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

Five More Amazing Websites With Free Stock Photos For Your Library

More than I year ago I made a list of the top seven websites I use to find free marketing photos for my library. At the time, finding free photos with open copyright use was tricky. But in the span of a year, I’ve found a bunch of new websites with free stock photos! It’s now so easy to get stocks photo that I’ve actually considered canceling our library’s paid subscription stock photos service. Many libraries do not have the budget for a stock photo subscription. They rely on sites like these to help create promotional material that looks professional and modern.

It’s very important to point out that you can’t use any old photo you find on the internet. Just because a picture is on the web does not mean it’s public. That’s where Public Domain and Creative Commons licensing comes into play.

Public Domain: The person who associated a work with this deed has dedicated the work to the public domain by waiving all his or her rights to the work worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law. You can copy, change, distribute and perform the work, even for commercial purposes, all without asking permission.

Creative Commons: Gives those who want to give up those [copyright laws] a way to do so, to the fullest extent allowed by law. Anyone can then use the work in any way and for any purpose, including commercial purposes, subject to other laws and the rights others may have in the work or how the work is used.

You must use images in the Public Domain or covered by Creative Commons to avoid legal implications. All the sites in this post fall into one or both of those categories. And I’ve personally used every site I recommend so you can be assured that I’m familiar with their licensing regulations and their selection.

Here is my original list of the seven best sites for free stock photos. And here are my new additions!

Gratisography: My new favorite site! It’s diverse, interesting, and contains a lot of creative shots that are bright and eye-catching, even whimsical. It’s divided into easy to understand search categories. Their regular search engine is precise… no scrolling through a hundred photos that don’t pertain to your search term. The selection is a bit smaller than some other sites but the photos are amazing.

Burst: After my first post, the creator of this site emailed me with a link. I am impressed with their selection. Their photos are particularly appealing to the millennials on my staff! The photos are all covered under the Creative Commons license and can be used for all kinds of promotional purposes.

Negative Space: Another site under creative commons with full use of photos for commercial purposes. Their photos are artsy and fun. I particularly love their Flatlay collection!

Creative Commons: This site is dedicated to sharing photos under the Creative Commons license and contains the most diverse selection of shots I’ve seen on a free photo site to date. I go here when I’m looking for something original and authentic. Their shots of office workers never look staged!

Vecteezy: While not exactly a photo site, this website contains a lot of vector and graphic art, which can be helpful if you’re responsible for creating graphics for your library marketing. There are premium pieces for purchase, but their selection of free art is great. Use this site to complement the free layouts and art you’ll find on Canva. I like the modern feel of the work on this site.

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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Introducing the Nine Blogs That Will Make You a Better Library Marketer

(Read time: 2 minutes, 28 seconds)

I am a fan of blogs. God bless the internet, it’s the best way to keep up to date on everything–food, fashion, the news, and the changes in library marketing. And, as much as I am also a fan of books of all kinds, I am not a fan of marketing books! The landscape of this profession changes fast. Unless it’s a philosophical take on marketing, most marketing books feel out of date within a year or two of publication.

Instead, I get my advice from blogs. So I’ve listed the nine blogs I recommend you read to stay on abreast of all the news in marketing. For the best use of your time, sign up for the email newsletters offered by these sites. Most will let you choose which topics you like to hear about and will send you content at the frequency that’s best for you. Set aside time on your calendar every day to read the content shared by these blogs. It’ll be time well spent. I’ve listed them in alphabetical order.

The Content Strategist

This blog features interesting articles broken into categories like storytelling, strategy, and ROI. They also post inspirational articles, which I love to save and read on days when I feel like my work is not having the impact it could or should.

Content Marketing Institute

At first glance, you might be intimidated. This blog is aimed at C-Suite or executive level marketers. But it’s good to read this advice even when you’re a little guy! There are always pieces of their strategy and bits of advice you can pick up and mold to work for your library. And the writers of this blog always seem to see the trends in consumer and business marketing before any other experts. Also, when you sign up for this newsletter you’ll get notifications about CMI’s free webinars. They have the most helpful webinars of any company in the marketing space.

