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

Facebook Does It Again! What the New Algorithm Changes Mean for Your Library

This week, Facebook announced it is making another change in the way the social media platform chooses to show content to its users. The big shift, as you likely know by now, is that Facebook will prioritize posts from friends and family in its news feed over public content from pages, like that of your library. In particular, the Facebook team will give top priority to posts that drive conversation between friends and family.

The announcement is causing consternation for many libraries, which rely heavily on organic, unpaid traffic for their promotional efforts. I honestly don’t know what the end effect will be. I have the same worries as most of my library colleagues. We’ve adjusted well since the last major algorithm change in 2015. So will we have to start over? In the wake of this announcement, I’ve wondered if the chicken comes before the egg. In other words, do our well-performing posts get more interaction because, prior to this week, Facebook has shown them to people in anticipation of interaction… or do they perform well because people are interacting with them? (Deep thoughts!!)

In the Facebook group, Libraries and Social Media, I asked social media marketers at libraries to comment on the change. Caleb Sheaffer of Shreve Memorial Library in Shreveport, LA said, “I never know what to expect until it actually happens. Right now, all the posts that perform well for our library are ones that have the most interaction anyway.”

Jennifer Redford from Boise, Idaho added, “I think that we’ll just need to focus more on writing and sharing great content. We’ve also started using events more and I wonder how that will be affected by the change.”

Finally, Molly Wetta, manager of the Santa Barbara Public Library, told me, “These announcements are pushing me to move forward more quickly with an idea I’ve had for a while. We’re experimenting with linked groups – I started one for youth services specific content, and we may also try one for smaller communities and branches within our system if this one is successful. The goals are to work more to create community connections in addition to marketing our events/services. I do love the events feature, and the notifications will hopefully be helpful but not intrusive. We’ll be sharing book recommendations and answering book-related questions, sharing early literacy tips and activities, and hopefully answering questions.”

The bottom line is that your library’s page may see your overall statistics drop. Your reach and referral traffic, your shares, and your comments may drop. MAY is the key word there. My overall impression of this change is that it will force library marketers to work smarter when using Facebook. All of the pointers in this recent article on Facebook still apply.

And now, more than ever, you must make sure your posts are really good. Share content from other sources related to books and literature–don’t just promote your own stuff, particularly on posts. Use events to promote your events. Ask questions. Create polls. And most importantly, shoot video. As we know, Facebook users respond in a big way to video. Facebook says live videos often lead to discussion among viewers and live videos get six times as many interactions as regular videos. So video marketing must be part of your plan.

You can also explain to your followers what is happening and ask them to choose to see your posts. People who want to see more posts from your library page can select See First in News Feed Preferences. You can also do what Molly’s library is doing and experiment with groups. One of my favorite Facebook pages did that this weekend and they put a little money behind it to make sure all their followers know about the move.

Finally, don’t bait people to interact with your posts. In this week’s announcement, Facebook made it very clear that they will penalize pages which use engagement bait, like. Use real questions and conversation starters. Read this article to see how to avoid engagement bait.

Here’s the thing to remember: posting content on Facebook is like building your house on rented land. It doesn’t belong to you and as much as it pains your library system when changes are made, there is little we can do about it. The big lesson is that we need to start relying on our own platforms and websites for promoting our programs and services. That means we should be building our own audience with blogs, podcasts, and other content delivery systems. We should be developing email subscriber lists so we can target and market to our specific library cardholders and give them the content they really want.

Facebook is great, but they’re not the only way to reach customers. Let’s make a concerted effort to start moving to other content delivery platforms where we have more control. Our fans are loyal and they’ll respond when we deliver content specifically targeted to them.

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 LinkedInInstagram and Pinterest. Views in this post are my own and do not represent those of my employer

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The Best Library Customer Service Advice from an Expert

There is an undeniable connection between customer service and successful marketing and to ignore the role that a personal, caring interaction with a customer can have for your library is dangerous. Don’t take your customers for granted. Help them solve their problems–even when the problem is your library–and keep them loyal for a lifetime.

