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How to Pick Books and More for Collection Marketing

I am not a librarian but sometimes I play one at work sometimes.

One of my favorite parts of the marketing my public library is choosing books, eBooks, audiobooks, movies, and magazines to promote to our cardholders. Collection marketing is a successful part of the marketing strategy at our library. About three years ago, we started to do these targeted emails and social media posts to drive circulation numbers. And it worked! Collection marketing is something every library should do.

How do I actually choose the items we promote? It’s not as easy as it sounds. Most people who work in library marketing are not librarians. My degree is in communication, not library science. But I’ve been picking items to promote for four years and, after picking a few duds, I’ve got a system figured out. So let me share my tips with you.

Pick new stuff. Several years of promotional data tell me that cardholders want the new items entering your collection. We may want to promote older items for re-circulation, but that’s not what our users want to check out. And your biggest competitors are not other libraries. You are competing with Amazon and your local bookstore, where your cardholders can get their hands on the latest books. Most people don’t even think about the library when their favorite author releases a new book. A concentrated collection marketing effort will change that attitude over time. Your cardholders will learn that they can come to you for new books when they are released.

My library sends an email once a month to several cardholder clusters-lovers of print books, lover of eBooks, lovers of audiobooks, lovers of kids’ books, and lovers of downloadable magazines. I pick three new items to promote in each email. It takes me about 20 minutes total to create each message from start to finish. The emails drive a circulation increase for those titles on average anywhere from 125 percent to 375 percent.

The question I get from most libraries when we talk about our new items strategy is this: “Don’t you worry that you’ll create a long holds list. You’ll make people angry because they have to wait.” I was worried about this when I began collection marketing. But the data tells me it doesn’t matter how long the holds list is. Truly. People will wait for a new book for a couple of weeks, at least. Most public libraries have a system for putting a new book or item into the online catalog a few weeks before the item is actually available in the building. That’s the perfect moment to start promoting it, particularly if you include a line in your promotion telling your cardholders that they are getting a jump on the holds list. Your most avid cardholders will pounce at the chance to get in line for holds on a new item.

Pay attention to book pop culture and promote items getting media or critical buzz. I listen to podcasts to learn new books headed to shelves, including the New York Public Library’s podcast The Librarian is In and Overdrive’s Professional Book Nerds Podcast. There are YouTube channels where librarians review advanced reader copies. You can also find advance reviews on Goodreads. And publishing houses like Penguin will often do Facebook live streams with reviewers who talk about their latest releases. If an avid reader of any kind is super excited about an upcoming book release, it’s a title you should promote.

Pick books with interesting covers. This sounds super vain but I swear to you it works. Whenever I send an email to my cardholders, I try to pick good books that meet the previous two guidelines but that also have a bright, colorful, or interesting cover. The better the cover, the higher the circulation numbers will be. Publishers understand the psychological impact of a good book cover. They spend a ton of money and research to pick the most engaging cover and we can use that to our advantage when we choose items to promote.

Pick something for everyone. The decision to market three items in each email is very intentional. I don’t have a lot of data about the exact reading preferences of the cardholders in each cluster I target with my collection emails, due to library privacy concerns. I don’t know exactly what kinds of books each of those cardholders like (mysteries, literary fiction, memoirs, etc.), so I try to pick something for everyone. I usually choose one literary fiction title, one nonfiction, and one thriller/mystery title. I make sure that I don’t pick three female or three male authors. I try to make sure there is something to interest as many people as possible in each email.

Don’t actually pick the items. That’s right! The easiest thing to do is to delegate the selection of items to the people who know what they’re doing–your collection or materials selection department. Contact the department. Set some guidelines for the kind of books you think your cardholders will love. And let them do the work.

I also periodically ask the general staff of my library for recommendations. Librarians love it when you ask them for their recommendations! At this moment, I’m scrolling through a list of more than 50 eBook suggestions from librarians all over my system for National Read an eBook Day. If you ask for recommendations from staff, I guarantee your biggest problem will be whittling down the answers!

Subscribe to this blog and you’ll receive an email every time I post. To do that, click on “Follow” button in the bottom left-hand corner of the page. Connect with me on Twitter, Snapchat, and LinkedIn. I talk about library marketing on all those platforms! 

The Library Marketing Live Show Episode 5: Ideas for Marketing Your Library’s Collection

Watch it now

Can you answer this super short survey about the live show? I need some feedback, please!

Things We Talked About

Collection marketing! Tracy from Wright Memorial Public Library asked to talk about marketing the collection. I do this at my library mainly through email and social media. I have a strong relationship with my friends in the Materials and Acquisition Selection department and I talked about that and why it’s important to not take it for granted that your cardholders know that the library has new materials.

Learn More

How to Pick Books and More for Collection Marketing

The Story of the Yeti: Why You Should Make Friends with Collection Developers

Stay in Touch

You still have time to register to attend the free webinar on digital promotions happening tomorrow, Thursday, July 25! You’ll find the link to that plus two conferences where I’ll be speaking on the events page.

Have an idea for the next Library Marketing Live Show? Submit it now.

We’ll chat on Instagram on Tuesday at noon EST for about 15 minutes. My handle is @Webmastergirl so follow me to see the show live!

Show, Don’t Tell: Why Infographics are an Essential Component in Your Library Marketing

Infographics are visual marketing pieces that help explain facts and figures or lay out a complex set of information in a way that is easy to understand. They’re an incredibly effective marketing tactic.

Until recently, I thought infographics were a relatively new marketing tactic. I remember deciding in 2013 to create an infographic, the first for my library, to promote a readalikes list. I thought I was so innovative!

Turns out, infographics have been around for hundreds of years. Fun fact: The first known instance of infographics as we know them today dates to the late 1700s with a chart of wheat process and labor wages.

