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I’m Thankful for You

We’re getting ready to celebrate Thanksgiving here in the United States. I’m taking a break from posting tips for a week so I can catch up on post writing! While I do that, you can bet that I’ll be thinking about you, and giving thanks for you. I’m thankful for your support, encouragement, and insight. I’m thankful to be an email away from a group of professionals who know exactly what I’m going through! And I’m thankful for your commitment to keep libraries strong.

I’ve been thinking about 2019, both professionally and in the context of this blog. I need your help figuring out what to write about next year. While you enjoy this week-long break from regular posts, would you be so kind as to email me using this form with the answers to a few questions? I want to get your thoughts on a few things. It should only take a couple of minutes. And I would be so grateful.

Thank you so much!

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!

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Introducing the Nine Blogs That Will Make You a Better Library Marketer

(Read time: 2 minutes, 28 seconds)

I am a fan of blogs. God bless the internet, it’s the best way to keep up to date on everything–food, fashion, the news, and the changes in library marketing. And, as much as I am also a fan of books of all kinds, I am not a fan of marketing books! The landscape of this profession changes fast. Unless it’s a philosophical take on marketing, most marketing books feel out of date within a year or two of publication.

Instead, I get my advice from blogs. So I’ve listed the nine blogs I recommend you read to stay on abreast of all the news in marketing. For the best use of your time, sign up for the email newsletters offered by these sites. Most will let you choose which topics you like to hear about and will send you content at the frequency that’s best for you. Set aside time on your calendar every day to read the content shared by these blogs. It’ll be time well spent. I’ve listed them in alphabetical order.

The Content Strategist

This blog features interesting articles broken into categories like storytelling, strategy, and ROI. They also post inspirational articles, which I love to save and read on days when I feel like my work is not having the impact it could or should.

Content Marketing Institute

At first glance, you might be intimidated. This blog is aimed at C-Suite or executive level marketers. But it’s good to read this advice even when you’re a little guy! There are always pieces of their strategy and bits of advice you can pick up and mold to work for your library. And the writers of this blog always seem to see the trends in consumer and business marketing before any other experts. Also, when you sign up for this newsletter you’ll get notifications about CMI’s free webinars. They have the most helpful webinars of any company in the marketing space.

Coschedule

I found this blog after using their online tool for writing better headlines. It’s among my favorites. Coschedule creates a lot of useful templates and writes easy-to-read, concise instructions on how to use them and how to improve your marketing.

The Daily Carnage

I read this one for laughs, good advice, and a lesson on how to write with humor and still be taken seriously.

Hubspot

Hubspot also gives away a lot of free templates and online courses that have tremendous value. Their blog posts cover a range of topics and are fun and insightful.

Mashable Marketing

One of my favorites by far. Their content is easy to read and interesting. They cover topics from social media to graphic elements to equipment to how pop culture affects marketing. It’s also written very, very well. This website is daily appointment reading for me!

PR Daily

If you sign up or bookmark just one blog from this post, this should be it. It’s essential for library marketing. This blog contains everything you need to know about public relations and the media. You have my permission to stop reading and subscribe to this one now. Then come back. Please.

Social Media Examiner

When I interview candidates for a social media position, I asked them where they get their news about social media. If they name this blog, they get a big A+ from me. Read it AND listen to Michael Stelzner’s podcast to get the best advice on social media from the industry’s best minds.

Spin Sucks

This blog offers a lot of helpful PR advice with a mix of fun posts designed to stretch your creative brain and general marketing advice. I really look forward to their daily email newsletter. I always learn something!

What is your favorite marketing blog? Please share the name in the comments so I can read it too!

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

 

Inspiring Advice From An Expert Blogger

A few months ago, I asked readers whether their library had a blog. 61 percent of respondents said no. I have to include myself in that statistic. And the more I think about it, the more that bothers me.

Blog-less libraries are missing a HUGE opportunity. A blog has a number of promotional advantages that simply cannot be replicated with any other type of tactic. And to make my case, I am going to share insights with you from a session at Content Marketing World–one that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about in the months since the conference.

Amanda Todorovich is the Director of Content Marketing at the Cleveland Clinic. She’s the 2016 winner of the Content Marketer of the Year from the Content Marketing Institute and she runs the most visited hospital blog in the United States, Health Essentials. Her session was all about the Cleveland Clinic blog and its success. And her story made me want a blog for my library.

Amanda says a blog is the best promotional tool because it creates brand awareness and relationships with current and potential customers. The goal of the Cleveland Clinic blog is to create a space in which the hospital is top of mind all the time with people looking for health information. Think about this: the hospital cannot create demand for their services. So they aim to provide credible health information at all times so that, in the unfortunate moment when someone is sick or injured, the first place they think of is the Cleveland Clinic.

