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Four Sneaky Ideas to Insert Marketing Tactics Into Your Everyday Work as a Librarian

I need your help! In a few weeks, I’m giving a short online seminar to library directors about marketing! I have 15 minutes to convince them to throw their full support behind library marketing. I really want this talk to impact the way library directors think about your work. So… please let me know what you want library directors to know about library marketing. Fill out the form before you even read this post. It’s anonymous! Thank you!

Librarians are busy folks. You’re on the front lines, trying to work with cardholders and community members. You’re looking up information. You’re connecting people with social service resources. You’re filling out paperwork, creating curriculum for story time, and putting up displays. And you’re doing about 100 other things that I don’t know about because I’m not a librarian.

I worry about how much libraries lean on librarians to do their own marketing. Senior staff might believe spending money to hire staff for marketing is not a good use of their limited funds. But it’s not good for the librarians and it’s not good for the library.

I also can’t change the world in one blog post. What I can do is help the librarians in my readership to strategize to make marketing part of their regular duties. Here are four things that you can do that are already part of your job. These are marketing tactics, though you may not have thought of them that way before!

Merchandising. Merchandising is a form of marketing that focuses on presenting the items in your branch in the way that will compel people to interact with them. Every display, every sign, every decision on the arrangement space in your branch is a chance to market your library.

I know that the decision many libraries made to switch from using the Dewey Decimal system to a more categorized approach for arranging items pains library purists. But it pays off.  Library visitors are accustomed to browsing in stores by categories. By mimicking that display effect, libraries make it easier for people to find the items they want and need. We want to be as easy to use (or easier) than our for-profit competitors.

It’s a time-consuming process but I’ve put merchandising first on this list because it is the most important and impactful way that librarians can market their branch. If you haven’t thought about re-arranging the materials in your branch, now is a great time to start. And to get some help, I recommend the slides from a presentation from Allison Fiscus of the Toledo Lucas County Public Library. She recently did an online seminar. Her presentation includes data that shows how merchandising positively effects the customer experience. She included a lot of visuals to help you understand her concepts. You can find them here.

Exceptional customer service. A lot of big brands have focused on improving customer service as a marketing tactic. If you are working on the front-line of your library, you have a unique opportunity to interact with cardholders.

The marketing buzz phrase for doing this is “surprise and delight.” We want to surprise our cardholders with service that exceeds their expectations. When we do that, they feel delighted with us! (Isn’t that just a sunny thought?) Delighted cardholders are more likely to spread the word to their friends and family about our system and the services we provide. They may be compelled to talk about us positively on social media, give us great reviews on Google Business, and support our work through donations or volunteerism. These are all marketing wins!

Good customer service is a competitive edge for libraries. If we can create an environment of inclusive and open access where people truly feel supported and cared for, we’ll have the clear advantage over for-profit competitors. One-on-one help is time-consuming, but it will pay off. We’ll build a reputation as a warm and inviting space. When’s the last time you heard Amazon or Best Buy described in those terms?

Library staff must make the commitment to provide good customer service. It’s not a skill that comes naturally to everyone. To help you, I love this free guide from Hubspot. It’s got templates and a ton of great information that you can use to improve your own customer service skills.

I also recommend you read this interview with Dan Gingiss, an expert at customer service. He’s written a great book with tips about customer service in social media and his interview has lots of ideas for improving library customer service to make our industry more competitive.

Word of mouth promotion. I get a lot of requests from librarians in my system who want our marketing department to promote their event or service. Posters and emails and fliers work, but the most effective method of marketing, in my experience, is word of mouth. You need to be telling your cardholders about your branch, events, and services. Talk to them!

Librarians are in a better position to sell people on their services and events than a for-profit business. That’s because you are a trusted member of the community. Librarians are admired and your opinions are valued more than the average person. Use that advantage to help “sell” the things that your branch offers!

I know word of mouth promotion seems time-consuming.  But consider this. Data tells us that you have to get your message in front of your cardholder an average of SEVEN TIMES before they’ll be compelled to act on it. But when you have a direct conversation with a cardholder about your library, you are making a compelling and personal case. 75 percent of people don’t believe the advertisements they read but 92 percent believe brand recommendations they receive from trusted sources. Librarians are trusted! So just talk to people.

Sharing on your personal social media. Yes, you should be sharing posts from your library’s social media channels on your own personal channel. There’s no right or wrong way to do it. Just pick the promotions you feel most personally passionate about. Hit the “share” button and add a line about why this particular event or service is meaningful to you.

Your recommendations are trusted because of your position. It’s not unethical to share your employer’s promotional social posts. I know you feel passionate about the work your library is doing. Don’t be shy. Share your enthusiasm!