I started to really think about the role customer service plays in my library when I stumbled across a podcast a few years ago called Focus on Customer Service. Host Dan Gingiss interviewed marketers from brands which are known for outstanding customer service in the social media area. Those conversations are enlightening and, although the podcast is no longer in production, I would suggest you go back and listen to the archives. They’re really worth your time.

Meanwhile, Dan has gone on to write a new book, Winning at Social Customer Care: How Top Brands Create Engaging Experiences on Social Media. It is the best marketing book I’ve read recently. I reached out to Dan to ask him some specific advice about libraries and customer service and he was kind enough to give his advice.

Dan’s 20-year career has consistently focused on delighting customers, spanning multiple disciplines including social media, customer service, marketing, and digital customer experience. Dan has hands-on experience as an executive at multiple Fortune 300 companies, including as the Senior Director of Global Social Media at McDonald’s Corporation, the Head of Digital Marketing at Humana and the Head of Digital Customer Experience & Social Media at Discover Card. A frequent conference speaker, Dan holds a B.A. in psychology and communications from the University of Pennsylvania, and an M.B.A. in marketing and strategy from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. You can find him on Twitter at @dgingiss.

Libraries often do things by committees and many have a long and bureaucratic approvals process for everything, including responses to customer service issues. Can you tell us why libraries should consider empowering their employees to surprise and delight customers by resolving issues in a more expedient way?

What libraries — and all organizations — need to remember is that customers are comparing you to every other customer experience they have with companies. You’re not being compared to another library; rather, you are being compared with Amazon, Wendy’s, Zappo’s, and any other brand with which the customer has engaged recently. Customer expectations are higher than ever, and a speedy response has become table stakes to competing with other superior experiences.

Libraries have such meager budgets, and many focus solely on getting the most product (books) to customers as possible. They don’t want to spend any money on providing good customer service. There are a lot of products out there that can make it easier for libraries to enhance their customer service. If you had to pick one thing that libraries should spend money on to improve their customer service, what would it be (software? More agents? )

Self-service capabilities. Most customers are willing to pursue self-service solutions if they are available, and many even prefer it. In the case of libraries, this could be used both in person at computer terminals and online, where like other industries much of the customer interaction is now taking place. Considering that libraries are still physical structures and much of the experience is still enjoyed in person, it’s also critical that they hire friendly and helpful staff who are willing and able to help readers who have no idea how to navigate the archaic Dewey Decimal System, for example. (Think about how people search for things today; it certainly does not involve decimals!)

Training for customer care, particularly in social media, is not always a strong suit for libraries. They train mostly for front-line customer service. Can you explain the difference between training for front-line interactions with customers and online customer care, and why there is a value in providing specific training for online care?

First of all, it’s critical to remember that social media is still the “front line”. It’s just another channel in which your customers have chosen to engage. So just as you wouldn’t leave a Help Desk unattended or let the phone ring and ring, you also shouldn’t make people wait for answers on social media either. That said, there are some key training differences (explained in Chapter 7 of my book) between online and offline Customer Service agents. The two most notable are writing ability and social media platform knowledge. Agents must have good spelling and grammar, as mistakes cast a poor light on the organization, and they must have at least a working knowledge of each individual social media platform so they understand the culture, norms, and limitations.

I think community building is a good strategy for libraries to engage with cardholders and offer customer care. Based on your book, I assume you agree. Can you explain how building an online community might benefit an organization like a library which is looking to improve customer service?

Online communities are especially helpful in answering questions that are likely to recur over time. For example, I recently learned that libraries often have passes to local museums but that they are reserved quickly. I wanted to know the process of obtaining such a pass from my local library. While calling the library worked just fine, an online community could have provided the same answer without leveraging paid library staff. In addition, I’d point out that books, by their very nature, are community-building in that people love talking about their similar interests and experiences. So I think an online community hosted by a library could be very successful on several fronts.

