Becoming a Library Customer – Can we Improve that Experience?

Has your library ever really thought about the experience around becoming a library card holder, or worked to improve it?

At most libraries, when someone gets a library card for the first time, here’s what we do: we give the person their library card. We might also hand them a printed list of either “stuff you can do” or “stuff you can’t do ” (i.e., rules, regulations and circulation policies).

Are balloons released? Does anyone celebrate? Does it usher our new customer into some cool, “members-only” club? Do we follow-up with the customer after 3 months or so to see how it’s going? Nope. For most of us, nothing else happens.

What happens with other types of membership cards?

  • Sam’s Club: a membership card gets you members-only discounts.
  • Airline reward programs: earn reward miles. Use it enough, and you can get seating upgrades and trade in miles for flights.
  • Grocery Store Cards: discounts on store purchases and fuel points.
  • Amazon Prime: free, 2-day shipping, movie and tv show streaming, and access to the Kindle ebook Library.

Now back to libraries. Is there something else we can do with a library card to make it more “membership” friendly? Reword that brochure we give out? Check back with our customers after 3 months to see how they’re doing (remember, we have their email address and snail mail address)?

How about give perks for use? For example, if they check out five books, they get that 3-day express movie for a week?

What do you think? Anyone do something special for library card holders that isn’t just “here’s your card, now go check stuff out?”

Image by Leo Reynolds

Make your Stuff Obvious

This sign was at our local shopping mall. Like any good blogging geek, I stopped and took a picture of it – to the chagrin of my kids, I’m sure (“Mom – Dad’s taking pictures of signs again!” – eye roll!)

But the sign made me think of a few things that I thought I’d share:

  1. The sign is nicely done – large, easy-to-read words.
  2. Just an interesting side-note – the sign’s in the shape of a smartphone. A few very short years ago, a phone that did wifi wouldn’t have made any sense. But we all easily get it now, don’t we?
  3. The message is clear, the service is obvious, the sign is hard to miss. You know exactly what they’re advertising.

Contrast that with the average wifi sign in a library. In most of our libraries, we make little, tiny, dinky-winky signs that say “wifi.” Usually provided to us by our wifi vendor. If we have signs at all [hmm… I wonder what our wifi signs look like? I’ll need to check].

But at the mall … where they really want you to stay awhile … the wifi sign is HUGE. This sign was almost as tall as me, folks! And right out in the walkway, standing close to the food courts (one place people would possibly use wifi for an extended period of time).

What do they want you to do at the mall? Stay awhile. Eat some food. Use their free wifi. And buy more stuff!

Now translate that to a library. What do we want our customers to do? Stay awhile? Eat more food (if you have a cafe)? Read/watch/listen to/download more content? Ask us questions? Attend our events? Probably all of those things (though I’ll bet most of us don’t spell those goals out quite like that).

Define what it is you want your customers to do, then make your branding, your promotion, your signage – what you want people to do while engaging with you – make it obvious.

Five Tips to Reshape your Social Media Plan in 2013


[This is an article I wrote for my book, Face2Face – I thought it would make a great post here, too – enjoy! DLK]

Social media has been around for over ten years. My guess is that by now, your organization is probably involved in some way with social media. Maybe you have created a Twitter or Facebook account. Maybe you even have some friends and fans on those accounts, and you share things with them when you have time.

Let’s rework this in 2013. Social media is now mainstream, and your customers are using it to connect. They connect easily to each other, and since the tool is the same, they’ll find it easy to connect to your organization, too… if you make a few easy-to-do adjustments in your approach to business-facing social media.

Here are five simple adjustments you can make to kick-start your organization’s social media efforts in 2013:

1. Focus on Conversations

First off, let’s focus on conversations. Many organizations and businesses have been using social media status updates as a broadcasting tool. They send out notices of events, sales, or coupons. Possibly, they have used social media as an easy outlet to send out press releases and important corporate announcements.

My new book - Face2Face: Using Facebook, Twitter, and Other Social Media Tools to Create Great Customer ConnectionsGuess what? If your organization focuses primarily on sending out corporate communications, your customers will tune out your organization and unfriend you in a heartbeat. In 2013, instead of using social media as a one-way broadcast tool, work on starting and continuing conversations with your customers.

This will require your organization to do three important things: 1. Listen before you speak. Set up some listening tools (Google alerts and Twitter search alerts are good places to start) to see what your customers are saying about you; 2. Respond, using colloquial, conversational language. This will feel weird if you’re used to more formal marketing-speak. Make it feel like you’re talking to a work colleague at the water cooler – do this, and people will start talking to you. And 3 – figure out what types of conversations YOU want to start. Do some brainstorming on the conversations your organization needs to hear in 2013, and start those conversations.

2. Focus on the Visual

For the most part, many businesses and organizations have been posting text-heavy status updates in their social media accounts. That makes sense in text-based Twitter, but not so much in Facebook. In fact, Facebook best practices show that when you do one simple thing – add a photo or a video to your post – engagement increases by 100% or more.

So get those cameras out of your pockets (yes, that iPhone or Android smartphone makes a great point-and-shoot camera), and start taking photos around the office, the warehouse, or the store. Maybe think about the three most important things that your customers should know about your organization, take photos of that, then share those photos with customers.

3. Focus on Video

That smartphone I just mentioned in #2 is also HD quality video recorder, and we can put it to good use! There’s a reason YouTube is so popular right now – people love watching short videos. Studies show that people engage more with video posts than with text-only posts.