Frankly, I love infographics. They appeal to my visual and creative nature. They work well on social media. But they take a lot of time and planning. So, for libraries with a limited marketing staff, it can seem daunting to create one. But it’s worth it.

Why use infographics in library marketing?

Infographics grab attention. Our brains are hard wired for visuals. The human eye can process 36,000 visual messages per hour. That’s 60,000 times faster than the brain can process text. 60,000 times. Whoa.

A good infographic will trigger a reaction in the human brain, sometimes even before the person consciously realizes and processes that reaction.

Think about what happens to you when you see a photograph of a beloved family member or friend. The photo instantly makes you cry, laugh, or long for that person to return to your life. An infographic can trigger the same kind of emotional response. And emotional responses are the best kind of marketing, because they are memorable.

Infographics can explain complex ideas and convey a lot of information in a simple way that is accessible to many audiences. Libraries deal with a lot of data. Our products and services are sometimes difficult to break down into steps. A good infographic will take facts and figures, difficult instructions, or confusing concepts and present them in a way that everyone can understand.

Infographics will position your library as an expert in a way that words can’t. A good visual will demonstrate your library’s subject-matter expertise. It can boost your credibility. It shows that you care about effective communication with your community. And that builds trust with your visitors, community members, and stakeholders in a way that feels more genuine that fancy words.

Three ways to use infographics in your library marketing

Promote your collection. Use infographics to promote a themed collection series, such as new dystopian fiction, the best book club reads, or mystery authors.

You can recruit your collection development department to come up with a list or, if your library is a NoveList client, you can use the NoveList database to find books within a theme. Use the infographic to drive traffic to those titles in your catalog. This works really well on social media.

Explain difficult information. Create an infographic to help you explain something to your cardholders, like how to download an eBook, how to pay a fine, how your library uses taxpayer funding, or why summer reading is vital to childhood literacy.

Infographic template from LibraryAware

Show that your library is fun! Have your content team come up with a great idea for a fun promotion, like 20 signs that you might be a bookworm or how to make a bookmark out of an old book.

How to design a library marketing infographic

Create an outline. An outline can help you to lay out the pieces of the infographic and cut your ideas down to the essential elements.

Decide which points are essential for getting your message across. Is there a story to be told in the data or concept you are trying to convey? Is there a beginning, a middle, and an end to that story?

Once your outline is set, your other design elements will become clear to you. What is your theme? Will you use charts or graphics, lists or numbered elements, photos, shapes, or icons? Write those decisions down next to each section in the outline to help you organize your thoughts.

Plan your layout. You’ll want to make sure all the elements of your infographic are balanced. But that doesn’t mean everything has to be symmetrical!

For instance, if your infographic is explaining something that has a lot of considerations at the beginning of the process and works toward one end result, you could consider a funnel-design: making the number of visuals heavy at the top and lighter as the eye moves down.

If you are explaining something on a timeline, you can arrange your elements evenly from top to bottom but not directly across from one another.

It’s good to sketch your layout out before you go into a design program. This saves time in the actual process of creation and gives you space to make changes at a stage where it’s easy to fix.

You will also want to plan out any places in your infographic where you might need a visual break, like a solid block of color or a line or shape. Finally, be sure to leave white space. You want your infographic to look uncluttered.

Decide your color scheme. A good rule of thumb is to design your infographic with two or three main colors. Then choose a few minor color accents.

The subject of your infographic will have a bearing on your color decision. Some colors work better for explaining data, and some work better for explaining processes.

Infographic template in LibraryAware

Take your branding into consideration when you decide on your color scheme, to avoid clashing with your logo.

Pick your fonts. You’ll want to make sure your type is accessible to all audiences. Avoid script-type fonts. Keep in mind that an infographic is visual, and the amount of text will be minimal, so the font you choose must compliment the design elements of the infographics.

Limit your use of fonts to just two or three types. It’s good design to pick a font for the header, one for the main body text, and a third for the complimentary or subtext.

Write a headline that hooks your target audience. As you would with emails or blog articles, the headline or title of your infographic will need to convey the general theme of your visual and catch the attention of your potential audience. Be descriptive and catchy. The title should be shorter than a headline you may use for other content—only a few words long.

LibraryAware by NoveList has a complete section of infographic templates that make this process easy. If you aren’t a LibraryAware client, you can request a demo. For more help with your library marketing, email me at Subscribe to this blog and you’ll receive an email every time I post. To do that, click on the “Follow” button in the bottom left-hand corner of the page. Connect with me on YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.  



The Seven-Step Process to Empower Your Branch Staff and Turn Them into Incredible Library Marketing Ambassadors

I realized something significant in the past few months. It has changed the way I think about library marketing.

I have built a pretty great team and I’ve been vigilant about using data to help me market my library with tactics like email, social, and video.

But there was one marketing tactic that I haven’t used. I haven’t thought about using it. And I need to correct this oversight to take my library marketing to a whole new level.

I need to empower my library’s front-line staff to be library marketing ambassadors.

In the Library Marketing Show, Episode 26, we discussed handing over some of the library marketing work to branch staff. There is work that can only be done by trained marketing and communications professionals. But there are things branch staff can do to offer personalized promotions of events, services, and collection items. They can also offer personalized customer service. And that’s the most important marketing tactic of all.

Back in 2017,  commerce platform Cloud IQ team research found that 69 percent of people want personalized customer service.

In 2018, Accenture Research found that 91 percent of consumers are more likely to shop brands that provide a personalized experience.

Providing personalized customer experience is important for library marketing success. This is difficult for libraries, given our strong commitment to the privacy of our cardholders and their data. But there is a way to do personalized customer service without data. And it could differentiate libraries from our competition.

Library staff must be empowered to think of themselves as marketing ambassadors for the library. If we give our branch staff the tools, training, and confidence, they can create a great customer experience for our visitors. And that can be a competitive advantage for libraries.

