Author Archives: Tiffany McClary

About Tiffany McClary

Tiffany McClary is the Director of Communications, Marketing & Outreach for the New Jersey State Library. She coordinates marketing and public relations initiatives in order to enhance the reputation of the State Library, and promote the value of NJ libraries and the services and programs that they provide to residents.

Instagram or Snapchat: Which is Best for Marketing Your Public Library?

Social media marketing is one of the best ways for the public library to engage younger generations, but trying to be everywhere at once takes time and resources that many libraries don’t have. If capturing the attention of teens and young adults is one of your marketing goals, try focusing on just one social media channel. This approach can reduce the burden on resources and be highly effective – as long as you choose the right channel. 

But which one should you choose? Snapchat continues to grow in popularity, nipping at the heels of competitor Instagram. According to a semi-annual survey by Piper Jaffrey, 47% of teens say Snapchat is their preferred social media platform, up 12% from last year. One in four teens say they prefer Instagram.  

On the other hand, Instagram is still very popular with teens and Millennials, and it has a much larger footprint, with 400 million daily users compared to Snapchat’s 173 million, Recode reports.   

While both are visual platforms, with many of the same features, there are differences. Here’s what to know about each. 

  • Planned vs. Real-Time Posts: Instagram may appeal more to cautious public library marketers, who want to carefully curate their images. Tools such as Hootsuite will allow you to schedule Instagram posts in advance. By contrast, Snapchat emphasizes spur-of-the-moment, candid images, which may appeal more to marketers who have a greater level of comfort with social media. On the upside, content on Snapchat will disappear in 24 hours. 

 

  • Storytelling Feature: Both platforms have a “story” feature, which marketers can use to preview a library event, share “a day in the life,” or create a slideshow of library highlights. Snapchat pioneered this feature, but Instagram adopted it last August. Within five months of launch, the Story feature had reached 200 million Instagram users. Today, the feature has 250 million daily users compared to 166 million for Snapchat, according to marketing platform Domo. 

 

  • Geolocation: Each platform allows you to add your library’s location. On Instagram, geotags will store your latitude and longitude, and while most institutions will be named already, you can add your library if it doesn’t appear in the list. Geotags are searchable, which is valuable because it helps users discover your Instagram account. However, Snapchat approaches geolocation differently. It uses geofilters, which are fun, artistic overlays promoting your library. Geofilters for public spaces are created by artists and the community. You can submit your own here 

 

One good way to get a handle on which app is more popular in your community is to survey local teens and Millennials in your community. The results should help you narrow your choice and choose the one that will best help you reach your public library’s marketing goals.  

For more information about how teens and Millennials use both platforms, check out Domo’s infographic here. 

Is It Time to Reinvent Your Library Brand?

For most Americans, the enduring image of the public library is that of rows of books. Yet, the modern library is so much more than what’s on our shelves. Across the nation, public libraries have added new services and expanded their hours, and they are much more like community centers than simply reading rooms. 

Today, we offer meeting spaces, technology access, workshops, classes, help with job searches, and business research resources. All over the state of New Jersey, the public library is becoming the center of the community. 

In fact, the New York Times sums up our new role eloquently: “No longer just repositories for books, public libraries have reinvented themselves as one-stop community centers that aim to offer something for everyone. In so doing, they are reaffirming their role as an essential part of civic life in America by making themselves indispensable to new generations of patrons.”  

But, we have a major challenge: Not everyone knows about this renaissance in the library. In a survey conducted last year by the Pew Research Center, for example, 38% of Americans said they did not know if their library offered online career and job-related resources, even though 62% of libraries around the country do. 

If we want to attract more visitors to our libraries, our brands should reflect our new role. As we reinvent our spaces, we also need to update our brands to help everyone in our communities recognize and understand the full range of services we offer. 

But what does this mean, exactly? Branding efforts can be monumentally expensive, and unlike the big consumer brands, many libraries don’t have the resources to commit to such a big project. We’d rather focus our budgets on more services for the community. 

The good news is that there’s a lot we can do on our own, without a substantial budget. Here are just a few ideas for redefining your brand with limited resources. (Keep an eye out: We’ll cover many of these topics in detail in upcoming posts.) 

  • Survey your community and get their feedback about your brand. Tools like SurveyMonkey are easy to use and free. Be sure to gather perspectives of both users and non-users alike. 
  • Redefine your brand from the inside out. Work with your team to brainstorm and write a new mission, promise, and customer experience. 
  • Write a new brand story. Storytelling is a highly effective marketing strategy. Success stories – for example, how the library has helped a job seeker find work – are more likely to be shared widely and can help people better understand what you do. 
  • Ask your community to design a new logo. Launch a contest, as the Monmouth County Library did in 2014, to find a new design that better reflects the full range of services. 

