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Get More Library Marketing Reach on Social Media

Every library marketer I know is fighting a battle for the attention of cardholders on social media. Platforms don’t make it easy for us, do they? The kind of organic reach we enjoyed even five years ago is a nearly unattainable now. Plus, we’re all stretched for time. Social media can feel like an endless treadmill or a giant monster that needs constant feeding.

But there one thing you can do to stretch your library marketing efforts further each day on social. It’s called re-purposing. Basically, you take original content created by you or content created by your fans. You reshape it, then share it on different platforms. It’s easy and it’s fun. It saves time. And it helps you get the most effective library marketing messages in front of more eyes.

Now, I want to say that I don’t recommend full cross posting… in other words, copy and pasting a post on one social media platform automatically onto another one. Always think about whether your audience really wants to see the same content on each platform. The answer is usually no. Different platforms have different audiences with different needs.

But you can take a post on one platform and re-craft it to work on a second or third social media platform. For instance, an Instagram story shot at a super-fun teen program probably won’t work on your library’s LinkedIn page but it could be re-purposed on Snapchat. You can also make minor changes to single posts to make them work on different platforms. Change the text or the captions of the posts, add or remove hashtags, and or use a different photo.

Here are some tips for spotting social media posts that can be re-purposed. First, make a daily habit of social listening. Essentially, that means you monitor mentions of your library on all social media platforms every day. It’s easiest to do when you use social media scheduling software. At our library, we use Sprout Social. We can see mentions of our library on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, which are the big three platforms where we spend most of our social media energy. For my personal blog promotion, I have a free version of Tweetdeck. I can add columns and get notices when readers mention me by name or through the hashtag #librarymarketing on Twitter, where I do my main promotion.

When you monitor and share mentions of your library, you are nurturing the relationship with people who are already fans of the library. By giving them some exposure on your social media channels, you’ll be generating exposure for them and creating more loyalty. However you decide to do social listening, set aside time every day to go through the platforms and look for mentions of your library. The complimentary ones can be turned into posts on other platforms. They can be shared directly with your followers in retweets.

Ask for testimonials from your cardholders through social media. Then share those posts in your print publications, on your website, in videos, and across other social media channels. My social media specialist likes to take mentions and turn them into testimonial graphics in Canva. Then she shares those posts on select platforms. Bonus tip: I also asked for testimonials using our email marketing list recently. I sent an email to the most active adult cardholders at all our branches and asked them to tell us why they loved their library. The email linked to a specific email address. I even populated the subject line. All the cardholder had to do was type a few sentences about why they love the library. I got back more than 400 responses… a gold mine of future content for all our platforms!

You can also turn all questions sent to you on social into re-purposed content. Cardholders will often choose social media to communicate with libraries. There’s a great book with lots of tips of social customer care. I interviewed the author earlier this year and you can read that post. You’ll learn lots of ways to make social media customer care work for your library. The trick again is to set aside time every work day to go through each platform. And to keep track of the platforms where your library is mentioned.

And now, I’m going to share a social media fail I suffered recently. I forget that Google Business existed! My boss checked our account and found dozens of questions posted on Google Business sites for our 41 library locations. Now, I go through the messages my library gets each day. With 41 locations, we get about five messages a day on that platform. Some are questions about things like branch hours or services. I try to answer all questions within 24 hours if possible. Many posts are people leaving specific reviews of branches. Those people are thanked by me with a personal message. The whole process takes maybe 10 minutes a day. But the quick interaction will leave cardholders who take the time to write to you feeling like they were really heard, and that’s extremely important. And now, I can take the best of those Google reviews and re-share them on other platforms. They work great because they often mention specific branches and staff members. They feel more personal to the people who live in those neighborhoods because they know that branch and staff.

Re-purposing content is a great way to stretch your library marketing reach. It’s relatively easy and it’s fun and it’s free. And here’s the big thing: many for-profit brands are not doing a good job of re-purposing content. That’s our advantage. Our cardholders love us, and they love to hear other fans rave about our work. So set aside a tiny block of time in every day to search for content that can be re-purposed.

And now, I have a favor to ask. If you didn’t see last week’s post, can you take three minutes to fill out my tiny little survey? It’ll help make this blog better in 2019. Thank you!

