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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.

 

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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!

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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.

Big Regret: I Broke The First Rule of Content Marketing

I Broke the

I have a big regret.

As I was flipping through back issues of our quarterly news magazine, Library Links, I noticed I’d broken the first rule of content marketing in the cover story headline of a recent issue.

Can you spot the boo-boo?

winterlinks

Reaching Out Beyond the Library Walls: How We’re Making a Difference in Your Community.

The answer: It’s the word “we’re.”

It’s self-centered. It’s self-serving. It’s too promotional. “Look at us, we’re the greatest!” Ugh.
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Here’s why that’s such a big no-no. Content marketing is the art of communicating with your cardholders without selling. Content Marketing Institute says content marketing is the belief that, by offering valuable content to your audience, you’ll be rewarded with their loyalty.

The first rule of content marketing is “no selling.” And the use of the word “we’re” is too promotional.

The article itself was valuable to our audience. Many of our cardholders are unaware of our work in the community. They have no idea that we offer services to whole segments of the population who have no physical way to get to a library building. We are committed to making sure every single person in our community has equal and full access to our resources.

By telling the story of the staff members who work to make that possible, and the residents who enjoy an increased quality of life because of Outreach Services, we hoped to drive more people to engage with Outreach. We hoped to get more nursing homes, assisted living centers, day cares, and other care facilities to contact the library and request Outreach Services. We hoped to encourage more teachers to sign up for our Educator Card and request collections delivered directly to their schools. All of this drives cardholder signups and circulation, which are our ultimate marketing goals.

But with one word, we may have turned readers off before they even got to the content.

Don’t make the same mistake. The word “we’re” and any derivative of it should be banned from your content marketing materials. Focus your content on the customer and their needs. It’s not about how awesome we think we are. It’s about our cardholders. That’s the first rule of content marketing.

Have you seen a great example of customer-based content marketing? Share it in the comment 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.

14 Content Marketing Influencers to Follow on Twitter


Empress Eugenie, Surrounded by her Ladies-in-Waiting by Franz Xaver Winterhalter.
Empress Eugenie, Surrounded by her Ladies-in-Waiting by Franz Xaver Winterhalter.

When I was a kid, my parents told me to choose my friends wisely. They wanted me to surround myself with people who would be a good influence on me–who shared my core beliefs, who were encouraging–but most importantly, who were smarter than me.  

Turns out, that’s good advice for grownups too, especially for those of us navigating the ever-changing marketing landscape. The best way to learn about content marketing and to stay on top of the latest trends in the marketing space is to immerse yourself in stories of the successes–and failures–of other marketers, especially those in the for-profit space with the budget and executive support to try creative new strategies.

There are two easy ways to do this. One is to listen to podcasts and read blogs about the industry. We’ll go over my picks for the best marketing-related podcasts and blogs next week (if you have any suggestions, email me!)

The second thing to do is to follow the right people on Twitter. Below is the list of my favorite content marketing influencers on Twitter.  If you look at these 14 feeds every day, I guarantee you will soon be brimming with ideas about how to successfully execute and measure the results of your content marketing.