Keep in mind that the most important aspect of any re-branding effort is involving the public. Be sure to gather feedback about your ideas before rolling out a revamped brand. Gaining buy-in from the community, board members, and staff will help your new look and message be a greater success. 

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4 Ways to Raise Awareness About Library Learning Programs

Libraries are centers of learning. We’re committed to constantly raising the bar, always finding new ways to serve the educational needs of all members of our communities. The sharing of knowledge, after all, is in our DNA.  

Yet, according to the 2016 Pew Research Center’s Libraries and Learning report, a significant share of respondents isn’t aware of the educational programs offered by U.S. public libraries.   

For example, although 90% of public libraries have e-book lending programs, nearly one in four respondents said they weren’t aware if their library offered them. Forty-seven percent said they weren’t aware if their library offered programs on starting a new business, even though 33% of libraries nationwide do. And while 62% of libraries offer online career or job resources, only 41% of survey respondents said they knew their library offered these materials. 

Such low levels of awareness point to a need for more marketing of these services. Fortunately, the Pew report includes additional data that can help libraries develop more effective awareness campaigns. 

Pew also broke down its findings by demographic, and these insights indicate the need for more targeted awareness campaigns. For example, those most likely to say they don’t know if their local libraries lend e-books are men, rural residents, and those without college degrees. And the data indicate “men, blacks, Hispanics, people living in households earning less than $30,000, and those whose education stopped with a high school diploma” are unaware their libraries have career-related resources. 

These insights about audiences are critically important. By pinpointing groups with low awareness, we can segment our audiences and design marketing activities to reach each group more effectively. Consider these steps to build a more targeted program. 

Start with research.

Try to gain a better understanding of the pain points and motivations of your target audience. While secondary research is a useful place to start, the most valuable –and accurate – information is gained by directly questioning your target audience. Interviews and surveys are low-cost and easy methods any library can use, and you may be surprised by what you learn. Often, direct feedback will challenge what we think we know. For example, some groups may tell you they don’t read the main newspaper in town. Instead, they may be more influenced by what they hear at religious or community gatherings.  

Advertising.

We don’t often think of incorporating advertising into our public library marketing campaigns because of its high cost. Traditional advertising, such as newspaper ads, billboards or television, is often out of reach for many library budgets. And while digital and social media advertising may be more affordable, it may not be particularly effective in reaching some groups. 

Low-income families, for example, may not have ready access to digital devices. In this case, a limited advertising campaign could have a high return on investment. During their work commute, members of this audience are likely to encounter bus stop or local billboard advertising more frequently than other types of media. Advertising in these places may have a greater impact – and be a better use of budget. 

Community outreach.

Culture plays an important role in influencing outcomes. In ethnic communities, work with influential community leaders to build grass roots momentum. Activities that generate interest and awareness include community events, public service announcements, and town halls. 

Local employers.

Create opportunities to partner with businesses in and near your community. Employers of all sizes value the opportunity to build workforce skills. Promote your services in break rooms or through information sessions in the workplace. 

 

The results of the Pew survey illustrate an important point about marketing: It’s not one size fits all. Marketing to different audiences requires unique strategies for each. By segmenting our audiences and designing messages and campaign activities specific to each, we’re more likely to be successful at raising awareness. 

If You Want to Save Time, Then Try IFTTT

How many times have you wondered: If only there was an easy way to… save email attachments, promote blog posts on Facebook, take notes in a meeting – or any number of tasks that take up your time. Well, I have good news! There is a tool to help you streamline or automate certain tasks. It’s called IFTTT (rhymes with “shift”), and it can increase your productivity.

IFTTT stands for “if this then that,” and it’s used to connect apps in a way that streamlines tasks. Its simple formulas are called Recipes, and they include two Ingredients: Triggers and Actions.

For example: 

If “this” (Trigger: Post an Instagram photo) then “that” (Action: Save photo to Dropbox). 

These Recipes are created by app developers and users alike. In fact, one of the attractions of IFTTT is that users can create their own Recipes and share them with other users, essentially crowd-sourcing productivity ideas.  

IFTTT Recipes run in the background, automatically saving your email attachments to Dropbox or Google Drive, tracking shipments, or turning your home lights on or off at certain times.  

While many of the activities relate to personal productivity, IFTTT offers plenty for streamlining work tasks. Here are seven that you’re certain to find worthwhile. 