What do you think the future looks like for customer service? Is there anything libraries should be considering as they plan for the future, so they can stay competitive with bookstores and offer excellent service to cardholders?

Libraries have a huge advantage over bookstores because they provide the product for free! If they were also to provide a consistently superior customer experience, the discussion in the media might not be about Amazon undercutting brick-and-mortar bookstores, but about how libraries are experiencing a great resurgence at the expense of Amazon! Like any industry, libraries must adapt to changing technology and customer expectations. In some ways, they have, like the availability of e-books, but I’ve never found those to be either marketed effectively or easy to use. Libraries should learn from for-profit businesses to become better marketers of what is already a competitive product, to draw in new card members but also to remind existing ones why they signed up in the first place.

Bonus Secret: Go to www.winningatsocial.com/discount, click on “Buy Now”, then enter the code “Winning” to get a signed copy of Dan’s book for the best available price.

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 LinkedInInstagram and Pinterest. Views in this post are my own and do not represent those of my employer.

Get Your Pinterest in Shape for the New Year!

This post is part of a series on revamping and re-evaluating your library’s social media platforms. At least once a year, you should look at your library’s LinkedInFacebookTwitter, and Instagram accounts and do the following:

Clarify your library’s social media goals.

Audit the current status of your library’s social media accounts.

Set new social media goals to move your library’s overall strategy forward.

Improve your library’s social media profile

There are many libraries doing a lot of things right on Pinterest! Some of my favorites are:

The Somers Library in New York.

Bellevue University Library in Nebraska.

Kansas City Public Library in Missouri.

New York Public Library, of course.

And the list goes on and on.

My library gets a tremendous benefit using Pinterest as a promotional tool. We’re very specific in our use. With a strategy to our pinning, our library’s following on Pinterest has grown by 400 percent! Each month, Pinterest drives an average between 20 and 60 percent of the traffic we get to our website. Sometimes, it’s the highest source of traffic from any social media platform we use. It’s powerful!

As you approach the next season of the social media calendar, you can tweak your current Pinterest board to improve results. Or, if your library is not on Pinterest yet, use this guide to create a profile that will drive traffic to your website, increase awareness of your library, and surprise and delight your Pinterest followers.

Audit your current boards and pins and optimize for search. Pinterest is a search engine and it works on an algorithm, like most social media platforms these days. So you’ll want to make sure all your Pins and boards are optimized for search so users can find you. Clever board names are fun, but they might also hurt you in your Pinterest search rankings. So consider changing board names to more closely match things that book lovers and readers might search for. For instance, a good name for a board full of recipes is Book Food, Food Inspired by Books, Literary Food, and Food to Eat While Reading.  Next, check the description of each board to make sure there are searchable keywords. For instance, before this fall, my library used literary quotes related to the board topic as our board description. And while that’s clever, it doesn’t help our followers or potential new followers to find us. So we changed our board descriptions to be more instructive about what we were pinning.

Finally, go through each Pin on every board to make sure every link works. Delete any Pins with dead links. 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 keywords words to make sure your Pins are seen by the right users.

Eliminate Pins and boards that aren’t driving traffic. Pinterest now penalizes users who have Pins and boards that aren’t being shared. So you’ll need to do some weeding. This is time-consuming but essential. I started weeding our boards more than a month ago. I spend about two hours a week on the task and I’m still not anywhere close to being finished. But it’s already working. Traffic to our website is slowly creeping higher and our remaining Pins are getting more traffic. Do your weeding during a part of your day when you need to just do something mindless for 15 minutes or so, to give your brain a break. Before you know it, you’ll make significant progress.

Use the new Sections option on boards to make your Pins easier to find. This is an update for Pinterest and it’s pretty darn awesome. You can create genres for boards (fiction, nonfiction, memoirs, cookbooks, etc.) which will help Pins get found and users find what they want more easily.