We don’t have the money for artificial intelligence or fancy automated marketing tools. But we do have people. Great people. People who are passionately committed to their communities and their customers.

This is really a change in mindset for libraries. This is not something that you’ll talk about once at a staff meeting and forget it. This is something we need to do every day, without fail.

Here is the seven-step process to get front line staff to think of their work as part of marketing.

Change your own thought process around marketing. Just as the front-line staff doesn’t often think that their interactions with customers have anything to do with marketing, the marketing staff often doesn’t consider putting front-line staff to use. Make it a habit to think about how to incorporate front-line staff in your marketing. Handing them some posters doesn’t count. You will want to plot out the specific ways staff can help you with each campaign. Then give them the tools to help them succeed.

Communicate with branch staff regularly about your marketing. If you have a library staff blog or another communication channel, use it to share what you’re doing in your marketing department. And share often.

Each time you start a new marketing campaign or initiative, share your plans with staff. Tell them exactly what the goals are, what tactics you’re using to achieve them, and how you’ll measure success. Always remind the staff about your library’s strategic goals. State how your marketing efforts are making those goals become a reality.

Set aside time in your regular schedule to have conversations with the librarians. This shouldn’t be a scripted interaction. Ask the staff about their work. Find out what they get asked by customers. You will learn something new and get plenty of ideas for what library offerings need more marketing support. Speaking of ideas…

Ask the branch staff for ideas.  An informal suggestion process will help staff feel like they’re part of the marketing department’s success or failure. It makes them more likely to help market the initiative. And you’re likely to find something amazing in their suggestions.

Never reject an idea outright, even if it seems crazy. You risk hampering the creativity of your library staff if they are worried that their suggestions will be silly or stupid. Tell the staff that all ideas are welcome and that library marketing staff will consider each idea carefully. Incorporate the ones that best suit the campaign, the library’s strategic goals, the budget, and the library’s resources.

Try to work at least one staff idea for your marketing into each campaign. If staff make suggestions but see that their ideas are never taken seriously, they’ll stop giving you feedback

Encourage your staff to think of themselves as ambassadors for the library system. They represent everything your library stands for. Your library staff knows their community. They know the needs of their customer base. And they can offer the best, personalized customer service to the people coming into their location.

Let the staff know that you appreciate their unique perspective on your customer base. Reinforce the idea that every part of their job, from shelving holds, to signing people up for cards, to running programs, is a form of marketing. Every interaction they have with a cardholder is a chance for promotion.

Encourage staff to interact with your library on social media if they feel comfortable doing so. Talk to senior leaders and see if it’s possible to grant library staff 15 minutes a week, on work time, to share library social media posts on their personal profiles.

Give staff specific ideas for how they can help spread the library’s message on social by sharing library posts, sharing their own stories or inspiring thoughts about the library, and tagging the library’s social media accounts, commenting or liking posts, inviting friends and family to follow the library on social media, and listing your library as their employer on their personal profiles.

If staff is regularly engaging and sharing content from your library’s social media profiles, you’ll see engagement increase. Algorithms reward libraries with engaged staff!

Lead by example and encourage other senior leaders in your organization to do the same. When staff sees senior leaders and marketing staff talking about the library and sharing their enthusiasm for their work on social, they’ll likely follow suit.

Check the Upcoming Events page for a list of webinars and conferences where I’ll be next. Let’s connect! Plus, subscribe to this blog and you’ll receive an email every time I post. To do that, click on the “Follow” button in the bottom left-hand corner of the page. Connect with me on YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.   





The New Guide to Library Marketing Social Media for 2020! Part Four: Maximizing YouTube for Video Plus What About Tumblr, Snapchat, and TikTok?

This is the fourth and final installment in a series of posts with tips for making social media work for your library in 2020. Visit this page to read the first installment, which will help you set up your strategy and give you a framework for creating a workflow on any platform. Visit this page to read the second installment with lots of tips about how to get the best results out of Facebook and Instagram. Visit this page for the third installment to learn the latest strategies for LinkedIn and Pinterest library marketing.

YouTube is your best option for telling your library’s story.

YouTube is a video-driven social media network. The platform is now responsible for 11 percent of all global video traffic, second only to Netflix. Currently, YouTube has more than one billion users, and more than half of all views come from mobile devices. 

My family doesn’t watch TV anymore. We watch YouTube. We use it for entertainment and learning. When my 15-year-old decides to teach herself a new language, she downloads a language app AND watches a bunch of language tutorials on YouTube. When my college student was struggling with organic chemistry, she watched explainer videos on YouTube. When I need a break from my daily grind, I watch standup routines on YouTube. When we decided to re-roof our house, my husband watched roofing technique videos on YouTube.

The dominance of YouTube for entertainment and learning means libraries now have an opportunity to establish and expand their brand using video marketing. And before we go any further, I want to make a point about video marketing, because I know it feels scary if you’ve never done it. You don’t need a lot of video savvy to take advantage of what video marketing can do for your library! You don’t need a production crew or a fancy camera. The story is the most important part of any video, and anyone can tell a good video story or shoot a tutorial or explainer video with a camera phone!  

Once you’ve created your videos, you can use them to build a YouTube following. YouTube is not a video repository! It’s your library’s storytelling channel. 

YouTube’s features are intuitive. And getting the best performance for your YouTube videos is more about optimizing those features than anything else. YouTube will boost the performance of your videos if you optimize your videos using the following techniques.

Optimize your YouTube homepage.

Your home page is the first thing people see, so it needs to make a good impression. Take time to build a professional-looking page that encapsulates what your channel is about.

Step one: Choose a compelling profile picture. It should be branded to your library. If you have a great logo, that’s what you want to use. If you have one building, use a photo of that. Pick an image that identifies you.

Step two: Upload channel art. At the top of your channel homepage is the header image. You can use text and add personality in your library’s brand voice to the header image.

