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The Most Exciting Library Marketing Lessons from Content Marketing World

The future of content marketing at your library is stories, videos, and making personal connections between your cardholders and your libraries. That’s the big takeaway for me from the year’s Content Marketing World, a giant marketing conference in Cleveland. I’ve just returned with a head full of ideas and heart full of energy. Rubbing elbows with 4,000 marketers bursting with love for the profession will do that to you.

At #CMWorld, I attended 15 sessions and learned a ton of new information which I will flesh out here over the course of the next several months. Some tips can be put into action immediately and some will need time for processing in my brain, as I work to figure out how to make them doable for libraries of all sizes, shapes, and missions.

Here are the main takeaways I received from 15 sessions with links so you can check out more of the speaker’s work and get started on transforming your own library marketing.

Linda Boff, Chief Marketing Officer at General Electric:  Stories are everywhere, right under your nose. Find and embrace them.

Jay Acunzo, host of the podcast Unthinkable:  Content marketing is about inspiring your true believers, not coercing the skeptics. (This was an ah-ha moment for me!)

Drew Davis, a former marketer, best-selling author, and speaker:  Audience retention is the true definition of video engagement. Stop trying to just get views and get audiences to watch your whole video!

Doug Kessler, creative director and co-founder of Velocity Partners: It’s our job as marketers to expose the hidden marketing conventions and turn them on their heads. In other words, conventional thinking will get you nowhere. Now is the time to be creative.

Ian Cleary, founder of Razorsocial: Be smart when you publish your content because if no one sees it, what’s the point? Use smart keywords, collaborate with influencers, and promote yourself. During this session, I realized I know nothing about web optimization!

Amanda Todorovich, Content Marketing Director at the Cleveland Clinic: Never be content. Measure and test and test again. Ask “what if” all the time.

Casey Neistat, YouTube star: Do what you can’t. Make it count. Follow your gut. Cut through the bullshit. Yes, I put that all in bold because IT’S IMPORTANT.

Colson Whitehead, author of The Underground Railroad and a bunch of other books, Pulitzer Price Winner, National Book Award Winner, etc., etc., etc. You know him, you work at a library: If you have ideas and you’re not sure you can pull them off, it’s ok to wait until you are actually ready. I’ll be honest, I don’t know if I agree with this but I’m going to think about it for a while.

Amy Schmittauer Landino, vlogger, author, and speaker: The secret to great video is asking yourself…would you share it?? Really?? Not just because you think everything you do is fantastic, but because what you do is actually fantastic.

Arnie Kuen, CEO of Vertical Measures: There is only a two percent chance your followers will see your organic post. (YIKES!)

Scott Stratten, author, speaker, blogger, podcaster, promoter of unconventional marketing. This was a session on public speaking: Tell a personal story but only if it makes a point. Respect the audience’s time.

Tamsen Webster, speaker, and producer of TEDx Cambridge, during the same session on public speaking: Go ask for the stage you deserve. The way to speak more is… to speak more.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt, actor and creator of hitRECord, an online collaboration and creation website for video, graphics, music, and more: Community, fair compensation, and collaboration are the future of content creation.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Jonathan Stanley, Executive Producer for Lowe’s: Test all the time on YouTube. Fail fast and learn fast. Don’t spend years scripting.

Michelle Park Lazette, Content Marketer for the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland: Deliver different! Try your best to produce the “okra breakfasts” of content. Okra breakfasts are content that is unexpected but delicious and filling!

Subscribe to this blog and you’ll receive an email every time I post. To do that, click on “Follow” button on the bottom left-hand corner of the page. Connect with me on Twitter and Snapchat–it’s where I talk about library marketing! I’m @Webmastergirl. I’m also on LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest. Views in this post are my own and do not represent those of my employer.

 

Why Libraries and Content Marketing Make the Perfect Couple: A Content Marketing Institute Interview

A crazy thing happened to me this week. Content Marketing Institute published a profile I did a few weeks ago with them. Each week, they highlight attendees of their big, fabulous Content Marketing World conference and I was lucky enough to be in the spotlight this year. Libraries and content marketing are the perfect combination!