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

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Unlock the Truth About LinkedIn and Library Marketing

Whenever my staff and I talk about increasing our library marketing reach in the community through social media, one particular staff member always says, “What are we doing on LinkedIn?” For a long time, we all had a little laugh and moved on. We ignored LinkedIn, though this staff member kept telling us it was a platform we needed to pay attention to. But we had a lot to do. Facebook was where most of our cardholders were connecting with us and we struggled to keep up with the demands of creating content for that platform. Plus, we all thought LinkedIn was just for job seekers. We didn’t really view it as a social media platform of the same caliber as Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. We posted on LinkedIn sporadically; maybe twice per week at the most.

My social media specialist went on a well-deserved vacation and I took charge of LinkedIn while he was gone. I decided to experiment by posting on the site every weekday. I picked things I thought would resonate with the LinkedIn audience–professionals looking to network, find new jobs, and build connections that will help them advance in their careers.

One day I posted a promotion for an upcoming seminar on small business grants, with a  graphic I created for free on Canva. On another day, I chose to promote a self-help book from our new arrivals feed. We were already posting a “Worker Wednesday” profile each week, highlighting one of our branch staff on our other social media platforms and I posted that on LinkedIn. I also promoted a niche business magazine from our eBranch and a vintage photo of librarians at one of our branches.

The result is that engagement doubled over the course of two weeks and we decided, right then and there, to adjust our strategy and post more often on LinkedIn. Our little experiment showed there was clearly an audience for those messages.

LinkedIn is an important social media platform for libraries. I’ve said this for a while. And any library that’s not posting on LinkedIn is missing a huge opportunity, particularly in light of the recent algorithm changes and the data breach at Facebook and the toxic atmosphere of Twitter.

Here are the top five reasons why our library posts on LinkedIn and why I think your library should too!

It’s professional and polite. There are lots of people posting daily on LinkedIn about all kinds of ideas surrounding work life and yet, somehow, none of the comments on the platform have spiraled into hate-mongering that you might see on other social networks. This is due to the nature of LinkedIn–almost everyone on the site is aware that future employers are always looking at what they say and how they react. They put their best face and ideas forward. And that makes it a great place for libraries to interact with cardholders. You won’t get pulled down into messy and unproductive conversations and the audience is, by nature, receptive to your posts. There are no trolls! And speaking of which…

Less fake accounts, more organic reach. On LinkedIn, you won’t be targeted by fake accounts trying to prod you for likes, comments, and shares or following you simply to get a follow back. Imagine a world where there are no porn accounts masquerading as real people! The people interacting on LinkedIn are all real. And that makes for more genuine, organic interactions with your audience.

You can find great ideas for program and service promotion centered on career development. If you are looking for a place where you can gather ideas to create programs and services that will help grow the professional lives of your users, you should be on LinkedIn every day. Follow major companies and professional coaches to learn more about how career development is growing, spot trends, and find ways to showcase the resources your library can provide to help people looking for a new job or looking to advance their careers.

It’s a great place to share the story of your library. If you need a place to publish articles about your library, you should do that on LinkedIn. Top performing articles on the platform, according to Newswhip, include posts that help the reader add a positive or remove a negative from their life, job advice, and articles centered on how CEO’s best lead their team. In my personal experience, sharing books about career advancement and profiles of regular library staff members work well with the LinkedIn audience.

It’s a good platform to try something unexpected. I want to share a surprising discovery we made on our library’s own LinkedIn page. Our job and career-related posts generally do well. We get hundreds and sometimes thousands of impressions and dozens to hundreds of link clicks. But in the last few months, we found that posts about exhibits on display at the Main Library are also interesting to the LinkedIn audience! For example, in February, we did a small but cute display of cheesy vintage romantic novels to celebrate Valentine’s Day. We did a simple promotional post on LinkedIn and got more than 1100 impressions. Not bad! RIght now, our Main Library is housing a display of artwork from kids in the Cincinnati City School District and our promotional post about that display is getting even better engagement! So try unconventional posts too. Your LinkedIn followers may respond to something that you can’t predict, like news about an art exhibit!

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.