Step three: Create a channel trailer. The trailer, which auto-plays when someone visits your channel, is your channel’s elevator pitch and could be your only chance to gain or lose a subscriber. Aim for a one to two-minute video that tells people what your channel is about. Make the trailer content fun and interesting.

Create an “About” page. Your “About” page is accessible via a tab on your YouTube channel home page. On your About page, include a short, persuasive description of your channel.

Create playlists. On the home page, you can make playlists of your best videos. Each playlist can appear in a different section, with up to 10 sections total.

When you name your playlists, think about what keywords people would use to search for the content you provide. Don’t be cute. Be strategic. Use simple names like “Events for Kids” and “Inside the Library.”

For the following tasks, you’ll want to use YouTube studio. You can access this special editing function of  YouTube by clicking the button located in the upper-right-hand quadrant of your upload page. Once you are inside the studio section, click on “Videos”, and then on the video you wish to edit.

Always upload your video in “private” mode. This means that no one can see the video but you! It gives you time to complete these next tasks and get the video ready for maximum viewing optimization before you release it to the public.

Choose a video title that accurately reflects your content and contains search-driven keywords. The title of your videos impacts your video views and ranking in the YouTube algorithm (yes, this platform is also algorithm-based!) The title serves as the primary trigger for viewers to click. It should give your viewers instant insight into a video’s content.  

YouTube will automatically import your file’s name as the video title, so you’ll need to change the title of your video. Include keywords to help users find it in search.

Write a great video description. This will be displayed underneath your video when someone views it. Include a short paragraph here detailing the contents of your video. Again, use keywords to make your video easier to find in search. You may also want to include links to your website here.

Give your thumbnail a good amount of consideration. YouTube will automatically generate a thumbnail image from your video. This is the image that will display when users search for videos or view the video in a playlist. And it’s very, very important to get the thumbnail right!

You can choose to edit the thumbnail YouTube provides, pick one of your own from a screenshot of your video, or to upload your own thumbnail.

If you decide to use the YouTube-chosen thumbnail, or if you pick a screenshot of your video within the YouTube studio, you can add text and graphics to it. Be sure to hit “save” when you are finished!

I find uploading my own thumbnail is the most effective method. But this requires a bit of planning. When you are shooting your video, you’ll need to take separate, still photos to upload. I like to do these using the portrait mode on my iPhone. I use Canva to add graphics and text to my thumbnail for the best visual effect. Then I upload the edited Canva PNG to YouTube.

There are some best practices for YouTube thumbnail images that you should follow. They should have a resolution of 1280×720 with an aspect ratio of 16:9 but with a file size less than 2MB and be formatted as JPG, GIF or PNG.

Add YouTube Cards throughout your videos. A card is a box that pops up when a video is playing that drives your viewers to take another action. Cards keep your viewers engaged with your content.

There are three different types of YouTube cards. The first drives people to a video or playlist to promote your content. You can also add a poll to encourage viewers to participate in a multiple-choice question or a link that redirects users to an approved website, preferably your own.

Choose a video location and category. If your video is relevant to a specific location, you can indicate that. When a user searches by location, your video may appear. The same applies to the category. Chose a category that best describes your video, and will help users find your video in search.

Let people comment. By default, users will be able to comment on your video and view its ratings. You can choose to disable comments, hold all comments for review, or hold potentially inappropriate comments for review.  But, if you restrict comments, your videos won’t get as much reach.

I have allowed comments on my personal channel and on our library’s channel and I’ve had zero issues with trolls. When you do get a great comment, you should “pin” it, which lets people see that comment first. This serves like a review of your video, and creates some social pressure for people to watch!

Make your video public. Don’t forget to switch your video to “public” view once you’ve completed the optimization tasks.

I know this seems like a lot of steps. But doing all these tasks tells YouTube that you are serious about your videos and their success. They will reward you in the algorithm. It’s worth it.

Secret tip: Push your YouTube videos on other channels and on your email list for the first 24 hours after you upload.

The more views you get in the first 24 hours of your video’s life on YouTube, the higher your video ranking will be, and the more views you will get! But how do we do this? We’re going to game the system a little.

Facebook and LinkedIn don’t like it when we post links to YouTube videos because YouTube is their competition! They want you to post videos natively to their platform. But hear me out, because this works. Here’s what you do.

  • Post your video to YouTube, optimize the heck out of it, and make it public.
  • Immediately post a link to your YouTube video on your Facebook and LinkedIn pages, with a keyword-rich description.
  • Send an email to your email list with a link to the video.
  • 24 hours after the video is first uploaded to YouTube, hide your Facebook post and delete the LinkedIn post promoting the video.
  • Re-post the video to your Facebook page natively.
  • Re-post the video to your LinkedIn page natively.

Track your YouTube metrics. 

You can monitor your YouTube channel by tracking the following metrics:

  • Subscribers: The number of people in your channel’s viewership.
  • Watch time: The total amount of minutes users spent watching your channel’s content.
  • View duration: The average amount of time people spend watching your content.
  • Audience retention: The percentage of people who return to your channel again and again.

Tumblr can work as a niche channel if you have the time and resources.

My library turned our Tumblr account over to our Digital Services department. They post about once a week with some cool vintage images they’re scanning from our collection and they drive traffic to our digital library. It’s very niche and the audience there loves it. If you can do something similar, creating a niche for your account, go for it.

Snapchat is not worth your time.

Snapchat has a very specific demographic. 71 percent of the platform’s users are under 34 years old and 45 percent are between the ages of 18 and 24. And what do we know about that demographic? They are very resistant to marketing.

My library really, really, really tried to make Snapchat work. We were posting behind the scenes stuff, and teen stuff, and hilarious books. We even tried using it to talk one-on-one with our followers, give them personal invites to events and personalized book recommendations. But there was never any return on our investment of time, so we jumped out. I would recommend you ignore Snapchat.