1. Ann Handley: Author, Marketer,  Chief Content Officer at @marketingprofs. Ann’s at the top of my list because she’s the definitive expert on writing engaging content. You need to read her two books, Content Rules (available as an audio book on OneClick) and Everybody Writes.  Then you need to make sure you’re signed up for Marketing Profs. They have plenty of tips and seminars  as part of their free basic membership. You can also buy a professional membership for $279 a year. Anne understands libraries, having served on a library board of trustees for a time.  She’s down to Earth and offers simple, practical tips and inspiration.
2. Joe Chernov: VP of Content @HubSpot. Advisor to a bunch of other content companies including Trackmaven. He’s also a former Content Marketer of the Year.  I love me some Hubspot-more on that later in this post.  Joe tweets on a wide range of topics, from high-level content analytics to free graphic templates for marketers on a budget as well as a bunch of random stuff that has nothing to do with marketing. I enjoy the mix.
 3. Mandy Edwards: Social Media Strategist for ME Marketing Services and author for @steamfeedcomMandy’s tweets include lots of short, easy-to-understand lists and fundamental tips with beautiful graphics.  They’re perfect for those incredibly busy days when you still want to learn something new about marketing.
4. Bob Ruffolo:  Founder and CEO of ImpactBound and an expert on social selling, inbound marketing, and being an entrepreneur.  You might not think too much about inbound marketing or social selling, but Bob tweets lots of tips about engaging website design and driving traffic through strategic methods which I find are workable in the library space.
5. Luke Lewis: editor in chief of Buzzfeed UK. Look, we all know Buzzfeed has found the secret sauce for engaging social media posts.  Lewis peppers industry advice with some of the best Buzzfeed stuff as well as engaging posts from other sites.  He’ll inspire you to think beyond conventional campaigns.
6. Mike Johannsson: Senior Lecturer in the School of Communication at RIT, social media strategy consultant. Mike posts a great mix of content marketing advice, social media research, and tech industry news.  Again, he uses beautiful graphics to drive home his point.  As long as we’re looking at a feed , it might as well be pretty!
7. Jay BaerNY Times best selling author, marketing consultant, keynote speaker. Jay is an expert in the digital and social media space and he tweets great articles with practical advice. His weekly five-minute #JayToday video podcasts are fun and informative.
8. Viveka von RosenLinkedIn Expert, Host of#LinkedInChat & author of LinkedIn Marketing: An Hour a Day. LinkedIn is an untapped resourse for many companies and libraries and Viveka’s advice has really opened my eyes to the possibilities that exist for brand storytelling and human resource development.
9. Mark Schaeferexpert on blogs and social media, particularly Twitter.  I heard Mark talk at Content Marketing World and he’s got a lot of really great and practical tips for getting the most out of Twitter, blogging, and social media in general.  Plus I like that his Twitter account includes personal Tweets.
10. Sarah MitchellContent Marketing Consultant and Head of Content Strategy at @lush_digital. Copywriter and contributor to the Brand Newsroom podcast. Sarah has all kinds of advice on writing great copy, headlines, titles, and other bits of the nitty-gritty that may seem mundane but are really the cornerstones to any good content marketing piece.
Bigger Resources
11. Content Marketing Institute:  The go-to organization for everything related to content marketing. They’ve made me an evangelist for the practice. Sign up for Chief Content Officer magazine (its free) and for their weekly email newsletter. You’ll get the heads-up on upcoming seminars, free webinars, eBooks and white papers. They also host the #CMWorld chat on Tuesdays at noon on a host of relevant topics.  Convince your administrators to let you attend Content Marketing World in September in Cleveland, OH.  It’s worth every penny. It is the best conference I ever attended!
12. Hubspot:  Confession: I’m a huge Hubspot fangirl. They give away all kinds of great advice, free stock photos, and interesting and educational industry-related webinars.  They know what they’re doing. And if I ever get a budget, I’m going to hire these guys to help me in all sorts of ways. But for now, they’ll have to be happy with my endorsement.
13. Newscred: These guys had the best chachkie idea EVER at Content Marketing World-they gave away free French Press Coffee at their booth. By the time the two-day conference was over, I was an over-caffeinated marketing fiend with their company name imprinted in my brain. And after checking out their Twitter feed, I found lots of great articles on all sorts of content marketing challenges. Best of all, they share ways to measure your success, something that most marketers (myself included) find to be very challenging.
14. King Content: Award winning global content marketing agency with offices in Australia, Singapore, London and New York. When I went into the 2500-seat exhibit hall for the opening address of Content Marketing World last September, I happened to choose a seat next to the main contingent from King, including Todd Wheatland. Coincidence? I think not-more like destiny.  Before the conference even started, I quizzed the King employee about his agency, which  employs hundreds of brand journalists all over the world, writing amazing copy about all kinds of products and services. Their Twitter feed is a great mix of PR advice and that content. Wheatland also hosts his own podcast, “The Pivot.”

Who do you recommend following on Twitter? Add a comment below!

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 LinkedInSlideshareInstagram and Pinterest.

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

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