Super Library Marketing: All kinds of marketing ideas for all kinds of libraries.

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.


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.


The Bloody Hell of Library Marketing Data and How to Stay Sane

Let’s be real. When you work at a library, the process of collecting and analyzing data on your marketing initiatives can be messy, tedious, time-consuming, and boring as hell. I speak from experience. I am a data-collection freak but I just spent three weeks analyzing the numbers from six months of email marketing. I’m tired. My eyes are crossed. If I have to do any more math, I’m going to lose my mind.

I do this long-view analysis twice each year and about halfway through, I find myself caught in a serious case of what I call “dashboard envy.” I wish I had a program to do the calculations for me, like big brand companies. I go to one big conference every year–Content Marketing World. Their expo hall is filled with an amazing variety of marketing technology companies, peddling a number of products to make everything easier for marketers, including data collection. I almost never go to any of the booths to talk to the reps, but I do sometimes stand off to the side and watch them pitch to big companies. They’ve all got solutions for easy data collection and analysis and I am very envious of anyone who can afford them. Sigh.

It would be SO EASY to just chuck the analysis. I am so dang busy. I’m running email promotions, creating a strategy, writing for publications, taking phone calls, running meetings… etc. And I hate math. I mean, I really hate math.

But I do it. I make myself sit down and I go through all the data points, carefully and thoroughly, to analyze everything we’ve done with our email marketing, which is our most effective and most wide-ranging marketing tactic. I do it because it’s necessary and because the results always reveal something that guides my strategy for the next six months. It is so important to take a long-view look at what you are doing. Without data analysis, I am blind to the trends that emerge in my cardholders’ behavior. For instance, this round I’ve discovered:

I can send emails any time of day EXCEPT 7 a.m. to noon. We’re getting horrible engagement on emails.

Emails sent on Friday and Saturday TANK so no more sending on those days. When I discovered this fact, I immediately went into our library’s email calendar and changed the dates on five upcoming messages to avoid sending on Friday and Saturday.

About a year ago, we were really focused on sending messages to tiny audiences–less than 1,000 cardholders. The data showed that smaller audiences led to better the engagement. Now, we’re noticing that we get the best engagement with audiences of about 10,000 cardholders! That’s quite a shift and my theory is that we’re doing more promotion of services in our emails, which is of more interest to a wider range of cardholders. I also think I’m doing a better job at creating segments or clusters and matching their interests to the email (practice makes perfect!)

There are a couple of branches in our system that I won’t be sending email to anymore on a regular basis because their cardholders do not open, click, or act on anything… even special offers. We’ll be working on different ways to engage those cardholders.

Knowing how my cardholders are reacting to messages and how those reactions change over time makes the work we do more efficient. That’s why data collection and analysis, no matter how painful, is totally worth it. So now, I want to share with you some pointers for making it through the data-analysis process without losing your ever-loving mind.

Keep meticulous records of data as it comes in. If you start documenting rudimentary data after every campaign, as soon as the campaign ends, you won’t have to spend a bunch of time going back into your email system or into your social media platform dashboard or whatever you use for insights. I have a Word document for every email I send where I record the date, time, and number of cardholders who receive the email as well as the results–if it’s a circulation-based email, I record the number of books put on hold or checked out and if it’s a program promotion email, I record the number of attendees at the event.

Clear your schedule and set manageable time expectations for yourself. I calculate results of individual email campaigns monthly and then I schedule a six-month trend analysis. I schedule both of these tasks in my calendar like I would a regular meeting. That ensures that time won’t get taken away from me and that I won’t be tempted to give it up for other tasks. I make sure that six-month analysis happens during a slow time of year and I give myself 2-3 weeks to complete it. I set aside time each day to do my calculations–maybe an hour a day over a week (or three, if you’re slow at math like me). I shut the door of my office and hunker down. It takes discipline but it’s really worth it.

Keep records of everything you calculate. I literally wrote out the formulas for calculating the results the first time I did it so I could replicate it six months later. I write out all my results in case someone wants to take me to task later over a decision I make based on those results.