Coschedule

I found this blog after using their online tool for writing better headlines. It’s among my favorites. Coschedule creates a lot of useful templates and writes easy-to-read, concise instructions on how to use them and how to improve your marketing.

The Daily Carnage

I read this one for laughs, good advice, and a lesson on how to write with humor and still be taken seriously.

Hubspot

Hubspot also gives away a lot of free templates and online courses that have tremendous value. Their blog posts cover a range of topics and are fun and insightful.

Mashable Marketing

One of my favorites by far. Their content is easy to read and interesting. They cover topics from social media to graphic elements to equipment to how pop culture affects marketing. It’s also written very, very well. This website is daily appointment reading for me!

PR Daily

If you sign up or bookmark just one blog from this post, this should be it. It’s essential for library marketing. This blog contains everything you need to know about public relations and the media. You have my permission to stop reading and subscribe to this one now. Then come back. Please.

Social Media Examiner

When I interview candidates for a social media position, I asked them where they get their news about social media. If they name this blog, they get a big A+ from me. Read it AND listen to Michael Stelzner’s podcast to get the best advice on social media from the industry’s best minds.

Spin Sucks

This blog offers a lot of helpful PR advice with a mix of fun posts designed to stretch your creative brain and general marketing advice. I really look forward to their daily email newsletter. I always learn something!

What is your favorite marketing blog? Please share the name in the comments so I can read it too!

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.

 

Best Conferences For Library Marketers in 2018

(Read time: 3 minutes, 50 seconds)

School is almost out and summer reading is underway. I hope your workload is lighter during this time of year! It’s now time to start thinking about your personal and professional growth. And it’s time for my annual list of the best conferences for library marketers!

A good conference experience can be a life changer. It can energize you, give you new ideas, and make you fall in love with your chosen career again. If you have money in your budget to attend a conference, I recommend you chose one of the following selections. I’ve picked them based value for the cost, relevance of the topic, and reputation of the lead organizers.

 

VidCon

June 20-23 in Anaheim, CA

My husband works for a non-profit hospital as a videographer and he attends this conference. He learns about social media, video, and other marketing tactics from some of the top content creators in the marketing industry. If you are want to bring young people into your library or connect with them (I’m talking to you, university and school librarians!) then this conference is for you. And tickets are pretty cheap–the creator pass is $200 through June 8.

American Library Association

June 21-26 in New Orleans, LA

ALA continues to improve the marketing track at their premier conference. Topics this year include branding, marketing to teenagers, serving the immigrant population, creating a marketing plan and strategy, best practices for video marketing, and much more. This year’s keynote speakers include Viola Davis and Doris Kearns Goodwin. I also have it on high authority that Emilio Estevez will appear at the conference to hold screenings of his new movie, the public, shot in my very own library–which means that attendees will get to see it before I do! ALA members pay $350 and non-members pay $460 through June 15.

Nonprofit Marketing Conference

July 16-18 in Washington, DC

With sessions from the leaders of Google Ad Grants and Caring Bridge, this conference is informative and inspiring. It’s run the American Marketing Association. It will teach you how to use your small budget and limited resources to create a brand strategy. You’ll also learn how to improve your social media game and show the true value of your library in your marketing. After the conference, you’ll get an eBook with key takeaways to refer to the rest of the year. Registration is $949 but if you register before June 18, you save $100.

Social Media All Day Conference

July 19-20 in Charleston, South Carolina

Forbes calls this “the most collaborative social media conference.” The speaker list includes experts from food, fashion, journalism, and tech. Sessions promise to teach you how to engage audiences and create lasting connections with people. You’ll also learn how to build your brand on social, both for your library and for yourself! I recommend getting the Industry Badge, which is still a steal at $300. That gets you access to all the conference areas as well workshops and networking sessions.

