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

Building a Wall of Fame

I recently read Michael Hyatt’s book, Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World. It’s a really useful book on how to build a platform – a way to amplify your voice in order to be seen and heard in today’s crowded online world. Go read it.

One idea I picked up while reading was about creating a “wall of fame.” Here’s what Michael says about a wall of fame (from pg 66):

“This is basically a “wall of fame.” Include your best product reviews, customer reviews, Twitter comments, Facebook comments, Google+ comments, and so on. The idea here is to share endorsements and enthusiasm from your fans to fuel even more enthusiasm.”

What a cool idea, and one that translates well into a library setting. For example – right now, my library has a section on our Press Room pages called “TSCPL Headlines” (yep – horrid title. I’ll need to get that changed). It’s a Delicious.com feed of mentions of my library in the news.

That’s a good start on building a wall of fame. To go further, we could collect positive and interesting Tweets, Facebook mentions, comments, and photos of our library from Instagram, and display those on a “wall of fame” page.

We could also use those quotes and content in marketing materials.

Why? A Wall of Fame is a great visual way to show your organization’s value to the community … from the community themselves. Instead of saying “we have the best kid’s area ever,” we can show tweets and images showing kids and their parents having fun in the kid’s area.

Do you gather and use this type of community conversation in your library’s marketing and promotion initiatives? I’d love to hear about it!

image from Michael Hyatt’s website

Using Business Cards to Promote econtent

My library has a bunch of econtent – services like Freegal, OneClick Digital, Hoopla, OverDrive, Zinio, Treehouse, and Mango Languages.

Each of these tools point to real content – movies, music, books, magazines, and classes – but they live on the digital branch.

Our marketing department created a fun way to promote these econtent services by using business cards.

Each card has a word and an image on the front, and a brief description and a URL to the service on the back of the card.

We are using these cards to promote a bunch of services:

  • Music – promotes Freegal
  • Audiobooks – promotes OneClick Digital
  • Video – promotes Hoopla
  • Ebooks – promotes Overdrive
  • Language – promotes Mango
  • Magazines – promotes Zinio
  • Design & Program – promotes Treehouse

The idea? Place these cards around the building, hand them out at events, etc. Basically – give them to customers, so customers know about all this cool content we have. It’s one way of getting content that lives on the digital branch “out of the building.”

You can see the other cards we created over on my Flickr account.

Update: And here’s the back of the Music card, as an example of the info we provide.

12 Tips on Making Better Vine Videos

Are you familiar with Vine? It’s an iPhone and Android video app that makes 6-second videos. With Vine, you can watch videos, follow other Vine video makers, and easily share your videos on other social networks like Twitter (Twitter owns Vine).

And … Vine is one of a handful of new, popular, visual social tools. Others in this category would include Instagram and Snapchat.

Vine has the potential to be a really powerful and fun medium when used well! So – first, go watch a bunch of Vine videos to get a feel for what can be accomplished. Done? OK. Now, let’s talk about using it well.

Here are 12 tips (that’s like 2 tips a second in Vine mode!) for making better Vine Videos:

  1. Plan, practice, reshoot. I know – planning and practicing seems pretty silly, right? I mean, it’s only 6 seconds – what’s to plan? Quite a bit! You have six seconds to get your idea across, share a joke, or show something off. So planning it out and doing one practice run might be useful. Then reshoot it until you’re happy with the video. There is no edit button.
  2. Share one thing. You want to make sure your main idea is communicated in six seconds. So no introductions. Just do the one thing you want to communicate, and get to the point fast.
  3. Good lighting is important. As always in video, even six second video, lighting is important. Vine videos are created on your phone, so you don’t necessarily need to set up a lot of fancy professional lights for that six second video. Just shoot outside, by a lamp, or by a window.
  4. Audio is HUGE. Arguably, the most important thing in a video isn’t what you see. It’s what you hear. That means you need good audio! Try using your headphone mic (iPhones come with with a mic/earbud combo – do Android phones? Not sure). Or get one of those “made for iPhone” mics, like the i-Microphone.
  5. Think in scenes. Don’t make one big, boring, six second scene unless it’s a beautiful waterfall, or you have discovered a Sasquatch in the wilderness. Otherwise, make multiple quick scenes, multiple angles, etc. You can break up your sentences, too. Speak one phrase, then lift off your finger, shift position, and then say the next phrase.
  6. Use another lens. Have a clip-on lens? Use them. I have an Olloclip lens that gives my iPhone a fisheye, macro, and wide-angle lens. They work for Vine videos, too!
  7. Shoot through something else. You can get some pretty cheesy effects by shooting through semi-transparent things. Shoot through see-through cloth, water, a foggy window, your glasses, etc.
  8. Animation – try it out. Animation is fun, and really easy to do on Vine. Just quickly touch and let go, and you have one “frame” of an animation. Usually animation is about 10-24 frames per second, so … this will be a little time-consuming, even for six seconds. But you can quickly move something around on a table, touch your Vine screen a lot, and see what you get. Make sure to use Vine’s Ghost mode for stop-motion animation, and think about using your phone in Airplane mode. You don’t want to be interrupted mid-way through!
  9. Fun effects. Want music? Turn on the radio or have someone play beside you. Sound effects? Same thing – have someone do them off-camera. Visual gags and effects can be done easily by stopping the video, changing out a prop, and starting the video up again. Experiment and see what you can come up with.
  10. Talk to another video. One funny thing I’ve seen done is talking to a famous person via a Youtube video. The on-camera person might ask a question, then have someone else “answer” the question using something they said in a Youtube video.
  11. Hands-free mode. Apparently, you can swipe left to right at the bottom of the recording screen in Vine, and the video will record in hands-free mode. I haven’t gotten that to work. But you can also set up an assistive touch gesture on an iPhone.
  12. Use hashtags. This will help other Vine users find your video.

Useful Vine Video links:

Finally – follow me on Vine! I’m davidleeking on Vine.

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!