Are You Talking to Yourself?

We are exposed to 2,000-5,000 advertising messages every day. 10.5 million photos are uploaded to Facebook in one hour. 1,633 tweets are sent in ONE second. Yet, stuff like this gets posted on Facebook and Twitter every day…

“Come to Storytime tonight at 9 pm.”
“Our next book discussion is in the meeting room tomorrow at noon.”
“Support the Friends of the Library.”

It makes me want to scream. Or passive-aggressively un-follow or de-friend the offender. What is the goal of your social media strategy? This type of message is easy to post, but it’s not compelling, it’s not a conversation starter. It is simply pushing an advertising message.

It’s time to refocus. It’s not about talking AT your community; it’s about talking TO your community.

If your goal is to focus on tangible “sales” (i.e. driving website traffic or filling program seats), your social media strategy needs to create engagement and build followers. By creating content that people want to follow, those followers will eventually become your customers.

Want to start engaging with your community? Here are a few ideas to get your started…

  1. Seize the opportunity. Most popular tweet, ever? “Four more years” sent by Barack Obama’s team twenty minutes after he was re-elected. The big news from this year’s Super Bowl? Oreo’s power-outage “You can still dunk in the dark” tweet. Why? Both campaigns seized the moment. They sent out relevant messages, consistent with their brand.
  2. Make it fun. Glen Ellyn blends humor, pop culture and current events with info about library programs/services. Quirky, irrelevant and informative. It works. A birthday photo of our tech librarian with a singing Yoda telegram? People like it. A map of alternate parking during our parking lot construction? Not exactly engaging (but, let’s face it, sometimes necessary!).
  3. Think offline. Social media, by definition, is meant to be social. Look for ways to drive online interactions into personal interactions. For our One Book Two Villages program, we created YouTube video book review of Liar & Spy and shared it on social media. At this point, we had been promoting Liar & Spy with traditional marketing tactics for about a month with moderate success. Rebecca Stead, author of Liar & Spy, saw the tweet and joked that she would give one M&M to every person who checked out the book from our library. Seizing the opportunity, we ordered custom fun-size bags of M&Ms to attach to the library’s 58 copies of the book. We put a few pictures on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and, voilà! A new campaign was born: Check Out for Chocolate. Within a few days, all of the books were checked out (and haven’t been back on the shelves since). The online conversation generated buzz and became something for customers and staff to talk about offline!

Erin Maassen is the Head of Marketing at Winnetka-Northfield Public Library District

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2 Responses to Are You Talking to Yourself?

  1. Pingback: You Can’t Go Wrong With Chocolate! | Cheryl Becker

  2. What a great post! I LOVE M&M’s idea! I’d call that an attention-grabber, something out of the ordinary and unlike the stereotypical idea of the library. I almost feel that definition of “attention-grabber” is something that should be done every so often, if possible, and should be used as way for staff to engage with patrons, whether in person or in the virtual world.

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