Content Marketing World and Expo

September 4-7 in Cleveland, Ohio

Regular readers know how much I love this conference. I’ll be attending for the fifth time this year. CMWorld is a jam-packed series of events for marketers of all levels and interests. I come home with pages of notes and new ideas. This conference focuses on the art of storytelling and how to use content to build trust with your customers. But they also have sessions on video marketing, social media, strategy, and public speaking. You’ll learn a full range of new skills. Tina Fey is the keynote speaker this year, as are Andrew and Pete, my favorite marketing video creators from the UK. Early bird registration ends May 31 but if you email the conference, they can give you a 40 percent non-profit discount, which makes the ticket around $800. I know that’s a lot of money for libraries but it is so worth it.

Nonprofit Storytelling Conference

Oct. 16-17 in Orlando, FL

This conference is jam-packed with sessions that will help you turn your library’s story into a marketing strategy. You’ll learn how to write a compelling headline for your email newsletter and how to use Facebook live to raising the profile of your library. All the sessions are recorded, so if you can’t actually travel to Florida you can still “attend” the conference via video. Registration ranges in price from $995 to $1595 depending on which option you choose (video or no video) but if you register before July 13, you save $400, which puts it into the affordable range for many libraries.

Library Marketing and Communications Conference

November 14-15 in St. Louis, Missouri

The premier conference for library marketing moves to a new location this year and the organizers are energized! This is the fourth year for this conference specifically created to talk about marketing in the library space and the range of topics now includes all areas of the field, including fundraising, governmental advocacy, graphic design, workflow, and so much more. Plus networking with other library marketing professionals is invaluable! Registration begins this month (May). If you register before Friday, July 13, you’ll only pay $375. The full conference rate will be $450. They’re also taking calls for proposals through May 25. Sign up for the newsletter on the conference website to stay up to date with all the details.

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.

Reporters Reveal How To Get More Press Coverage

(Read time: 3 minutes, 6 seconds)

I have a confession to make. I don’t know everything.

I thought that I did! I spent 20 years in a TV newsroom. I thought I knew about how the media covers everything, including libraries. And I did when I started my library job five years ago. But things have changed. Now, I need advice as much as the next guy.

That’s what I learned after sending two of my staffers to a media day held in Cincinnati last October. The event was sponsored by the Public Relations Society of America. It included panels on topics including how to think like a journalist, and how to manage crisis communication. My staff members came back with a host of tips. And making those changes worked! Since October, coverage of our events and services by the media rose by more than 50 percent. No kidding. We’re getting more responses and more inquiries.

Put these tips into practice in your own library, along with last week’s free tools to help you do PR better. I bet you’ll see better results too!

 

Send out news releases WAY early. The reporters and producers told us they like a lot of advance notice, even for small library events. We had been sending releases two to three weeks before an event. I moved that back to four to six weeks before an event. We send a reminder to the media again about a week before the event. This turned out to be the most valuable tip of all. We’ve seen a sizeable increase in the number of responses we get, both when the release goes out and coming up on the day of the event.

Be ready for a response. The reporters told us that we should always assume they’ll respond to our press releases and media alerts! That means having our potential interview sources ready when we send out the release. This was a struggle for me because a different library department books our big author appearances. And I’ve always had to go through that department to arrange media interviews with the authors. But, armed with this request from the media, I went to that department head and made a case. I told them we’d get more coverage if they would be willing to give me direct contact information for the publicist so I could book interviews. They agreed and now I’m able to help the media when they call for an interview.

Write your release as if it were a news story. In fact, write a news story INSTEAD of a release. Include information about whether you’ll be able to take photos of the event and send them out to the media when it’s over. Newsrooms are short-staffed. They want us to do the work for them. And while that might not sound fair, if we send them a publishable piece of content with photos, we win on two levels. First, we get coverage of our event. Second, the narrative is exactly as we want it! We can do the fact-checking and make the important points. We have control!