You can read the interview here. Thanks CMI!

angelahurshmedal

Subscribe to this blog and you’ll receive an email every time I post. To do that, click on “Follow” button on the bottom left-hand corner of the page. Connect with me on Twitter and Snapchat–it’s where I talk about library marketing! I’m @Webmastergirl. I’m also on LinkedIn, Slideshare,  Instagram and Pinterest. Views in this post are my own and do not represent those of my employer.

Amazing Content Marketing Stories About Your Library Are Right Under Your Nose!

Amazing Stories

I love content marketing for libraries and I believe stories are the best way to build a life-long relationship with cardholders. Many of you share my belief. But the real chore of finding and telling those stories can seem a bit daunting. This post is here to help!

There are a couple of things I look for when I am in search of a good content marketing library story.

  1. Emotion. The joy of finding a book, the fear of not getting a job, the frustration of another night of homework without any help… these are all emotions felt by our library’s customers. Other customers can relate to these experiences and empathize. A good emotional story activates many portions of the brain, including sensory, memory, and empathy sectors. The more active the brain is while reading, the more likely it is that the listener/reader will remember the story. Emotion is the most important criteria of a good story. If it makes you feel something, it’s worth pursuing.
  2. Conflict and a resolution. A good story includes some conflict, whether minor or major, and a problem or situation that is resolved.  Without conflict, a story is flat and unmemorable. Look for stories with a beginning, middle, and end including a story arc that leads to a resolution.
  3. Simplicity. A story that’s direct, with less adjectives and more heartfelt and straightforward language is more likely to be remembered by the listener than a complex story with a long, winding narrative and lots of details and unnecessary description. Save the in-depth perceptions for your novel. When writing content for marketing purposes, draw a straight line from beginning, middle, and end and keep the story moving forward with clear language. Avoid industry speak.

Now, here’s how you can find stories that fit these criteria.

    1. Ask library workers to be on the lookout for great story ideas. I find a personal approach gets you better results with your fellow staff members. The next time you’re at an all-managers meeting, visiting another branch, or enjoying lunch with a fellow employee, ask them about life in their branch. Ask them to describe their customers. Inevitably, they’ll have one or two specific examples of people who have an unbridled enthusiasm for their location, or whom the branch staff has helped with a specific problem. Ask open-ended questions like, “How did that make you feel?” “Tell me how the situation was resolved.” Or make open-ended statements like, “That must have been a terribly difficult question for you to answer.” Then be silent as a cue for response. When you’ve identified a story with emotion, conflict, and resolution, ask if you can email the staffer later for more details.
    2. Crowd sourcing. This is a fancy way of suggesting that you periodically ask your cardholders specific questions like “Tell us about a time when your library helped you find some information you thought you’d never be able to uncover.” Or “Tell us your favorite library memory from your childhood.” Set up a form on your website and solicit cardholder stories on social media and in your email and printed newsletters.
    3. Social listening. This technique brought me a cover story for the next issue of Library Links published by my library. A Twitter comment flagged by our social media specialist led us to a man who planned to visit all 41 of our library branches in one day with his son. We immediately reached out to the man and interviewed him about his experience.  It’s an amazing story that other cardholders will enjoy reading when Links hits homes on Aug. 8.  And they’ll likely remember this crazy guy who drove all over the county in the space of a day, taking selfies and checking out a book at each location. It’s great library awareness for us! And we would have missed it had we not trained our social media specialist to flag tagged comments for potential stories.
    4. Library calendar events. Most library marketers have the regular calendar year events, like National Children’s Book Day, National eBooks Day, and National Summer Learning Day penciled in and marked for promotion. But instead of promoting mere calendar events, go one step further and tell stories by finding cardholders with an interesting angle. I do this through social listening. Here’s an example: we had a woman tweet us to thank us and share a photo of her child at a storytime. I tweeted her back and asked her if I could contact her offline. Then I sent her a couple of interview questions via email. I also asked for a photo of her family. I came away with a story about how our new evening storytimes meant that she and her family could enjoy a trip to the library together after work. This story appeared in the Summer 2016 issue of Library Links (check page three). I also troll the program calendar periodically for unusual events but, instead of just writing about the event, I contact the speaker or presenter and interview them about in-depth questions about their program, their life, and their work. Our staff also does interviews with popular authors about their new books, their lives, and their writing process. Our cardholders love those profiles. They promote our library without promoting our library!