Talk about the results with your colleagues and share your results with other departments. Transparency in marketing is a good thing. It helps your co-workers and administrators have a clearer understanding of what you do in your marketing department! And they may look at the results and find some new insight that you missed. More eyes are better, honestly.

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.

Powerful Library Video Marketing Ideas To Delight Your Cardholders

If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I’m all in on video marketing. I recently hired a new social media strategist who has a background in documentary filmmaking… you can probably guess where the future of my library marketing strategy is headed.

Why am I so gung-ho on video? As a former broadcast journalist, I have seen the evidence first-hand of the impact a string of moving pictures has on people. It’s more powerful than any other medium, even print. You can read the story of how the library changed the life of a cardholder. But when you see them on the screen and hear their voice, you suddenly feel emotions–empathy, excitement, joy–on a level that you just can’t get with words in print.

And I know video marketing is a scary proposition to libraries. It seems difficult and expensive. I tried to allay your fears in a post I wrote a few months ago. I hope you’ve thought about it and are ready to commit resources to video marketing.

So get your iPhone or your DSLR camera ready, because I’ve got some ideas for videos you can create to get your video marketing strategy moving!

Facebook Cover Video: Facebook recently launched a feature that lets libraries use a video as their cover image slot. This is the perfect starting point for your library. If you have a beautiful atrium in your library, shoot a slow pan of the atrium during a busy point in the day. Or train a camera on the door when you open and record video of customers streaming into the building, then speed up the video for a time-lapse effect. Take your camera into the hidden stacks and roll as you walk among the thousands upon thousands of books. Shoot video of your processing area. Shoot video of workers loading your trucks for daily deliveries to your branches. Shoot video of your drive-up window. There are about a thousand possibilities! You can pick something that requires little or no editing, create an eye-catching visual for your Facebook page, and give yourself some confidence in video marketing.

A few notes about Facebook cover videos: They must be 20-90 seconds long, the resolution has to be 1080p (check your iPhone settings or use a DLSR camera), and be aware that the top and bottom of your video might be slightly cropped by Facebook, so shoot with a little extra room around the margins of your screen.

Video Book Reviews: Create a series of book reviews by librarians, volunteers, and customers. If you’re worried about someone going on and on about how great or awful a book is (readers are passionate!), set a time limit and use that as you shtick. “The 60-second book review” is catchy and gives value to the person watching without risking a diatribe that lasts ten minutes. Try to select reviewers ahead of time and give them a clear set of rules about how the segment is set up–they’ll want to say the title and author of the book at the beginning and end of the video. You can use a number of apps to add text to the video. Upload the video separately to Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, and your website. Do this because most social media platforms now penalize you for sharing video from another social media platform. For a great example of video marketing reviews, check out this series from the Columbus Metropolitan Library.

Librarian Stories: My library did a series of customer impact stories earlier this year that was extremely popular. Each was only a few minutes long and was loosely scripted. We asked librarians to tell us about memorable interactions they had with a customer. We did edit in b-roll (that’s the video that covers part of an interview and usually relates to what the interviewee is saying). We did five of these videos and, all told, it took us about two weeks to shoot, edit, and upload in addition to our other duties. Again, you can use these on multiple platforms. It’s a great piece of content marketing for your library and it also is a great way to boost morale for the front-line staff… they really loved talking about their work. We also took transcripts of their stories and used them in our print publications, so you can repurpose this content for other mediums too!

First Look at New Construction: Is your library building a new branch or doing a renovation? Shoot a video (when it’s safe) inside the building before all the paint is up and the furniture is in place, to give your cardholders a sneak peek at what’s coming! They’ll love it. Here’s a great example from the Woodberry Forest School in Virginia!

I’d love it if you share examples of great library marketing videos you’ve seen in the comments… I need some new ideas to steal, er, copy for my 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, Instagram and Pinterest. Views in this post are my own and do not represent those of my employer.