Find good interview subjects. Arrange interviews ahead of time with people affected by the news item, not with the administration. Reporters don’t like official sounding, jargon-filled soundbites. That’s not compelling. Compelling is a child who finally catches up in reading because of extra tutoring from a children’s librarian. Compelling is an immigrant who got help at his library filling out a naturalization form. Compelling is not your library manager explaining how great the library is because they’re now offering a service. Ditch the official. Find the people, and put them in front of the camera.

Think like a reporter. Reporters asked us to arrange diverse interviews, including people from all different backgrounds and walks of life. They told us their target audience is women, ages 25-54, and that our interview subjects should be compelling to that age group. Pick interview subjects who are comfortable on camera or at least can talk in soundbites. Arrange interviews to meet the time demands of the newsroom. Newsrooms often have crews available are erratic times. If you’re sending a news release and hoping for an interview, make sure you have someone with a flexible schedule who can meet a reporter on short notice.

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.

Free Tools To Help You Do PR Better

(Read time: 3 minutes, 7 seconds)

Confession: when I was working as a TV journalist, I thought public relations was soooooo easy. I imagined a typical PR person spent their day sitting at a desk, cranking out press releases, one after the other. I thought it would be the world’s most boring job. And then I took a job in library marketing and PR. And found out how very wrong I was.

Good public relations work for the library is critical. We must promote all the good our library services and circulation, as well as our contribution to the community. We must counteract stories that cast our institution in a negative public light. We need the public’s support to pass levies and other funding measures. And we’re fighting negative press on issues we can’t control, like crimes committed near our library and opioid use in our public spaces.

Most of the public relations and media work we do in the library is positive and fun. It’s not easy, though. We work without paid distribution software and adequate staff. But there are lots of free tools to amplify your message and get increased media awareness and public brand love for your library. Here is a list of my favorites! (A reminder, I only endorse tools I’ve worked with on this blog. If you are a company with a tool to suggest to readers not listed in my piece, you are welcome to do so in the comments.)

Hemingway App: I first learned about this tool from Ann Handley of Marketing Profs. Simply put, it improves your writing. It actually counts the number adverbs in your copy and forces you to keep them at five or fewer. It also catches passive voice, convoluted sentences, and complex wording. Your copy will be clear and bold. That increases the chances that a reporter or media outlet will pick up your press release or blog entry. It even gives you a grade on your finished product! And it’s free. I write EVERYTHING in Hemingway, including these blog posts. (Bonus: it also counts words, sentences, and gives you a “read” time, which can increase engagement. I’m adding the read time to my blog posts now. Did you catch it?)

CoSchedule Headline Analyzer: I run every headline I write through this free tool. It trains you to write clear, catchy headlines with powerful, uncommon, and emotional words. It also shows you how your headline will look in a Google search and in an email on a desktop or mobile device.

HARO (Help a Reporter Out)This amazing online tool connects journalists with sources (like your expert librarians!) Join the site for free as a source and then journalists will email you with requests for help with stories. There is no better way to get discovered by national media outlets. National requests don’t come often, but when they do they’re amazing. Last summer, a reporter from the New York Times featured our summer lunch program after finding us here.

PR Hunters: This very simple site will email you leads from journalists posted on Twitter. Sign up is free. You can customize keywords like the library, reading, poverty, eBooks, etc., to your profile. Then you’ll get emails when a journalist Tweets a request for information on those subjects. I don’t get a ton of emails from this site, so don’t worry about your inbox exploding with requests. I find it helpful because, honestly, who can be on Twitter all the time watching for PR opportunities. Bonus tip: when you are on Twitter, search the hashtag #journorequests for direct requests from the media. Use it when you want to pitch a specific story.

Google Alerts:  Set up a free account and get email alerts when the keywords you’ve attached to your account are used in any online source like a TV or radio website, the online edition of a newspaper or magazine, or in a blog. I also set up alerts for my competitors too so I can keep track of what kind of press they’re getting.