That principle applies to libraries as well. There are times when a library cardholder may not need their library, but we want to stay top of mind with them so that they’ll turn to us when they do need books, or help with a struggling reader in their home, a passport, a voter registration form, help to create a resume, or whatever problem they might have. Libraries are not just about programs and books and there is a lot of value to offer your cardholders beyond those two basic services.

But Amanda also says in order for your blog to work, you have to stand strong. Your blog cannot be all things to all people. You’ll have to decide on your mission, write it down, and stick to it. This doesn’t mean that you are ignoring certain cardholders. It means that your blog has one focus, one mission and that everything you write–no matter the audience–drives at completing that mission. For example, Health Essentials mission is to engage users in daily conversation using health, wellness and clinical content that is unique to Cleveland Clinic. They’re not ignoring anyone. Rather, they are focusing all their energy on delivering on that mission to all of their potential patients and patient families. See the difference?

Blogs have a value beyond pure promotion. Using the right keywords and paying attention to metadata, tags, and links will help boost your position in search traffic. That means people will be able to find you first during a search. Some big brands pay big money for great search results placement. Can you imagine what would happen if; every time someone searches Google for a book, a DVD, or information that they land on your library’s blog? The impact would be mind-blowing.

Some library marketers are already taking this advice to heart, including Brook Savoie, who works for Lafourche Public Library in Thibodaux, Louisiana. She told me, “Our librarians take turns writing a post weekly. The purpose is to just bring more awareness to things that we do! It works well for me for social media, because I can share these blog posts weekly with our audiences without having to create any content myself.”

So, step one is convincing you, your staff, and your administration, to launch a blog. It’s worth it. You can do it. Here are Amanda’s other tips for blog success.

Focus on creating better posts, not more posts. You don’t have to post every day. Just pick a CONSISTENT schedule. Create a list of topics and then write. That’s what I do with this blog. I spend roughly three hours a week on this blog and that’s really only because I am my own editor. If I could just write and revise a draft and then hand it off to another person to edit, it wouldn’t take much time at all. I spend about ten minutes crafting and testing headlines. I spend about ten minutes making the graphic. I spend about ten minutes scheduling all the distribution. I write on the weekend and it feels like it doesn’t take much time at all.

Be willing to say no. Amanda says she doesn’t have a lot of friends outside her team because she says no to a lot of requests by other departments for blog posts. The hospital blog is focused on the needs of their readers, not on the needs of the organization and that’s why it works. When your customers are the center of your universe, you are providing them with value and they’ll keep coming back to you. You are beholden to your cardholders, and they should be your only concern.

Measure and test and test again. Never be content with the results, even when they seem good. Ask “what if” all the time–it could lead you to an extraordinary idea that takes your blog to the next level. Testing actually keeps blog writing interesting and keeps life exciting (I AGREE).

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

 

Write Like the Dickens: How To Make Sensational Serialized Content

Library marketers don’t have time for long, elaborate content marketing pieces. Our staff is small (or one person, in many cases) and the demand on our time is huge. I believe this is one of the main reasons that many libraries don’t have a documented content marketing strategy and why many library marketers feel stuck, unable to fully commit to content marketing.

But I have an idea.

Let me introduce you to the idea of serialized content.  It is also sometimes called episodic content. Serial or episodic content lets you take one piece of content and turn it into many pieces, released on a consistent basis over a longer period of time. You’re probably most familiar with serialized content in fiction. Writers like Charles Dickens, George Eliot, Thomas Hardy, and Henry James all released their most-lauded novels not as one long book, but in sections published in magazines and newspapers over a long time. In the past few years, marketers have started to pick up on this idea again as an effective way to release their content marketing pieces. What was old has become new.

Serialized content has nine major advantages for libraries. In the age of binge-watching, serialized content feels different and fresh. You can gather a bigger audience for your work because serialized content builds suspense. Your audience will come back for more information on a great subject that is well-written, thoughtful, and provides them with new content. It’s also perfect for viewing or reading on mobile devices–shorter pieces of content are easier to digest on a small screen than larger pieces.

Serialized content gives your readers more time to digest and grasp concepts. It helps you take a big idea and break it down into smaller segments in which you can do a deeper dive into the topic. Serialized content gives you more flexibility in your marketing schedule because you can break up the writing and distribution of the content in smaller pieces. It’s easier to set aside a short time in your schedule to write and distribute a blog post than it is to set aside three days for a longer piece (just speaking from experience here!)