Three Questions You Need to Ask to Make a Powerful Pinterest Profile

Confession: I am a Pinterest junkie. I’ve loved the platform since its infancy. When it debuted in March of 2010, I scored an invite to join from a journalist friend (at that time, you needed an invitation) and it was love at first Pin. Not only is the user-experience friendly, it became an easy place to find ideas and inspiration for all sorts of projects, hobbies, and interests. It’s true that Pinterest really is more of a search engine than a social media platform. When I need a recipe or have to make a craft (hello Solar Eclipse viewers!) I turn to Pinterest. I was so enamored that one of my first blog posts is about using Pinterest for library marketing, which looks really quaint now!

Fast forward seven years, and Pinterest is a major platform for a number of libraries. They are embracing it as a way to drive traffic to their collection and share information. They are reaching audiences that might not necessarily be regular library users.

Pinterest is a highly valuable place for your library to market. When we started strategically pinning, our library had about 2,000 followers. Four years later, we’re now at more than 10,000 followers and each month, the platform drives 25 to 50 percent of the traffic we get to our website. Sometimes it surges over 50 percent to be the highest source of traffic from any social media platform we use. It really is powerful!

When you find success with a social media platform, it’s easy to become complacent and to think that, because it’s working, you must have it all figured out! But at least once a year, I revamp my thoughts about Pinterest and update our approach to posting. So should you! But how do you re-think and update your strategy? Here are the three questions to ask as you update your profile to get the best library marketing results from your Pinterest account.

Ask yourself: Does our profile attract the right audience?

Take a close look at your profile. What are you using for your profile pic? If you have a bold logo, you can use that as your profile pic to drive brand awareness. Otherwise, pick a photo with one clear focal point that aligns with your brand–a book, a small child smiling, or your building if you only have one location. The profile photo area is quite small so make sure the photo you pick isn’t busy. Put your website URL underneath and add a link to your webpage. There is a short area where you can add a description. Right now my library has our mission statement in that line but I am planning to change it to be more keyword friendly… something like “Find books, music, movies, and book-themed crafts and food” to help drive more traffic in Pinterest’s keyword-friendly search optimization strategy.

Ask yourself: Is our library using SEO strategy to make sure our Pins are seen by book lovers?

As I said, Pinterest is mainly a search engine. The way it works is through keyword optimization. It trolls keywords in the Pin title and description and matches Pins with specific keywords to users–think Google but on steroids. So that means that every word in your Pin is valuable.

To make sure this feature is working in your library’s favor, take the time to do a full Pin audit. First, look at your boards. Are your boards providing value for your cardholders, or are they just there because someone in senior leadership wanted extra publicity for an initiative? Clean out any board that doesn’t give a specific, actionable value to your cardholders.

Next, go through and look at your boards individually. Update the names and descriptions to use keywords that will get picked up by Pinterest’s SEO. For instance, I love having book quotes in our board descriptions but it’s not serving us well on the SEO side, so we are in the process of changing all the board descriptions to take advantage of full keyword search potential. We might even rename some of our boards to maximize the chance that our Pins will get seen.

Next, go through each Pin on every board, making sure every link worked. Any Pins with dead links must be deleted. Next, replace the url’s of the remaining Pins to drive traffic to your website when applicable. For example, if you have re-pinned a book from someone else’s feed, replace the URL with a link to the book in your collection, so that anyone interested in the book can place a hold right from your Pin.  For each Pin, re-think the description section and make sure you are using words that will be picked up by Pinterest’s search engine and found by the right users.

Ask yourself: How can I use the content my followers are Pinning to my library’s advantage?

Re-pinning your followers content, when relevant, is an amazing way to grow your own audience and to make your followers feel special. Our staff will go through the boards of a few of our followers every day, picking content we think will resonate with the rest of the audience, and re-pinning it to our boards, fixing links and keywords to make them work to our advantage and to drive traffic to our website when relevant. We also pick one Pin each day to highlight on other social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, thereby giving a shout out to our Pinterest followers and creating a relationship of sharing and spreading awareness of our presence on Pinterest.

Bonus tip: Pin books from your collection. Every. Single. Day.