Next week: I’ll share the secrets my staff learned during a one-day conference with local reporters and writers. Find out what the media really wants from you and what you can do to make sure your stories get coverage!

Bonus: Free press release templates!

Hubspot template and tips

Pressreleasetemplates.net

Presstemplate.com

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.

 

Shrewd Marketers Challenge Conventions. So Should We!

I’ve thought a lot lately about how to approach library marketing in a new and fresh way. As my library creates and executes our strategy for summer reading, I am looking at each tactic and wondering if we can improve the marketing of this legendary initiative. According to the American Library Association, summer reading programs began in the 1890s as a way to encourage school children, particularly those in urban areas and not needed for farm work, to read during their summer vacation, use the library, and develop the habit of reading. That’s a long time to be marketing a program and I think the industry might be a bit stuck in terms of how we do it.

For inspiration, I’ve looked over notes from a session I attended at Content Marketing World. It was led by Doug Kessler, co-founder and creative director of Velocity Partners, a B2B marketing agency with offices in the U.S. and England. Doug’s session was inspiring. It was titled Exceptional Content–Challenging the Invisible Conventions of Marketing. I printed out my notes and have read them through each morning, then thinking about the points he made every time I need a brain break.

Kessler focused his session on a concept he calls invisible conventions. We have so many invisible conventions in libraries. These are the ideas and practices that library staffers hold as traditional and unchangeable. If you hear someone say, “But we’ve always done it that way”, you know you’re talking about their invisible conventions. Invisible conventions are powerful.  Kessler says they guide and constrain us without us even knowing it.

We do need conventions.  But we don’t need to be slaves to convention. Kessler says it’s our job as marketers to expose the hidden conventions in our institution and play with them. Libraries can’t be precious about their conventions because your cardholders aren’t.  Conventions are a signal to your cardholders that marketing is involved–even if you’re trying to be sneaky about it. Your customers are smart, and they’ll put up their defense barriers.

Think about how you respond to marketing messages for invisible conventions. We’ve all developed a sense of when the pitch is coming and we run the other way! You don’t want to turn off your cardholders–you want to inspire them. But if you hang on to your invisible conventions for safety, you’ll never move forward in the marketing of your library.

Challenging your invisible conventions isn’t going to make you very popular, Kessler warns. And that’s okay. Your administration, leaders of other departments, even fellow librarians may have a strong reaction when you decide to challenge conventions. They are more comfortable with traditional marketing practices and they want you to create pieces that make them feel comfortable. Be strong. Take the long view. Persuade your co-workers that change is necessary and that safe marketing isn’t going to cut it with your cardholders. Your job is not to make everyone else in the library happy. Your job isn’t to make friends with everyone in you work with. Your job is to serve your cardholders, and you can only do that when you put your cardholders first. If that means you need to throw convention out the window, then it’s the best move. Don’t second guess yourself. When your instincts as a marketer tell you that something needs to change, you are right. Change it.

I’m reminded of advice I heard from another Content Marketing World speaker, Amanda Todorovich of the Cleveland Clinic. She confessed she’s made some people at the hospital unhappy with her relentless focus on the customer. She has a strategy and she often says “no” to people who want her to do conventional marketing. That means there are some folks she works with who don’t like her. Amanda is okay with that because she realizes her job is to serve the patients, not her co-workers. I draw inspiration from her attitude when I’m faced with having a difficult conversation with a co-worker. You can too! (Read my post about Amanda here.)

So how do you turn conventional marketing on its head? By doing more content marketing. Kessler says, thanks to the companies who came before us, the public knows marketing messages are often filled with compulsive and shameless lies (thanks, cigarette companies). Traditional marketing is all about the brand: a one-sided sales message.  Content marketing, by contrast, is all about the audience. Content marketing rewards libraries for telling the truth. It’s focused on utility–how can we best help our cardholders. It delivers value, builds trust, and it gives our cardholders the power!

