There are now so many social media platforms available for libraries to participate in, but it’s sometimes difficult to get a handle on how these channels can best be used for marketing library services. If you’re considering leveraging social media to promote your library, here are some strategies I’ve found helpful:
1.) Think Big, Start Small
Just because you CAN sign up with every social media channel out there doesn’t mean you SHOULD. Pick one of the major outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn and create an outstanding presence there…then take that experience (and those followers!) and move on to others. It’s better to have a strong presence on just a couple of platforms than be mediocre on many.
2.) Combine Content Creation & Content Curation
You don’t have to create all original content for your blog, tweets, or Facebook statuses, and actually it’s a better idea not to do so. By curating and linking to other people’s content, you’re not only offering your readers recommended resources, but social networking with the content’s creator. When you link back to other people’s posts, tweets, etc., you’re making a connection with them that may lead to them linking to your posts in the future. Read more about content creation in the Forbes article, 4 Reasons Why Content Curation Has Gone Mainstream.
3.) Create Connected and Consistent Brand Channels
Create a consistent presence on all of the social media platforms you’re using for your library. This means use the same logo, the same color scheme, etc. Don’t make visitors and patrons wonder if this is really your profile or account. And be sure to connect all of your profiles on each channel – link to your blog, Twitter, and library’s website on Facebook. Link to all of your social media accounts on your library’s website, etc.
4.) Take Part in the Conversation
No one wants to see a one-way conversation. Be diligent about keeping up with posts on your library’s Facebook page and respond to them in a timely manner. If someone retweets you on Twitter, thank them and think about retweeting them in the future. Keep an eye on the @Connect section of your Twitter dashboard for tweets that have mentioned you – someone may be asking a question of the library. This just comes down to listening and being aware of your online community.
5.) Promote Events
A great way to market the library is to let everyone know about all of the events you have going on. Create descriptive hashtags (#awesomelibraryevent!) that can be used on sites such as Twitter and Facebook and encourage people to attend and live blog or tweet. Encourage people to take photos and post them to your Facebook page, share them on Pinterest, etc. Follow the complete event lifecycle by blogging it yourself on your library blog, tweet about it before, during, and after it takes place, put photos on Facebook, etc.
6.) Try Out Visual Social Media
New platforms such as Pinterest, the digital pinboard application or the Instagram mobile social network are becoming increasingly popular. Once you’ve established yourself on one of the major networks you might give one of these a try. These offer some unique opportunities to showcase library resources, events, staff, and guest speakers in a visual way. For example libraries are using Pinterest to create book boards, showcase educational videos and webcasts, highlight special collections and more. For more inspiration you may want to check out these previous posts: 5 Ways to Use Pinterest in Your Library and 5 More Ways to Use Pinterest in Your Library.
7.) Feature Patrons
Whether it’s on your Facebook page, pins on Pinterest, or in videos on YouTube, spotlight your library patrons enjoying your events or using your services. Show your patrons that you appreciate them and show potential patrons that your patrons appreciate the library’s programming.
8.) Offer Added Value
Let’s face it, no one is going to subscribe, follow, or tune-in to a stream of continual marketing hype. The best way to use social media for marketing is to establish a channel that offers information and content curation that is valuable to your target audience. This is what gets people to follow you and while they’re listening you can also fill them in on all of the great services and programs you’ve got going on in the library.
9.) Claim Your Location
Even if you’re not participating in location-aware mobile social networks, many of your patrons may be. Think about social networks such as Foursquare and Facebook Places where you’ll want to claim your library’s location.
10.) Engage Patrons with Contests
People love to be rewarded for their social media attention. Many social media sites offer great opportunities for contests and challenges for creative libraries. Foursquare for example allows locations to offer awards to the mayor (the person who checks into a particular location the most), as well as loyalty rewards (e.g. on your fifth check-in get a free library tote bag!). Pinterest is another great place for contests. Libraries could challenge patrons to create book boards for reading programs or book clubs, etc.