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, Instagram, and LinkedIn.  

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The Five Most Pressing Social Media Problems Faced by Every Library Marketer

This may mean I’m weird but one of my favorite things to do is check for information about social media on the Social Media Today website. And I’m a little obsessed with their monthly statistics report, which they publish in easy-to-digest infographic form. I spend a few minutes each month looking that report over just to make sure my library is still justified in posting on social media. I can also get new ideas for library marketing engagement on social media based on trends. This is fun for me. So yeah, I’m weird.

Data is always helpful. But social media is moving target. And many library marketers are busy doing other tasks as part of their job descriptions. We want to use our time efficiently.  And we want to be effective.

I’ve gathered the most pressing questions about social media from some of my readers. Let’s lay out some answers and resources to help make your job easier.

What social media platforms should we post on? The answer to this really comes down to your strategy. What is your library trying to accomplish? Who is your target audience?

I love that monthly report from Social Media Today because it tells me why people use each social media platform. You can use that report to decide where you should post based on your library’s strategy and goals.

You must also consider how much time your library is willing to invest on social media. My library posts on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Pinterest because each of those platforms aligns with some portion of our library’s overall strategy. But I am not going to lie to you: that’s a lot of work. I’m lucky to have several staffers who work together to post. And it’s still really hard for us to keep up.

Smaller libraries will want to concentrate on the platform or platforms that will give their library the most benefit. Quality is better than quantity. It’s okay to only post on one platform!

Further reading

The Top 21 Social Media Sites to Consider

How often should I post on social media? Posting on social media is a scientific attempt. You should set a reliable cadence. You’ll want to be consistent with your posts. Track the results and adjust your posting schedule based on the results.

Based on our experience at my library, here’s what I recommend as a starting point:

Facebook: No more than once a day

LinkedIn: Once or twice a day

Instagram stories: At least once a day

Instagram feed: Two to three times a week

Twitter: Five to 12 Tweets a day, plus retweets and responses. On Twitter, you should repeat tweets at intervals. The feed is a moving target and unless someone is scrolling through at the exact moment your tweet goes out, they’ll miss it. Users rarely go to a page to see a library’s full schedule of Tweets!  It’s also okay to post 24 hours a day. There are people who are awake at 2 a.m. scrolling through Twitter!

Pinterest: Several organic Pins each day (something created by you and leading to your library’s website) plus as many curated Pins as you need to stay aligned with your strategy. An easy way to get those organic Pins onto your boards is to Pin the best new books from your collection. If you have a blog, you can also post content from that.

Further reading

How Often to Post on Social Media

The Truth about How Often to Post on Social Media

Does our library need to buy a Facebook ad to get any organic reach and, if so, how much should we spend? The short answer to this is yes. You’ll need to spend money on Facebook ads or boost your Facebook posts to see any significant organic traffic for your other Facebook posts. That’s the sad fact of it. (can you tell my enthusiasm for Facebook is waning?)

That said, you don’t have to spend much money at all. Most libraries can spend about $2-3 a day to boost a post or promote an event and see results. Facebook gives you a lot of control and help in choosing a target audience. As always, you’ll have to look at your library’s overall strategy to determine which posts to spend money on.

Further reading

Facebook for Nonprofits-10 Tips

Why Facebook is a Waste of Time and Money for Nonprofits

How can I get more followers on my social media accounts? Please stop focusing on follower counts. I want libraries to focus instead on engagement. It’s kind of like speaking at a conference. You might be thrilled at the prospect of talking to a huge group of people. But if half of your audience is yawning or looking at their phones, what is the point? It’s much more meaningful to speak in front of a small room of people who are riveted by what you have to say.

That’s how I look at social media followers. I don’t care how many followers my library has on any social account. I want people who want to engage with our content. Focus on shares, likes, and comments for posts and not the number of followers.

Further reading

Why You Social Media Follower Count Doesn’t Matter

Should we have a team of people posting to social media or should we take a centralized approach? I am an advocate of centralized social media posting. If you have one or two staffers who post to all your social media accounts, you can preserve the brand voice and protect the security of your accounts. However, one or two people cannot know everything that’s going on in your library system. So create a team of contributors, who send post suggestions, photos, and videos.

Further reading

Protect Your Library Social Media Accounts From a Security Breach

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, Instagram, and LinkedIn. I talk about library marketing on all those platforms!

Sensational and Free (or Cheap) Social Media Scheduling Tools

A well thought out social media strategy is only half the battle for library marketers looking to reach audiences without spending budget. Once you decide who you will talk to, and what you will say, it’s time to figure out how to physically get those posts scheduled.