Content marketing gives you a chance to tell your library’s story without making a direct pitch. It increases brand awareness and improves your library’s image. And stories are fun to tell!

Subscribe to this blog and you’ll receive an email every time I post. To do that, click on “Follow” button on the bottom left-hand corner of the page. Connect with me on Twitter and Snapchat–it’s where I talk about library marketing! I’m @Webmastergirl. I’m also on LinkedIn, Slideshare,  Instagram and Pinterest. Views in this post are my own and do not represent those of my employer.

How One Library Is Using Content Marketing to Capture the Imagination

How One

Sometimes, I’m a curious girl.  And about six months ago, a Twitter post featuring this billboard piqued my curiosity.

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It caught my attention because it’s different from any other library billboard marketing campaign I’ve ever seen. It’s a story-driven content marketing campaign, and I found it to be intriguing.

So I switched into journalism mode and went in search of the creator behind the campaign, hoping to pick his or her brain about how the concept was formed.

My search led to me to Jason Tutin, Digital and Learning Development Manager at Leeds Library and Information Service. The Leeds Library is located in the United Kingdom, roughly 200 miles north of London and has 35 locations.

Here’s what I asked Jason about the #whatsyourstory campaign, the strategy, and results.

What did you hope to accomplish–what was the strategy behind the campaign?

The campaign strategy was to change people’s perceptions of modern public libraries. We wanted a campaign that would be fresh, exciting, and high-profile. It was designed to be fun and appealing to adults living in Leeds to inspire them to engage with the library service. We also wanted to align our online and offline marketing so our offer was more ‘joined-up’ across promotional channels. In summary, we wanted to:

  • Engage new and existing customers
  • Raise awareness of libraries in Leeds
  • Develop brand recognition
  • Change perceptions of what libraries can offer
  • Improve online engagement with users through our existing social media accounts and the Leeds Reads blog.

How did you promote it? Was this a fixed-time campaign or is it ongoing?

We developed a human story PR strategy and detailed content strategy for both online and offline media. We wanted it to be about people’s stories and how the libraries played a part in their achievements. The #whatsyourstory campaign was launched in late June 2015. Lamppost banners, a billboard, press and TV coverage, a website, blog posts, and print flyers all accompanied a comprehensive social media campaign. Phase One of the campaign featured two real-life stories from users of Leeds Libraries. Phase Two of the campaign will be launched in early 2016 with two new case studies. We will continue to collect and promote new case studies as part of the campaign.

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Traditional media channels were interested in #whatsyourstory because of the stories of Wayne Levitt and Ma Maposa. These two people provided the inspirational case studies that featured in the first phase of the campaign. #whatsyourstory generated 20 pieces of media coverage including two articles in the Yorkshire Evening Post, a broadcast feature on Made in Leeds TV and many more articles in local publications. The potential audience reach of these media outlets is over two million people.

Did you have a budget?

A maximum budget of £10k (about $14,000) was allocated to the initial stages of this campaign. This included concept, design and plan execution. With a relatively small budget and inspiring content featuring real-life case-studies, #whatsyourstory brought Leeds Libraries to the attention of new demographics. The careful strategic planning of the social media content also resulted in the campaign gaining exposure regionally, nationally and internationally. Online engagement rose dramatically on Facebook, Twitter and the Leeds Reads blog.