Pin NEW books from your collection. Every. Single. Day. Pinterest users love to find out about new books using the site and libraries are perfectly positioned to give that information. Every day at my library, we go through the new arrivals feed on our website and find the books that already have a holds lists–a holds list before distribution is a sign that there is a demand for that books. We Pin those in-demand 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.

Keep an eye on changing demographics. Pinterest says about 60 percent of women and about one-third of millennials use Pinterest. And men are the platform’s fastest-growing follower segment. So when you are pinning content, keep this research in mind.

Here are more resources:

Best Pin sizes for Pinterest

Pinterest predicts top 100 Pin trends for 2018

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 LinkedInInstagram and Pinterest. Views in this post are my own and do not represent those of my employer.

 

Get Your Instagram in Shape for the New Year!

This post is part of a series on revamping and re-evaluating your library’s social media platforms. At least once a year, you should look at your library’s LinkedInFacebook and Twitter accounts and do the following:

Clarify your library’s social media goals.

Audit the current status of your library’s social media accounts.

Set new social media goals to move your library’s overall strategy forward.

Improve your library’s social media profile

Let’s talk about Instagram. The platform has 800 million users worldwide, likely including thousands of your cardholders. Time spent on the platform is up 80 percent this year! And most of the users are under the age of 30. That’s the demographic most libraries are desperately trying to reach.

So if your library is not on Instagram, it should be. And if your library is on the platform, it’s time to plan for how you’ll put it to better use next year. My library recently laid out our plans for Instagram for 2018. Here are some of the ideas we’ll be implementing next year, based on expert advice and current trends.

Start using stories. START USING STORIES. This is the most important point I’m going to make in this post and I really cannot emphasize this enough. Stories are the key to making your Instagram account successful and if you merely post photos and don’t do stories, you might as well not post on Instagram at all. Plus stories are now available on the desktop version of Instagram so your followers can watch literally from any device. What are you waiting for?

Make a commitment to post once a day. Consistency is the key to making it work. The more consistently you post, the more your posts will show up in the feed of your followers, and the more your followers will engage. It’s that simple.

Photos are still king on Instagram. Social Media Today says photos get 36 percent more engagement than videos on Instagram. That’s not to say that you should never post videos. Videos are great if your subject is a moving object or visually engaging. My recommendation is to try a ratio of three photos to one video in Instagram posts. Video adds variety and keeps your followers interested in what you are posting on the platform. But if you haven’t ventured onto Instagram yet because you’re worried you can’t shoot quality videos, don’t be. Do photos. There are plenty of beautiful pics happening in your workplace every day and your cardholders will like and comment on them on Instagram. And on that note…

Imagery is key. We work in a building full of beautiful images-shelving, stacks of books, interesting works of art, and more. I’m not a visual artist but I can still see there is tons of imagery in the library and social media experts say posts with striking visual imagery will be popular on Instagram in 2018. Libraries are ripe with fantastic images… a person reading a book against a sunlit window, a messy stack of books in the book drop waiting to be checked in each morning, a shot from the drive-thru window looking out on a busy street. Take a moment to admire the beauty of your building, your co-workers, and your job… and then capture it on your smart phone and share it with your fans!

Try branded hashtags. They’ll help you keep track of your post engagement and they’re a way to give your post some visibility in the feed. Plus, working your library’s name into a hashtag and using that on every post drives home your brand image in the mind of your followers over time.

Post with a location tag. Using the location tag is easy and the latest statistics from Social Media Today show a location tag increases user engagement by 71 percent.

Further reading:

Instagram statistics to keep in mind for 2018

Three secrets to delight your Instagram followers

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.

 

 

 

Get Your Library’s LinkedIn in Shape for the New Year!

This post is part of a series on revamping and re-evaluating your library’s social media platforms. At least once a year, you should look at your library’s Facebook and Twitter accounts and do the following:

Clarify your library’s social media goals.

Audit the current status of your library’s social media accounts.

Set new social media goals to move your library’s overall strategy forward.