TikTok is not worth your time.

For the moment, I cannot see any reason why your library should spend time thinking about or marketing on TikTok. Right now the only marketers getting any reach on this emerging platform are those willing to spend money to buy ads. And there isn’t enough data to suggest that’s even a worthwhile budget decision. So I recommend hanging back on TikTok, at least for now.

Check the Upcoming Events page for a list of webinars and conferences where I’ll be next. Let’s connect! Plus, subscribe to this blog and you’ll receive an email every time I post. To do that, click on the “Follow” button in the bottom left-hand corner of the page. Connect with me on YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.   

The New Guide to Library Marketing Social Media for 2020! Part Three: How to Make LinkedIn and Pinterest Work as Your Secret Weapons

This is the third in a series of posts with tips for making social media work for your library in 2020. Visit this page to read the first installment, which will help you set up your strategy and give you a framework for creating a workflow on any platform. And visit this page to read the second installment with lots of tips about how to get the best results out of Facebook and Instagram.

LinkedIn could be your secret weapon.

There are a lot of reasons why libraries should be using LinkedIn for marketing. In a report released by the platform’s owner Microsoft, the company reported that engagement grew 24 percent in the third quarter of 2019. That’s huge.

LinkedIn is a great place for libraries to post content because competition for attention on the platform is small. Most libraries, educational institutions, and government agencies only post job openings on their LinkedIn page. But the platform is the number one choice for content among professionals. If you start posting today, you can grow your followers, create brand awareness, tailor targeted messages, and connect with cardholders without much competition from anyone else.

It’s also a largely positive place. There’s no toxic talk. Users comment in courteous and supportive way. I’m on LinkedIn several times a day and there are zero trolls.

LinkedIn also has a unique analytics tool. Unlike other platforms that give you limited demographic data on your followers, LinkedIn will tell you their industry and seniority level. You can even see their company size.

Their analytics also tells you how many people click on your links. And there is a new feature, just released in the past week, that lets you notify all the employees of your library on LinkedIn that you’ve posted an update. This is a gentle nudge to staff to share your LinkedIn content with their followers.

Plus, if you’re having trouble coming up with ideas for LinkedIn content, the platform will actually give you suggestions based on the makeup of your followers! That’s available in the analytics tool.

My library posts at least once a day during the week (Monday-Friday) on LinkedIn. We share a variety of content from our own events and collection as well as curated content from other sources.

Unlike other platforms, our promotions do well on LinkedIn because the platform is hungry for content and the audience is right.

Promote more than jobs on LinkedIn.

Here are some of the post types that are working well for libraries on LinkedIn.

Share collection items, services, and events that focus on self-help, career advancement, personal wellness, diversity, literacy, architecture, and entrepreneurship.

Post original articles by thought leaders at your library and partner organizations.

Profile library staff and give your followers an inside look at what it’s like to work in a library. My library likes to ask the highlighted worker what their favorite Library service or collection item is and then link to it. It gives us a chance to promote something with the added gravitas of a recommendation from staff.

Search trending articles about libraries and related industries. Pick your favorite, add a few lines that talk about how the topic affects your community or library, and re-share the article.

Upload your videos to LinkedIn natively. Like Facebook, LinkedIn wants you to upload your produced videos to their site rather than share a YouTube or website link. Their followers also love live video, so if you have the opportunity to do so, try a live reader recommendation session, a live storytime, or craft session, or an interview with an upcoming program presenter.

This is an important point: your LinkedIn content should not be a replication of posts on other platforms but a unique space for your cardholders to get information about you!

Pinterest is the best way to market your collection on social media.

My library gets a tremendous benefit using Pinterest as a promotional tool for the collection. We mostly share new books to our collection and content related to STEM programming.

With this strategy, our library’s following on Pinterest has grown by 400 percent since we first started using the platform in 2013. On average each month, Pinterest drives between 20 and 60 percent of the traffic we get to our catalog.

Pin new books from your collection. Every. Single. Day.

Pinterest users love to find out about new books and libraries are perfectly positioned to give that information. That’s because Pinterest is sort of a mash-up between a search engine and a social media platform. People go to Pinterest to find ideas and information on specific topics including books!

Every day at my library, we go through the new arrivals feed on our website and find the books that already have a holds lists. We believe that’s a sign that there is a demand for that books. We Pin those in-demand books onto our New Books board.

One note: make sure the images you Pin are as big as possible. If you have Overdrive, you can use their website to find large covers images for most books. The bigger the cover, the more successful the Pin will be.

Audit your current boards and optimize for search.

Pinterest is a search engine and it works on an algorithm, like most social media platforms. So, you’ll want to make sure all your Pins and boards are optimized for search so users can find you.

Clever board names are fun, but they hurt you in your Pinterest search rankings. Change your board names to more closely match keywords that book lovers and readers might search. My library’s boards have boring names like “Book Lists,” “Popular Books,” “Music,” and “Educational Activities for Kids.”

Check the description of each board to make sure there are searchable keywords. In the early days, my library used literary quotes related to the board topic as our board description. And while that’s clever, it doesn’t help people to find us. We changed our board descriptions to be more searchable and saw our traffic flow increase.

Use the “sections” option on boards to make your Pins easier to find.

You can create genres for boards (fiction, nonfiction, memoirs, cookbooks, etc.) which will help Pins get found and users find what they want more easily. And those sections also serve as keywords, which help users find your content.

Use hashtags.

Hashtags are a very big part of Pinterest marketing for 2020 and most brands aren’t using them yet. That means this is an opportunity for your library to get ahead and get more traffic, because competition is small.

Just like Twitter and Instagram, Pinterest will use your hashtags to suss out the details of your Pin and determine who sees it in their algorithm. On Pinterest, the general rule is to use between two and five hashtags and to be as specific as possible. #Cozyholidaymystery is better than #mystery when describing a genre. You should also hashtag the title of the book and the author.

