example from the Woodberry Forest School in Virginia!

I’d love it if you share examples of great library marketing videos you’ve seen in the comments… I need some new ideas to steal, er, copy for my library! 

Subscribe to this blog and you’ll receive an email every time I post. To do that, click on “Follow” button on the bottom left-hand corner of the page. Connect with me on Twitter and Snapchat–it’s where I talk about library marketing! I’m @Webmastergirl. I’m also on LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest. Views in this post are my own and do not represent those of my employer.

Three Questions You Need to Ask to Make a Powerful Pinterest Profile

Confession: I am a Pinterest junkie. I’ve loved the platform since its infancy. When it debuted in March of 2010, I scored an invite to join from a journalist friend (at that time, you needed an invitation) and it was love at first Pin. Not only is the user-experience friendly, it became an easy place to find ideas and inspiration for all sorts of projects, hobbies, and interests. It’s true that Pinterest really is more of a search engine than a social media platform. When I need a recipe or have to make a craft (hello Solar Eclipse viewers!) I turn to Pinterest. I was so enamored that one of my first blog posts is about using Pinterest for library marketing, which looks really quaint now!

Fast forward seven years, and Pinterest is a major platform for a number of libraries. They are embracing it as a way to drive traffic to their collection and share information. They are reaching audiences that might not necessarily be regular library users.

Pinterest is a highly valuable place for your library to market. When we started strategically pinning, our library had about 2,000 followers. Four years later, we’re now at more than 10,000 followers and each month, the platform drives 25 to 50 percent of the traffic we get to our website. Sometimes it surges over 50 percent to be the highest source of traffic from any social media platform we use. It really is powerful!

When you find success with a social media platform, it’s easy to become complacent and to think that, because it’s working, you must have it all figured out! But at least once a year, I revamp my thoughts about Pinterest and update our approach to posting. So should you! But how do you re-think and update your strategy? Here are the three questions to ask as you update your profile to get the best library marketing results from your Pinterest account.

Ask yourself: Does our profile attract the right audience?

Take a close look at your profile. What are you using for your profile pic? If you have a bold logo, you can use that as your profile pic to drive brand awareness. Otherwise, pick a photo with one clear focal point that aligns with your brand–a book, a small child smiling, or your building if you only have one location. The profile photo area is quite small so make sure the photo you pick isn’t busy. Put your website URL underneath and add a link to your webpage. There is a short area where you can add a description. Right now my library has our mission statement in that line but I am planning to change it to be more keyword friendly… something like “Find books, music, movies, and book-themed crafts and food” to help drive more traffic in Pinterest’s keyword-friendly search optimization strategy.

Ask yourself: Is our library using SEO strategy to make sure our Pins are seen by book lovers?

As I said, Pinterest is mainly a search engine. The way it works is through keyword optimization. It trolls keywords in the Pin title and description and matches Pins with specific keywords to users–think Google but on steroids. So that means that every word in your Pin is valuable.

To make sure this feature is working in your library’s favor, take the time to do a full Pin audit. First, look at your boards. Are your boards providing value for your cardholders, or are they just there because someone in senior leadership wanted extra publicity for an initiative? Clean out any board that doesn’t give a specific, actionable value to your cardholders.

Next, go through and look at your boards individually. Update the names and descriptions to use keywords that will get picked up by Pinterest’s SEO. For instance, I love having book quotes in our board descriptions but it’s not serving us well on the SEO side, so we are in the process of changing all the board descriptions to take advantage of full keyword search potential. We might even rename some of our boards to maximize the chance that our Pins will get seen.

Next, go through each Pin on every board, making sure every link worked. Any Pins with dead links must be deleted. Next, replace the url’s of the remaining Pins to drive traffic to your website when applicable. For example, if you have re-pinned a book from someone else’s feed, replace the URL with a link to the book in your collection, so that anyone interested in the book can place a hold right from your Pin.  For each Pin, re-think the description section and make sure you are using words that will be picked up by Pinterest’s search engine and found by the right users.

Ask yourself: How can I use the content my followers are Pinning to my library’s advantage?

Re-pinning your followers content, when relevant, is an amazing way to grow your own audience and to make your followers feel special. Our staff will go through the boards of a few of our followers every day, picking content we think will resonate with the rest of the audience, and re-pinning it to our boards, fixing links and keywords to make them work to our advantage and to drive traffic to our website when relevant. We also pick one Pin each day to highlight on other social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, thereby giving a shout out to our Pinterest followers and creating a relationship of sharing and spreading awareness of our presence on Pinterest.

Bonus tip: Pin books from your collection. Every. Single. Day.

In particular, focus on new books. Pinterest users love to find out about new books using the site and libraries are perfectly positioned to give that information. Every day, we go through the New Arrivals feed on our website and find the books that already have a holds lists… that’s clear proof that there is a demand for that books. We then Pin those books onto our New Books board. One note: make sure the book cover you Pin is as big as possible. If you have Overdrive, you can use their website to find large covers for most books. The bigger the cover, the more successful the Pin will be.

Subscribe to this blog and you’ll receive an email every time I post. To do that, click on “Follow” button on the bottom left-hand corner of the page. Connect with me on Twitter and Snapchat–it’s where I talk about library marketing! I’m @Webmastergirl. I’m also on LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest. Views in this post are my own and do not represent those of my employer.

 

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