I don’t ever want to hear anyone tell me ever again that libraries can’t adapt and be flexible. My friends in the library world have proven their adaptability this year in dozens of ways.

The biggest sea change is around how libraries deliver programs to their community. Librarians shifted on a dime when buildings closed and limited service due to the pandemic.

One of the major changes came in the way libraries deliver programs. Almost every library I’ve worked with is now delivering programs live on Facebook. And they’re doing a fantastic job.

But many librarians say they have a hard time getting people to attend these live programs. They want more people to be a part of the livestreams.

It takes a lot of work to put a livestream virtual program together. And the more people who attend, the more likely they are to recognize the value of your library.

I’ve got some tips that will help you promote your Facebook livestreams to get more viewers.

Plan it out

Before you go live on Facebook, you ask yourself these questions:

What are my goals? Your main goal should be more than “I want to get 20 people to watch the livestream.” Think holistically about what you want your audience to get from your livestream. Be as specific as possible.

Some good goals are “To teach our audience how to search for articles, marriage and death notices, and other information about their families in our newspaper archive” or “To show viewers how to use the new feature updates on the Libby app from Overdrive to better manage their holds.”

A goal or goals for your live video will help you when it comes time to decide how you’ll structure your live and what you’ll say. It also gives you a measurable outcome that you can use to assess the use of live virtual programs.

What will my main message be? The main message is how you translate your overall video goal into a line that you can repeat in your promotion of the video and while you are live.

For example, if your goal is to explain those new features on the Libby app, your main message might be, “You now have more control over the e-books and audiobooks you check out from your library.” Repeating your main message in your video pre-promotion, during the video, and when you post the video on-demand will help drive that message home and make it stick in your viewer’s mind.

Who is my target audience? Readers of this blog know that the best way to have success in marketing is to pick an audience and market to them, rather than marketing to the whole of your cardholder base.

Picking a target audience is important when you’re working in Facebook, because the platform will pick up on any keywords you use in your program description. They’ll help you find those specific viewers by showing your organic post to people who may actually be interested in it.

Once you’ve answered these three questions, you’ll have a good foundation as you head into the stage where you promote your livestream.

Promote before you go live

Facebook suggests that you schedule an announcement post in Live Producer. That feature will automatically create a Facebook preview post. Your library followers can then set up a reminder to join the live broadcast.

You can also set up a Facebook event as a preview to your livestream. If you choose to go this route, be sure to explain that you’ll be going live on your main Facebook page, not within the event.

You can also create organic preview posts. Use an eye-catching graphic or photo and link to your virtual event calendar, where people can register to attend.

Registration for your virtual programs is a great option because it gives your library control over communication. Ask for your potential viewer’s email. Then, send them a reminder to watch from your own email marketing system.

In your reminder email, include other virtual program choices and collection items that compliment your livestream. You should also ask recipients to sign up for other email or newsletter marketing from your library.

Whichever option you go with, be sure to promote your livestream at least two weeks before it happens.

And don’t forget to promote your live program on your other channels, like in your email marketing, on your website’s homepage, or even with fliers or bookmarks that you slip into holds or curbside pickups.

Focus on the conversation

Your promotional efforts don’t end when you hit the “live” button.

Facebook will serve a notification of your live virtual program to people who may be scrolling the news feed while you are live. And the best way to get those notifications to happen is to make sure your audience is having a lively conversation.

To help facilitate the conversation, come up with a list of questions for viewers of your livestream before you go live. If the conversation with viewers lags during your livestream, refer to your list and ask the next question to spark comments again.

Now, that’s hard to do when you’re also the person who is hosting or talking during the livestream! So, ask one of your library co-workers with admin access to your library’s Facebook page to post a comment as the library.

You may also find these posts helpful

Virtual Library Programmers–Heads Up! Here’s a Super Easy, Step-by-Step Plan to Establish a Style Guide for Your Library Videos

Butts in Seats: Which Video Metrics Count as Attendance in the New World of Virtual Library Programming?

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