Communicating with your Community through Media

Twitter Screenshot of library customers sharing photos of the Bibliotheca self-check machines

We’ve been busy at my library! Our huge RFID/Self-check/Carpeting project is pretty much done – yippie!

How did we connect with our community while our building was closed? Through media: local news media and social media channels.

Here are some of the mentions we received in the local news media:

We have a great relationship with local media, so it’s really pretty easy for us to get mentioned in the news (way to go, marketing dept!). Since we were closed for 5 days while we tagged all our materials, it was nice to be able to share that through local traditional media outlets.

We also used our own social media channels to share what was going on through those five days. Here’s one of our videos showing our first customer using our new checkout kiosks:

We made four more videos:

These videos were uploaded to Youtube, and then shared out via Twitter and Facebook. We also created some Vine videos and took some quick “in the moment” pictures that went to Twitter.

Now, our customers are sharing their experience with our new checkout kiosks. The image in this blog post shows two of our customers who took pretty much the same photo, then shared the photos on Twitter (with slightly different viewpoints).

My point?

  1. We’re done – whew!
  2. Gotta have those media connections – both local and social – in place BEFORE your big project. If you don’t have that already, start working on it NOW.

When your Library Building Closes, your Library doesn’t Close

Library Closed signSo my library is closed today. We’re closed from May 1-5 to do a couple of tiny little projects, like:

  • RFID tag almost 500,000 items
  • Install 11 new self-check machines throughout the building
  • retrofit our automated material handler for RFID tags
  • Install new RFID security gates
  • Remove a bunch of DVDs and CDs from lockboxes (and get rid of the lockboxes)
  • Oh, and put in some new carpet too, while we’re at it!

To get all this done, we’re using our staff (because they are awesome), and we needed to “close the library.” But here’s the deal: our building is (mostly) closed, but the library? Not so much. Here’s what I mean:

  • First off, the whole building isn’t closed. You can still use some of our meeting rooms, visit the art gallery, the cafe, or our bookstore.
  • Telephone and chat reference is still open.
  • The digital branch is open – our website, our library catalog, our social media channels are still running.
  • Databases? They’re still available.
  • Ebooks? Yep – still available.
  • Bookmobiles? Still running.
  • Our outreach vehicles? Still going strong.
  • WIFI in the building? Still available.
  • Computers at local community centers (run by the library) are still available.
  • Holds? Still available on bookmobiles and through our book locker in one of the community centers.
  • … and probably some other stuff that I missed.

This actually made signage difficult for us! Some of our signs around the building say “library closed.” And some of them say “library closed, but …” You can see more of our signs here.

So – is the library closed because we closed a building? Nope. Today’s library is much larger than the building.

 

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!)

Ideas from Platform – the wrap-up

My last three posts have been about Michael Hyatt’s book, Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World. Great book! Go read it.

There were a TON of great ideas on how to build a platform in the book – well worthy of reading, digesting, then figuring out how to adapt those ideas into an organizational, library setting. It can be done!

Here’s what I wrote about:

  1. Building a Wall of Fame
  2. Content is Not About You. Ever.
  3. Is Privacy Really Dead?

Have you read the book? I’ve love to hear what you found interesting. Please share!

Image from Michael Hyatt’s website

Content is Not About You. Ever.

I’m still focused on Michael Hyatt’s book, Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World. Great book! Go read it.

On page 101, Michael writes this:

“Unless you are a megacelebrity, readers don’t care about you. Not really. They care about themselves. They want to know what’s in it for them. Your personal stories can be a doorway to that, but in the end, the best posts are about your readers’ needs, fears, problems, or concerns. Always ask, “What’s the takeaway for my reader?”

Cool thought. Now apply it to your library’s website, and not just to blog posts. Think about your library’s About Us page, or a page about a specific library service.

Then, ask these questions:

  • What’s the takeaway for my reader?
  • Is there a clear next step for the reader?
  • Is the question “what do I do next” answered?
  • Is that next step at the top of the page, rather than at the end of a humongous chunk of text?

If your website is like mine, after answering those questions … you have a LOT of rewriting to do. Get busy!

image from Michael Hyatt’s website