The Danger In Doing Library Social Media By Committee and What To Do Instead

This post is in response to a specific topic request made by Jane Cowell, who is the Executive Director of Information and Engagement at the State Library of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. Though I have never met her in person, Jane and I “talk” often on Twitter, where she shares my passion for promoting the good work of libraries around the world. Actually, Jane is way more tireless than I am. Also, isn’t she freaking gorgeous?

Recently Jane asked me to talk about social media and libraries; in particular, she wanted to know whether I thought libraries should do social media by committee or take a centralized approach.

My answer: Both. Kind of.

The committee approach to social media is a favorite in the non-profit world. There are countless articles online about forming and maintaining a social media committee on nonprofit websites. Reading those articles, and talking to people who work in my library, I realize that this committee-based mentality has two origins. One is workload. The social media landscape is crowded and the work to keep content flowing in all channels is an all-consuming business. There’s just too much work for most libraries to get it all done, and done well, with one person. But the committee approach is also an effort to ensure fairness and equality… to give all the stakeholders a voice. That’s a valid reason to do social media by committee.

But there are some clear disadvantages to this approach. And if you’re already shaking your head in disagreement, and feel tempted to click away, please read to the end because, at my library, we have managed to find a good way to make a centralized approach work while building team buy-in and I’ll share it with you!

First, let me lay out the problems with the committee approach. My three concerns are:

Your brand voice gets lost. When multiple people are posting on social media for the same library, each post will be infused with a different vocabulary, tone, and feel. Your library needs a standard focus on strategy and vocabulary. When the social media accounts are handled by a centralized person or department, particularly if that department is marketing, the library’s voice is consistent. You use the same words, you have the same conversational tone with your readers, and each post is connected to the library’s mission, vision, and values. The centralized department can make sure each post supports the overall strategy of the library.

The security of your accounts is at risk. The more people who have access to your social media accounts, the more you risk that one of those accounts will be compromised. I know we all trust our coworkers (or at least I hope you do!). But when multiple people are accessing multiple accounts (and saving multiple passwords on multiple computers), the chances that a compromise will happen increases. Keeping your social media centralized reduces this risk.

You risk more mistakes. The more people who post, the more chances that a word will be misspelled, that a date will be wrong, that the information in the post will be incorrect, or that redundant posts will happen. Assigning one central person to handle all social media accounts means that person can act as an editor, reading each post in the scheduler before it goes out, checking to make sure links work and images aren’t broken, and keeping track of promotions so the same event or service isn’t mentioned three times in one day.

There is a way to mix a centralized and committee approach to social media and this is how we handle social media at my library. Create a social media team of contributors who submit post ideas to a centralized social media coordinator. The coordinator is empowered to change or reject the posts submitted by the contributor team and is responsible for taking the contributions and putting them into the scheduler. The coordinator should also be in constant communications with the contributors to foster an open working relationship with them and to share everything he or she knows about the current social media landscape.

My library recruits staff member at each of our 40 branch locations to contribute ideas to us. These contributors are not social media specialists–most are trained librarians who have only ever used social media for personal reasons. My social media specialist visits one branch every week. She goes there to recruit new contributors and talk to the current members about trends in social media. She helps them craft better posts and gives them tips on taking photos of branch displays, events, and more. And she shares the marketing department’s social media strategy with the contributors so they can create posts that support our mission. The contributors know we might not use every post they suggest but the more we work with them to share best practices and improve their social media savvy, the better the posts have become.

I feel strongly that this hybrid approach is the best way to meld both mindsets, safeguard the security of your accounts, get varied and interesting content to post to your social media accounts, and stay connected with your staff and readers.

More help with library social media

Safeguarding the security of your social media accounts

How libraries are using social media–a study by Techsoup

Ten tips to master social media at your library by Ebsco

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.

Get Your Instagram in Shape for the New Year!

This post is part of a series on revamping and re-evaluating your library’s social media platforms. At least once a year, you should look at your library’s LinkedInFacebook and Twitter accounts and do the following:

Clarify your library’s social media goals.

Audit the current status of your library’s social media accounts.

Set new social media goals to move your library’s overall strategy forward.