1. Save Gmail attachments.

Whenever you receive a new email in Gmail with an attachment, it will be automatically saved to a folder in Google Drive or another drive you designate.

2. Share new blog posts to a Facebook Page.

Set up this Recipe, and every time you publish a new blog post on WordPress, it will be automatically shared to a Facebook Page. Other Recipes conduct the same function for other social media sites, including Twitter and Pinterest. 

3. Build a Twitter list from a specific hashtag.

This Recipe keeps a running list of who is talking about your event or campaign using a relevant hashtag. It’s particularly useful for engagement because it automatically tracks everyone who has shown an interest in what you’re doing. Another benefit is that it automates a tedious part of the process for reporting and measuring marketing activities.  

4. Create a Google Calendar view of your Buffer schedule.

For users of social media management tool, Buffer, this Recipe integrates your account with your Google calendar. With it, you don’t need to log into Buffer separately just to view upcoming posts. You schedule a post, and the Recipe adds a new event to your Google Calendar on the date and time the update is scheduled to go live.  

5. Transcribe voicemail to Evernote (with link to original audio).

We don’t always have the time to stop and listen to voicemail, but with this Recipe, your voicemail is transcribed to text and sent to Evernote, where you can read it. It’s especially useful if you’re in a meeting or a spot that makes it hard to play back audio messages. 

6. Automatically share your new videos to a Facebook Page.

This Recipe will help you to keep your communities in sync — when you upload a new public video the link will be posted on your Facebook Page.

7. Automatically create a meeting notes document in Evernote.

If you use Evernote as your notepad during meetings, this Recipe creates a new document for the meeting automatically, as soon as the event is scheduled in your calendar.   

These are just a few of the IFTTT Recipes that can streamline your daily activities and save you precious moments. It’s also just a sampling of what IFTTT can do. Check more out here: https://ifttt.com/search

If you don’t find the Recipe you need in its collection, you can simply build it yourself, which makes the time-saving possibilities nearly endless.

 

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The Internet of Things is Here: What It Means for Your Library

It’s incredible to think about how much our libraries have changed over the last two decades, thanks to the advancement of technology and the Web. But it’s becoming easier to see how public libraries will look different in the next few years as the Internet of Things (IoT) becomes a bigger part of our everyday lives. 

Already, Amazon is experimenting with a no-line, no-checkout store, and smart devices are available for everything from regulating thermostats, lighting, and even window blinds. These “things” connect to the Internet, enabling users to monitor and change settings from wherever they are or even to automate tasks. 

Smart devices like these are all but certain to change how our libraries operate, from book checkout to reaching under-served communities. In 2015, the OCLC informally polled 100 librarians about the changes the IoT might bring to libraries. Respondents had plenty of ideas.  

They foresee physical spaces that are easier for staff to manage, especially if rooms could self-regulate climate and availability. Inventory management would be streamlined, as books and other items hold more information about how they are being used. Smart books, gaming, augmented reality, and object-based learning were all cited as developments that create potential for new educational opportunities.  

Libraries already are integrating IoT technologies. For example, Hillsboro Public Library in Oregon introduced a self-service kiosk that is located in its community’s central plaza. Its stocked with new and popular books and movies, says ALA’s ilovelibraries blog. The library monitors the Book-O-Mat from its main branch just a few miles away. 

How can public library staff adapt their libraries to the coming IoT tsunami? Here are five ways to ride this technology wave. 

 

1. Stay ahead of IoT advancements 

Become the community resource for the IoT by staying ahead of new developments and challenges as much as possible. Follow technology resources such as TechCrunch and Fast Company, which track new initiatives in IT and across the business world. For information specific to libraries, the ALA’s Libraries of the Future blog focuses on how smart devices and IoT are implemented by your peers across the country.  

2. Develop training programs 

Artificial intelligence will create more jobs – about half a million – than it eliminates by 2020, analyst firm Gartner predicts. Just as they do today, public libraries will play an important role in preparing students for jobs of the future through workshops, classes, reference materials and ad hoc instruction. 

3. Play a role in building it  

As the experts in information and metadata, librarians will be called upon to help illuminate connections and improve the “smarts” of actual objects. They will provide the context and help make sense of layers of information.  

4. Think about how physical space and services can change 

As space, books and other items become fully networked, there will be amazing possibilities for new services and for re-imagining the library space. For example, physical space and artifacts can become more interactive, and the library collection may become more distributed or extended – as objects in one library connect to those in another. 