Kessler left me with a final thought: unconventional marketing can lead to great stories. Be straight, simple, conversational, and relevant. You will change hearts and minds.

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.

The Big Challenge That Taught Me All About Library Marketing

The biggest holiday of the year in my city of Cincinnati is, without question, the opening day of the Cincinnati Reds baseball season.

Yes, you read that correctly. Half a million people turn out to line the streets of our city for a wild parade that lasts two hours and contains nearly 200 entries. Then they all stream down to the riverfront for street parties and concerts that lead up to the opening pitch of the day. Everywhere you go, you see people dressed in red and white, screaming from balconies, waving handmade signs… it’s a day-long pep rally. People dress up their dogs and kids and paint their faces and wear beads. It’s the Mardi Gras of Cincinnati. This has been going on for decades.

Our library has participated in this tradition since before I came to the organization. Every year, we march in the parade. I learned I would be responsible for our entry just a few months after I had joined. I had never organized a parade entry before. I had only ever covered the Reds parade in my time in news and had no idea what it was like on the participation side! But five years later, I’ve got the process down pat. And, I’ve thought a lot lately about how that experience mirrors many other projects in library marketing. Here’s what I’ve learned.

If you decide to partner with another organization, choose wisely. When I learned that I would be organizing my first parade entry, I set out to ask for advice. A co-worker told me that I was expected to partner with a local organization that helps disadvantaged children. So I reached out to them and called a meeting. It was a painful experience. They did not offer as much help as I needed. They barely contributed to the cost and labor of creating the entry. I completed all the paperwork and recruited all the volunteers and staff. On the day of the parade, I worried that we would lose one of their young clients, as they apparently thought I should also supervise the kids they had recruited to be in the parade. This was not the first time I’d been involved in a one-sided partnership project. We’re all been there. The next year, I decided to go it alone. It was actually less work and less stress.

Partnering with the right organization can bring you more resources and can help with the workload. Joining up with the wrong group can make the experience more stressful. That’s true with any library marketing project. Do your homework and choose your partners wisely. Approach with a series of questions in mind: What do you hope to accomplish in this partnership? How much time and money can you contribute to help us reach our goals? How will the work be divided among us? How will approvals and major decisions be handled?

Sometimes simple is best. My first parade float attempt a disaster. I had never created a parade entry by myself before and I am not an artist. I had no idea was I was doing. It was a hot mess of ideas and it looked muddled.

The second year was a little better. I had hired a graphic artist who was enthusiastic about the project. She recreated the Reds ballpark, complete with smokestacks made of discarded books. It was amazing–and it took a ton of time and was difficult to manage, given our low-budget. It looked great but it was very stressful.

The third year, I decided we would simply drive our delivery truck, which we had recently re-wrapped in a beautiful branded design created by another of my graphic artists. The difference in the stress level I felt in the weeks leading up to the parade was amazing. And the entry connected with the crowd better than any handmade float because it was a branded, recognizable vehicle.

You may be tempted to be complex in your library marketing projects. After all, complexity feels more productive. More work equals better work, right? Not necessarily. If you can approach each project in its simplest terms and break it down to the points that have real meaning, then work on reaching that goal, you’ll be more successful than if you try to reach a dozen goals in a multi-pronged approach. Your messages to the customer should also be simplified. Speak clearly, say what you mean, don’t use library jargon, and you’ll do a better job of connecting with your audience. Your graphics should be simple. Your services should be simple. Simple makes it easier for people to use your library and that will lead to increases in circulation, program attendance, and overall satisfaction.

Get your staff excited. The most important critical moment of parade planning is the moment I decide to start recruiting staff members to march with our entry. I have to make sure my pitch to them includes incentives for participating and emphasizes the excitement of the moment and the value to our cardholders. I also have to make sure members of senior leadership participate because staff members notice and feel neglected if there isn’t a member of administration marching with them through the cold or rain or heat (April weather in Ohio is completely unpredictable!). Likewise, in library marketing, you need to get your staff excited about your projects. Take the time to explain why you are doing the work you do and why it will help them in their interactions with cardholders.