Improve your library’s social media profile

Let’s talk about Instagram. The platform has 800 million users worldwide, likely including thousands of your cardholders. Time spent on the platform is up 80 percent this year! And most of the users are under the age of 30. That’s the demographic most libraries are desperately trying to reach.

So if your library is not on Instagram, it should be. And if your library is on the platform, it’s time to plan for how you’ll put it to better use next year. My library recently laid out our plans for Instagram for 2018. Here are some of the ideas we’ll be implementing next year, based on expert advice and current trends.

Start using stories. START USING STORIES. This is the most important point I’m going to make in this post and I really cannot emphasize this enough. Stories are the key to making your Instagram account successful and if you merely post photos and don’t do stories, you might as well not post on Instagram at all. Plus stories are now available on the desktop version of Instagram so your followers can watch literally from any device. What are you waiting for?

Make a commitment to post once a day. Consistency is the key to making it work. The more consistently you post, the more your posts will show up in the feed of your followers, and the more your followers will engage. It’s that simple.

Photos are still king on Instagram. Social Media Today says photos get 36 percent more engagement than videos on Instagram. That’s not to say that you should never post videos. Videos are great if your subject is a moving object or visually engaging. My recommendation is to try a ratio of three photos to one video in Instagram posts. Video adds variety and keeps your followers interested in what you are posting on the platform. But if you haven’t ventured onto Instagram yet because you’re worried you can’t shoot quality videos, don’t be. Do photos. There are plenty of beautiful pics happening in your workplace every day and your cardholders will like and comment on them on Instagram. And on that note…

Imagery is key. We work in a building full of beautiful images-shelving, stacks of books, interesting works of art, and more. I’m not a visual artist but I can still see there is tons of imagery in the library and social media experts say posts with striking visual imagery will be popular on Instagram in 2018. Libraries are ripe with fantastic images… a person reading a book against a sunlit window, a messy stack of books in the book drop waiting to be checked in each morning, a shot from the drive-thru window looking out on a busy street. Take a moment to admire the beauty of your building, your co-workers, and your job… and then capture it on your smart phone and share it with your fans!

Try branded hashtags. They’ll help you keep track of your post engagement and they’re a way to give your post some visibility in the feed. Plus, working your library’s name into a hashtag and using that on every post drives home your brand image in the mind of your followers over time.

Post with a location tag. Using the location tag is easy and the latest statistics from Social Media Today show a location tag increases user engagement by 71 percent.

Further reading:

Instagram statistics to keep in mind for 2018

Three secrets to delight your Instagram followers

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.

 

 

 

Get Your Library’s LinkedIn in Shape for the New Year!

This post is part of a series on revamping and re-evaluating your library’s social media platforms. At least once a year, you should look at your library’s Facebook and Twitter accounts and do the following:

Clarify your library’s social media goals.

Audit the current status of your library’s social media accounts.

Set new social media goals to move your library’s overall strategy forward.

Improve your library’s social media profiles.

There are not enough libraries-particularly in the public and academic sectors-using LinkedIn to reach cardholders. This particular social media platform has a lot of potential for great content marketing. It’s also a great place for personal connections with your cardholders because the audience is smaller and more focused on specific wants and needs like job improvement, workplace issues, self-help ideas, and personal growth. So here are some easy ways to improve your library’s presence on LinkedIn. And if your library is not yet using LinkedIn, try these easy ideas to develop a presence there.

Think about the kind of cardholders who will connect with you on LinkedIn and make your profile all about serving them. Don’t use your library’s LinkedIn to brag about your library. Your LinkedIn followers will want to see ways that your library can help them to better their careers. So give them information about books, classes, and events geared toward improving their professional lives.

Use relevant keywords in your profile summary and your posts to make your page easier to find in search. Words like library, career help, career classes, career books, self-help books, job hunt, shared workspace, and the like will help people find and follow your page. LinkedIn has a robust search engine–put it to work for you!

Post several days a week. That’s right, your library doesn’t have to post every day. But having a strategy to post two to three times a week is important. LinkedIn works on an algorithm and keeping up regular posts ensures that what you say will show up regularly in the feed of your connections.