I’ve scoured the web for scheduling tools and tried them out to see which ones will work for libraries. Some tools are better for people who must share accounts with lots of contributors. Others work best for single person teams. Some work well for libraries posting on only a few social media platforms. Some are meant for larger systems with wide strategies.

My list does not include schedulers that only allow you to schedule posts on one platform, like Tweetdeck. That is inefficient for any library system. I also recommend some paid plans, but only the ones that offer the most features for the least amount of money.

Before we get to the list, I want to address a myth about scheduling social media posts. I’ve heard lots of marketing “experts” say that it’s wrong for brands to pre-schedule social media posts. Their argument is that a pre-loaded social media platform is inauthentic. I call bullshit. Your cardholders don’t care if you are posting something live or using a scheduler. If the post comes across as inauthentic, it’s because it’s not written well!

There are good, data-driven reasons for scheduling social media posts. If you’re watching the data and engagement of past posts, you can use your scheduler to give your audience what they want, when they want it. You don’t have to worry that you’ll forget or get distracted. Pre-scheduling also gives you time to create honest and meaningful text and graphics. It’s not lazy. It’s incredibly smart.

Now, there in one warning I must share about scheduling posts in advance. You may run into a situation where you’ve pre-scheduled a post and something happens that makes the post irrelevant. For instance, if you schedule a post to promote an event at a branch and then something happens that causes that branch to close unexpectedly. That’s just something to keep in mind as emergencies arise in your system. Your checklist of things to do in an emergency should include checking your pre-scheduled social media posts.

Here are the tools I think are best for social media post scheduling.

Hootsuite

The free plan lets you schedule on three platforms. You can pre-load 30 messages at a time. My favorite feature is the boost plan. If you have money for social media ads, you can boost posts through Hootsuite instead of going to each individual platform. That’s super convenient. There are also analytics and free social media courses.

Buffer

This site’s free plan also lets you post on three platforms. You can pre-load 10 messages per platform. It includes a link shortener, an image creator, and the ability to upload videos or GIFs. If you want more capability, their most basic “Pro” plan is $10 a month and lets you post on eight platforms and schedule up to 100 posts in advance. One note: you must pay the Pro rate for the analytics capability on Buffer. Analytics are not included in the free plan.

Zoho Social

Their standard plan is the most robust I found in my research. For a little more than $8 a month, two team members can post on eight different channels. The plan includes analytics, the ability to pause and resume posts, a link shortener, and other features. There is a free plan, which lets one person post on all the channels, but you can’t schedule posts ahead of time.

Friends + Me

This site’s free option gives you the ability to schedule on two platforms, with up to five posts on each platform. That’s not super helpful unless you have time every day to schedule posts or are not active on social media. However, the site’s bottom tier paid plan is $7.50 a month and gives you a ton of features– you can pre-load as many as 500 posts to five platforms. 10 people can also use the platform on this plan. I think that’s a good deal.

Crowdfire

Crowdfire’s free plan lets one person post on the big four social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook LinkedIn, and Instagram) with up to ten pre-loaded posts per platform. But I would actually recommend the first level paid plan, call Plus. For about $7.50 a month, you get access to Pinterest and 100 pre-loaded posts, plus a pretty robust analytics tracker, hashtag recommendations, and no ads on the mobile site.

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!

 

How to Create a Social Media Strategy That Actually Works

The most effective, free marketing tactic in the library marketing professional’s toolbox is social media. Personally, I love it. I think it’s fun. And interesting. And despite the trolls, I’ve made some actual friends and professional connections in the social space.

For my library, it’s the easiest way to get our message to the masses. But with so many platforms intended for different audiences, it’s also overwhelming. Should you post on every channel?  What should you post? How often do you have to post? If you work alone, you need to be efficient. You don’t want to spend a lot of time experimenting with social media. You want to know what works, and how to be successful. You need goals.

A few months ago, Marcy Timblin, Public Relations Specialist at East Bonner County Library, sent me this email: You always have such timely, comprehensive advice for getting the most out of social media marketing for libraries. I dream of putting it all together to formulate an amazing social media plan that I can implement – even though I am the “numero uno” social media marketer at my library district.”

I appreciate the vote of confidence. Really, any success in the social media space centers on strategy. A strategy lets you take your library’s overall strategy and use social media to make those goals a reality. But telling you to have a strategy and putting one together are two totally different things.

I am blessed with a social media specialist on my staff. Part of her job is to create and maintain our specific social media strategy. And it’s a big job. We’re a large library system (41 locations, 600,000 cardholders) and we post on multiple channels (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Tumblr). It takes time to sort out how to make each channel work for us. But we do have a process for creating a strategy. Here is how we do it.