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.

Unlock the Truth About LinkedIn and Library Marketing

Whenever my staff and I talk about increasing our library marketing reach in the community through social media, one particular staff member always says, “What are we doing on LinkedIn?” For a long time, we all had a little laugh and moved on. We ignored LinkedIn, though this staff member kept telling us it was a platform we needed to pay attention to. But we had a lot to do. Facebook was where most of our cardholders were connecting with us and we struggled to keep up with the demands of creating content for that platform. Plus, we all thought LinkedIn was just for job seekers. We didn’t really view it as a social media platform of the same caliber as Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. We posted on LinkedIn sporadically; maybe twice per week at the most.

My social media specialist went on a well-deserved vacation and I took charge of LinkedIn while he was gone. I decided to experiment by posting on the site every weekday. I picked things I thought would resonate with the LinkedIn audience–professionals looking to network, find new jobs, and build connections that will help them advance in their careers.

One day I posted a promotion for an upcoming seminar on small business grants, with a  graphic I created for free on Canva. On another day, I chose to promote a self-help book from our new arrivals feed. We were already posting a “Worker Wednesday” profile each week, highlighting one of our branch staff on our other social media platforms and I posted that on LinkedIn. I also promoted a niche business magazine from our eBranch and a vintage photo of librarians at one of our branches.

The result is that engagement doubled over the course of two weeks and we decided, right then and there, to adjust our strategy and post more often on LinkedIn. Our little experiment showed there was clearly an audience for those messages.

LinkedIn is an important social media platform for libraries. I’ve said this for a while. And any library that’s not posting on LinkedIn is missing a huge opportunity, particularly in light of the recent algorithm changes and the data breach at Facebook and the toxic atmosphere of Twitter.

Here are the top five reasons why our library posts on LinkedIn and why I think your library should too!

It’s professional and polite. There are lots of people posting daily on LinkedIn about all kinds of ideas surrounding work life and yet, somehow, none of the comments on the platform have spiraled into hate-mongering that you might see on other social networks. This is due to the nature of LinkedIn–almost everyone on the site is aware that future employers are always looking at what they say and how they react. They put their best face and ideas forward. And that makes it a great place for libraries to interact with cardholders. You won’t get pulled down into messy and unproductive conversations and the audience is, by nature, receptive to your posts. There are no trolls! And speaking of which…

Less fake accounts, more organic reach. On LinkedIn, you won’t be targeted by fake accounts trying to prod you for likes, comments, and shares or following you simply to get a follow back. Imagine a world where there are no porn accounts masquerading as real people! The people interacting on LinkedIn are all real. And that makes for more genuine, organic interactions with your audience.

You can find great ideas for program and service promotion centered on career development. If you are looking for a place where you can gather ideas to create programs and services that will help grow the professional lives of your users, you should be on LinkedIn every day. Follow major companies and professional coaches to learn more about how career development is growing, spot trends, and find ways to showcase the resources your library can provide to help people looking for a new job or looking to advance their careers.

It’s a great place to share the story of your library. If you need a place to publish articles about your library, you should do that on LinkedIn. Top performing articles on the platform, according to Newswhip, include posts that help the reader add a positive or remove a negative from their life, job advice, and articles centered on how CEO’s best lead their team. In my personal experience, sharing books about career advancement and profiles of regular library staff members work well with the LinkedIn audience.

It’s a good platform to try something unexpected. I want to share a surprising discovery we made on our library’s own LinkedIn page. Our job and career-related posts generally do well. We get hundreds and sometimes thousands of impressions and dozens to hundreds of link clicks. But in the last few months, we found that posts about exhibits on display at the Main Library are also interesting to the LinkedIn audience! For example, in February, we did a small but cute display of cheesy vintage romantic novels to celebrate Valentine’s Day. We did a simple promotional post on LinkedIn and got more than 1100 impressions. Not bad! RIght now, our Main Library is housing a display of artwork from kids in the Cincinnati City School District and our promotional post about that display is getting even better engagement! So try unconventional posts too. Your LinkedIn followers may respond to something that you can’t predict, like news about an art exhibit!