Share news that is job and career-related that doesn’t come from your library. Like other social media platforms, curated content is important on LinkedIn. It’s perfectly acceptable for one or two of your posts each week to be non-promotional. In fact, your cardholders will begin to see your library as a true source of career and job information if you curate and share content.

Profile your workers. This tactic has been successful for our library. Once a week, we do a Worker Wednesday profile where we highlight someone working in the library–from the janitors all the way up to senior leadership. We get the most engagement from these posts and they’re easy to do. All you need is a photo and two lines–we usually ask staff to tell us why they like working at the library and what they’re reading now.

Post library jobs on LinkedIn. That’s right, you can use the platform to help drive qualified candidates to your Human Resources department! Users of LinkedIn are engaged in their careers, so what better audience?

More resources to help!

Why LinkedIn is a Hot Social Network

Important Stats about LinkedIn Use

How to Create a Company Page and Best Practices

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.

 

Get Your Twitter in Shape for the New Year!

This post is part of a series on revamping and re-evaluating your library’s social media platforms. At least once a year, you should:

Clarify your library’s social media goals.

Audit the current status of your library’s social media accounts.

Set new social media goals to move your library’s overall strategy forward.

Improve your library’s social media profiles.

Let’s focus on Twitter. The social media platform has made some major changes over the course of the last year and recently increased its character limit from 140 to 280. No matter what you think about that controversial change, it serves as a jumping off point for improving the work you do on Twitter. When a big change like that happens, it’s a good time to re-evaluate how effective a social media platform is in helping you to communicate with your audience. Take a long, hard look at what you’re posting on the platform and consider these points.

280 characters is an opportunity to tell more of your story, incorporate more links, tag followers, and use more hashtags. Twitter feels very impersonal unless you make the effort to reach out to your followers. The longer character count can help you do that. Telling more of your story in a creative way makes your library more interesting to your followers. Adding links can give your followers options about which information they want to pursue–and in turn, gives you more insight into what your followers are really looking for when they read a Tweet. Tag specific followers in Tweets as a way to personally interact and start conversations with your followers. Add hashtags to make sure your Tweets are seen by more people.

Figure out what kind of Tweets get the most interaction and set a goal to create similar Tweets more often. If your followers are keen on curated content like booklists, author interviews, or memes, give them more of that kind of content. Many libraries feel their Twitter feeds are exclusively a way to promote their own library and its services but you risk losing the trust of your followers if you self-promote too much. Remember the rule of thumb for posts is three pieces of curated, valuable content which are not necessarily generated by your library for every one Tweet directly promoting a library service or event. We want to drive home the point that your library is an information hub, not just a place to find books.

Vary your visuals. If you have used photos or graphics in your Tweets (and you should, as they are proven to improve Tweet performance), try adding in GIFs and videos for increased variety. Your followers will take notice and interact!

Take advantage of trending hashtags. Make it part of your library’s Twitter social media strategy to regularly check for trending hashtags and to find a literary way to use them. For instance, you can start easy with #WednesdayWisdom, #TBT (Throwback Thursday), and #FridayFeeling. Of course, I hardly think I need to warn you to stay away from political or potentially controversial trending hashtags. Use the fun or informative trending Tweets and leave the heated hashtags for the rest of Twitter to fight over.

Tweet important stuff more than once. I’ve found this point is the most difficult to convey to people who don’t spend a lot of time on Twitter but here’s why repeat Tweets should be part of your strategy. When you tweet about an event or service just once, it’s like writing your promotion on a balloon and releasing it into the air. You hope someone sees it, but most people aren’t constantly scanning the sky for floating objects. But if you released a bunch of balloons with your promotion written on them, the chances your audience would see it would increase. If you’re promoting something really important, you should Tweet it multiple times at varying times of day and on varying days of the week to make sure the message is seen.

Here are some more resources to increase the effectiveness of your library’s Twitter account.

Simple guide to using Twitter analytics.

More ideas for the 280-character Tweet format.

A free template for creating a social media strategy.

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 Secrets to Delight People with Your Library’s Instagram

So, Instagram is a thing. A REALLY BIG THING.

700 million active users each month.

400 million active users each day.

250 million active users of Instagram stories each day.

4.5 billion photo likes each day.

