Shameless Self-Promotion is … Awesome!

Remember my post on rockstars awhile back? I’m taking that post a bit further, and I’m going to talk about … self promotion.

I have been called a shameless self-promoter before. Interestingly enough, I’d either agree or disagree with that label, depending on your definition of self promotion:

  • I DON’T promote ME for ME’s sake. I don’t generally push myself on anyone, brag about myself, put others down while building myself up, etc.
  • I DO push my small business. I brand most of my presentations/blog posts/books/articles/videos as – I use my full name as my brand for my consulting/speaking/writing business. And I DO promote that.

I’ll go so far as to say this – I think every single one of us has done a bit of self-promotion. You DO have a job, don’t you? You most likely had to sell yourself during the interview. You probably talked about yourself (in the best possible light), you actively discussed your accomplishments, and in general, probably made sure everyone knew that you were, in fact, the best one for the job.

Is this a bad thing? I don’t think so. In fact, I think more of us need to figure out how to do it well (myself included). Here’s why – if we don’t share why we, as librarians, are awesome … who will?

As Stephen Abram says (in the comments to my first Rockstar post), “Few can name staff at the big competitors like Google etc. beyond the rockstar founders/inventors/investors, because the staff are irrelevant to the site experience. That should never be the case in libraries … If we’re about relationships, then a true relationship knows the name of the person they want to deal with – not just an anonymous professional behind a desk wearing a badge that says ‘librarian’ or generic virtual reference identity [emphasis added].”

You simply have to put a name and a face to the library. Think of it as giving a face to your stuff and your services if you need to. But people relate to a face. People want to FUND a face.

So – where to start? Here are some self-promotion “starter” tips:

  • Be confident in what you’re promoting. Never feel bad about promoting content that deserves attention. With all the crap that exists on the Web, if you’ve created a wonderful resource for your niche, you should be excited to share it because it may help someone else. from Small Business Trends.
  • Use your voice. Don’t alter your voice to fit in with what you think people expect of you, and certainly don’t change your style in an effort to make yourself popular or appear to be an expert. By all means think about your audience, but don’t fall into the trap of trying to please them all. from bnet.
  • Share. Lots. Social media is also about sharing information – tons of it. And that, perhaps, is the best way to promote what you know and what you can do. If you want to be recognized as a leader in your field, you need to share what you know. You should use your social media accounts—Twitter, Facebook and blogs—to share information. from
  • Focus. Focus on your strengths, and share those. Do those, if you can, at your job. If you start a blog, focus it too. Don’t write about your job, your favorite projects, your cat, and your favorite recipe. Instead, narrow it down to … your professional strengths (or whatever it is you’re really interested in).
  • Provide a service to your community. And put your name on it, so your community knows where to find you, should they want more.
  • Circulate yourself. Leave your building, and start meeting people in your community. Find out how you can serve the hospital across the street (we actually have one of those).

And finally, actually be good at what you do.

Thoughts – agree? Disagree? How come?

Give Away some Ebooks

A couple weeks ago, I saw a pretty cool idea at the Denver International Airport, and thought it could be adapted to libraries.

1st Bank had some large advertisements up in the airport, giving away free ebooks (see the pic in this post – this was one of two signs I saw). All you needed was a smartphone with a QR Code reader – aim and read the code, and you were directed to download a free ebook (there was also a button to open a new banking account).

Pretty ingenious, if you ask me. Just guessing here, but I’m pretty sure the only books I saw were “free” out-of-print classics. For most people – people who are stuck at the airport with nothing much to do – what a cool idea! Give em a book (even if it’s freely available online), and brand it as your business.

How can this work for a library?

Why not copy this idea? Use a QR Code, put up a sign at the mall or the grocery store, and offer a “free” ebook (maybe something legally free from Project Gutenberg). Send the user to a mobile webpage, branded as your library – with a link to the ebook, and some info about your other cool services.

In essence, it looks like the library is giving away a free ebook – that works with multiple ereaders! Even those pesky Amazon Kindles that don’t play well with libraries.

Free State Social – Sarah Evans #fssocial

Sarah EvansTitle: How to Make Your Brand Stand Out Online

Sarah Evans – She runs Sevans Strategy out of her home

Telling a story about the Chicago earthquake a year or so ago… she was able to be a citizen reporter, and ended up on national news (and got 5 solid client leads from it, too).

First – know what you want to accomplish

9 ways to stand out online

1. Find an opportunity to showcase what you do best

2. Hijack a conversation – gave a example of using the sxsw crowd and speakers to host another simultaneous event

3. Meet a need in an innovative way. She identified a larger need. Asked permission to be in charge of the #journchat thing. Innovate – do something different. It evolves. One pitch – she lets them do one pitch at the end – she gives them something quick to share. We’re a community.

4. Generate a LOT of quality content. Think multimedia.

5. Do it for a good cause. The #beatcancer hash tag as an example. And #crisisovernight as another example.

6. Give freely, give often. Share, acknowledge, give tips and tricks for your industry, trade secrets, etc. Retweet, like, comment post engage. Read your feeds, respond, etc.

