Should you Focus on People without Library Cards?

If you haven’t seen it yet, go read Bobbi Newman’s article on Why Libraries Should Look Beyond Library Card Ownership as a Measure of Support. Bobbi sometimes has a slightly different perspective than me, so her articles make me think.

I left a comment on her post that said this:

Yes … but. It’s also a problem of simple marketing. We aren’t offering something those people want, so they don’t use the library.
Perhaps we should ask them about their information/entertainment/distraction needs, and see if we can meet those?

I wanted to expand that thought a bit more – hence this article! The point that hit me in Bobbi’s post was her last paragraph:

Rather than focusing on the percentage of the community that has a library card, libraries would be better off focusing on public support of the library and accepting that some people don’t use the library for one reason or another.

Do I agree with that? Well, yes and no. Here’s what I mean.

No, I don’t agree with Bobbi:

First off, for my original response. I think many libraries could get more cardholders simply by:

  1. asking their community what they want, and what’s missing.
  2. Then working hard to provide those things.

That’s basic marketing and promotion, and most of us library types really don’t do marketing and promotion all that well. Figure it out, and you’ll get more cardholders – simple (well, not really simple. But you get my drift). There are definitely “potential cardholders” out there who want your library’s services … they just haven’t yet bothered to get a library card for one reason or another. With a little nudging, they just might get one.

Yes, Bobbi’s right #1:

Then again, focusing on “people who don’t have library cards” is probably NOT the best approach. Your library should have a strategic plan focused on narrower groups of people.

For example, maybe one of your library’s long-range goals is to attract more kids age 5-10 to the library. In this case, who should you target? Certainly not everyone, and not “people without library cards.” Why? Because not all of those people have kids age 5-10.

Instead, you should focus pretty specifically on young parents. Do that well, and you will attract more library card holders … within that targeted group. In the process, you’ll be working towards achieving that long-range goal.

Yes, Bobbi’s right #2:

Or, for something completely different – don’t work too hard on those people who don’t use your services. Instead, why not focus pretty heavily on your current customers? For example, my library has 92,000 or so library card holders. Why not provide those library users with the most awesome library experience ever? Or even narrow that down further to our most engaged customers (those Library Lovers that Bobbie mentions)?

Focus on that top 1% of your most engaged customers, and they will do quite a bit of word-of-mouth marketing for you. Other businesses and brands do this pretty successfully all the time. For example:

  • Lady Gaga focuses on her Little Monsters – her most engaged fans (the top 1% of her audience)
  • Maker’s Mark does a similar thing with their Ambassadors program, focused on their top fans

Here are a couple more articles on that concept:

So … what do you think? What’s your response to Bobbi’s article, and to the Pew Report she mentions?

Photo by Bobbi Newman (perfect for this post!)

Tidy up your Twitter Followers

I recently went through my library’s Twitter followers and “cleaned up” our follower list. What was I looking for? Mainly, that we are following people living in our service area. Here’s what I did:

First off, I used FriendorFollow. It’s a pretty handy tool that shows, among other things, who follows you, who doesn’t follow back, etc.

Then, I went through our list of Twitter followers, one at a time, and friended these types of a accounts:

  • Do they live in Topeka or Shawnee County?
  • Do they seem to live in Kansas, and do we share some Twitter friends (another indicator that they are in our service area)?
  • If they mention Topeka or Kansas in their bio or recent tweets
  • regional businesses (probably have employees in our service area)

If they met these criteria, I friended them back.

I unfriended some accounts, too. Here’s what I unfriended:

  • If they haven’t tweeted in over a year – that indicates they don’t actively use the account
  • If they never tweeted
  • If their account is private
  • If they don’t live in our service area

So – I ended up unfriending some libraries, some librarians, some people who had moved out of the area, and some celebrities that we had friended. Not in our service are? We dump em.

What did that achieve? Hopefully, more interaction. More followers that might actually be interested in their local library and what we tweet. And several hundred more followers that we are connected to!

That’s what I did – do you ever clean up follower lists in your organization’s Twitter or Facebook accounts? If so, what do YOU look for? Please share!

Image from Michael Sauers

How Do You Thank Your Facebook Fans?

Thanking Facebook Fans

How do you thank your organization’s Facebook Fans? Here’s how Tinley Park Public Library thanks theirs – with a photo of staff, giving a thumbs up and saying thanks!

Tinley’s staff wanted a way to say “thank you” to their growing Facebook fan base on their library’s Facebook Page. They had a couple of options that I knew about (they had asked for suggestions):

  • They could keep track of new fans, and when they hit 1000, they could thank that newest fan (requires some finagling of Facebook Insights to do this).
  • They could do something a little more general in nature, and thank everyone.

They chose to thank everyone in a really fun way – by posting a photo of themselves, saying “thanks” to their fans. How cool is that?

What’s good about this?

  • It’s easy and cheap
  • it’s fun and lighthearted, yet authentic
  • it’s visual – it communicates the message loud and clear
  • it puts a face to the organization, and to the real people behind the Facebook Page
  • It shows that face2face connection with customers that’s so important in organization-to-customer social media relationships

Great job, Tinley Park! You guys ROCK!

 

Two Branches at the Same TIme

Ever thought about this? With two physical, brick-and-mortar library branches, you have to use them one at a time. Can’t use both at once!

But with a digital branch, you can. You can be in the physical library building, and can use the digital branch at the same time. You might be reading an article, checking out an ebook on your mobile device, asking a question via live chat, or wandering the stacks with smartphone in hand, looking for a book.

But you can use both. At the same time. And people do.

So make sure to design your physical branches – the building, and especially the signage – with your digital branch customers in mind. What are some things you can do to help digital branch customers while they’re in your physical building?

  • Lots of “we have free wifi” signs
  • Signs by the physical books, talking about your new ebooks or databases
  • Smartphone recharging stations
  • Comfortable seating, with power nearby
  • Mentions of social media (signs on the doors, etc)

Hmm … good signage, comfortable seating, and power. What else? What am I missing?

Image by TheeErin

Save your Community Money … and Announce it!

The photo in this post is from a gas station at a local grocery store. They put up a sign at the gas station showing how much money they saved a community via their fuel points program.

How cool would that be to use one of those library value calculators, add everything up for a year, and share how much money the library has saved the community – in books, videos, and events attended?

For some libraries, this could be a really BIG number!

Why do this? I can think of a few reasons, including:

  • It puts a positive spin on library budget discussions
  • It’s a nice way to share what the library does
  • It changes the conversation from an internal library one (i.e., how many books were checked out) to a community-facing, “why should I care” one
  • It’s a handy way to share the value of a library without having to explain why all those circulation statistics and customer count numbers matter

Has anyone done something like this before? If so, did it work? I’d love to know – please share!