The Internet and technology have made marketing tools and services much more affordable and accessible for marketing your public library. Not only are they easy to use, but they are often free or low-cost. They enable you to market your library quickly and widely, organize advocacy groups with ease, and converse with library patrons and fans around the clock, regardless of location.
Here are a few of my favorite tools:
- Promote Your Library. ConstantContact allows you to send email newsletters and announcements to anyone on your mailing list. Step-by-step instructions walk you through the creation of an email marketing campaign. Free, customizable email templates give your newsletter a professional, eye-catching look.
Cost: Free for email lists of up to 100 names; pricing for larger lists starts at $15 per month.
- Organize Your Advocates: Meetup.com brings together like-minded people who want to assemble around a cause or an interest. Its an excellent place to join or run a book club, or to find people interested in advocating for your library.
Cost: Free to join a group, prices start at $72 for a six-month subscription to start a group.
- Converse with your community: Hootsuite is a social media dashboard that helps you monitor, manage, and measure your social networks. Log in to Hootsuite, and you can view all of your networks on one screen. Its easier to keep track of what people are saying, and, with one click, you can update your status on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter all at once. Upgraded versions allow multiple team members per account, which means that your staff can tweet from your librarys account from every floor in the building.
Cost: Free for the basic version and five social media accounts; $5.99/month and up to add team members.
- Monitor news about your library: Google Alerts automatically emails you when news that interests you is published on the Web. Simply set up a query (e.g. New Jersey State Library), and enter your email address. Emails are sent only when news appears. Follow the tips for setting up alerts to eliminate poor matches.
- Learn more about Marketing and Social Media: There are many free web sites and blogs that discuss best practices, provide how-to tutorials, and suggest tips for improving results. MarketingProfs offers a wealth of information and articles. The free version will keep you busy, while the pro version, at $279 a year, offers access to webinars and case studies. A MarketingSherpa membership is $379 per year, but there is plenty of free content covering a wide variety of topics. Both sites are geared toward business, but the case studies will give you ideas, and how-to articles can be applied to public libraries. Finally, Mashable will keep you up-to-date on the latest in social media, plus there are special sections covering the how-tos of the top social