Additionally, as the campaign is all about local stories from real-life people it has a longer shelf life. We plan to continue with the campaign over the forthcoming months/year and share more positive experiences from people who have used and benefited from the library service.

What was the response from the community?

In addition to reaching new audiences, we wanted the social media element of the campaign to promote engagement and interaction. Throughout the four weeks of the campaign we had 213 Twitter interactions for #whatsyourstory content and 152 interactions on Facebook. One of the most popular tweets was a photo of Ma’s billboard, which was erected on a popular commuter route between Leeds and Bradford. To date, it has received 65 interactions on Twitter alone.  The campaign received great support on social media from Leeds residents, businesses and organisations as well as other Leeds City Council departments and staff.

The impact of #whatsyourstory reached far beyond Leeds, with positive interactions from Australia, Canada and the USA! Our social media engagements increased throughout the campaign and as a result we gained more followers and raised our social media profile. Wayne and Ma’s stories were posted on our Leeds Reads blog and were by far the most popular posts of 2015, gaining 120 shares on social media.

What did you do with all the answers once you had curated them?

We are using the responses that the campaign generates to find new case studies and engage with new audiences.

Was the campaign successful?

Yes, and this success has been recognized by others in the marketing industry. The #whatsyourstory campaign won the Best Creative Comms award at the ‘comms2point0 UnAwards 2015’. The judges said that the #whatsyourstory campaign was:

“A standout triumph across all criteria, from initial strategy and planning to evaluation and metrics and, of course, that crucial element of creativity. The smart use of storytelling was the highlight and we loved the application of real-life, personal journeys to draw on the emotions, capture the imagination and change the perceptions of the audience.”

Any words of advice for other libraries planning a similar campaign?

Marketing of public library services is notoriously difficult because we offer so much to so many people! We decided that the best way to promote our services would be to have real people advocating on our behalf. Their stories have generated a real buzz around the campaign and have really helped to raise the profile of Leeds Libraries within the city and beyond.

Are you interested in writing a guest article for this blog or do you know someone whose insight would be helpful to my readers? Leave a message in the comments or email me at ahursh@yahoo.com.  

Subscribe to this blog and you’ll receive an email every time I post. To do that, click on “Follow” button on the bottom left-hand corner of the page. Connect with me on Twitter and Snapchat–it’s where I talk about library marketing! I’m @Webmastergirl. I’m also on LinkedIn, Slideshare,  Instagram and Pinterest. Views in this post are my own and do not represent those of my employer.

 

The Biggest Threat to Your Library’s Content Marketing

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I learned something of real value during the keynote address from John Cleese at Content Marketing World which I want to share with you. It’s a concept which profoundly changed me,  the way I view my work, and the way I live my life.

The man who co-founded the comedy troupe that produced the Monty Python films stood in front of 3500 content marketers–people who live for deadlines, who churn out content, who dream about metrics and measurement–and told us we need to spend more time in quiet reflection.

The idea of setting aside time to think–to consider what is to be done, how it will done, how it can be done more creatively–is an entirely foreign concept to me. I’m a former journalist. Journalists are trained to move fast. We type fast. We talk fast. We eat fast. When I worked in a newsroom, we never got a day to just be creative, to sit and think about story ideas and topics. There is no rest. So when I jumped into the library world, it was like I’d been in a race car for 20 years and then suddenly, someone slammed on the brakes.

But many librarians feels like they’ve been caught in the rat race too. The demand for quick service from customers means a job at the library reference desk is a demanding loop of answering calls, texts, and emails, manning the drive-thru and the holds desk. It’s non-stop. And at many libraries, the marketing department is made up of librarians who also have other duties. It can feel like there’s never any time to breathe.

John Cleese addresses Content Marketing World
John Cleese addresses Content Marketing World

But John Cleese says true creativity–the kind that adds value to your workplace and your life– is something that needs to be treasured and cultivated. Creative people play more and take longer to make up their minds about things–which is a good thing! If you want your library to succeed, you need to schedule time to be creative. The biggest threats to your library’s content marketing are…

Doing too much.

