Author Archives: Gary Cooper

Snapshot Day 2014: Focus on Your Library

snapshotday_0With October just around the corner, there’s a lot to look forward to: Cool pleasant weather, colorful leaves, Halloween. But best of all, it’s the month when we measure the impact public libraries have on their communities during a typical day. The goal of this year’s Snapshot Day on October 1 is to highlight the role of libraries in communities across the state – but in addition to numbers, we’ll be using pictures and videos, too. And this year, you get to pick the day during the month that’s right for your Snapshot Day!

Throughout October, the New Jersey State Library and the NJ Library Association will lead efforts to help public libraries collect statistics, photographs, videos and quotes from their customers. The goal of this effort is to provide a snapshot of what happens in a typical day in the life of NJ libraries – from checking out books and helping children with homework, to helping residents find jobs, do their taxes, start their own businesses and much more.

We challenge NJ libraries to surprise the world with what we have to offer and what makes us unique — show that NJ Libraries are in the forefront and on the edge.

We have simplified Snapshot Day – there’s no form to fill out to participate! Just post to our Facebook page ( with the following hashtags: #SnapshotNJ #Librariesontheedge #Gatecount (for number of visitors). If you can’t post, send your pictures, videos and reports to Peggy Cadigan at (link sends e-mail).

What to Collect on Snapshot Day

The results of Snapshot Day will be used to promote public awareness of the benefit of public libraries. We’re encouraging libraries in every category – public, school, academic and special – to participate. Here are some things that you can do:

  • Plan a special event;
  • Take photos and video of library happenings;
  • Survey customers;
  • Collect statistics;
  • Invite your local media to attend your library’s events.

Get your social media accounts in order!

  1. Like the official NJ Snapshot Day Facebook page –
  2. Find and follow your federal and state legislators, your mayors, local press and local organizations – click for a list of
    NJ State legislators and NJ federal legislators
  3. If your library doesn’t have a social media presence, now is the time to start one. You’ll be surprised who starts following you! If you don’t remember how to upload photos and videos to social media sites, take a few minutes to review.

Reach out and advocate!

Much of what will make Snapshot Day a success for your library is reaching out and connecting with your community. Everything in NJ is local, use this opportunity to get feedback and make new connections that will help down the road.

Here are three things that you can to do this week in preparation for Snapshot Day:

1. Send out a media advisory now (Find a sample from ALA here)! If you’re planning something big for October 1st – or anytime that month – let the local media know so they can carry your story further.

2. Invite local stakeholders into the library on October 1st, even for a casual visit. Show them what the library has been up to and how the community is using it.

3. Make sure to talk about Snapshot Day with your staff. Front-line staffers are often the best source of information for what patrons are talking about and what’s going on in the community.

Last minute details!

We’re almost there! Don’t forget to take care of the last-minutes details so posting and promotion can run smoothly. Make sure to remind staff what’s going on, and post Snapshot Day fliers and comment cards at service desks around your library.

Here are three more last minute details you don’t want to forget:

  1. Do you have enough batteries for your camera or video camera?
  2. Print out photo releases, if required by your library.
  3. Do day-before press outreach – remind them about Snapshot Day and all the photo ops at your library!

.. and if you are going to participate, let us know by posting on our Snapshot Day Facebook page. We may surprise you and stop by for a visit!

15 Ideas for Library Blog Posts

blogThe public library blog offers an excellent way to keep your community updated about library events. Usually integrated with your website, the blog has long been the logical place for sharing details about upcoming art shows, fundraising events, and story times. But the blog offers even greater potential for educating your community and reaching specific types of library users.

Blog posts that examine local history or explain how to research the library databases can attract the attention of hard-to-reach audiences, especially teens and young adults. In fact, how-to and educational posts are immensely popular among younger audiences. Include more of this type of content and you’ll add depth to your library blog while increasing traffic to your website.

Remember that writing is only one way of presenting your topic. Take advantage of the Web’s ability to handle multimedia. Walk your readers through the steps of research using screen shots, allow viewers to come face-to-face with local artists by video, and invite listeners into an intimate discussion with community historians via podcasts.

