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social media strategy for 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!

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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!

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

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