5. Keep privacy and security top of mind 

As with all things technology, IoT does raise some concerns, most notably around privacy and security. Public libraries will have to evaluate smart devices thoroughly to protect both employees and library users.   

 

Our imaginations have barely scratched the surface, and at this point, it’s still hard to grasp the extent to which the IoT will reshape our libraries. But one thing is certain: Fascinating developments are on the horizon. 

Who Are We? Defining the Public Library Brand

Branding isn’t relevant only in the corporate world. Even the smallest public library can benefit from a clearly defined brand. 

Branding helps people understand what you do, why you do it, how your “customers” benefit, and what sets you apart from your competition. Who you are – your identity – is rooted in the answers to these questions. It becomes the umbrella under which all your marketing campaigns are developed. 

But how can a public library define a strong brand? Gather your team and work together to answer the following questions.  

1. What is Our Mission? 

While largely aspirational, missions encapsulate the end goal of an organization. For example, Charity Water’s purpose is to bring clean and safe water to people in developing nations. An example of a public library mission might be “to educate our community.” Another option: Make technology freely accessible to every member of the community.  

2. What Is Our Promise to Library Users?  

Before customers interact with a business, they need to understand what’s in it for them (otherwise known in marketing circles as “WIIFM” – what’s in it for me). Essentially, it’s how a customer benefits. Insurance company Geico, for example, promises customers “15 minutes or less can save you 15% or more on car insurance.” Similarly, a public library could promise to be the “hub of our community.”  

3. What Kind of Customer Experience Do We Want to Provide? 

The customer experience is the embodiment of its promise. Many businesses distinguish themselves by the experiences they deliver their customers. Think about the way Apple describes its products compared to how Microsoft describes its services, or how different the IKEA shopping experience is from shopping at Nordstrom’s. For a public library, this means developing programming and resources that support your promise.    

4. What Do Users Expect from Our Public Library?  

What do you want your customers to believe about you? Fans of Pixar, the animation company, have come to expect only original stories from this studio, and that’s the reason they flock to theaters with every new release. One of the challenges for today’s public libraries is that customer perceptions of the library are rooted in old ideas: for example, the library is a place to borrow books. Yet, we know our libraries offer so much more. It’s such an incredible disconnect. Today’s library brands should aim to change this perception.  

Once you have a clear idea of what your brand is, the next step is to infuse it throughout your library: 

  • Educate your staff about how the brand aligns with the type of visitor experience you want to achieve. 
  • Encapsulate the idea into a tagline.  
  • Draft talking points they can use in discussion with visitors, donors and advocates.  

 5. What Makes Our Library Distinctive? 

One of the biggest challenges for any business is standing out in its industry. With more hundreds of community-focused organizations in New Jersey, how will your library be distinctive?  

A distinctive brand results from the combination of the factors described above: mission, promise, customer experience, and expectations. For many brands, this distinction is revealed through logos and taglines. Coca-Cola’s is a recognizable, world-wide brand because of its logo. Work with a designer to incorporate your brand concept into a distinctive library logo and implement this look across all of your marketing materials. 

A clearly defined and articulated brand will make it easier to raise awareness about events and activities as your community comes to associate your brand with your services. This instant recognition increases the likelihood they’ll open your emails, read your social posts, and attend your events. Branding may feel like a big project when you start it, but it’s one that will continue to pay off for many years. 

Getting It All Done: 7 Practical Tips for Public Library Bloggers

In my last blog post, I covered a few strategic questions you should consider before starting a public library blog. With your plan in place, you’re likely to have some more practical questions about writing and publishing posts.  

The following Q&A focuses on the production process. The answers will help you plan your editorial calendar and allocate resources to get it all done.  

1. Do I have to write it all myself? 

No! You can divide the work among your staff, asking each to write a post once every several weeks. It’s a great way to give everyone a chance to share his or her unique expertise. You can also invite local politicians, trustees, local authors, public educators, and others to contribute as guest bloggers. 

2. Is there an optimum length for a blog post?  

Most experts believe 500-700 words is a good length, but there is no real consensus. There are several SEO experts who recommend long-form content – more than 2,000 words – as the best length for search rankings and engagement. But the truth is really somewhere in-between. Your blog may need a mix of short and long-form content. Choose the length that works best for the topic, the audience, and you. However, keep in mind you do need to give Google something to work with, so at a minimum, aim for 300 words or more. 

3. How long should it take to write and publish a post? 

Depending upon how fast you write, a well-crafted post will take about three to five hours to draft, edit, format, publish, and promote.  