Consider what you already know. Go through each of the social media platforms that your library already uses. Look at the analytics for those platforms. How are people using the platform? Which kinds of posts do they respond to?

Most platforms now offer analytics (Facebook is best by far) so you can evaluate success. And if your library is using a scheduling platform to manage your social media posts, you can use those analytics. For those libraries posting organically on platforms without the use of scheduling software, there are options for free analytics. Read this blog article to find one that works for you.

In this step, you are looking to replicate past success and trim past failures. You may find a platform you are using that is not working for you. Drop it. You may also discover a platform that is working really well for you. Concentrate your efforts there.

What are your library’s goals for the year? As with everything you do in library marketing, your social media work must be in service of advancing your library’s overall goals. So, get that list in front of you for the next two steps.

Create a mission statement for each social media platform. Look at your library’s goals for the year and what you know about each platform. Then write a one to two sentence mission statement for each of the social media platforms, lining up your library’s goals with the current audience for that platform. This mission statement should be something your staff and your cardholders will understand. Here’s an example:

LinkedIn: Discover career advice, business tips, and free resources that will help you succeed at work.

Twitter: Get regular updates on our collection, library events, and the literary and entertainment world.

Instagram: Photos tell the library’s story, one snapshot at a time.

And so on. Once you have created the mission statement for the platforms, you can create a persona for the people who will follow you on that platform. The mission statement and persona will help you visualize your audience every time you post. You’ll be able to connect with them because you’ll know who they are, and what they expect from you.

Experiment with scheduling. Look at your current analytics to see which time of day and day of the week work best for social media posts. Use that as a starting point for deciding when and how often you’ll post. Be consistent with your posts. And set a cadence that you know you can keep up with.

Track metrics and be flexible but not overly reactive. It takes time to achieve your library goals using any kind of marketing. The exception is social media. That’s because the platforms themselves are transforming and changing at a rapid and unpredictable rate. Algorithm adjustments and new features can throw off your strategy.

Here’s my general rule: keep an eye on changes in the social media landscape. When a big change occurs, like when Facebook changes its algorithm, sit tight for a while. Give it a month at least and see how the platform’s change affects your reach. Watch to see how your audience reacts. Watch to see how other brands adjust based on the change. Then, if you see your reach is changing negatively or positively, make the adjustment. Don’t wait until your strategy cycle (six-12 months maximum) is over to make your change. You’ll lose months of audience reach if you wait.

Never stop researching. I follow a couple of websites and podcasts religiously to keep up on social media trends. Of all the marketing tactics, that’s the one that takes the most personal learning upkeep! I rely on the Social Media Examiner Podcast, Social Media Today, Social Media Explorer, and Rebekah Radice.

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!

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!

Six Shrewd Ways to Spot Trends For Your Library Marketing

Contrary to popular belief, librarians are trendy! I’m not just talking about the physical sporting of tattoos, body piercings, and colored hair. I’m talking about the more important stuff. Most librarians know how to work all kinds of advanced technological equipment like 3D printers. They are well-versed in the latest studies about public space, childhood literacy, mental illness, and poverty. Because they interact with all ages of the public all the time, they often see issues like the opioid epidemic, emerging before anyone else. They have inside knowledge about how trends affect the lives of their cardholders.

It’s important to library marketing pros to spot trends too. We have to make decisions about whether to react. So how do you keep an eye on the things that matter to your cardholders? Here are six easy tools for keeping up-to-date on trends of all sorts.

Facebook Topics and Trends ReportThis annual report is worth your time. It’s a yearly summary of the most popular conversations happening on the platform. This report covers everything from culture to technology to food. It’s useful for planning your marketing calendar. You can take any of these topics and apply it to items and services available at the library, then work those into your marketing plan. Use keywords and suggestions in this report to boost the engagement of your posts on Facebook, Instagram, and beyond.

Google Trends. This tool is a lot of fun! Type in a keyword and get a picture of what people are talking about related to that word. It will even drill down on data, showing you specific searches, timelines, and places where that term is searched. I often use this tool to search book titles or authors, seasonal keywords, or pop culture references to get a more accurate feel for how many people are talking about them.

