Developing an Online First Mentality, Part Three: Everything Online

I’ve been talking about developing an online first mentality for your library. In part one, I introduced the concept. In part two, I gave some examples of how it might work in a library setting.

In part three, let’s make sure that everything your library does is represented online. At least, all the parts that customers interact with.

What’s that mean? Think about what your library does for a second. Is everything – programs, events, services, etc. – represented online? Can you sign up for them online? If not – how come?

Sometimes, a library doesn’t represent a service online … because it might become too popular. Seriously. I’ve heard of libraries purposely NOT sharing something online because of capacity issues.

It might be a book group with limited seating. It might be a service that the library couldn’t handle if the service got too popular. Sorta like the In-N-Out Burger secret menu (if it wasn’t shared online) – if you happen to know about it, we’ll do it. We just won’t tell you that’s an option.

There are a few ways to handle those situations:

  1. Consider NOT doing it anywhere. Either promote it and do it well, or don’t do it at all. Maybe you should be focusing staff energy in other areas?
  2. Consider ramping it up. Gina Millsap, my library’s CEO, likes to say that we “organize around the work.” So if there’s more work to be done in a certain area, we shift staff to go do that. You could also hire more staff – if the service is truly popular and worthy of that type of investment (and, of course, if the powers-that-be say yes to that pricey request).
  3. Consider creating an alternative. Back to the book group idea for a second. My library does book groups. If more people want to start a book group, we have a cool service called Book Group in a Bag. We stuff 10 copies of a book in a bag, along with some “how to run a book group” instructions, and let customers check it out … and start their own book groups.

SO can you represent everything your library does online? I think so – get busy!

Photo by Steve Rhodes

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

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.

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.