4. What are the advantages of referencing other blogs in my posts? 

It’s always a good idea to credit others when you use their work. In blogging, linking back to the original reference not only builds good will, but it makes other bloggers aware of your work. If they like your blog, they may reference it in the future. This introduces their readers to your blog, potentially increasing your readership. 

To reference, quote the source of the information, and embed the link in your text. 

5. Should I always include an image in my post? 

Yes, it’s very important to include images because visuals draw the reader’s attention. Research from BuzzSumo shows blog posts with an image once every 75-100 words received twice as many social media shares as articles with fewer images. On Facebook, posts with images get 2.3 times more interaction than those without. When you publish your post, use an image to promote it. 

Another benefit of images: Since we are a visual society, images increase our understanding of complex topics. Pictures, charts and infographics are very effective at conveying messages quickly, which is especially valuable as consumer attention spans shrink. 

6. How do I encourage readers to visit my other posts and pages? 

With each blog post, you can drive readers to other parts of your website by linking internally. This strategy keeps visitors on your website longer and also introduces them to other valuable content they might find useful. Embed links in your text to event registration pages, information about library collections, or older blog posts, for example. 

7. How do I get people to sign up for my email newsletter from my blog? 

There are dozens of newsletter plug-ins that will help you capture new subscribers. Some add a persistent subscription form on the sidebar of your blog or force a pop-up subscription form at regular intervals. According to SiteProNews, fewer than 30% of your website visitors will come back to your site unless a chance to subscribe is given to them. Thus, if you’ve set a goal to increase newsletter subscribers, installing one of these plug-ins is essential. 

As with many projects, getting started is the hard part. But once you have established your production process and worked out the kinks, you’ll find it will become part of your regular routine very quickly.  

 

Strategy Q&A: 7 Ideas to Kickstart Your Public Library Blog

A blog really is a small publication. Just like a magazine publisher, blog owners must have a content focus, a publishing process, and an understanding of how to “make money,” so to speak. (Businesses hope the blog will convert readers to buyers; libraries hope it will encourage more people to use library services, for example.)  

Behind every great blog is a strategy that defines all of the above. Whether you already have a blog or are just getting started, be sure to consider the following questions. They will help you refine your strategy so you can get as much out of your blog as you put into it. 

Do I need a blog? 

Not necessarily. If your target audiences don’t read blogs regularly, then blogging may be a low-priority tactic. 

But there are other advantages of regular blogging that make it worth considering: 

  • Google favors frequently updated websites. If your blog lives on your website, a steady stream of blog posts will help you rank higher in search results.   
  • Each time you publish new content and share it in social media, you are driving more traffic back to your website.  
  • A blog keeps your community informed and helps you build connections with target audiences. 

How will writing a blog help my library? 

Before you write your first post, decide what it should achieve for your library.  Are you trying to create awareness among a specific audience? Build your email list? Keep the community updated? Setting a clear goal will dictate design and content decisions and ensure consistency in execution. 

What do we want visitors to do after reading the blog? 

Think about what you want visitors to do after they finish reading a post. For example, blogs are a good way to drive web traffic to other parts of your website. A useful objective might be to increase page views of your job resources section. You can then tailor your content and internal linking strategies to achieve these results.  

How do I decide what to write about? 

Blog content depends upon the audience you’re trying to reach, and it should be very focused on what members of that audience want to read. For example, if keeping the community updated is a goal, your blog content should focus on the latest events, new additions to the collection, fundraising, and staff profiles. If you want to reach moms, your content should focus on story hours, tips for teaching kids to read, and the hottest new children’s books.  

How often should I blog? 

Frequently published blogs naturally get more traffic. But with limited time and resources, it may not be possible to commit to several posts a week. However, consistency is more important than quantity. Most blogs do very well by publishing once a week. Your audience will come to expect your post, and over time, you’ll build a loyal audience. 

Do I really need to hire a web developer to design my blog? 

Not necessarily, but it is a good idea to work with one to set it up properly. Still, there are plenty of free blogging platforms, including WordPress.com, SquareSpace, and Wix.com. This may be an easy way to get started, but keep in mind there are real SEO benefits to having your blog integrated into your library website. 

How do I know if my blog is successful? 

The simplest way to gauge success is by measuring the volume of web traffic to your blog. But that won’t necessarily tell you if you’ve met your marketing objective. Consider these metrics: an increase in community awareness, higher attendance at events, or more subscribers to your newsletter.  

In addition, Google Analytics provides insightful detail about readership, including number of views, how much time readers spend on the blog, and if they visit any registration pages after reading your posts. If you’re unfamiliar with Google Analytics, you can take the free Beginners Course at Google Analytics Academy to learn more. 

