Francesca Castro has been visiting libraries for as long as she can remember.
“My mother took me to children’s programs at the public library when I was very young,” recalled Francesca. “Then, in elementary and middle school, I begged my parents for cash to spend at the annual book fair. In college, I was pulling all-nighters and made some of my best memories of my academic career in the library.”
Now, not even a year after graduating from Arkansas State University with a degree in communications, Francesca is working her first professional job at a library. And her success, particularly around TikTok, is inspiring library marketers twice her age, myself included.
Francesca is a Marketing Coordinator for the Saline County Library in Benton, Arkansas. The library has a service population of about 85,000 residents.
Francesca’s interest in managing the library’s TikTok began during her interview. “I remember asking if Saline County Library (SCL) had a TikTok account,” she said. “Their response was no. So I told them if they hired me, I would make a Saline County Library TikTok account and that I had gone viral a few times on my personal account and would want to do the same for SCL.”
“I understand that it is hard to grab the attention of teens and tweens these days and a lot of them are already on TikTok, so why not bring the library content to them, ” continued Francesca. “I also use the platform to show that libraries are more than what people assume that they are. I have made videos about what working in the library is like versus what people probably think it is like, and I make sure to post content that shows you can check out items other than books.”
Francesca has created more than 40 posts on TikTok since she launched the Saline County Library account, which has nearly 500 followers. One of the most popular posts is a simple, short slideshow of storytime set to music.
She’s quick to jump on trends, like this one featuring the Titanic theme. Francesca also appears in some of the posts, which adds a personal touch to the account and adds a face that library patrons may recognize when they walk into the building.
Francesca does have a secret formula for TikTok success based on her experience and research.
“I have learned to almost spam posts on TikTok,” she revealed. “The algorithm on TikTok is like an endless loop, and videos from weeks ago are still floating on the surface. Unlike other platforms, your post would not be the first to pop up on the screen after a few days. The reason I say spam post is because the more videos you post, the more content you have going through that endless loop.”
“Another tip I have figured out is to keep the content short and relatable. The key to success on TikTok is to be short, entertaining, and straight to the point.”
And even though consistency is key, Francesca admits she is not always consistent when it comes to posting TikToks. “I usually post them when I have an idea, and I get inspiration from other library TikTok accounts. I try to post 3-5 times a week.”
Many library marketers are also intimated by the process of editing videos for TikTok. But Francesca says you don’t need fancy editing software or third-party apps. Simplicity is key.
“When it comes to editing the videos, I usually just edit them on TikTok, which only takes a few minutes,” she advised. “I will say I am consistent with the hashtags I use. I like to use #Librarytok #librarymarketing, and #booktalk.”
And although she’s only six months into her new role, Francesca has advice for other libraries looking to use TikTok to reach new audiences.
“If you are unsure about starting a TikTok page, I suggest you have a person or a team of people who are outgoing and not shy to run the page,” she said. “The advice I would give any Library would be to beware of trends and KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE!”
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February 13, 2023 at 4:29 pm
I have just started working for my library as a marketing coordinator. I manage the TikTok account and am curious about copyright when it comes to music.
Since we have a business account, we can’t use trendy popular songs as they are licensed.
But I see other libraries registered as personal accounts In order to use the licensed music.
Would this cause any legal issues down the road?
We are in Canada so it may be different than in the States. Just wondering if you could provide some insight.
Bradford West Gwillimbury Public Library