Audit your Pinterest boards routinely.

Make it a habit to schedule an audit of your Pinterest boards every six months. Delete any Pins with dead links. Replace the URL’s of the remaining Pins to drive traffic to your website, when applicable.

For example, if you have re-pinned a book from someone else’s feed, replace the URL with a link to the book in your collection, so that anyone interested in the book can place a hold from your Pin.

For each Pin, re-think the description section and make sure you are using keywords to make sure your Pins are seen by the right users.

Eliminate Pins and boards that aren’t driving traffic.

Pinterest does penalize users who have Pins and boards that aren’t shared. They want to reward “popular” Pins and boards. So, you’ll need to do some weeding.

We’ve been doing this for two years at my library.  I like to do this at the end of my workday, when my brain is dead. If a Pin has gotten less than five shares or repins, I delete it. Traffic to our website from Pinterest increases and our remaining Pins are getting more traffic.

When I presented this at #LMCC19, there were some in the audience who disagreed with me on this point. I wanted to share some articles from other social media marketers who also delete Pins and have seen the same results I do.

9 Reasons You Should Be Deleting Your Pins

How Deleting Pins on Pinterest Doubles My Repins

And I wouldn’t ever share advice with you that I hadn’t tried myself first. When my library deletes Pins that are not driving traffic, engagement rises.

There is no downside to deleting “unpopular” Pins.

Check the Upcoming Events page for a list of webinars and conferences where I’ll be next. Let’s connect! Plus, subscribe to this blog and you’ll receive an email every time I post. To do that, click on “Follow” button in the bottom left-hand corner of the page. Connect with me on YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.  

Don’t Forget This Important Step in Library Marketing! The Library Marketing Show: Episode 23

Watch Now

There is ONE THING that many libraries miss when they are making big decision. This thing is super important to marketing and to serving our communities. In this episode,  learn about this step is, why it matters, and how I almost missed an opportunity to put this one thing to use when making changes to my library’s print publication!

Also Kudos go out to NoveList for the free book The Secret Language of Books, which is incredibly helpful for marketing your collection. You can get a free print or digital copy!

Have an idea for the next Library Marketing Live Show? Submit it now.

Want more Library Marketing Show? Watch previous episodes!

Stay in Touch

Check the Upcoming Events page to see where I’ll be soon. Let’s connect!

Subscribe to this blog and you’ll receive an email every time I post. To do that, click on “Follow” button in the bottom left-hand corner of the page. Connect with me on Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.  

Five Creative Ideas to Help You Beat the Blues, Get Inspired, and Create Amazing Library Marketing Campaigns Again!

It is hard to believe that in a building filled with the stories, a library marketer would need inspiration.

But alas, we are human. And sometimes we get stuck in a rut.

Library marketers are expected to be energetic and enthusiastic at all times. We must come to all meetings and be able to give a list on the fly of exciting and innovative ideas for promoting major developments and smaller decisions that affect the everyday cardholders.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes, I just too plain exhausted to be the marketing superwoman. The busyness of the library summer reading season seems to melt every year into the busyness of fall. There is little time to rest. And exhaustion makes it even more difficult to find creative inspiration.

We struggle to inspire our cardholders, both old and new. We want our customers to use our collection and enjoy our services every day, but we can’t seem to figure out a way to make them act. The tried and true methods of marketing no longer work and we’re frustrated, angry, and frankly, a little worried.

Here’s what I do when I find myself stuck in a marketing rut.

Define your workflow and make it the law of your marketing landscape. A defined outward-facing workflow sounds like the opposite of a creative endeavor. But in reality, it creates space for you to think. It ensures that you have time to be thoughtful so you can develop and deliver a quality product.

Set an expectation about who will manage workflow. That means all marketing requests go through one person on your team. That person is responsible for looking at the request and determining if it fits into the library’s overall strategic goals. That person sets clear expectations and goals for each project. That person communicates a plan of action based on realistic timelines and due dates.

Let me tell you: a defined workflow is a lifesaver. It reduces stress and anxiety for everyone on your team. When your staff understands what is expected of them, they can focus on the creative parts of the job.

If you are new to your library, it will take time to get a smooth workflow in place. Be patient with yourself and with others. Keep reinforcing your expectations. Eventually, your coworkers will be on board with you, especially when they start to see results.

Be generous with positive reinforcement. Positive reinforcement always creates an emotional experience for individuals or a team working together. Don’t just say, “Well done.” Write a note or a card praising specific actions or portions of work. Give yours staff unexpected breaks: team lunches and surprise treats can lift the spirit of your team and re-energize them.

Use your staff’s strengths to create passion for the work. I highly recommend that you invest in the Gallup Strengths Finders test. It gives you incredible and nuanced insight into yourself and your staff members. It shows you how to recognize the strengths of your team members and how to actually manage them to put those strengths to good use. You can find the book by Tom Rath at Walmart and Target for about $15. It includes a code that each team member uses to take the test online.

Through the Gallup process, I discovered my team members have a strong capacity for collaboration. This wasn’t much of a surprise to me. But the book also gave me suggestions for how to actually use that desire for collaboration to the advantage of my library. It also gave me greater insight and empathy for team members who prefer to work alone or who seem resistant to change. I can assign tasks to the best person for each job. It’s really changed the dynamics of my staff and made work easier for everyone.

Observe your customers. It helps me just to take a walk around the library or to visit the branches. I pretend to be browsing the books but really, I’m watching the way the cardholders browse the shelves, interact with staff, work the self-checkout machines and use the public computers. Do they look for a map? Do they look confused? Are they drawn to a particular book display? Do they linger over the new books or do they dash in for their holds and dash out? What questions do they ask? How do people actually move through the branch?

