Photo courtesy of the Cincinnati and Hamilton County Public Library

This is the first installment in my series on social media best practices for libraries in 2023. You can see the second installment, which covers Facebook, by going here.

In the next few weeks, we’ll cover TikTok, YouTube, Instagram, and (maybe!) Twitter. These are the top platforms used by libraries according to the 7th annual Super Library Marketing Reader Survey.

LinkedIn for libraries

At the Library Marketing and Communications Conference this year, library marketers were asking each other, “What are you going to do about Twitter? Is your library leaving the platform?”

I am hoping that Twitter will settle down in the next few weeks. If so, I’ll be giving you some practical advice to use if your library continues to post on Twitter.

But LinkedIn is a viable alternative to Twitter. In fact, it makes more sense for your library to be on LinkedIn.

It’s true that Twitter and LinkedIn are very different platforms. Twitter is a running “firehose” of information, opinions, and entertainment. LinkedIn is a more professional platform.

But that doesn’t mean that your library can only use LinkedIn to recruit new library employees.

The case for promoting your library on LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a place where your library can build connections with partners and potential partners. You can also use this platform to build trust with your community. The platform is a perfect place for you to position your library as a source of news, information, and helpful resources on all kinds of topics. In fact, LinkedIn has evolved and its users are now interested in more than career-related content.

And, even though it feels like Twitter has a huge and important audience, the statistics are clear. There are more global users on LinkedIn than on Twitter.

  • LinkedIn has 830 million users worldwide versus Twitter’s 396.5 million users.
  • There are 160 million LinkedIn users in the United States. A mere 77 million Americans use Twitter.
  • 36 percent of adults in the U.S. between the ages of 30 and 49 use LinkedIn.

Your community members are more likely to see your LinkedIn posts than your Twitter posts. That makes it a much better use of your time.

Finally, according to Adweek, LinkedIn is the second most trusted social media platform.

A chart of voting times in Lucas County, Ohio.
Toledo Lucas County Public Library saw great engagement on this informative LinkedIn post. It positions the library as a trusted source for voting information.

The LinkedIn algorithm for 2023

Here are the ranking signals LinkedIn uses to decide who sees your posts.

  • Post quality: According to SocialChamp, each LinkedIn post is scanned by a bot. The post is then assigned to one of three categories: spam, low-quality, or clear.
  • Early engagement: LinkedIn will show your post first to your followers. LinkedIn will gradually widen the audience, depending on how much engagement your post gets in the first hours of its life. And while that sounds limiting, LinkedIn revealed this fall that it changed its algorithm to give users a “wider scope of possible matches.” That means your content is more likely to get in front of audience members who will engage with it.
  • Connections: As LinkedIn widens the audience for your post, it will show your content to your close connections and accounts that have indicated in the past they are interested in the type of content you are posting. Constant engagement is important.

Here are four ways to get the best organic reach for your library’s LinkedIn posts in 2023.

Aim for the right kind of engagement.

LinkedIn weighs engagement differently. Here is a straightforward way to understand the breakdown.

  • A comment is worth more than a like.
  • A share is worth more than a comment.
  • A long comment is worth more than a short comment.

Think strategically about each of your LinkedIn posts. How can you encourage your audience to share and leave longer comments on your posts? Here are a couple of options:

  • Ask open-ended questions like, “Tell us what you think about the library’s new outdoor holds lockers?” or “What is your favorite memory of the library?”
  • Use hashtags. Hashtags help establish your library’s credibility and expertise. They also ensure your content reaches the people who value your insights and content. LinkedIn recommends you use no more than 3 hashtags per post. They also say you should use a mix of broad hashtags and niche hashtags for maximum exposure. For example, if your library is posting about its Winter Reading program on LinkedIn, you might use #WinterReading, #ILoveReading, and #YourLibrarysName.
  • Tag other LinkedIn accounts. When appropriate, tag a partner organization, another library, or a member of your library’s staff. When you do that, the account you’ve tagged will be notified on the platform and by email. They will likely comment and engage with your post. They may even share it with their network, which exposes your library to a whole new audience. Example: The Helen Plum Library is building a new branch. In this post, they tagged the video production company, construction company, and architects helping with the project.
  • Respond to users who comment on your posts and thank users who share your posts. Showing appreciation builds goodwill. It’s also an easy way to increase the engagement of your post.

Use LinkedIn to build trust in your library.