 

Working through the answers to each of the questions above will help you build a solid foundation and blogging strategy, before you ever write a word. 

How to Use Facebook Groups to Promote Your Library

A Facebook Page is one way for your public library to reach local audiences, but it’s not the only one. Facebook Groups are another option for promoting library news, blog posts and events.  

Groups, which are created around interests and managed by individuals (rather than Pages), are one of the most popular features on Facebook. There are more than one billion monthly active users of Facebook Groups, and members make more than 10 billion comments and “like” 25 billion posts or photos each month, according to Business Insider. 

There are two ways public libraries can take advantage of Facebook Groups. One option is to find and join local groups in your community and then share updates about the library with each one. Essentially, you’re going to where people gather, rather than hoping they come to you. This is extremely effective for building awareness, especially among community members who aren’t actively looking for information about the library. 

Another option is to start a group of your own. Your group could act as a forum to discuss any topic related to the library, from funding to collections and activities, or it could be more specific. For example, it could be used to bring together local parents who are interested in the summer reading program. 

If you’re not already familiar with Facebook Groups, you can become comfortable with how they work by joining a few that match your personal interests. Then, follow these seven tips to use them to promote your library.

1. Find & Join Local Groups 

Type your town’s name into Facebook’s search feature or use the Explore feature to find local groups. (You’ll find the Explore feature in the left navigation bar of your Facebook news feed.) There are groups covering dozens of topics and interests. You’ll find ones for local businesses, school alumni, employees of local corporations, and neighborhoods. There are groups for people interested in many different types of hobbies and passions, including sports, books, writing, health, exercise, and so much more. Choose a few that make sense for your library. For example, you may want to join neighborhood groups, but not ones for online yard sales.

2. You May Have to Ask to Join 

There are two types of Facebook Groups: closed and public. Anyone can join a public group, but closed groups are private, and you must ask to join. It’s important to keep in mind that Pages cannot join groups, only people. Be sure your own personal profile makes your connection to the group clear, but you can also message the administrator to explain why you want to join.

3. Abide by Group Rules 

Before you share anything with the group, be sure you understand its rules of engagement. Some groups discourage promotional posts, and violations can get you kicked out. If in doubt, you can always ask the administrator for clarification.

4. Share Library News and Events 

Whenever you publish a new blog post or promote a new event, share it with each of the groups you’ve joined. If your announcement fits the purpose of the group, you’re likely to be pleasantly surprised by members’ positive reactions to it. Be sure to customize your message to the group, telling them why they would be interested, and always upload a photo to accompany the post.  

5. Start Your Own Group 

Engagement, rather than awareness, is the biggest benefit of creating your own group. By creating a community around a specific topic, you’ll attract members sharing a common interest. As more people join, discussion levels will rise. Be sure to set rules about behavior so that people feel comfortable and safe whenever they comment. And keep in mind, you’ll have to do some promotion to attract people to join. Announce your group on your Facebook Page, in your email newsletter, on your website and at the library. 

6. Recycle Old Content 

Your own group is an excellent place to start a discussion around content you may have created and posted months or even years earlier. For example, just as you would on your Facebook page, share content for #ThrowbackThursday. 

7. Use Your Group Cover Photo to Promote Events 

Want to keep your event top of mind? Upload a specially designed cover photo to your group to promote your event. For example, details about the event could overlay a relevant photo. Images are powerful marketing tools, and a Facebook cover photo is valuable real estate, so it’s wise to take advantage.  

 

These are just a few of the ways you can use Facebook Groups to promote your public library. As you become more comfortable, you can implement polls, ask for feedback on library initiatives, and even use groups as an integral part of the event planning process. No matter how you use them, they are an invaluable tool for strengthening connections with your community.  

Pitching Your Library to the Media? 5 Mistakes to Avoid

Cultivating a reporter’s interest in a story about your public library can be challenging. For one thing, changes in the media industry have made it harder to be heard. There are fewer journalists, which means the remaining reporters, editors and producers receive many more pitches from local organizations than ever before. 

But those who pitch the media for a living know that both persistence and the ability to develop a good relationship with the journalist often pay off in coverage. Persistence can be simple: Keep following up. But developing a strong relationship with a reporter can be trickier.  

Those new to the pitching game are likely to make a few rookie mistakes. Fortunately, once you know what they are, they’re easy to avoid. The five that follow are common. Continue reading to learn how to turn these mistakes into winning strategies. 