For your inspiration, here are 15 ideas for blog posts.

Target Audience: Opportunity Seekers

1.      How to use market research databases to build a profile of your target audience

2.      How to build a list of sales prospects from library resources

3.      Top tips for writing a resume

Target Audience: Art, Music and Film Lovers

1.      Interview with a local artist

2.      A discussion of a famous director’s movie catalog

3.      A review of the library’s music collection

Target Audience: Community residents

1.      Dig into your community history and profile your town’s founder

2.      Local resources for residents, including sustainable food options, health services, classes and more

3.      The story behind a local landmark

Target Audience: Teens

1.      Tips for preparing for college tests

2.      Original writings by and for teens

3.      How to safely navigate social media

Target Audience: Book Lovers and Book Clubs

1.      A review of a poet’s body of work

2.      A discussion of dystopian worlds and the authors who create them

3.      A local twist on a recipe from a famous chef’s cookbook

Need more ideas? The blogs of public libraries around the Web offer some great examples. But some of the best inspiration will come from your own staff or library visitors. Don’t hesitate to ask!

5 Nonprofit Blogs Worth Following

non-profit-scholarships_0Whenever I’m looking for inspiration or good marketing ideas, I sometimes turn to blogs outside the public library space. I have my favorite business marketing blogs, of course, but sometimes I need a perspective that’s not as sales-focused. I find that nonprofit blogs, especially those that focus on marketing, provide some good food for thought and useful tips.

Here are five of my favorite nonprofit blogs, along with a couple of posts worth reading on each.

Beth’s Blog. Beth Kanter’s blog is perhaps the best-known nonprofit blog. She advises nonprofits on the best ways to use social media and relationship marketing to achieve their missions. She has written two books on the topic.

Worth Reading:

7 Tips for Using Quotes for Your Nonprofit’s Content Strategy

Balancing Personal and Organizational Brand: Networked Leadership

Nonprofit Tech for Good.  Run by Heather Mansfield, this blog covers technology, online communications, social media, mobile apps and more. She provides good, practical advice about how to use technology to get the most from your marketing initiatives.

Worth Reading:

10 Must-Have Skills for Nonprofit New Media Managers

HOW TO: Host a Tweet Chat for Your Nonprofit

NTEN Connect blog. This is the blog of the Nonprofit Technology organization, a membership organization for technology professionals. Although its content is much more technical, it covers IT topics relevant to marketing, including email, website development and design. It also tracks major technology trends, such as data and cloud technology.

Worth Reading:

Five Things to Do Now to Enhance Your Nonprofit’s Website

Modernizing Nonprofits with Cloud Technology for Good

NonProfit Marketing Blog. This blog is managed by Network for Good, a fundraising platform. The blog covers trends in nonprofit marketing and technology. I like this blog because it offers insight on trends both online and offline.

Worth Reading:

It’s Time to Retire the Reception

7 Strategies for Mobilizing Millennials

FrogLoop. The nonprofit marketing blog of the Care2 community, this resource also tracks the latest trends. I like it for its practical tips and useful tools, as well as frequent rundowns of current statistics.

Worth Reading:

Web Design Pitfalls to Avoid

Why Email Still Rules!

What nonprofit blogs do you find useful? I’m always interested in new resources, so please share in the comments below!

John Green and the Magic of Marketing to Teens

Marketing to teens

John Green is not simply an author of YA novels with an uncanny understanding of the teen set. Even before the wild success of The Fault in Our Stars (it sold out while he was still writing it), he was a YouTube sensation.

The vlogbrothers, the channel started by Green and his brother, Hank, is worth visiting. It’s a great example of relationship marketing and how it can be used to build a community around your brand.

Marketing a business wasn’t the brothers’ original objective when they began conversing via video blog in 2007. Initially, they simply wanted a way to communicate with each other more often. As their subscriber base grew, they took the time to build connections with their fans.

Today, they have much more than a marketing channel. They have a faithful and devoted community. A close examination of the Green brothers’ social media presence offers some great ideas about how to connect with teens and young adults.

