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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.

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The Top Five Ultimate Library Marketing Holiday Ideas

During the lead-up to any holiday, your inbox is likely flooded with a host of email from companies offering discounts and other promotions tied to the season. I’m sometimes jealous of these for-profit brands: it would be fun to think of exciting ways to tie sales into a holiday. On the other hand, thank goodness we don’t really have to sell anything!

Our customers don’t groan when we market to them–they love us and our products. And we can find fun and interesting ways to engage with our cardholders during holidays. In fact, it behooves us to go beyond beautiful in-branch book displays and bulletin boards to market our collection and best programs while our cardholders are in the spirit of whatever season they’re celebrating.

Here are my tried and true tips for taking advantage of any holiday season to remind your cardholders of your presence and all that you offer and to capture their attention!

Collection-based marketing. This is my favorite tactic. I enlist the help of my librarians to curate lists of new holiday-themed books for adults and kids. In my experience, the lists that generate the most holds and check-outs contain 10-12 new books and are mostly fiction, with a few exceptions: decorating, entertaining, and cookbooks. Start planning these lists at least two months before the corresponding holiday so you have time to make sure the list is complete and all your promotional pieces are in place. Then, pick a date about two to three weeks before the holiday and begin promoting the lists to the corresponding audience. Watch the holds and check-outs fly in as your cardholders get into the mood of the season with new titles!

Promote the best of your library events.  At least two months before the holiday, begin to scan the program calendar regularly for any program that’s fun and interesting. You want to target programs that can’t really be found at any other place in your community and are highly tease-able. Again, promote these programs to the corresponding audience about 2-3 weeks before the event for best results.

Inspire your readers. Post ideas for holiday gifts, recipes, and more–especially if they are literary-themed–on your social media accounts, especially Pinterest. If you don’t have a Pinterest account at your library, starting one during any holiday season is a great opportunity to showcase your library as a place where ideas and information are found. You are an information hub, not just a book peddler!

Do contrasting marketing to rival Amazon and your local bookstore. Start checking your competitors’ website and ads as soon as they begin their holiday marketing. Figure out what their offers are and how you can counteract those offers with free stuff! For example, we know that, as we approach Black Friday, stores will begin to promote their sales heavily. We can create similar marketing campaigns that emphasize our free products and services in contrast to the big-name stores. You can also host a mobile device or gadget petting zoo, where you have several models of tablets and smartphones available for cardholders to test and examine before they make their big purchases. The event can be a great way to promote your digital offerings to an audience that is clearly interested in going mobile. Or set up a call center or event where you can take questions from cardholders who need help picking out a gift, cooking a big meal, or figuring out etiquette questions like which fork to use!

Don’t forget holidays that are uniquely library-oriented. We can celebrate fun days like Take Your Child to the Library Day and eBook Day in ways that stores cannot. Use the ideas above and add that library-themed angle to your marketing of these days for fun that your cardholders will appreciate. Last year, for Take Your Child to the Library Day, my library did a gift card giveaway for parents who brought their kids to a branch.

Have you done something fun and successful to market your library during a holiday? Please share your successes in the comments!

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.

 

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