Improve your library’s social media profiles.

There are not enough libraries-particularly in the public and academic sectors-using LinkedIn to reach cardholders. This particular social media platform has a lot of potential for great content marketing. It’s also a great place for personal connections with your cardholders because the audience is smaller and more focused on specific wants and needs like job improvement, workplace issues, self-help ideas, and personal growth. So here are some easy ways to improve your library’s presence on LinkedIn. And if your library is not yet using LinkedIn, try these easy ideas to develop a presence there.

Think about the kind of cardholders who will connect with you on LinkedIn and make your profile all about serving them. Don’t use your library’s LinkedIn to brag about your library. Your LinkedIn followers will want to see ways that your library can help them to better their careers. So give them information about books, classes, and events geared toward improving their professional lives.

Use relevant keywords in your profile summary and your posts to make your page easier to find in search. Words like library, career help, career classes, career books, self-help books, job hunt, shared workspace, and the like will help people find and follow your page. LinkedIn has a robust search engine–put it to work for you!

Post several days a week. That’s right, your library doesn’t have to post every day. But having a strategy to post two to three times a week is important. LinkedIn works on an algorithm and keeping up regular posts ensures that what you say will show up regularly in the feed of your connections.

Share news that is job and career-related that doesn’t come from your library. Like other social media platforms, curated content is important on LinkedIn. It’s perfectly acceptable for one or two of your posts each week to be non-promotional. In fact, your cardholders will begin to see your library as a true source of career and job information if you curate and share content.

Profile your workers. This tactic has been successful for our library. Once a week, we do a Worker Wednesday profile where we highlight someone working in the library–from the janitors all the way up to senior leadership. We get the most engagement from these posts and they’re easy to do. All you need is a photo and two lines–we usually ask staff to tell us why they like working at the library and what they’re reading now.

Post library jobs on LinkedIn. That’s right, you can use the platform to help drive qualified candidates to your Human Resources department! Users of LinkedIn are engaged in their careers, so what better audience?

More resources to help!

Why LinkedIn is a Hot Social Network

Important Stats about LinkedIn Use

How to Create a Company Page and Best Practices

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.

 

Get Your Facebook Page in Shape for the New Year!

This post is part of a series on revamping and re-evaluating your library’s social media platforms. At least once a year, you should look at your library’s Facebook and Twitter accounts and do the following:

Clarify your library’s social media goals.

Audit the current status of your library’s social media accounts.

Set new social media goals to move your library’s overall strategy forward.

Improve your library’s social media profiles.

Let’s focus on Facebook. The social media platform is likely the flagship of your library’s strategy. Most of us have a large following and spend most of our social media promotional energy on Facebook, so we want it to be as effective as possible. As you look forward to the next 12 months, consider these ideas for increasing your Facebook effectiveness.

Schedule regular page audits to make sure every feature on your Facebook page is in your brand voice AND is working to move your library’s overall strategy forward. Remember, everything you do in library marketing should be part of a commitment to work toward the overall goals of your library. So every part of your page needs to be within your library’s character and voice as much as possible. You want people to recognize your library as your library, even when they are not in your building or on your website. The wording, visuals, and terminology are important. Check to make sure everything matches your overall tone and character.

When Facebook gives you the option to customize, take it! Update your “about” section. Check the call to action button on your page to see if it’s working for you or if there’s another option that will be better for your library. My library uses “Contact Us.” New York Public Library uses “Donate.” Columbus Public Library says “Sign Up.” Boone County, KY public library says “Learn More.” Choose whichever works best for your library’s strategy.

Change your cover photo or create a cover video to add extra visual flair to your page. I create a schedule to change the cover photo to match major system-wide library initiatives. You can use Canva or other graphics editing software to help you create beautiful and inviting cover photos. Or you can shoot a video and post that as your cover photo to increase engagement.

Edit your sidebar options so that the most important calls to action are toward the top.