 

1. Don’t send the same pitch to everyone on your media list.   

It takes time for journalists to review dozens of pitches and decide which is worth pursuing. That’s why they get frustrated when most of those pitches seem to willfully ignore the topics they typically cover. 

Do your research. Take the time to read or watch the latest stories the journalist has published. Does your story seem to fit their interests or their beat? For example, if the journalist typically covers charity events, there’s a very good chance she’ll be interested in your annual fundraiser. But if he or she primarily covers the statehouse, it’s unlikely you’ll get a call back about that story.

2. Don’t ignore the deadline.  

In the journalism world, deadlines are sacrosanct. A reporter can’t ask for an extension, so if the requested information doesn’t arrive before the cutoff, it likely won’t make it into the article. This simply may mean a missed opportunity, but it also could create negative consequences. When an article is missing key facts or your perspective, readers may arrive at inaccurate conclusions. 

When a reporter reaches out, your first question should be: “What’s your deadline?” Then, prioritize getting the answer quickly – ideally with a couple of hours to spare.

3. Provide more than just the facts. 

Along with covering more beats, journalists are often responsible for creating accompanying images or handling marketing tasks. Thus, many take their own photos and promote their own work on social media. 

When pitching a story, be sure to include additional materials to help the reporter put the story together. Providing the journalist with photos, images and charts will reduce the workload and streamline the process, making your story much more attractive to the journalist. 

 4. Don’t ask to review the article before publication. 

Even if you have a very good relationship with a journalist, it’s never a good idea to ask to review articles about your library before publication. Journalists highly value their independence, and – more importantly – they continuously strive for objectivity. If a reporter asks you to review a passage for accuracy, certainly be accommodating and helpful. But you risk damaging a relationship if you’re the one asking for a pre-publication copy.  

5. Invite them to your events.  

At times, it can seem risky to invite journalists to your events. Maybe you’re worried they will overhear complaints or learn unfavorable information about your library. 

But by not inviting them, you’re also missing an important opportunity to educate the media on who you are and what you do. Usually, there’s much more to gain by encouraging them to attend. 

Ultimately, avoiding these errors will help you establish and cultivate good working relationships with local journalists. If you succeed, not only will you have an easier time capturing the media’s attention, but you’ll also have a better chance to tell your side of the story if troubles do arise. 

 

7 Reasons You Should Be Using Evernote

Staying on top of all the moving parts in a public library marketing program is much more challenging today than ever before. There are all the pieces we’ve traditionally created and distributed: press releases, flyers and advertisements. But now we also have blog posts, Tweets, pins, emails, videos, images and so much more. How do you keep it all together?

One highly rated organizational tool is Evernote. It’s used by millions to organize research, run businesses, and keep track of personal hobbies and family activities.

The tool offers many features that librarians will love. Mobile, web and desktop applications are available, and you can move seamlessly among them. The tool’s basic organizational construct is a “notebook,” which functions as a filing system. Just as you would with folders on your desktop, you may create multiple notebooks – one for each project or activity. For example, you may have a blogging notebook, a summer reading campaign notebook, and a Makerspace notebook.

Notebooks, individual items, and anything you add to Evernote can be shared easily with your team. Not only does this enable collaboration but it can help you streamline your marketing process.

Let’s look at seven ways Evernote can help you stay organized and better manage your marketing program.

1) Keep track of ideas

At its core, Evernote is a note-taking tool. This is especially powerful for marketing because you can create checklists and editorial calendars, as well as capture, manage and track ideas for promotions – all in one place.

2) Find notes quickly

Of course, to manage the tasks mentioned above, you could use a standard word-processing program. Or a paper notebook. But Evernote has one feature that sets it apart: You can sort, tag and categorize your notes so that you can find them again quickly. The tagging capability is very flexible, allowing you to create a taxonomy that makes sense for you.

3) Clip web articles and pages

How often do you browse the Internet and find something that would make the basis of a good blog post? Or an image you’d like to share on social? And how often do you lose track of it? With Evernote Web Clipper installed on your browser, you can save part or all of a Web page into one of your notebooks with just a click. You can also add a reminder to each item you save, and you’ll be alerted when it’s time to post or work on it.

4) Eliminate little slips of paper

Another benefit is that this tool isn’t limited to digital items. You can also keep track of “in real life” paper notes and other documents. Let’s say library visitors are leaving hand-written notes in the suggestion box. Rather than have the notes sit in a stack on a staffer’s desk until someone has a chance to review and handle each request, you can add them to Evernote. Simply snap a picture with your smartphone camera and upload to the application.