In particular, focus on new books. Pinterest users love to find out about new books using the site and libraries are perfectly positioned to give that information. Every day, we go through the New Arrivals feed on our website and find the books that already have a holds lists… that’s clear proof that there is a demand for that books. We then Pin those books onto our New Books board. One note: make sure the book cover you Pin is as big as possible. If you have Overdrive, you can use their website to find large covers for most books. The bigger the cover, the more successful the Pin will be.

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.


Attack of the Clones: How To Protect Your Library from Fake Tweets

Today’s post is a warning. It’s also a reminder to keep diligent about a very important part of library marketing–the security of your social media accounts.

First the warning. There is a new website that allows people to generate fake tweets which look like they come from your library. The website is called Tweeterino and I’m not going to share a link here because I don’t want the site’s url to get crawled by the Google keyword search engine. That would only strengthen its presence on the web. A quick Google search will lead you to it.

This kind of thing scares the you-know-what out of me, if I’m being honest. Internet security is already tough. I wrote a piece on the importance of shoring up your social media accounts with best practices on how to do that. Here’s the truth: most of us think a social media security breach will never happen to us. We couldn’t be more wrong. Imagine the nightmare of having your library’s accounts compromised and someone posting all manner of things IN YOUR LIBRARY’S NAME.

And of course, this new website makes it easier than ever. It appears Tweeterino does not actually post the Tweet to your Library’s Twitter account. It’s merely a clone, not a hack. However, I don’t think it makes much difference. The potential for damage is the same. Someone could post a malicious or fake Tweet while posing as your library. The tendency for people, and the media, to take Tweets as a first-person source of accurate information would be devastating. It’s already happened to celebrities. The story in this link was reported after someone saw a tweet from Rob Kardashian.  Except it wasn’t from Rob… it was from Tweeterino.

Impersonation accounts can damage the reputation your library has worked hard to build. It is the social media equivalent of identity theft. There doesn’t seem to be a way to stop trolls from creating these fake Tweets in your library’s name.  If it happens to here, here’s what should do:

Take a screenshot. You will need the fake Tweet for evidence.

Report the attack to Twitter. The social media platform does take reports of impersonation seriously and has a form to help you start the process. Report it right away. Most people who use the form say Twitter responds within 48 hours.

File a second report with Twitter for trademark or logo violation. Twitter is very responsive to these requests, provided your library logo is trademarked. Trademarking a logo is simple process. You can use the website Legal Zoom and have your library’s logo trademarked for about $200.

And how can you prevent such an attack from happening?

Monitor all mentions of your library on social media. I know this is time-consuming and, to be honest, many organizations–even big-name brands–relax their diligence over time. If you use Tweetdeck, Hootsuite, or Sprout Social, you can set up monitoring within the software–all have tutorials on how to do that. You can also set up Google Alerts and search the web for a host of other free social listening tools…. there are a wide variety for you to choose from, based on your needs.

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.



Eight of the Best Websites With Curated Content Ideas for Your Library!

Creating content for your Library social media feeds and blogs can feel a lot like feeding a very hungry, very demanding giant. You want your audiences to know that you are the source for all kinds of rich and valuable information but, let’s be honest, when you are doing the entire job of marketing for your library by yourself or with a small staff, keeping up with the audience’s expectations can be exhausting. And the more exhausted you get, the more your original content suffers. You can’t put your best work out into the world when you are feeding the beast.

That’s where content curation comes in. Content curation is the idea that you can share the blog posts, infographics, case studies, and interesting posts created by other organizations on your platforms. Now, I know this sounds counter-intuitive to marketing. Why would you share the good work of someone else with your audience? Shouldn’t we take every opportunity to engage OUR followers with OUR stuff? That would be ideal, but I know darn well you don’t have a staff of 20 writers to fill your content needs every day. Neither do I. The expectations of your audience are the same for you as they are for big brands. You simply can’t keep up, no matter how hard you try.