Serialized content can also help you get an idea of the topics your audience is really interested in. If your audience spikes week after week on a topic, you know there’s a demand for more information on that subject. And, in terms of website optimization, creating several posts on one subject and linking them to each other is a great way to increase your search ranking–Google loves internal links! And finally, serialized content can help fill out your editorial calendar without taxing you or your staff. It quickens the approval process.

I’ve used serialized content several times in this blog, like the time I turned my conference presentation for the Indiana Federation of Libraries on marketing to teenagers into a series of blog posts. The major marketing firm Ceros ran a series of episodic content pieces on serialized content (now that’s Meta!). And Coca-Cola created a series of video marketing pieces titled “Crossroads” about LBGTQ bullying and acceptance. But to be honest, there aren’t many other examples of serialized or episodic content to be found. That makes this is a huge opportunity for libraries.

You’ll know whether a topic is a good candidate for serialized content by asking yourself a series of questions:

Is the topic something my audience needs to know but is difficult to understand?

Can I build suspense with a series of pieces on this topic?

Would this topic make a great book?

Can I commit to a regular schedule of content releases?

If you answered yes, you’ve got a topic that’s ripe for serialization.

There are many ways you can create serialized content. You can break a long blog post into several smaller segments and publish them in your newsletter or on your website. You can also take one piece of content–say the same blog post–and repurpose it into a different format, like a series of short videos, a series of infographics, a Slideshare, or daily tip-sharing Tweets! The possibilities are endless. Serialized content is a creative exercise. The point is to build suspense and to publish your short segments so your audience looks forward to the next piece of content you’ll share.

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.

Write A Library Blog People Will Rave About!

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Websites are a big deal for libraries. They run the gamut from simple portals to the catalog to complex Pinterest-like gateways  And every library is searching for the right way to make the most of their website real estate, giving cardholders the most convenient service and making sure they can get the information they want when they need it.

Many libraries are moving beyond catalog-based websites, adding content to their websites and that’s great. Content marketing is a huge opportunity for libraries to cement their brand voice and share ideas and helpful information with cardholders. But before you add a blog or post articles to your website, make sure you have a plan to do it right.

Andy Crestodina, strategic director of Orbitz Media, is a rock star in hiding. He’s quiet, practical, and he loves data. The dude knows how to build websites that drive traffic. And thankfully, he is willing to share those insights. Crestodina gave valuable website-boosting advice to me–and 4,000 other marketers–at Content Marketing World.

“Good content is amazing and bad content is so weak it gets no results at all. There is no middle ground,” Crestodina told the crowd. Oh my goodness, how true is that?

Here are five tips Crestodina says will work to make your library blog a success.

Write for promotional value. Crestodina says if you want to write something that will get more than get a cursory glance from your cardholders, you should try to make most of your posts fall into one of these categories: Opinion forming, authoritative, and original research.

You can write an opinionated post without alienating your audience. Write about what the library stands for and what it stands against. Write about the questions people have about libraries but are afraid to ask. Write about the faults of the library industry. Celebrate the strengths of libraries. All of these topics are compelling, and allow your library to cement your voice and your position in a way that your readers and cardholders will remember. What is it that people in the library world often say but rarely support? That’s the subject of your next article.

This approach works for me every single time I lean into it. My post last week about marketing in a Trump Presidency was one of the most viewed posts I’ve had in a long time. Take a stand. People will respect you for it.

Use your blog as a networking tool. Ask community leaders to write guest posts… school administrators politicians, and other nonprofit organizations. Or interview people. Then, once you publish, send a link to the contributors. They’re likely to share your post and help promote it. Crestodina explains it this way:  “An ally in creation is an ally in promotion.”

Create excitement for your blog post by being consistent. Crestodina says the best way to maintain web traffic to your blog is to make sure people are always waiting for an article to go live. If no one is anticipating what you have to say, you have a problem.

Be deliberate with your keywords. In the blog text you need to include keywords for search and people for social (this is a reason that you see me use the word “library” a bunch in my posts.) Crestodina suggests that you put your keyword phrase in title, header, and body of blog post 2-4 times. Target the topic, not just the key phrase.  If you are concerned about using the right keyword, try Keywordtool.io. It does an amazing job of helping you to narrow your target phrase.

Give away all your best advice and back up your claims.  Crestodina says you will endear yourself to your cardholders by constantly sharing your expertise with them. But don’t ask them to take your word at face value… never make a claim without supporting with evidence. In addition, collect cardholder testimonials and put them on every page of content for proof that you know what you’re talking about and others trust and believe your library.

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.

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