If you havenâ€™t seen it yet, go read Bobbi Newmanâ€™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 â€¦ but. Itâ€™s also a problem of simple marketing. We arenâ€™t offering something those people want, so they donâ€™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!Â The point that hit me in Bobbiâ€™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 donâ€™t use the library for one reason or another.
Do I agree with that? Well, yes and no. Hereâ€™s what I mean.
No, I donâ€™t agree with Bobbi:
First off, for my original response. I think many libraries could get more cardholders simply by:
- asking their community what they want, and whatâ€™s missing.
- Then working hard to provide those things.
Thatâ€™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 youâ€™ll get more cardholders – simple (well, not really simple. But you get my drift).Â There are definitely â€œpotential cardholdersâ€ out there who want your libraryâ€™s services â€¦ they just havenâ€™t yet bothered to get a library card for one reason or another. With a little nudging, they just might get one.
Yes, Bobbiâ€™s right #1:
Then again, focusing on â€œpeople who donâ€™t have library cardsâ€ 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 libraryâ€™s long-range goals is to attract more kids age 5-10 to the library.Â In this case, who should you target? Certainly not everyone, and not â€œpeople without library cards.â€ 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 â€¦ within that targeted group. In the process, you’ll be working towards achieving that long-range goal.
Yes, Bobbiâ€™s right #2:
Or, for something completely different – donâ€™t work too hard on those people who donâ€™t use your services. Instead, why not focus pretty heavily on your current customers?Â 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)
- Makerâ€™s Mark does a similar thing with their Ambassadors program, focused on their top fans
Here are a couple more articles on that concept:
- 5 Marketing Lessons from Lady Gaga
- Who Are your Superfans? Five WOM Tips PR Can Learn from Lady Gaga, Shaun White and Justin Timberlake
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!)
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
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
[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.
Letâ€™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, tooâ€¦ 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 organizationâ€™s social media efforts in 2013:
1. Focus on Conversations
First off, letâ€™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.
Guess 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 youâ€™re used to more formal marketing-speak. Make it feel like youâ€™re talking to a work colleague at the water cooler â€“ do this, and people will start talking to you. And 3 â€“ 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 â€“ add a photo or a video to your post â€“ 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! Thereâ€™s a reason YouTube is so popular right now â€“ people love watching short videos. Studies show that people engage more with video posts than with text-only posts.
Hereâ€™s my guess â€“ most likely, you havenâ€™t made many videos for your organization. If you have created some videos, it probably resembled a TV commercial. Thatâ€™s not what your customers want to watch. Instead, get to the point immediately â€“ YouTube suggests that the first 15 seconds are critical to connect with viewers. So donâ€™t waste those seconds with titles, fade-ins, and credits.
Just start sharing your main points. Then post that video to two places â€“ YouTube and Facebook. Use YouTube to share in most places, and use the Facebook upload to share with your Facebook page fans. Facebookâ€™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 donâ€™t include anything for customers to do. They donâ€™t include a next step. Letâ€™s change that in 2013. Make sure that everything you do includes some type of â€œask.â€ That ask can be as simple as asking customers to â€œfriend or fanâ€ 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, donâ€™t actually focus on their customers! Instead, they focus on their stuff, on their showroom floor, or on their sales staff. In 2013, letâ€™s focus on our customers. Engage them in conversation. Ask them if they like what theyâ€™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