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.

Subject Line Secrets: Get Emails Opened Now!

If you’ve read my blog for any length of time you know that I believe in email marketing for libraries. At my library, we’ve used email to communicate with cardholders for more than three years and it’s the most powerful and effective tool I have at my disposal. I try to talk it up with my fellow library marketing professionals when I have the chance. Many institutions have concerns about privacy.They worry about bugging cardholders too often with emails. Those fears are unfounded, and I’ve shared why you needn’t worry in past posts like this one so I won’t rehash it here.

Many libraries have jumped on board the email marketing train and, like me, are constantly looking for ways to improve open and click-through rates. The first point of entry to a cardholder is the subject line. So I have been researching how to do a better job of grabbing the attention of cardholders as soon as my email comes into their inbox.

The subject line is the most important and most difficult part of the email to create, at least for me! But I have eight tips for writing better subject lines. I’ve used these tips to increase open and click-through rates at my library. Over time, I’ve noticed an increase in engagement from our emails–that translates to more books and other items put on hold and increased program attendance. I believe that’s result of the decision to fine tune our email subject lines.

Tip #1-Save the subject line for last. I write the rest of the email first and tackle the subject line right before I’m ready to send a test message. If you write the body of the email first, you’ll have the tone, the graphics, and the call to action decided by the time you get to the subject line. All of the technical elements of your email will determine what kind of subject line will work best for you. Wait until you’ve got the meat of the email written before you tackle the subject line. By the time you get to it, the subject line might write itself!

Tip #2-Say something to pique their curiosity. I approach each subject line in the same way I approached headlines when I was writing for TV news websites. I search for the most interesting nugget of information in my email, then make that the center of my subject line. In news, we called this “finding the tease-able element.” Find the most curious and unique portion of whatever you are promoting–books, magazines, an event, or an online class–and focus your subject line around that.

Tip #3-Say something urgent. I like to use urgent language during the Big Library Read promotions from Overdrive, when we can offer our cardholders unlimited checkouts of a particular eBook or eAudiobook. This is a limited time offer and using urgent language in the subject line is appropriate. Phrases like Hurry, Limited Time Offer, and Ending Soon are great examples. You can use urgent language to promote programs with a registration cap to create the “fear of missing out”(FOMO) effect in your emails.

Tip #4-Appeal to their desire to save money. We all know the value of library usage for our cardholders. We can’t offer sales or discounts but we can still appeal to the discount nature of our cardholders by reminding them, in the subject line, about how much dough they save using us.

Tip #5-Start with an “alert” phrase. Using words like Alert, Sneak Peek, First Look, and Hey There sounds corny (at least they did to me). You might think they’re so overused by big brands that there is no way a library cardholder will engage with that language. You’d be wrong. I think cardholders are honestly accustomed to very serious library emails which avoid alert language. So when you do use it, it grabs their attention.

Tip #6-Keep it short. Try to stay under ten words or 40 characters. That doesn’t seem like much but you want to make sure that your subject line can be seen in full on every mobile device and in desktop email preview mode. You know from using Twitter that keeping it short will force you to write your best work… so embrace it!

Tip #7-Try alliteration. It’s catchy and it will stick in your cardholders’ head.

Tip #8-Avoid spam triggers. These are words that can trip a cardholders’ automatic spam filter. There are nearly 500 such words. So, instead of listing them all here, I’ll give you a link to this compilation. It’s the best one I’ve found. I urge you to bookmark it… I did! Then do your darndest avoid using these words.

More help with emails!

How to Write an Amazing Subject Line in Six to Nine Words

Make it Damn Near Impossible to Ignore Your Emails

Four Secrets For Sending Powerful Library Emails

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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