Observing the behavior of customers inside the library can give you an idea of what visitors love and what problems they encounter during their interaction with your system. Then, you can focus on creating new marketing ideas that spotlight the things your cardholders love, and answer the questions they have.

You can also observe online visitors. Spend some time poking around Google Analytics. Figure out which pages get the most visitors. Look for the pages where visitors stay for the longest period of time. Look for the landing pages with a high bounce rate. Page views and read time will help you focus effort on improving the customer experience for your website.

Check your statistics.  Our library makes circulation and programming stats available on our intranet. This little piece of data inspires me to find ways to help make their interaction with the library more worthwhile.

Sometimes a surprising trend emerges and that gives me a creative marketing idea. Sometimes a service takes a dip in usage, and it becomes clear that we need to shift our marketing focus to re-educating the public about that service. Data is such a valuable inspirational tool. Use whatever stats you can get your hands on!

More inspiration

11 Powerful Quotes for Marketing Inspiration

5 Ted Talks for Marketing Inspiration

Need Marketing Inspiration? It’s All Around You!

Subscribe to this blog and you’ll receive an email every time I post. To do that, click on “Follow” button in the bottom left-hand corner of the page. Connect with me on YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.  And check my list of upcoming events so we can connect.

How to Pick Amazing Library Marketing Swag That People Will Love AND Build Brand Awareness and Loyalty For Your Library!

One of my staff members has a request for every event, conference, and convention I attend. “Hey boss, bring me swag!”

Who doesn’t love free stuff? And seeing what other organizations give out to promote their institutions and brands is fun.

Most libraries and vendors stick to items like pens, notebooks, candy, cups, and stickers. We spend a lot of money on this free stuff, in the hopes that event attendees will love it and use it. We also use swag to increase awareness of our library and build loyalty with current cardholders and new folks!

When your budget is limited, picking the perfect swag is a big deal. Your swag has to be interesting, but it should also align with your strategy and helps your library achieve its overall marketing goals. That’s a tall order.

When a guest walks away with your swag and can’t stop raving about it, you will have done your job. And if it’s something a library cardholder or community member can use over and over again, and that makes them think of your library, your money will be well spent. A study done by Schreiber & Associates found 39 percent of all people who have received a promotional product can accurately remember the name of the company that it’s associated with as long as six months after the event!

There is another important reason for swag: it’s a conversation starter. Great swag can be a talking point for volunteers working your table to share information about services, collection items, and other related events at the library. Marketing studies show us that you have to get your message in front of your cardholder an average of SEVEN TIMES before they’ll be compelled to act on it. A direct conversation with a community member about your library counts as one of those “touches.”

A conversation between a library worker or volunteer and an event attendee is a highly effective means of marketing. According to Nielsen, 75 percent of people don’t believe the advertisements they read but 92 percent believe brand recommendations they receive from trusted sources.

Finally, giving good swag gives people a positive memory of your library. Memorable and useful items given freely and generously leaves people smiling and prompts sentiments like, “I love my library” and “I’ll always support my library.” You can’t beat that!

How to Pick Swag

Pick something functional and useful. I like to make sure the items I choose are necessary and can be used over and over again. That means that my library’s logo or name is an integral part of the life of my cardholder. I want them to constantly be seeing my library’s name or website. Some great ideas that fit this category are water bottles, kitchen utensils, ice scrapers, and pop-stoppers.

One word of caution: be aware that some attendees will take issue with certain types of swag. Many people don’t want to take a plastic bag at events because of environmental concerns. I’ve also had people turn away plastic bottles because of the possibility of harmful chemicals leaching into their water. Kids toys can be tricky because of small, removable parts.

Make sure your swag is unique and something that other organizations aren’t giving out regularly. Head to any library event or conference and you’ll find no shortage of pens, notebooks, stickers, tags, and buttons. And while all of these items are useful and cheap, I don’t want to buy any for my table because everyone is giving them out. Hand sanitizer, lip balm, license plate frames, and pet bandannas are all great examples of fun, useful swag that will set your library apart from other organizations.

Make sure your swag is relevant to the attendees of an event. Be sure to ask the organizers before you go who their attendees will be, how many people they expect, and what the event is focused around. Don’t bring all your swag to all events… pick and choose carefully. At my library, we buy different swag for different age groups. We have earbuds and multi-function charging hubs for teens, piggy banks and temporary tattoos for kids, and aluminum water bottles and drawstring totes for adults.

Make sure your swag can be branded. Check the space where logos or text can be printed on items to make sure your particular logo, tagline, or library website will fit and be legible. I’ve totally made this mistake: you spot a great piece of swag at a great price. But the area where your logo or tag line is imprinted is too small or oriented the wrong way. No one can tell it’s from your library! Pay special attention to the imprint area, especially if you have a long tagline or a logo that can’t easily be resized or re-oriented.

Watch The Library Marketing Show to see some of my favorite choices for swag and talk more about why it’s so important for marketing!

No budget for swag? Do a giveaway. I’ve often had leftover donated items like gift cards that I use as giveaways at events. A giveaway, when promoted ahead of time, will drive attendees to your table. Ask people to give their email address and add them to your newsletter or email subscription list in exchange for an entry in your contest.

Subscribe to this blog and you’ll receive an email every time I post. To do that, click on “Follow” button in the bottom left-hand corner of the page. Connect with me on YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.  And check my list of upcoming events so we can connect.



You Can Fix It! If Your Library Marketing Is Failing, Here are the Top Eight Solutions

Do you remember when you learned to read?

I was in the first grade. The school was holding a contest to find a student to deliver a public service announcement about education on a local radio station. I was determined to win.

My mother, who was a first-grade teacher, was incredulous when I shared my plan for my broadcast debut. How could a kid who hadn’t learned to read yet get good enough to get that radio spot? She thought I was crazy.

And maybe I was. But I proved my mother wrong through sheer will and determination, and with a little help from the “Dick and Jane” series. By the end of first grade, I was reading well enough to tackle Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House in the Big Woods. And I was on the radio.