Check your photo arrangement to make sure you are showcasing photos that really help your library. Facebook’s default position is “most recent content” but even when that option is checked, it may still show some older post photos (this was the case for my library–silly algorithm!) I prefer to select “featured content” and then “change featured photos” so I can select which photos show on the page. Pick shots which are timeless and interesting.

You can make a similar choice to show certain videos on your page. There’s no “featured content” option on videos so choose “most recent.”

Set up auto responses so any cardholder who sends you a message gets an immediate response. If your library gets a lot of Facebook messages during off-hours, this can be very helpful. There’s nothing more frustrating to a cardholder than sending a help message and getting no response for hours or days. Our library’s auto message says, “Hi! Our Facebook page is staffed Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. We’ll respond ASAP during this time. If you’ve contacted us outside these hours, try our 24/7 online chat! It’s available on our website at CincinnatiLibrary.org. Thank you!” Create a similar message to direct people to places where they might find an immediate answer to their question and will help improve your responsiveness without committing more staff and time.

Post 360 photos and videos to boost engagement. Instead of using two-dimensional photos or standard videos of things you wish to promote,  use 360-degree photos and videos to create an in-person experience. This feature is a lot of fun if you have an architectural space that is visually appealing, like an atrium, an auditorium, or even the stacks. It doesn’t take much effort or fancy equipment. Just use your smart phone, a 360-degree camera or 360-degree photo app to take your photo. Follow the same conventional process for posting a two-dimensional photo. Facebook will convert your photo, making it a 360-degree experience for cardholders. Cool, right?

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.

Get Your Twitter in Shape for the New Year!

This post is part of a series on revamping and re-evaluating your library’s social media platforms. At least once a year, you should:

Clarify your library’s social media goals.

Audit the current status of your library’s social media accounts.

Set new social media goals to move your library’s overall strategy forward.

Improve your library’s social media profiles.

Let’s focus on Twitter. The social media platform has made some major changes over the course of the last year and recently increased its character limit from 140 to 280. No matter what you think about that controversial change, it serves as a jumping off point for improving the work you do on Twitter. When a big change like that happens, it’s a good time to re-evaluate how effective a social media platform is in helping you to communicate with your audience. Take a long, hard look at what you’re posting on the platform and consider these points.

280 characters is an opportunity to tell more of your story, incorporate more links, tag followers, and use more hashtags. Twitter feels very impersonal unless you make the effort to reach out to your followers. The longer character count can help you do that. Telling more of your story in a creative way makes your library more interesting to your followers. Adding links can give your followers options about which information they want to pursue–and in turn, gives you more insight into what your followers are really looking for when they read a Tweet. Tag specific followers in Tweets as a way to personally interact and start conversations with your followers. Add hashtags to make sure your Tweets are seen by more people.

Figure out what kind of Tweets get the most interaction and set a goal to create similar Tweets more often. If your followers are keen on curated content like booklists, author interviews, or memes, give them more of that kind of content. Many libraries feel their Twitter feeds are exclusively a way to promote their own library and its services but you risk losing the trust of your followers if you self-promote too much. Remember the rule of thumb for posts is three pieces of curated, valuable content which are not necessarily generated by your library for every one Tweet directly promoting a library service or event. We want to drive home the point that your library is an information hub, not just a place to find books.

Vary your visuals. If you have used photos or graphics in your Tweets (and you should, as they are proven to improve Tweet performance), try adding in GIFs and videos for increased variety. Your followers will take notice and interact!

Take advantage of trending hashtags. Make it part of your library’s Twitter social media strategy to regularly check for trending hashtags and to find a literary way to use them. For instance, you can start easy with #WednesdayWisdom, #TBT (Throwback Thursday), and #FridayFeeling. Of course, I hardly think I need to warn you to stay away from political or potentially controversial trending hashtags. Use the fun or informative trending Tweets and leave the heated hashtags for the rest of Twitter to fight over.

