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social media and libraries

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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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.

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.

 

Four Ways to Fire Up Your Social Media And Create Super Library Fans!

I see a new trend on social media for libraries and I’m loving it! More libraries are reducing the number of Tweets they send promoting programs and they’re doing more curating and advocating for the library industry. I think that’s great! It adds depth to the character of your library, it helps your cardholders to see that you are more than just an endless horn of promotion, bombarding them with things that don’t relate to them, and it means the promotions you do put on social media get more attention simply because there is less noise. So good job you!

Now it’s time to take the next step. My prediction: libraries will become savvier about using social media to turn their current cardholders into fans. The industry will begin to realize the importance of keeping cardholders active library users and balance that newfound realization with the ongoing campaign to sign up new cardholders. We’ll start creating super customers who will advocate on our behalf. Doesn’t that sound amazing? Here’s how we’ll do it.

Listen to your cardholders. Whoever monitors your social media needs to set aside time to listen to monitor your social media platforms for comments. Respond as soon as you can, even to positive comments. You should also create a database for logging comments, both positive and negative, so you don’t have to rely on your own memory to keep track of the complaints and compliments you receive. You can use that database to create future promotions, highlighting services your cardholders show a love for and addressing concerns with upper management and within your marketing. You’ll also stumble across great customer service stories that you can market in your print publication or on your blog. Listening is critical and I cannot stress the importance of working time into your day, every hour if you can, to do a quick check of your social channels for comments.

Show some extra love to your current cheerleaders. You likely can think of two to three people (maybe more!)  who consistently post their praises of your library system on social media. If you haven’t already, reach out to those brand advocates and offer them something special–a gift bag from your Friends shop, a behind-the-scenes tour of the library, a special collector’s edition library card, etc. They’ll post about that positive exchange and do some marketing for you! Later, you can go back to those cheerleaders and ask for feedback on marketing or library initiatives, or give them a sneak peek of things you’re working on in the future to gauge the reaction of the larger audience to your efforts.

Create an editorial calendar for your social channels. Schedule content to appear on a consistent basis. Remember “Must-See TV”? You can do that with social. People love it… and they’ll eagerly await the appearance of quality content on social when you set up a reliably consistent posting schedule. Create a call to action that’s easy to fulfill and share.

Track, track, track. None of these actions are worth any effort if you don’t track the results. You’ll learn what works–so you can repeat it–and what doesn’t, so you can drop it!  You’ll be amazed at how valuable the data is when you track, and I promise it only takes a few moments. My favorite tracking method is Google Analytics URL builder. Learn how to use it 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, Slideshare, Instagram and Pinterest. Views in this post are my own and do not represent those of my employer.

 

What the New Facebook Feed Change Means For Libraries

What the Facebook Feed Change

They went and did it again.

Facebook changed their feed last week. The tweak reportedly allows users more control over the things they see in their feed rather than relying on an algorithm to decide for them.

Any change in Facebook’s feed will understandably make libraries nervous. For better or worse, many libraries look to Facebook for free publicity for their programs and services, and as a way to communicate with cardholders. And the parameters of Facebook’s user interface have changed so many times, it’ll make your head spin.

So here’s what I think about this latest pivot.

This might be a good thing for libraries. Our customers are really loyal. Those who are already interacting with your posts will continue to see them, and those who had not fit the algorithm may now see your posts again. If you use any of your advertising budget for Facebook ads (and I think you should), then your paid posts will have more value because Facebook will have more information with which to target your current and potential customers.

But it might be a bad thing for libraries. In my research for this article, I’ve found that it’s actually difficult to figure out how to set up your Facebook feed to show more of the posts you wish to see and less of the ones you don’t. Right now, the option to change your setup is only available on the iOS app and it’s not easy to find. (Click on “More”, then on “News Feed Preferences.”) Once I did find it, I was intrigued by the option of unfollowing all the pages I’m no longer interested in. I left dozens of brands I don’t really care about in the dust. That could be bad for you, especially if your library has not posted compelling stories to your feed or if your posts haven’t been seen by the right people since the last algorithm change.

Does it really matter? Here’s the thing: posting content on Facebook is like building your house on rented land. It doesn’t belong to you and as much as it pains your library system when changes are made, there is little we can do about it. The big lesson is that we need to start relying on our own platforms and websites for promoting our programs and services. That means we should be building our own audience with blogs, podcasts, and other content delivery systems. We should be developing email subscriber lists so we can target and market to our specific library cardholders and give them the content they really want.

Until Facebook rolls the feed settings out across all platforms, I don’t anticipate seeing much of a change in use or engagement on my library’s Facebook page–and you probably won’t either. However, the cross-platform roll-out will happen… and you need to have a plan for how to handle a drop in engagement or reach with your posts.

There is one thing you can do: Periodically remind your cardholders to set up notifications for your posts (under the drop-down menu next to the like button) so that each time you post, they’ll get a reminder. And then follow the Facebook best practices, posting 3-4 times a day with useful, helpful information and engaging content.

Do you have any Facebook tips to share with your fellow library marketers? Tell us about them in the comments!

Subscribe to this blog for updates every time I post. Click on the little “Follow” at the top left of this page.

Connect with me on Twitter. I’m @Webmastergirl. I’m also on LinkedIn, Slideshare,  Instagram and Pinterest.

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

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