Hey Milwaukee, You’re Doing it Wrong!

Milwaukee Public Library billboard

Milwaukee Public Library is running an interesting billboard campaign right now. See the image above – that’s the billboard – it’s being displayed on digital billboards “throughout Milwaukee County at no cost” (from their press release).

My three thoughts upon seeing this:

Thought #1: “Yikes! They’re showing their print book bias.”

Thought #2: Looks to me like the public library is telling Milwaukee social media users that they’re doing it wrong. In essence, they’re saying “reading books is better than what you’re doing.” It’s sort of a negative message.

Thought #3 (a bit more here): Two of the three messages don’t really make sense, and one seems format-specific. Here’s what I mean:

  • Putyourfaceinabook and 140 characters? try millions (book vs. Facebook/Twitter): these two don’t really work for me. Twitter and Facebook are online social communication tools; books are, well … things you tend to read by yourself. It’s an apples to oranges comparison. Reading a book is great – but not if I want to chat with a friend, or do some work, or, say, run a revolution in the middle east (all things that people do via Twitter and/or Facebook).
  • You Could Be Reading (book vs. Youtube): To me, this message makes the claim that one form of content is better than another – i.e., books are better than video-based content. Books certainly work well for some content, but a book isn’t always the best choice! For example, books aren’t the best choice when I want to watch the new Van Halen video, figure out how to install a storm door, or watch a full-length movie (all things I can easily do via Youtube).

I get that the billboards are meant to be tongue-in-cheek, and that many online types think they’re witty and clever. And I think books are wonderful – no problems there. But I also see a lot of libraries taking wistful looks into the past, rather than actively planning to navigate our emerging digital content future. To me, these billboards are looking into the past.

Things aren’t going to go back to the way they were, no matter how many times we tell people they should be reading a book instead of watching a Youtube video or hanging out on Facebook. Is this the message you want to send to your community? I’m not convinced it is.

Then again, I could be way off my rocker. What do YOU think about these billboards?

Update – Check out Will Manley’s post for a historical perspective on a very similar issue … with the same library, no less (ok, and I’m blushing a bit, too – thanks for the kind words, Will!).

Focus on Youtube – Summary and Why?

If you haven’t noticed, I’ve been writing and thinking about Youtube for awhile. Here’s a list of my recent Youtube posts:

Why have I been focused on Youtube? Well, a couple of reasons. One, I really needed to re-focus on Youtube a bit at work. Writing and thinking about this stuff really helps me figure out what I need to do next for my library’s Youtube account.

One more reason – Youtube is a social network, with subscribers, friends, content creators, comments, likes, and favorites. If you want friends, subscribers, comments … and more importantly, video viewers, you need to be there. You need to watch videos, leave comments, likes, favorites, share videos, etc. That gets you noticed by others in the Youtube community (and your local customers who use Youtube).

Try out some of my suggestions, and see if you can increase engagement in Youtube in 2012!

Community pic by Bigstock

Focus on Youtube – Use Annotations!

Youtube Annotations are cool. They’re an easy way to add in messages and links to a Youtube video without having to mess with fancy coding or weird additions within the video itself.

What are annotations? They are notes that can be placed within a video on Youtube. Annotations can contain links to other Youtube pages/videos/features or text.

Here’s a video I recently created (non-library video – it’s me telling the story of cracking my ankle. Pretty much all better now!). In the video, I use two annotations – check them out:

For libraries and other organizations, I can see three types of annotations being really useful:

  1. subscribe button – ask people to subscribe to your Youtube channel
  2. next/previous video – link to another video of yours – this keeps people watching your channel
  3. Text annotation – use it to ask people to like the video, leave a comment, or subscribe…

Why do this? Easy. It’s an easy thing to add in to a video, and has the potential to be another way to help you connect to your customers. Ask customers to take a simple specific action (remember those calls to action mentioned in a previous post?) like subscribe to your youtube channel, like your video, or leave a comment. Doing this helps you increase viewership, engagement, and subscribers to your Youtube channel … and therefore to the cool stuff your organization does, too.

video camera pic from Bigstock

Youtube – Calls to Action

next stepsStill reading the Youtube Creator Playbook … do you include a Call to Action in your videos?

Being successful in online video, especially in Youtube, includes being able to build community engagement and an audience (which is done through subscriptions to your Youtube account). There’s quite a lot of potential community engagement built right into Youtube. Things like comments, likes, favorites, sharing, and subscribing.

Not getting those? maybe you aren’t asking.

Which leads us to creating a Call to Action in your videos. You could also think of these as Next Steps. Basically, your goal should be to tell people watching the video what to do next – give them something to do (something that actually relates to your organization).

Here’s what Youtube suggests:

  • Decide what actions you want your viewers to take for each video.
  • Use Youtube annotations to ask, or have the host in the video ask for it (I’ll talk more about Youtube Annotations in a future video).
Two simple steps! Some Youtube-ish calls to action might include:
  • asking people to subscribe to your video channel
  • asking people to like or favorite the video
  • asking a question, and then asking them to answer it in the comments box
  • asking them to watch an older video (and providing a link to the video)

This works on your website, too. Embed your video in your website, then ask viewers to leave a comment on your organization’s blog. Or point out an organization-specific action, like checking out a book or registering for an event. You could include a link to the event in your blog post, on your website, or even in the Youtube description box.

Either way – don’t waste your time creating a video if you don’t have a next step or a call to action. Give your viewers at least one “what should I do next” instruction, and see what happens. They just might actually DO it.

So here’s YOUR next step – tell me what types of next steps might work well in a video for your library or organization in the comments. That’ll give readers a great list of ideas that they can use next time they create a video!

Next Steps pic from Bigstock