Let’s take a closer look at the magic of the Green brothers and identify what public libraries can learn.

1.Use humor

It’s hard to miss the kinetic energy of a vlogbrothers video. While this might be enough on its own, it’s the comedy that sustains the motion and keeps your attention.

2.Be authentic

The Green brothers started their video blog as a conversation, with each brother passionately discussing his own area of interest. But they do it in such an approachable way that it feels like you’re getting advice from an older brother. This authenticity is what helped them develop a following of more than two million subscribers.

3.Speak the Language

The vlog brothers have taken the time to get know their audience. They know what teens like, what motivates them, and how they talk. This helps them create the kind of videos that teens want to watch, covering topics such as what to expect when you go to your first concert and how to manage middle school.

4.Create community

The brothers pay close attention to the fans, responding to questions and finding fun ways to build community. In fact, the community has developed its own lingo – fans are “nerdfighters” and tell each other DFTBA (“don’t forget to be awesome”).

5.Reward loyalty

John Green announced the publication of TFIOS on tumblr and twitter and promised fans he would sign all preordered copies of the book. John also treated regular viewers to video readings of the first chapters of the book before publication.

6.Show empathy

Green goes to extra lengths to understand his fans, particularly the kids sick with cancer. Several times a month he speaks personally, either by phone or Skype, to several cancer patients, according to the New Yorker magazine.

It’s no small effort to create a community like this, but keeping the profile of your audience in mind and finding ways to make connections is a good start. There’s no doubt that the Green brothers have built something very special in their community. It’s uplifting, educational, and inspirational – and, yes, a little bit magical.


How Libraries Can Benefit from the Ice Bucket Challenge

bucket challenge


By now, you’ve no doubt seen the Ice Bucket Challenge, the viral sensation that has raised more than $40 million in donations for the ALS Association. The challenge has spread rapidly in social media, and many nonprofit marketers are analyzing its success for clues to run their next giving campaign.

Although the ALS Association’s marketing team didn’t create the challenge, the organization has benefited greatly. Beyond the increase in donations, it has gained more than 739,000 new donors. Since many taking the challenge likely have donated through the ALSA website – which requires an email address – the organization undoubtedly has expanded its email list.

Tens of thousands of user-generated videos, news clips and articles also have helped boost awareness about the disease. The challenge has been widely covered by media outlets as diverse as the New York Times, CNN, the Golf Channel, Just Jared, and Vanity Fair.

The Ice Bucket Challenge was successful because it was both social and personal. It was simple enough for anyone to participate, and everyone was encouraged to give it a try once tagged by family and friends.

Public library marketers can borrow a few ideas from the challenge for their own marketing and advocacy efforts. Replicating the Ice Bucket Challenge exactly may not work, given that it’s now so closely associated with ALS. However, there are plenty of other ideas that could work for public libraries while bringing local communities together for a cause. Some ideas include:

  • A library-sponsored scavenger hunt with a video-sharing component.
  • Local residents reading tongue-twisting passages from a book.
  • Asking library visitors to share a video on what the library means to them.

Of course, the magic of the Ice Bucket Challenge is in the craziness of the act. Who would take such a silly dare? If you want to recreate the success, then you’ll need an equally silly – but totally unexpected – idea. Just make sure it’s harmless and fun.

Here are three more reasons the Ice Bucket Challenge works. Don’t forget to include them in your plans.

  • Personalize. Ask participants to challenge friends and family by naming them in their video and tagging them. This ensured the Ice Bucket Challenge reached an ever-growing audience.
  • Simplify. Minimize the number of steps in your challenge, and keep the rules simple.
  • Aim for funny. Humor sells on the Internet. The more laughable the moment, the more likely people are to share with others.


How to Gain an Edge in Facebook

Some Facebook friends seem to be more prolific than others on Facebook, constantly updating their status and starting conversations around the social network. While it could be true that they’re just social butterflies, it is more likely that it just seems so from where you – personally – sit.
That’s because Facebook uses an algorithm to customize your news feed to your interests.

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