Here’s my guess – most likely, you haven’t made many videos for your organization. If you have created some videos, it probably resembled a TV commercial. That’s not what your customers want to watch. Instead, get to the point immediately – YouTube suggests that the first 15 seconds are critical to connect with viewers. So don’t waste those seconds with titles, fade-ins, and credits.

Just start sharing your main points. Then post that video to two places – YouTube and Facebook. Use YouTube to share in most places, and use the Facebook upload to share with your Facebook page fans. Facebook’s algorithm favors videos uploaded to Facebook, so those will get seen more than a shared YouTube video.

4. Focus on Next Steps

Many times organizations post information to their social media accounts, but don’t include anything for customers to do. They don’t include a next step. Let’s change that in 2013. Make sure that everything you do includes some type of “ask.” That ask can be as simple as asking customers to “friend or fan” a Facebook Page, or the ask might be to click a link that takes them to a new product or a buy-it-now page.

More people will click if you actually ask them to click. Because of this, make sure to provide customers with some next steps, and actually invite them to take that next step. Do that, and your organization will be one step closer to continued engagement with customers.

5. Focus on your Customers!

Finally, most businesses and organizations, believe it or not, don’t actually focus on their customers! Instead, they focus on their stuff, on their showroom floor, or on their sales staff. In 2013, let’s focus on our customers. Engage them in conversation. Ask them if they like what they’re seeing. Ask them to take next steps, and invite them into your organization.

Follow these five simple reshaping steps, and you will be well on your way to having a great 2013 with social media, and with some really engaged customers, too.

pic by Tintin44

Taking a Stab at Facebook Page ROI

FacebookRecently, both the CEO and the Marketing Director at my library asked about the ROI of paying for Facebook Page ads. They asked because we recently ran two months worth of a Facebook ad, and wanted to know what the ad actually accomplished.

First of all, a bit of background on that ad. We created a simple ad that focused on getting more Likes on our library’s Facebook Page (Ben Bizzle at Craighead County Jonesboro Public Library helped us with that as part of his research on Facebook Page ads). The ad was shown to people with Facebook accounts who had friends that had already Liked us.

So now, back to the question – What was the ROI of our experiment? There are two ways to look at ROI in this case. There’s the simple “Did it work” ROI, and there’s the “What’s really going on here” way to look at it. Let’s look at both:

Facebook Ads ROI – the simple version:

Goal – Our goal with this ad was to gain more Facebook fans. did we achieve that at a good price?

Spent – $591 ($10 a day for approx 2 months)
Gained – 2642 fans – averaged about 40 fans a day.
ROI – $0.22 per fan. Pretty cheap!

Facebook ads ROI – the “what’s really going on” version:

Ok, so we spent spent about $600 and gained 2642 more fans. Big deal. What’s the real ROI for that? What can you do with 2642 more Facebook fans? Here’s my thinking on that:

More eyeballs – this is important because of how Facebook works. On average, about 16% of your Facebook fans see a single post. So more Facebook fans = more people seeing your post (even if the average stays the same).

If national statistics are an ok guide, about 54% of our community, age 13 and up, have a Facebook account. That means we have the potential to reach over half of our community through Facebook … for free or cheap. That’s huge, so paying $0.22 per fan to get there seems to be a small price to pay for the added benefit of being able to share the good stuff of the library with more people in our community.

Better listening tools – Also important. Consistent interaction gets us active fans willing to talk back. Having more fans gets us the potential to have more interaction and feedback, since we are engaging a larger audience.

Better advocacy channel – this one’s simple. People say good stuff about the library. In Facebook, those posts spread. Again, more people (hopefully) equals more people saying good stuff about us.

So that’s what I’m thinking anyway. Eyeballs, listening, and advocacy. More fans = more of each (or at least the potential to have more of each).

Help me out – what am I missing?

FB Hand image by birgerking

Tell your Customers that you have Ebooks

ebookRecently, the Pew Internet & American Life folks released this about ebook lending at public libraries. It’s part of their Libraries, patrons, and E-books report.

Here’s the pull-out quote: “Most Americans are unaware of e-book lending at their local public library.” Then it goes on to the stats: 76% of public libraries lend ebooks … and most Americans really don’t know if their library has them.

I know. There’s a lot in the current ebook/publisher/distributor landscape that you can’t really change at the moment. Yes, yes, together we can and probably will create some ebook changes.

But for now, your single library can’t change the price of an ebook to a fairer price; you can’t get 27 checkouts from HarperCollins books; and you can’t call up Penguin and beg them to sell you ebooks, even though they don’t sell to libraries … and have them cave in and make an exception in your case (well, unless you happen to be a large NYC library, perhaps).

But there is one thing … One Thing! One thing that you CAN do, and we apparently AREN’T DOING IT. And that’s actually telling people that you have ebooks that can be checked out. What’s up with that?

Guys, this is simple stuff … and putting up a link to Overdrive on your website does not count.

What can you do to tell your customers that your library has ebooks? Here are some starter ideas:

  • link on your website
  • big, bold ad on the main page of your site, above the fold
  • a large sign in your library
  • a couple of large signs in your library
  • a billboard on a major road in town
  • mention it in your events newsletter
  • mention it in your enewsletter … with a link
  • mention it in Twitter and Facebook. More than once.
  • Send out a press release
  • Get an interview in the newspaper, at local radio stations, and on the local TV news station.

Then rinse and repeat. You generally have to tell people more than once to make it “stick.”

So – those are some starter ideas. How about you? How have you successfully told your customers that you do, in fact, have ebooks? let’s share, and turn this silly pew statistic – this horribly pathetic Pew statistic – around.

photo by Nikkorsnapper