7. Think like those you’re trying to reach. Use the tools they use. She checks out people’s twitter feeds before she contacts them to pitch them something and brings something from the feed up in her initial contact. It makes it more personal.

8. Get sourced … A lot. Sign up for, follow journalists. Online, identify story opportunities where you are the best source and pitch them. Focus on media, bloggers, and online influencers bonus – use Pitchengine for your releases. Write for the consumer and the media…

9. What else? We had audience participation here.

Prtini? A pr blogger. …

How do we manage our message? You. Don’t. You start it, but your community takes it somewhere else.

It cant be a good sign when you have more twitter followers Han t he subscribers to your local newspaper.


The Accidental Library Marketer – a Book Review

Enjoying the accidental library marketer by Kathy DempseyInformation Today sent me a copy of Kathy Dempsey‘s new book, The Accidental Library Marketer (Amazon Associate link). I read it and loved it! Let me tell you a bit about the book.

As Kathy says right in the introduction, on pg. xv – “The Accidental Library Marketer fills a need for library professionals and paraprofessionals who find themselves in an awkward position: they need to promote their libraries and services in the age of the internet, but they’ve never been taught how to do so effectively.”

There’s a lot that’s good in the book (check out my post-it notes in the pic!). Why am I interested in marketing? Well … by being a Digital Branch Manager, I AM part marketer/promoter. Part of my job is sharing the library’s digital branch with Topeka. And that takes … well, marketing and promotion.

Kathy starts with the basics – what IS marketing, anyway? The rest of the book is full of “how to’s” – including creating a marketing plan, basic rules for producing good promotional materials, different ways to get your promotional materials out, and using demographic data as a great starting point. Good stuff indeed – I learned things.

Anything bad about the book? … … well, not the book itself. I was more bummed out that my grad school’s library science program (University of Tennessee) didn’t teach me squat about marketing. Zilch. Seems to be a pretty important topic to me (and it is completely plausible that at the time they DID have classes on marketing, but I wasn’t interested – best-laid plans always seem to change)!

So… go read, go learn. Go market – but not accidentally!

Twitter Best Practices So Far

I’ve just spent some time subscribing to a bunch of Twitter social media and community manager types (via My goal in doing this is to learn more about digital community management, and how that relates to the library version of digital communities.

But while doing that, I started noticing some similarities in twitter account pages, and thought I’d share those with you.

Twitter Best Practices:

1. Have a bio. When people see an interesting tweet, they might click through and want to read a bit about you – the first place they’ll look is your Twitter bio. Most bios provide a brief outline of who you are. For example, mine currently says I write about, talk about, and work in libraries!” (yes, that’s a very boring bio – I should change it).I write about, talk about, and work around libraries, social media, and digital communities. Also check out my videoblog:” (just changed it :-)

Even better – include an invitation in your bio. Here are two examples:

  • I’m a 35 year -old marketing professional who is learning about new media. Help me learn Twitter please! Follow me and I’ll follow you!
  • New followers: please @ me to start or join a conversation.

2. Extra links in your bio. You can add links to pertinent sites and services in your bio. If the URL is long, make sure to shorten it with one of those tinyURL services. Otherwise, the link text will run into the background of the page… and make you look like you look bad.

3. Spell check your bio text. Misspellings look bad. Nuf said.

4. Use a good headshot for your picture/icon: Best practices for the little pic that accompanies your tweets – a headshot of you, smiling. Or maybe you being silly. If possible, show your personality.

Don’t frown – if you don’t look friendly (or you look scary), others might think twice about friending you. And on the web, thinking twice means you’ve lost them.

5. Add a background image. Any image. Silly. Professional. Ugly. The point here is that using the default Twitter background on your account makes you look like a newbie. And that’s bad, especially when it’s so easy to add an image.

Brownie points for using the image like these two tweeters. See what they’ve done? They smartly positioned an image version of a link list that appears in the far left portion of their twitter page. Nice way to share links and promote themselves!

6. Say “Hi” to new followers. When someone follows you, reply back. That’s nice! Here’s one example: “you might be the first librarian I’ve met.  HI!”

Even better – one person direct messaged me with this message: “Welcome New Follower!! How goes it?  Have you tweeted anything that I should know about that I may have missed?” Wow – he’s asking you to introduce yourself in a very direct and helpful (to him) way. Nice.

7. Silly observations:

  • Social media and community manager types tend to play guitar in a band and mention it in their profiles…
  • they all subscribe to Chris Brogan’s twitter account.

8. Finally, don’t do this: I saw one twitter account (that I didn’t follow) with these characteristics:

  • Bio said the person is a “key executive in digital media”
  • No picture/icon was included
  • No background image was used
  • He’s not following anyone
  • He has 7 followers
  • He’s only written 5 updates

Notice the irony here? This person’s bio and his actual Twitter activity don’t match up. He doesn’t sound like a key executive in “digital media” He needs to take 5 minutes to add a pic, add a background, follow a few usual suspects in his field, and add a couple more tweets. This will make his account look “normal” – and he’ll look more knowledgeable to boot.

Update: after writing a whiz-bang twitter article, I completely fogot to add a link to my own twitter account (! Duh…