5) Share with team

But what if you’d like to delegate some of the work for each of the notes you’ve created? Evernote allows you to easily share individual notes and entire notebooks with others, who can either view or edit, depending on the permissions you’ve set for each user. This can help to streamline the social media workload.

6) Record meetings and conversations

Another way Evernote aids collaboration is by helping you manage and track discussions and decisions in meetings. For example, you can type meeting notes into Evernote, share them in real-time with presentation mode, and share notes with the entire group later. If you’d rather focus on the discussion, there’s even an option to record the entire meeting and save it to Evernote.

7) Sync across devices

One of the best features of Evernote is that it is a centralized location for all of your notes, research and project information. In addition to Web and desktop versions, there are also mobile apps for iPhone, iPad and Android, which means you can access your notes from any device.

 

Although it’s flexible and fairly easy to use, Evernote is not without its challenges. After years of working in Word and email, users may find it difficult to incorporate a new piece of software into daily habits. Also, while the Basic version is free, some features – such as searching office documents or offline access – are only available if you upgrade to a paid version.

In addition, over the last year, the app has had its share of detractors. Critics weren’t fond of the new redesign, and the company made controversial changes to its privacy policy, which it later retracted. Competitors such as Bear, Microsoft OneNote, and Google Keep are becoming worthy alternatives.

Still, there’s a lot to like about this tool. With its ability to capture everything and categorize anything, Evernote can help to streamline your marketing initiatives and keep multiple campaigns organized and on track.

5 Apps to Streamline Public Library Marketing

There are always a lot of wheels in motion when marketing the public library. There are blog posts to write, social media to update, and event promotions to run. And it’s never just one campaign or activity. It’s many, and they’re all happening at once.

Public library marketing can be messy and complicated, but productivity and collaboration apps can change all that. While there are plenty of marketing-specific apps – for example, Hootsuite can update all of your social media at once – there are also apps to help with writing, time and project management.

The following five apps can streamline your marketing tasks, coordinate your team’s activities, and help you get more done in less time.

Scrivener (Writing program)

Although Scrivener was designed with book authors in mind, it also works beautifully for bloggers. The binder system of organization is very useful for managing and organizing your editorial calendar and for keeping all pieces of a blog post together, including images and links. You can pin ideas for future posts to the corkboard and then rearrange them by completion status or priority. And if you find staying focused is difficult with emails pinging your inbox, you can put Scrivener in composition mode for distraction-free writing. Bottom-line, it’s a highly flexible piece of software that can be customized to work the way you do. Read more about how writers are using it for blogging here and here.

Price: $44.99 for Mac, $40 for Windows and $19.99 for iOS

Asana (Project management)

Whether you have a staff of two or 50, coordinating and tracking projects can be a Herculean effort. Asana is a project management app that enables you to see at a glance the current status of a project, identify any potential bottlenecks, and assess the workload of each team member. Team members can comment directly on a task or project, and keeping those conversations together in one place for future reference is immensely useful. This tool greatly simplifies the task of project management.

Price: Free for teams up to 15. Note that the free version has limited functionality.

Slack (Team collaboration)

It’s no secret why everyone hates email. There’s too much of it, and there doesn’t seem to be a good way to organize it. Enter Slack, everyone’s new favorite communication tool. This is instant messaging on steroids: It allows team members to communicate in real time about multiple projects. Conversations are organized by channel, and can be archived and searched easily. So, if your library is putting together one event in March and another in June, you can create separate channels for each. It’s easy to keep tabs on what decisions are being made and why.

Price: Free for one team

Hours (Time tracking)

Wouldn’t it be great to know exactly how long a task really takes? Or if you or your team are spending more time on a project than you should? Once installed on your phone, the Hours app allows you to track the time you spend on each project with just a tap. Upgrade to the Pro subscription to use with teams. The reporting tool helps you identify and eliminate bottlenecks and streamline future projects.

 Price: Basic account is free; the Pro subscription is priced at $8 per user per month.

Pomodoro Time (Productivity)

The Pomodoro Method was developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s. The idea is to take frequent breaks to maximize your ability to focus. With the Pomodoro Time app, you can schedule working blocks interspersed with short breaks. Not only does it help you focus, but it also forces you to get up, move around or switch to another task every 25 minutes. After a five-minute break, you resume work on your project with a fresh eye.

Price: Free

Each of these apps can save you at least an hour or two a week, if not more, so they’re worth a try. And if any don’t appeal to you, there are plenty of other options in each category. Test a few out, and let me know which ones you love!