Not thinking enough.

Forgetting to be creative.

Cleese has two specific pieces of advice for those of us who have a hard time slowing down and being creative.

  1. Schedule time to get away from your work and create a physical space where you can go to think without being bothered.
  2. Write down every idea you get, no matter where you are or how weird the idea. You never know when an idea is going to come to fruition. Keep your mind open.  20 years down the road, the creative idea you come up with today might suddenly become practical and applicable. There are no bad ideas… only ideas whose time hasn’t come yet.

If you need to convince your boss of the value of creativity in the library, show him or her this blog post. I’ll be happy to make the argument for you.

 

Subscribe to this blog and you’ll receive an email every time I post. To do that, click on “Follow” button on the bottom left-hand corner of the page. Connect with me on Twitter and Snapchat–it’s where I talk about library marketing! I’m @Webmastergirl. I’m also on LinkedIn, Slideshare,  Instagram and Pinterest. Views in this post are my own and do not represent those of my employer.

 

STOP: Before You Do Any Content Marketing, Get a Strategy


null (1)Content Marketing for Libraries is the focus of this blog. Every week, I urge you to use relevant and valuable content to reach your cardholders, build their trust, earn their loyalty and respect, and inspire them to action. You agree, right? So what is the next step in this journey?

Strategy.

There. You don’t have to read any further. You now have the key to make  your library content marketing work. Create a strategy. Done.

Why aren’t more library marketers formulating, writing down, and sticking to a content strategy? Is it fear? Is it time?  Is it indecision?

It doesn’t matter. These are excuses, to be frank. I want the industry to thrive. And so I’m pleading with you—please, please, please—get a strategy for your library content marketing.

Why am I so passionate about this? Let me share some insight from the 2015 Content Marketing World conference in Cleveland. Joe Pulizzi, the founder of the event and an insanely smart and sweet guy, began by sharing some research recently completed by his company, Content Marketing Institute.

First, if you don’t have a strategy, you are not alone.  Only 32% of marketers in all industries have a documented content strategy.  It’s scary and elusive and frustrating to all marketers everywhere. But it’s still worth the effort. Because 79% of marketers who have a documented strategy with clear success metrics said their content marketing was effective. WOW.

Kristina Halvorson, author and CEO of Brain Traffic, took the stage for a keynote address and asked a wonderfully relevant question: “ If you weren’t spending money on content, where would you spend it? What do your customers want?” That’s all you need to think about when creating your documented content marketing strategy. What do your cardholders want? What problems do they need to solve? How can you help them? It’s not rocket science. Your librarians do that every day! That’s our strategy.

Here’s something else to consider. Halvorson says, “Strategy is a decision to take a path. It’s a decision to say no to certain things. It’s a decision to choose tactics and to have a shared outcome. If your marketing strategy is, “We will deliver content our customers can’t get enough of,” you’re doing it wrong. That’s not a strategy. That is a vision. Instead, Halvorson says you need to make business outcomes and customer satisfaction your goal. Ask yourself:  Where is your library now? Where do you want to be? The path to get from the first point to the second point is your strategy.

Creating a strategy may seem like an insurmountable task. The word “strategy” conjures up images of a daunting, intense, complicated process. We’ll blame the marketing consultants for making it seem more difficult than it is. If I can do it, so can you.

When approaching my own strategy, I find it helps to have a series of questions to ask myself. I write out the answers and those help me see the whole picture and form a strategy. So here’s what you can ask yourself.

What are our key opportunities?

What are our core challenges?

What are the assumptions we make based on info we don’t have and can’t get?

What are our risks?

What are our success metrics?

Who is our audience and why do they listen to us?

Which is the audience that doesn’t listen to us now… but should?

What is the purpose of the ways we are currently communicating with our cardholders?