Tweet important stuff more than once. I’ve found this point is the most difficult to convey to people who don’t spend a lot of time on Twitter but here’s why repeat Tweets should be part of your strategy. When you tweet about an event or service just once, it’s like writing your promotion on a balloon and releasing it into the air. You hope someone sees it, but most people aren’t constantly scanning the sky for floating objects. But if you released a bunch of balloons with your promotion written on them, the chances your audience would see it would increase. If you’re promoting something really important, you should Tweet it multiple times at varying times of day and on varying days of the week to make sure the message is seen.

Here are some more resources to increase the effectiveness of your library’s Twitter account.

Simple guide to using Twitter analytics.

More ideas for the 280-character Tweet format.

A free template for creating a social media strategy.

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 Top Five Ultimate Library Marketing Holiday Ideas

During the lead-up to any holiday, your inbox is likely flooded with a host of email from companies offering discounts and other promotions tied to the season. I’m sometimes jealous of these for-profit brands: it would be fun to think of exciting ways to tie sales into a holiday. On the other hand, thank goodness we don’t really have to sell anything!

Our customers don’t groan when we market to them–they love us and our products. And we can find fun and interesting ways to engage with our cardholders during holidays. In fact, it behooves us to go beyond beautiful in-branch book displays and bulletin boards to market our collection and best programs while our cardholders are in the spirit of whatever season they’re celebrating.

Here are my tried and true tips for taking advantage of any holiday season to remind your cardholders of your presence and all that you offer and to capture their attention!

Collection-based marketing. This is my favorite tactic. I enlist the help of my librarians to curate lists of new holiday-themed books for adults and kids. In my experience, the lists that generate the most holds and check-outs contain 10-12 new books and are mostly fiction, with a few exceptions: decorating, entertaining, and cookbooks. Start planning these lists at least two months before the corresponding holiday so you have time to make sure the list is complete and all your promotional pieces are in place. Then, pick a date about two to three weeks before the holiday and begin promoting the lists to the corresponding audience. Watch the holds and check-outs fly in as your cardholders get into the mood of the season with new titles!

Promote the best of your library events.  At least two months before the holiday, begin to scan the program calendar regularly for any program that’s fun and interesting. You want to target programs that can’t really be found at any other place in your community and are highly tease-able. Again, promote these programs to the corresponding audience about 2-3 weeks before the event for best results.

Inspire your readers. Post ideas for holiday gifts, recipes, and more–especially if they are literary-themed–on your social media accounts, especially Pinterest. If you don’t have a Pinterest account at your library, starting one during any holiday season is a great opportunity to showcase your library as a place where ideas and information are found. You are an information hub, not just a book peddler!

Do contrasting marketing to rival Amazon and your local bookstore. Start checking your competitors’ website and ads as soon as they begin their holiday marketing. Figure out what their offers are and how you can counteract those offers with free stuff! For example, we know that, as we approach Black Friday, stores will begin to promote their sales heavily. We can create similar marketing campaigns that emphasize our free products and services in contrast to the big-name stores. You can also host a mobile device or gadget petting zoo, where you have several models of tablets and smartphones available for cardholders to test and examine before they make their big purchases. The event can be a great way to promote your digital offerings to an audience that is clearly interested in going mobile. Or set up a call center or event where you can take questions from cardholders who need help picking out a gift, cooking a big meal, or figuring out etiquette questions like which fork to use!

Don’t forget holidays that are uniquely library-oriented. We can celebrate fun days like Take Your Child to the Library Day and eBook Day in ways that stores cannot. Use the ideas above and add that library-themed angle to your marketing of these days for fun that your cardholders will appreciate. Last year, for Take Your Child to the Library Day, my library did a gift card giveaway for parents who brought their kids to a branch.

Have you done something fun and successful to market your library during a holiday? Please share your successes in the comments!

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.

Library Marketing Secrets You Can Steal From General Electric

The woman who manages marketing at one of the biggest companies in the United States–and perhaps the world–made a huge impression on me at Content Marketing World. Linda Boff is Chief Marketing Officer at General Electric. You might think a huge brand like GE would be mired in traditional marketing practices and have nothing to teach us about agility and experimentation. You would be wrong.