The professional nature of the LinkedIn network is what makes the platform less susceptible to deceptive content according to Business Insider. They’ve ranked LinkedIn first in “legitimacy” for all social media platforms.

Libraries can take advantage of that by using the platform to build trust in their organizations. Here are three ideas for trust-building content on LinkedIn.

  • Profile staff. Your staff is one of your most valuable resources. They are what makes your library stand out from your competitors. And because LinkedIn is a professional social media platform, staff profiles are a perfect piece of content to post on LinkedIn.
  • Position senior staff as thought leaders. When your senior staff shares their expertise on key issues, they help the reputation of the library. Your audience will perceive your library to be useful, trustworthy, and experienced. Ask your director, managers, and board of trustees to write about key issues facing your community or library. Then, post those pieces on LinkedIn.
  • Explain your library’s policies and highlight your mission, vision, and values. How does your collection development department choose books? LinkedIn is a perfect platform to explain why your library does the work you do. That transparency will build trust in your organization.
LinkedIn post from Oak Park Library announcing its first Latinx Language & Culture Librarian.
Oak Park Public Library is positioning itself as an inclusive part of the community and a leader in the library industry by hiring a Latinx Language & Culture Librarian.

Interact with other LinkedIn accounts.

If you want more engagement on your posts, you’ve got to comment and react to other related accounts. The van der Bloom report backs this up with some data – more engagement with your network results in up to 10 percent more engagement on your own posts.

Spend some time finding your partner organizations and potential partner organizations on LinkedIn. Follow other libraries and library organizations like the American Library Association, EveryLibrary, and the Institute of Museum and Library Service. Follow your vendors like NoveList. And then, every day, check your feed and engage with the posts from these organizations.

LinkedIn post from the Sacramento Public Library promoting Ride and Read.
The Sacramento Public Library shared a post from one of its partner organizations. This was very little work for the library and it attracted great engagement for their page!

Ask your staff, especially senior leaders, to share and comment on your library’s LinkedIn posts.

When your staff and senior leaders are actively sharing and commenting on your library’s content on LinkedIn, your page will be more visible. Sharing also helps promote the idea that your library is a collaborative, inclusive, and friendly organization.

And sharing your LinkedIn posts has a benefit for library staff. It helps them build a strong personal brand, improve the connections they have on the platform, and expand their own career options.

Carousel of staff photos from Omaha Public Library, showing smiling people enjoying a celebration and each other's company.
The Omaha Public Library got great engagement from this LinkedIn post featuring its staff.

How often and when to post on LinkedIn

StoryChief recommends your library post about four times a week on LinkedIn.

I recommend posting early in the morning, Monday through Thursday. You’ll want to experiment to see how your own audience reacts. But for more libraries I work with, this appears to be the sweet spot in terms of a LinkedIn posting schedule.

How much text should be in a LinkedIn post?

Search Wilderness analyzed more than 3,000 LinkedIn posts to find this answer: posts between 1,900 and 2,000 words perform best.

That’s a lot of text. But it gives your library the opportunity to explain, engage, and connect with your audience on an in-depth level.

LinkedIn media best practices

LinkedIn recommends image size for posts of 1200 x 628 pixels or 1:91:1 aspect ratio.

LinkedIn recommends keeping video length under 30 seconds. However, I would recommend that your library experiment with length. I have seen videos of five minutes or longer which get high reach and engagement interaction.

Videos should be uploaded natively to LinkedIn. Don’t link to YouTube, Vimeo, or other video players. LinkedIn views those as competitors and will suppress your reach.

Make certain you caption videos and upload a thumbnail for the best results. And add alt text to all images.

Measuring success on LinkedIn

You’ll find analytics for your library’s LinkedIn page under the “Analytics” tab. You can export all metrics from LinkedIn.

You can see how many people visited your page, as well as how many clicked on links posted to your page. You can also see the job functions of your visitors, which can help you to create content that’s relevant. And you can see where your followers and visitors live.

LinkedIn shows you insights for individual posts including reach and engagement. You can compare the types of content in your posts, to see which is driving engagement for your audience. When you identify a content type that works for your library on LinkedIn, you should post more of that!


More Advice

Your Library Needs To Use Camel Case Hashtags on Social Media: Join the Movement To Force Change!

Market, Message, and Medium: A Library Marketer Shares How She Tackles Promotions in a Time Crunch

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