 

Subscribe to this blog and you’ll receive an email every time I post. To do that, click on “Follow” button on the bottom left-hand corner of the page. Connect with me on Twitter and Snapchat–it’s where I talk about library marketing! I’m @Webmastergirl. I’m also on LinkedIn, Slideshare,  Instagram and Pinterest. Views in this post are my own and do not represent those of my employer.

 

What the Hell is Content Marketing and Why Should We Do It?

What the Hell is

I returned from Content Marketing World with a head full of ideas and a heart full of questions.

The questions began on the first day, during the first hour of the conference. In his opening keynote, Content Marketing World founder Joe Pulizzi stood before a crowd of 3500 marketers from across the globe, and shared a quote.  I wasn’t able to write down the original source fast enough! But it went like this: “The only way we can differentiate ourselves is in how we communicate.”

So right off the bat, I was doing some deep soul-searching. Am I doing enough to differentiate my library from the crowd of competitors? Are you? Are we, as an industry, on the path forward  or are we stuck in the concepts and tactics of the past, feeling comfortable and content with ourselves?

Content marketing is the future of the marketing. So what the hell is it? Content marketing, according to Pulizzi, who coined the phrase, is “a strategic approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience–ultimately, to drive profitable consumer action.” But what does that actually mean?

It means we can’t rely on disruptive marketing (ads, newsletters, 100 signs posted all over your branch) to capture the attention of our cardholders. They’re trained at ignoring those tactics. Think about how you go about interacting with signs, ads, and social media. Do you give every message your full attention-or half of your attention-or even a glance? Unless something is seriously compelling, you filter it out. We all do. So do our cardholders.

How does content marketing work, in basic terms? It’s sharing stories. You can share stories about how other cardholders are using the library. You can share stories about the librarians–who are they, what they like to do in their spare time, what they love about interacting with cardholders. We can talk about everyday problems faced by people in our cardholder areas and we can help them solve those problems… sometimes using our services, sometimes using someone else’s services. In the end, what you want is for every person in the area to say to themselves, “The library can help me solve my problems.”

Content marketing breaks through the noise and the clutter by providing compelling, useful information for your cardholder–any type of information. It addresses whatever pain points your cardholders have. It positions your library as the go-to place for information. It builds trust. And through content marketing, your library gets a better and deeper understanding of your cardholders. You can use that understanding to do an even better job of addressing your cardholders needs. It’s a constant circle of giving and it’s carries more weight for a longer period than a flier or a poster.

Stories stick. A good story will stay in your brain longer than a good ad. And once you’ve told a great story, your cardholders will remember your brand. Stories build a connection which leads to customer loyalty, which leads to customer action.

You don’t have to be a trained marketer to understand how content marketing works. In fact, my contention is this: since more library marketing departments are run by trained librarians, you’ll do better at implementing a content marketing strategy at your library than most people with a four or six year marketing degree. You tell stories. You read stories. You review stories. You love stories. You’re two-thirds of the way to the content marketing first base.

Companies have used content marketing for more than 100 years.  For some great examples, visit the This Old Marketing podcast, produced by Pulizzi and his partner Robert Rose. Click on the show notes for the episodes and scroll to the end. They outline a vintage content marketing example in every episode. Check them out! After awhile, you’ll begin to get a picture of how companies have used content marketing and how you can do it too.

We cannot rely on this old disruptive marketing policy to be the driving force behind our library marketing efforts anymore. We’re better than that. We work with stories every day. Let’s start telling them. Besides, most of us don’t have the budget we really need to have to put together a kick-butt paid media campaign. Content marketing isn’t a campaign… it’s ongoing and it’s free, for the most part. Most importantly,  it does something that disruptive ads cannot do, no matter how well crafted and executed. Content marketing deepens the level of trust between you and your cardholders.

That’s what content marketing can do.

And that’s what we are going to focus on for a while because I think it’s extremely important. I think it’s the key to successful marketing at libraries. And I want you to be successful.