What is trending on social media platforms? Most of the major social platforms now have an area where you can check keywords or trending topics. Do so regularly. Then use those trending topics to curate posts from reliable sources. Pick content that is appealing and relevant to your audience. Even if you don’t immediately find a way to use the ideas you find on these social channels, checking them keeps you connected to the things that matter to your users. Twitter is a great place to discover the topics used in social conversation specific to your geographic area. The Pinterest trending section is a feast for the eyes but can also show you the kinds of Pins that are getting engagement so you can mimic that success or share them with your followers. There is ALWAYS a booklist in the Pinterest trending feed that you can repin, as well as tons of fun craft and program ideas for your librarians! Snapchat’s Discover section will help you keep up to date on pop culture so you can market your items and services, like streaming music and downloads, and appeal to that coveted younger audience. Ditto with Instagram’s trending section.

What is trending in the podcast world? Every month or so, I open my podcast player and check the trending podcast list. Why? Podcasts are a commitment. If the public is taking the time to listen to 20 minutes of talk about a particular topic, then it might be something we want to pay attention to!

Ted Talks. The nonprofit is dedicated to spreading ideas that are worth talking about. New talks appear several times a week. If you don’t have time to actually listen to all the talks, a quick check of the topics will give you a sense of the kinds of technology, humanitarian, and educational ideas flowing into mainstream thought.

What questions are your librarians getting? Every once in a while, I’ll email the manager of our Virtual Information Center. That’s the department in my library that takes all the calls and chats from the public. I ask for the top ten questions they’re getting from people and then I use that list to create content to answer those questions. It’s easy and it directly impacts your users (and your staff!).

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! 

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.

Snapchat Is Not Dead and You Need It For Superior Library Marketing

As social media platforms often do, Snapchat recently did a major update and basically changed everything, from the user experience to the layout to the way you find and follow people and brands.

Sigh.

I am a heavy Snapchat user in my personal life. In my role as a library marketer, I am in charge of posting and data analysis on the platform. So I’m on it many times a day. I’ve also taken part in #ChatSnap on Twitter (it’s a weekly chat about Snapchat!) and I’ve read Chelsea Pietz’s book, Talking in Pictures: How Snapchat Changed Cameras, Communication, and Communities. I’m familiar and comfortable with the platform.

My first impression of the change was this–Snapchat is moving back to its original mission of promoting personal connections and conversations between individuals. Which is not good news for most brands. Most companies are preparing for a pay-to-play move by Snapchat. I expect that, at some point in the near future, Snapchat will offer marketers the chance to buy their way into the main feed of their followers and those who don’t pay will get little or no organic reach (think Facebook).

But for now, we should all be moving our libraries in a new direction to work better in the updated Snapchat. With the change, getting personally connected to your followers is now even more important. That’s because the new Snapchat algorithm sorts a users’ feed based on the people they interact with most often, putting the most frequent connections at the top of the feed. So, if you are talking and having conversations with your followers, they’re more likely to see your stories posts. If you don’t take the time to engage personally with users, you’ll be pushed to the bottom of the feed.

This is not to say that you need to engage with every single user every single day. My personal way to approach this is to send Snapchat messages or chats once or twice a week to a group of users. I do it alphabetically so it’s easier to keep track of who I’ve messaged. I might just ask a question like, “What are you reading this weekend?” or “Did you know you can get a passport at the library?” and then send it to 20 or so followers. Even if they don’t respond, the very act of reaching out from my end is enough to bump my stories up in their general feed. It literally takes five minutes of my time.

My Library is still appearing in the main feed for our users. This is also true for the long list of libraries which I follow on Snapchat. I’m not exactly sure why libraries are distinguished as friends instead of brands, which are now in the Discover tab, but I’m not going to complain or bring attention to it!! I haven’t seen any drop in the number of views on my posts to the Library account.

And for all the talk that the change will drive users away from the platform, data shows us usage hasn’t dropped. Stifel’s social media usage tracker shows Snapchat’s audience reach dropped by only about 0.1 percent in February. In an article posted in US News and World Report,  Analyst John Egbert says Snap seems to have lost only about 90,000 of its 187 million global daily active users in February. 18 percent of U.S. social media users are on Snapchat and users spend an average of 30 minutes a day on the platform. That number is higher for millennials. You can get updated Snapchat user stats here. It’s pretty fascinating and when I feel like I might be wasting my time on the platform, I just read these.

The bottom line is libraries should still be active on Snapchat. But it shouldn’t be your top priority. There are other platforms–namely Facebook and Instagram–where your time is better served. Use Snapchat to share videos of special occasions, news about new books, profile a Book of the Day, and practice your video and storytelling skills. Don’t devote major resources to it.

A post I wrote about Snapchat last year still applies and you can use it to help you brainstorm ways to connect with followers on the platform. It is important to have a presence of some sort on Snapchat. If you haven’t yet claimed your account, you should. You should be posting at least once a week. And you should offer to answer questions or provide help to your followers on the platform. We have to go where our cardholders are in order to best serve them.

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.

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