59% of internet users between the ages of 18 and 29 and 33% of internet users between the ages of 30 and 49 use Instagram.*

In the crowd of millions who use and love Instagram, there are tons of library lovers, particularly in the younger demographic. There is huge potential for libraries on this platform. I’m not saying you should ignore other social media platforms and switch all your focus to Instagram. But libraries aren’t using it enough, and that’s a missed opportunity. We should focus more on Instagram!

I really love the Cincinnati library account but I cannot take any credit for it. It’s managed by two people in our marketing department–our social media specialist and our assistant, who happens to have a great eye for art and photography. Our staff talks about our social media platforms, our strategy, and goals once a month and we are always looking for ways to improve. We’ve used these three easy tips on our Instagram to improve our posts and get more engagement and they work. Now I’m sharing them with you so you can have success too.

Start using Instagram stories. At our library, we noticed that organic engagement of our regular Instagram posts is tied to our use of Instagram stories. The more we use Stories, the more people see our regular Instagram posts. We have noticed that you don’t have to use Stories every day, but you do have to use it a few times a week to see better results in your organic posts. And it is a chance for you to exercise your creativity!

If you use Snapchat, you’ll be able to jump in and create Instagram stories right away–it works nearly the same way. If you’re new to stories, start small and be positive. Stories are a chance for you to be creative. Think of something you’d like to tell your customers and break it down into three or four sections. You can even plot out your idea using a storyboard or an outline to help you save time when you start shooting. An easy story idea is the journey of a book from the stacks into the hands of a cardholder.  Shoot the book being taken off the shelf, rolling on a cart, going through the processing line, and then popping up on the holds shelf. How about a behind-the-scenes look at your drive-thru window? Or a peek at how your materials and selections department buys a book? There are so many interesting stories at your library and most of them can be broken down into three or four pieces of interesting video.

Don’t use your stories feed to talk directly to your audience… in other words, don’t post headshot after headshot of someone talking into the camera about something library related. Instagram is not the place for talking heads. The audience wants feel-good, “the world is a beautiful place” stories. Focus on showing your customers what makes your library and its workers and customers beautiful and different.

BONUS TIP: I’m a big fan of redistribution of content–who has time to shoot video more than once? Save each section of your Instagram story on your camera roll and then upload them to a folder on your desktop as soon as you get back to your desk. You can use a simple editing tool (here’s a great list of free video editors) and put together a longer piece to post later on YouTube, Facebook, or your own library website.

Really research your hashtags. Many library marketers feel lost when it comes to hashtags or they don’t spend enough time thinking about them. But they are the one tool that will help people who don’t know you’re on Instagram to find you. They’ll also help your avid fans see more of your posts.  My favorite free hashtag research tool is Hashtagify. The easiest way for me to explain how it works is to show you an example. I did a search of Jane Austen and got this great graphic, which shows me all the top related hashtags I can use in a post about my favorite classic author.

 

I would suggest that you keep the number of hashtags you use to five or less. The less cluttered your caption is, the more engagement you’ll get. You should also check each hashtag before you use it to get a sense of how “crowded” it is. I like mixing my hashtags up with a few popular and a few rarely used ones. This helps increase the chances that someone will be able to find your photo!

Think through your caption. There’s no right or wrong length. You can take up to 2200 characters so if you have something really fascinating to say or a big announcement to make, you don’t have to limit yourself. You really need to focus on providing context about the photo. It’s okay to write out your caption before you post if it helps you to think through the process. Stay within your library’s brand voice and use conversational words, not library industry language. You should also experiment with emoji’s, which help to communicate the mood or feeling of the photo and are eye-catching!  And if you’re talking about a follower or another organization in your caption, be sure to tag them for extra reach and engagement.

Do not use a call to action in your caption every time you post… I think doing that makes you seem pushy. But sometimes it makes sense, like in this recent post by my library for National Library Card Sign-up month.

Have you seen a library account doing great things on Instagram? Are you really proud of what your library has done on Instagram? Let me know about them in the comments section for a future post! For more inspiration, I found this in my research for this article. 12 Must follow Library Instagram Accounts.

*Thanks to Omnicore for these stats. See more here.

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.

 

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.

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