Boff has led the company into a new realm of marketing, using tactics that libraries have access to, like podcasts and Facebook Live. Her focus is storytelling–finding the stories within your company and sharing them with your audience. She insists you don’t need a big budget to do what she’s doing. She’s a dynamic speaker and her presentation was one of the more memorable moments in the two-day conference because I ended up coming away with so many ideas for my library marketing. I left the room excited and energized!

Boff says there are five reasons to tell your library’s story: To sell (library translation: improve circulation, visits, and attendance), to inspire, to explain strategy, to reach audiences, and to educate. She told the audience that the success of GE with storytelling relies on a simple formula: Be first on platforms + activate unlikely audiences + find the human in the digital times. She laid out exactly what she means in her main brand storytelling tips.

Know who you are. GE embraces its nerd identity. The company produced a series of videos showcasing its nerd employees. They are professionally produced but you can do the same thing using your iPhone. Remember, it’s the story that’s important–not the production value of your video. In fact, our library produced a similar series of videos back in April for National Library Workers Week. We shot everything on a DSLR camera and edited it using free software available on the internet. Our fans–and our employees–loved the videos.

Identify your secret sauce. What is your tone? How do you come to life? Every brand has to figure out what this means to them. This next part is going to sound really familiar. GE has had to fight to be relevant, contemporary, relatable, and modern. Everyone knows who GE was in the company’s past. Everyone is familiar with GE’s legacy. Boff said one of her marketing goals is to teach people what GE is in the present.  To do this, Boff recommends you need to “show up as a person”–in other words, use real and personal stories about your workers to put a face to your company’s name. GE went to its employee’s children to ask them what their parents do. They told stories and drew pictures explaining their parent’s work. Then GE took those pieces and used them internally and externally. You can see some of those stories here.

 Find unexpected audiences. At South by Southwest, GE created a BBQ incubation area. They set up a BBQ smoker and had data scientists on hand to smoke the meat with exact precision so it came out right every time. They also had their scientists use data to make BBQ sauce, and they let people taste the sauce while hooked up to a scanner so they could see what their brain responded to via scan. Then took the super smoker to college campuses, so instead of the tent and handouts, they had this cool interactive centerpiece. I think that idea could translate for libraries too. Instead of just having a table at events, let’s bring MakerSpace equipment and traveling library collections so people can interact with our “products.”

Experiment early, experiment often. When a new social media platform or technology emerges, don’t hesitate–jump on board quickly and learn all you can about it, says Boff. The cost barrier to entry is always very low at the beginning of any new trend and the audience has no expectations about what you can or should produce. Boff says it’s important to be on the playing field and really skin your knees; you can’t just read about new trends. I really took this point to heart. We now have permission to move forward on new trends–let’s embrace it!

Good content speaks for itself. Boff and her team created GE Podcast Theater. They create long-form, lightly branded podcasts that are full content marketing platforms. GE’s “The Message” podcast was named as one of the New York Times 11 Fiction Podcasts Worth Listening To and was in the #1 spot on iTunes after its release.  Boff says if you are putting great stories out into the world, they’ll do their own marketing with their amazing content.

Stories are right under your nose: The hardest thing is finding stories to tell. GE works had to find stories reach customers, investors, thought leaders, media, AND employees. I’ve talked about finding stories in the library on this blog before in this article and this article. We should always be looking to connect with narratives that inspire all of those audiences. I really loved how Boff emphasized storytelling as a way to grow employee pride. At GE they do this through a YouTube series called In the Wild. It’s entertaining and engaging. Libraries could imitate that on a smaller scale. In fact, my library did that using a GoPro camera! We did time-lapse videos of various jobs and departments in the library and posted them on our YouTube channel. Those videos had more than a thousand views total and continue to draw new people to our YouTube content.

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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