But here’s the really surprising thing about sharing curated content. If you do it right, by sharing content that aligns with your library’s brand and image, curated content actually helps to strengthen your library’s brand. At my library, we have a strategy which includes sharing curated content related to books and the literary world. That’s a pretty wide definition and it allows us to fill our content needs with posts about authors, new books, books being made into movies, anniversaries of books being made into movies, health news related to reading, beautiful libraries around the world, and a lot more. This strategy has positioned us as a news source for all things related to the book world, and our followers and fans think of us as more than a library. They turn to us for information on all things literature.

I want to share eight websites we use to find content to feed our curation strategy so you can find the same success.

BuzzFeed Books: We pull something from this fantastic BuzzFeed spin-off nearly every day. One word of warning though: check the posts for inappropriate language. BuzzFeed is loose in their writing style and occasionally, they’ll allow an obscenity or two.

reddit Books: This list of user-generated content on books, libraries, and the literary world is pretty invaluable.  It also gives us ideas for polls to ask of our followers or original content posts, based on popular discussion boards. It’s a good way to put your finger on the pulse of the reading world in real-time.

NPR Books: Another place where you can find high-brow literary news and lots of book reviews. I use this site when I’m trying to decide which books I should highlight for individual promotions on social media and through email.

HuffPost Books: Similar to NPR Books but with a lot of news about book-related movies.

BOOK RIOT: A slick and modern website with more in-depth articles and interesting angles on literary themes. Scroll down to the bottom for links to a host of podcasts on every kind of literary subject. This website really warms your soul when you just want to immerse yourself in the world of books and think about how literature affects the lives of everyone.

Books – Flavorwire: The posts here are less frequent but are more varied than other sites. Their writers are very cultural and their perspectives are rare.

Electric Lit: A high-brow website with a fun, cultural perspective on literature. I also just love the look of their website.

NoveList: I’m pretty sure you all know this one exists but if you are like me and you didn’t come to this line of work from library school, this is THE go-to list for librarians who want to learn about new books or find reading recommendations for cardholders. I love their blogs and newsletters, which can be a rich source of content curation or promotional ideas for 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, Instagram and Pinterest. Views in this post are my own and do not represent those of my employer.

The Best Ways to Find the Right Keywords For Your Library Marketing

The internet is a giant swirling vortex of blog posts, featured articles, and videos. Social media feeds are packed with all kinds of content on every topic imaginable. We know that when you write for your library website, blog, or other content site, you should always be focused on the needs of your cardholders and potential library customers. But how do you make sure your words reach the people who need it most? How does your library cut through the noise and get noticed?

Keywords are the key.

Libraries have a tendency to release content that is not keyword friendly. Libraries are institutions of precision. Library staff believes in using the correct words in the correct context, even if it’s clunky or uncommon. Library staff creates lots of terms and phrases to help us to track down information for our customers. But we don’t spend a lot of time thinking about how those terms and phrases might be confusing to cardholders who are not standing with a library staff member.  When a cardholder is online, trying to find the source that will help them to write a research paper, add branches to their family tree, or make a decision about whether to purchase a car, they need us to speak their language.

That’s where keywords come into play. Using the right keywords makes it more likely that the content you write, in whatever format it is in, will end up on the computer screen in front of the person who needs it most.

There are three tools library marketing experts can use to help find keywords to weave into your content. I use the three sites when I write for this blog and they’re reliable and efficient. And all the search engines in this post are free!

Keyword Tool

I first learned about this keyword search tool about a year ago at a conference. It’s my favorite.  Type your subject or starting phrase into the box and it will tell you what terms people are using to search in Google, YouTube, Bing, Amazon, eBay, and the App Store. This tool is the reason I write about the subjects I do. For instance, I have learned that people who type library marketing into the search bar are looking for conferences, plans, and ideas.  So, if you are wondering, that’s why most of my posts focus on those three subjects. It works! My conference based stories are among the most popular of the blog and anytime I write about marketing plans or strategies, I get a huge response.

There is a fee-based option that allows you to look up search volume, cost per conversion, and AdWords competition but frankly, I don’t think you need them unless you are creating marketing for a huge and very expensive library campaign.


Using the plain old Google search bar allows you to see what content is rising to the top of Google’s algorithm and what keywords or phrases those top-performing content pieces are using to catch the attention of readers. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery–whatever those articles are using should be what you use too! Don’t forget to scroll to the bottom to see “related searches,” which I find to be extremely valuable as a source of more keywords.


