Your Library Needs an Instagram

Stop whatever you are doing right now for two minutes and read this urgent message from me. I would not ask for your undivided attention if I did not really believe that this post is important.

There is one social media platform on which libraries are failing, and its greatly upsetting to me because, frankly, it’s the easiest one to use and populate. So stop the madness. Get an Instagram account.

I know you are pressed for time. I am guessing you look at Instagram as a way to showcase beautiful, fun photos but without direct links or pitches, you don’t see the marketing value. You may believe it doesn’t offer any real ROI on the time it will take to set it up and support it.

I disagree. It’s where you need to be.  Don’t ignore it. It’s not as hard or as time-consuming as you think and it does have ROI. It builds brand awareness. It fosters a community of library lovers. It reaches out and engages a younger generation of readers. It’s hip. It’s cool. Its value is in its potential.

Sure, you need a strategy. Start with something simple-tell the back-story of your library. Post photos from your archive. Post photos from behind-the-scenes: the cataloging room, the distribution dock, the book drop. Post photos of exhibits, artwork, beautiful book covers or great book displays. Post photos of your cardholders reading.  Post photos of your outdoor reading areas, your drive-thru window, or the view from the roof. You only need to post once a day to start building an audience and to gain a valuable presence.

Follow other libraries. Follow library lovers–you’ll know them when you see them. Comment and like their photos. They’ll like, comment, and even tag you back.

Why are you doing this? This is where millennials and teens are hanging out. They’re the future of your library. Engage with them. Be willing to take the time to build a community where they hang out.  Surprise and delight them.

Need some inspiration? Here are some libraries doing it right.

New York Public Library

ULCA’s Powell Library

Boston Public Library

and my Library.

If your library has an Instagram, please share a link in the comments section. I’d love to hear about your experience with Instagram.

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

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