Twenty years later, I was working weekends as a newscast producer at a television station. That meant every Saturday and Sunday, I had to 8 hours to produce two shows… the 6 p.m. news and the 11 p.m. news. On a good night, it was a fast-paced and stressful proposition.

One day, the television station suffered a huge power failure. The station had backup generators that were supposed to kick on to keep us on the air. But a surge had fried the wiring and we were dead… really most sincerely dead. We had no way to get on the air. And the newscast had to get on the air.

Failure was not an option. We needed to get the show on the air because thousands of homes were also without power and those people looked to us for information. We also needed to get on the air because when the ads that are supposed to be a part of the newscast don’t air, the station loses money.

With airtime fast approaching, we came up with a plan. We would broadcast live from the parking lot using our live truck. It was crude but it worked. We felt like heroes. Journalism won the day and after that, I felt like there was no problem that I could not solve.

We all face obstacles during our work every day. Some are big, some are small. Your attitude plays a huge role in determining whether you overcome them, particularly for those of us working in the library marketing space. Many of our problems are unique to this industry. But trust me when I tell you that you are smart and you can figure anything out!

To prove it, here are the top five problems we face in Library Marketing along with eight solutions… because there are always more solutions than problems!

Problem: we simply don’t have enough time to do all the stuff we’re asked to do. The library year is kind of like the “lazy river” at my local YMCA… a constant swirling movement of events that keeps pushing us forward. It takes some force and a change of direction to break free. When you’re under pressure to promote each big event, it can leave you feeling like you never have enough time for your collection or services. You might feel like you don’t even have enough time to think or be creative.

Solution: a strategy gives you freedom. It not only helps you drive your marketing for the year in a measurable way, it will also provide a concrete reason the next time you have to say “no.”

Say “no” to promotions that don’t serve to drive your library’s strategic mission. Say “no” to promoting every exhibit, program, and author visit at your branches. Empower your branches to do some of their own promotion by providing them with simple guidelines for doing their own community marketing and set them free so you can focus on the big picture… your library as a whole.

Problem: we don’t have enough money. Tiny budgets really separate us most from the for-profit marketers. I do see more libraries spending big budgets but they’re doing it in smart and strategic ways, for re-branding and full production media ad buys, slick content marketing magazines, and direct mail to non-cardholders.

If you don’t have a big media budget, you can spend a little money to boost the effectiveness of your social media posts. Honestly, you can’t get much social media reach without a little spending.

Solution: social media advertising is cheaper than traditional ad buys. Your administrators might not realize how super effective targeted ads can be. You can easily prove that you can make a good return on their investment.

Solution: partnership opportunities to promote more than the big programs. At my library, we created media sponsorship guidelines which list the action items we’d like our potential sponsors to fulfill and what benefits we can offer them in return. Why not pitch a media sponsorship to promote your digital collection or your fantastic database resources?

Solution: find super library fans or influencers in your marketplace and invite them to write about your organization. At my library, when we opened our new MakerSpace and got lots of publicity outside the traditional media (this article is a good example).

Problem: we don’t have enough staff. If your handling a one-person marketing department, trying to take on marketing can be a scary proposition. You probably feel like you’re already just hanging on by the skin of your teeth.

Solution: use the talents of non-marketing co-workers. There are likely a number of librarians who have an interest and a proficiency for social media, writing, video, and design. Ask around and recruit those staff members to help you create content. Ask for permission to recruit interns. You’ll have someone to handle the grunt work and you’ll have the joy that comes with mentoring and encouraging the career of young marketers.

Problem: we don’t know enough about our cardholders to target them effectively with messages they will love. I suffer from this and many of my library marketing friends do too! It’s not a hard one to solve.

Solution: create a new cardholder survey to gauge the interests of people just entering your library system.

Solution: a yearly satisfaction survey for all cardholders is also extremely helpful, particularly when you can take the results and split them into your different persona groups. From there, you can map your customer’s journey. When they get a card, how long does it take them to use it? Are they checking out books or using your digital collection or your computers, or do they simply let it languish? Do you have some customers who got a card years ago, used it a specific way, and then stopped altogether? Do you have some customers who are making the transition from print items to digital materials? Do you have some customers who are only interested in one particular kind of item–DVDs, audio books, or computers?

Break your customers into groups based on what they do with the card and start creating pieces of content that target those groups. Maybe you’ll want to focus your efforts at first on one group in particular. At my library, we’re targeting a persona we call “Occasionals” which are people who use their cards once every six months. We focus on moving people from that cluster into a more active user persona, by targeting them with messages about the convenience of our digital collection.

Problem: we are resistant to change. This problem is the biggest, in my opinion. We are too set in our ways. How many times have you heard someone in your library say, “But that’s the way we’ve always done it!” It’s the phrase I dread most.

It takes an enormous amount of effort and energy to change the minds of our fellow library staff members and our administration. It seems like it would just be easier to stay the course.

Do. Not. Give. In. Marketers have a reputation for being talkative, a little eager, a bit bold, and maybe a tad whacky, and these are all GOOD traits! We have to remember our main objective–to get customers to move through the cardholder journey and engage with the library. Without that engagement, the people who argue that libraries are obsolete will win! We can’t have that.

Solution: with patience and persistence, you can thoughtfully steer your library into the future. It works best when you start small. Think of it like a staircase. On the bottom step, you make a small argument and you try a new thing. You see results. You report the results and chances are, you’ll get to climb to the next step.

The more you do this, the faster you’ll get up the stairs–at some point, you might even be allowed to take the stairs two at a time. Keep the end goal in mind but set smaller goals that help you to get there.

Subscribe to this blog and you’ll receive an email every time I post. To do that, click on “Follow” button in the bottom left-hand corner of the page. Connect with me on YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

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