My guess is that you hadn’t thought of using Pinterest as a keyword tool. But I typed “buy a new car” into the Pinterest box and got all kinds of articles and graphics with tips and tricks for buying a new car. I could use this information to create content around how to use our free Consumer Reports Database or our Chilton Auto Repair database, but with words that I know people are using and language they’ll understand. It also helps me to decide what parts of the car-buying or car repair process my cardholders might be most concerned about.

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.

Now Is the Time For Your Library to Get Back to Snapchat

I suspect my library’s relationship with Snapchat will mirror your library’s experience. About two years ago, we claimed our account on this burgeoning platform and started experimenting with content and engagement. It was fun and different. We had high hopes that Snapchat would help us to reach new (younger) audiences. We hoped Snapchat was the gateway for breaking through to that elusive millennial target audience. We hoped it would show teens that we are relevant in their lives.

It didn’t work.

Readers of this blog know that I like to take a scientific approach to marketing. Set your hypothesis, decide on your goals, experiment, gather data, and then adjust: that’s my MO. In line with that thinking, we decided that Snapchat wasn’t worth our time and we dropped marketing on the platform. We decided to wait to see if Snapchat’s owners would address concerns of major (and frankly more well-funded) companies that were looking to do a better job at marketing on the platform. We wanted to see if they would pivot the platform to be less about chatting with friends and more about interacting with community.

Those changes have finally come to fruition and now our Library is jumping back into the water of Snapchat. I think you should join us. Here’s why:

You can now add links to posts. This was a huge sticking point for most marketers. Why spend time creating a story when there was no way to embed a call to action for interested customers? That’s no longer an issue. It’s easy to add a link–simply click on the paperclip icon that appears on the right side of the Snap when you’ve finished recording it. Copy and paste your link into the provided space and you’re done. You should use Google Tracking Links so you can see how many people are specifically using your Snapchat-embedded link to get to a piece of content. For an easy guide on how to use Google’s URL builder, click here. You will have to create the URL on your desktop, then email it to yourself, copy it, and paste it into Snapchat. It sounds like a lot of work but it will be worth it for the tracking data.

You can now create geofilters inside the app. Until recently, you had to create your geofilter using a graphics program, then submit it and hope that it met specifications for approval. My library tried this on three occasions. We were very careful to follow all the provided guidelines–and we were never approved. However, my guess is that now our geofilters will be more likely to be approved and I’m eager to test this out. This article does a great job of walking you through the process of using the app to create a geofilter. Having a custom geofilter for your library gives your cardholders a fun way to engage with your brand and gives you the chance to market your library to new, non-cardholding customers through the Snaps of your loyal fans.

It’s easy to repurpose content on Snapchat. Snapchat has made the process of saving and storing Snaps for re-purposing easier with its Memories function. Basically, when you have a Snap that you want to save, you click on the “download” arrow icon on the bottom left-hand side of your Snap screen. The Snap is saved in the app’s Memories. For a step-by-step guide, click here.

One note: I don’t think its good marketing practice to save an entire Snap story and then reuse it in its original form on another platform. We know that users of different social media platforms have different interests and tastes, and you should have separate strategies for the social media platforms. But it’s plausible that sections of your Snap story can be reworked for another platform, and that’s where saving Snaps to memories can come in handy.

In addition, there are some expert marketers who are experimenting with exporting Instagram Stories onto Snapchat. I have not tried this, so I can’t comment on whether it works, but Carlos Gil is an expert on Snapchat and I trust his opinion. He’s created this great video to show you how to save your Instagram Stories and add them to Snapchat. This is a great experiment to try with your library and could be really useful for those libraries with limited staff and resources for managing social media.

Finally, if you are still unconvinced about the value of Snapchat for library marketing, I want to leave you with a post  full of ideas gleaned from the work of big companies which you could use at 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, Instagram and Pinterest. Views in this post are my own and do not represent those of my employer.

A Website.

Up ↑