Subscribe to this blog and you’ll receive an email every time I post. To do that, click on “Follow” button on the bottom left-hand corner of the page. Connect with me on Twitter and Snapchat–it’s where I talk about library marketing! I’m @Webmastergirl. I’m also on LinkedIn, Slideshare,  Instagram and Pinterest. Views in this post are my own and do not represent those of my employer.

 

Five Content Marketing Lessons Learned at the Construction Site

Five Content Marketing Lessons
I woke up this morning with a tingle of anticipation akin to what I’d feel on Christmas morning. My library system is opening two new library buildings this week. We opened a third building last month and renovated another historic location last year.

This marks the end of a monumental project for our library involving an unimaginable amount of sweat, tears, mud, planning, scheming, logistics, and money. It’s been a test of endurance for everyone involved and I am SO PROUD of our system.

You can learn more about our construction projects here. As always, there were marketing lessons to be learned from the process.

1. Arm yourself with data before tackling a new project or idea–the more data, the better. What is it that your customers want? What do your customers do when they are interacting with your services? What do they do when they are not even thinking about the library? You need to know everything there is to know about your cardholders, not just their ages, email addresses, and circulation tendencies. If you are hoping to engage them with remarkable, valuable content that drives them to action, you’ll need to know everything about them. Seek out data in whatever way possible: surveys, one-on-one interaction, and third-party data collection.

2. Plan as much as you can. Build your content marketing strategy with a clear goal. This should be your vision. Keep it constantly in focus as you move through your year, always working on that goal. For every tactic you work with, ask the question, “Is this contributing to the realization of my goal?” If not, cut it out.

3. Be flexible about change. Halfway through your year, you may realize that the ideas you implemented for reaching your content marketing goals are simply not working. You’re not married to them. It’s totally fine to change tactics, as it would be natural to drive around a boulder in the middle of the desert on your way to the watering hole. Whatever you have to do to reach your goal, do it. If one of your staff members comes up with a brilliant idea for content marketing and it means you have to drop something else out of the schedule to make it work, do it.

4. Mud is okay. Construction is dirty. So is content marketing. There are many drafts to work through, a lot of stops and starts, and sometimes it feels like you’ll never get that piece of content published. You will. Have faith. You can always sweep up the mess later. The mess leads to something beautiful. Embrace the dirt.

5. Admire the shiny new building when it opens… then work to make it even better. Once you’ve released your piece of content, pat yourself on the back–then work to make it better. Refine the keywords. Check the tags. See if you can re-purpose it for other channels and audiences. Watch how the audience responds and use that data to make new editorial decisions for your content.

Has your library been building new branches or renovating existing buildings? What have you learned from the process? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

Subscribe to this blog for updates every time I post. Click on the little “Follow” at the top left of this page.

Connect with me on Twitter. I’m @Webmastergirl. I’m also on LinkedIn,  Instagram and Pinterest.

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

Feeling Overworked? There’s a Secret Trick to Get More Mileage Out of Your Library Marketing Content!

Photo courtesy Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County

Not long ago, I read the results of a new survey. It kind of blew my mind.

Orbitz Media asked content creators about the amount of time they spend blogging. They found the average blog post now takes 3 hours and 57 minutes to write. That’s up 65 percent from 2014! The same survey shows 52 percent of bloggers report that it’s getting harder to get readers to engage with their content. WOW.

We live in a world dominated by a relentless and never-ceasing stream of content. But libraries can’t just turn off our content communications streams. Our very existence depends on our ability to educate the public about what we offer. We use our content to convince people to use the library.

So, what’s the solution, when your library staff is overworked, and your audience is oversaturated? Be more efficient.

There is a way to make your work stretch further and get your communication into the world. You can do this by republishing your content.

What is republishing content?

When you republish, you take an old press release, blog post, infographic, or video, and update it to include new and relevant information.

If your library has been publishing content for a while, you probably have quite a catalog. Most of it is still useful and relevant! Good content will never go out of style. These “evergreen” pieces of content are opportunities for you to republish.

Republishing content has many advantages for libraries.

  • It saves you time.
  • It improves your library’s chances of being found in search. When you improve content in the republishing process, you optimize it to bring it up to today’s best practices for headlines, tags, keywords, and length. That leads to improved search results.
  • It helps you to fill your editorial calendar when ideas and staff are sparce.
  • Your audience has changed since your original publish date. You’ve gained new cardholders and fans.
  • Your audience needs a reminder that you offer certain services.

How do you decide what pieces of content to republish?

Here are some ground rules.

First, take inventory of what you have already. This is called a content audit. Use a spreadsheet or organizational software to write down the blog posts, videos, and other pieces of content you previously published (and start keeping track of the new additions).

In your audit, make note of the following:

  • The type of content (blog post, press release, video, brochure, etc.)
  • The original publish date
  • The original headline
  • The keywords or tags used in the original piece
  • The word count or length of the content
  • The number of views, likes, comments, and shares the content originally received

Now you’re ready to make some decisions. What are your marketing goals? Are you (or your supervisors) looking to drive more people to your library webpage? Are you trying to increase social media engagement? Once you establish your goals, look at your old posts and determine which ones will help you reach those goals.

For example, if you want to drive more people to your webpage, and you have a video about your genealogy databases that drove a lot of traffic to your website at the time it was published, mark the video to be updated. It will likely have the same effect today, particularly if it’s refreshed.

Here’s another example. Let’s say your library director really wants to see likes, shares, and comments increase on your library’s new Instagram account. In your list of old content, you notice a blog post from two years ago about a uniquely themed story time that drove a lot of engagement when you posted it on Facebook. Mark that post to be updated. Chances are, with some careful recrafting, it will create the same kind of audience reaction when the updated version is promoted on Instagram.

Now what?

Once you identify the pieces of content you wish to republish, it’s time to update those pieces. Here’s a checklist of options for updating your content.

  • Are the statistics still relevant?
  • Are the links and resources still available?
  • Are quotes still relevant?
  • Are there new keywords or tags to add?
  • Can you freshen up the headline?
  • Do you need to adjust the original length of the piece to make it longer or shorter, based on current best practices?
  • Can you add a poll, a survey, or a comment section to enhance the content experience?

If your original piece of content requires no changes, you can republish it in its original form. Make a note at the beginning to let your readers or viewers know that you’ve republished it without changing it. You might say, “Here’s a popular blog post you may have missed” or “Here’s something from our archives.” Include the original post date for full transparency.

Have you republished content? What were the results? Share your experience in the comments.

Bonus tip

A few months ago, I wrote about another way to stretch your content distribution. Here is the article: Re-purposing Content Saves You Time and Reaches Your Whole Audience. Here’s How to Do It Right.

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The Library Marketing Live Show Episode 6: Figuring out Evergreen Content for a Library Blog

Watch Now

What We Talked About

Shandi from the Illinios Heartland Library System sent me this question:  I just read your blog article “How to Launch a Library Blog.” I would love to hear more about this! Specific question: Our new website won’t be ready for maybe 8 months (at our current rate). I want to add a blog with the introduction of our new site. When do you suggest beginning to curate articles? I’m thinking I could start now with evergreen pieces, right? Thanks!

So I talked through my answer to that question and gave some advice for creating evergreen content for a library marketing blog. I’m excited to see what Shandi’s blog looks like and to read the content she curates.

If you’ve got a library blog that you really love, please let me know in the comments. I’m curating a list of great library blogs to share in a future post so get your nominations in! Thanks for the question, Shandi.

Stay in Touch

Thanks to everyone who attended the webinar with Library Journal and Recorded Books on July 25. I am going to answer all the questions either on the live show, on my blog, or via email so be watching for that!

I’m speaking at two conferences this fall and you can register for both on the Upcoming Events page. The OLC released their full agenda this week and it looks like a great conference. Plus, you’ll be able to tour my library!

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!

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