Author Archives: Julia Giantomasi

About Julia Giantomasi

I've had opportunities throughout my career to coordinate marketing and social media for live events and small businesses across various industries. I've enjoyed keeping up with the trends and using social media to not only promote quality services but create a sense of community. As the PR & Marketing Coordinator for the New Jersey State Library I can draw from these experiences in order to provide tips and best practices for libraries handling their own marketing and social media. I hope that I can be a resource to libraries across New Jersey as they engage with their communities.

How to Increase Instagram Engagement

Instagram engagement is a calculation that shows what percentage of your followers interact with your content. This accounts for likes, comments, saves, or shares on a particular post in relation to your overall reach. Although it’s sometimes overwhelming to always be considering social media metrics in your marketing efforts, engagement plays a big role in building your library’s Instagram community. If you keep a few of the following tactics in mind, you’ll be sure to have more engaged followers on one of the most popular social media platforms.

Story Stickers

When creating stories for your Instagram, utilizing the different stickers options will encourage viewers of your story to interact or magnify your reach to people who might not normally follow your content. Poll stickers, emoji sliders, questions or quizzes allow story viewers to reply or weigh in on the topic you’re posting about. Polls or emoji sliders are a fun way to get people to participate without having to take the time to type their own response. Once people vote, you can share the results on your story as well. Stickers like location, mention, or hashtag will magnify your story beyond your followers because stories can be found through those sticker tags. Another great way to use stickers is with the link option. If you recently posted a blog or want to share a link to your website, although Instagram doesn’t support hyperlinks in post captions, they do via stickers. Sharing a story with a link will make it easy for viewers to tap and visit that link.

Reels

Posting videos or Reels to Instagram is a huge opportunity for growth. The Reels feature has its own tab on the home feed navigation bar and makes these videos more likely to be discovered by people who don’t follow your account. Editing Reels in the Instagram app allows you to add stickers, create fun transitions, and use trending audio to make your videos stand out, which will of course increase your engagement. 

Shareable Quotes

Instagram users love to share quotes that resonate with them to their stories, and the more inspirational or relatable they are, the higher chance they’ll be shared. Creating a quick graphic of your favorite book or author quote in Canva could be a great way to post new content that will drive engagement. Another current trend is repurposing a tweet or a thread into an Instagram post. You can simply screenshot the text or put it into a Canva template for a more stylized look.

Carousel Posts

Carousel posts are a great way to break a lot of information down into bite-sized posts or graphics. For example, if you have a long infographic, try sectioning it off into multiple 1080 x 1080 pixels graphics so followers can slide through it in a carousel. Carousel posts allow you to share up to 10 pictures, videos, and text graphics all in one post. These types of posts often surface in users’ feeds more than once, which increases the opportunity for likes, comments, and shares.

Hashtags

Hashtags are more about casting a wider net with your reach, but reach and engagement typically go hand in hand. The more people you reach, the more chances for higher engagement! Hashtags do require a bit of legwork, so we suggest you do a quick refresher on the How to Hashtag Like A Pro crash course first. Once you have a handle on which hashtags are most relevant to your library’s content, start incorporating 5-10 per post.

All of these ideas are specific to growing engagement specifically on Instagram. However, a good tip to keep in mind when sharing content on any social media platform is to create a persona for your library and try to stay true to that persona. Personable content really resonates the most with social media users and will activate them to engage. They can tell when you’re not being genuine with the content that you’re sharing and that’s why it’s important to always listen to your audience. Post at the times they’re engaging with your content, note when particular content performs better than anticipated, and try to have fun with social media. Share behind the scenes videos on your stories, do an “AMA” (“Ask Me Anything”) with some of your staff members, share memes if they’re relevant. All for the sake of engaging with your followers!

Avoid These Video Marketing Mistakes!

Creating video content can be a powerful marketing tool for your library to engage with followers on social media. However, marketing with intention and really understanding what makes videos successful should always be taken into consideration. Luckily, we’ve gathered some common mistakes that are made in video marketing so that your team can avoid them and continue to connect with your patrons through thoughtful content.

Ignoring Trends

On video-first platforms like TikTok and Instagram, participating in viral challenges or trending sounds and topics can magnify content to an even broader audience. Using social listening and being engaged with these types of trends can make a difference in your marketing approach. Not every viral moment will apply to your message, but something as simple as choosing a popular song as the background music for your video could make a huge difference in the reach of your content. Don’t ignore these trends because your content could become stale without changing things up. By embracing trends that align with your library’s values, your videos will stay fresh and show that you’re connected to what’s happening on social media.

Not Understanding Audience

At this point you must know the importance of your audience, as we emphasize it in each one of our marketing tips blogs! It can sometimes be easy to get caught up in brainstorms and curating the content that you want to put out there without stopping to think who you’re making it for. Libraries are so connected with their communities and their patrons, so it should come naturally to picture who you’re talking to with your marketing efforts. Always keep that in mind and try to understand the interests, preferences, and frustrations of your audience when creating. And as always, be aware that each platform caters to different demographics. Make sure you’re using the right ones to reach your target audience!

Dismissing Analytics

Want to know if something you’ve posted is successful? Check out the analytics! Posting without reflecting on reach, likes, comments, and shares is a good way to guarantee you won’t learn anything about your marketing efforts. Finding out if something did well or fell flat will help you realize what your audience wants. By dismissing these metrics, you’ll end up wasting precious time and resources on content that is missing the mark, and you will lose opportunities to improve and retain engagement. By regularly monitoring analytics and adjusting your approach to video marketing, you’ll see a return on the investment of your efforts.

Not Telling a Story

Avoid falling into the trap of flashy videos and graphics, and remember the purest form of connection is storytelling. Stories are a key component of communication and are most likely to leave followers with a feeling of connection and a lasting impact. Even though videos should be kept short, it can form a compelling narrative in a way that still photos or graphics cannot. Try to dig deeper when forming an idea for a video and find ways to include storytelling and relatability that will resonate with your patrons.

Incorrect Video Format

The general population is consuming everything they need or want to know through a smartphone these days. Having a video that is incorrectly formatted for mobile viewing can have a negative impact on your views. Very few people have the patience or attention span for slow-loading videos or cluttered screens due to bad formatting. If you’re taking the time to create a video, always make sure it’s in the right format for whichever platform you’ll be posting to and that it’s optimized for mobile viewing. Create attention-grabbing thumbnails to get people to press play, and include captions for those on the go who want to watch without sound. Keep this guide to social media video specs handy to refer back to before posting a video and it should be smooth sailing to avoid the pitfalls of posting incorrect formats!

Best Types of Social Media Content for 2024!

It’s that time again where the year is winding down and we’re thinking ahead and making plans for the new year. If you’re always looking for ways to keep your social media content fresh or incorporate something new into your digital marketing plan, now’s a great time to reassess! Keep reading to see what types of social media content are most popular.

Educational

As libraries in New Jersey, educational content should come naturally to us. This type covers how-to guides, insider tips, and checklists. Sharing advice to your patrons or clarifying complex processes so they understand it better are both great ways to use your expertise on social media. This could mean giving a step-by-step tutorial on how to research a topic in a database or explaining how your library can provide wellness support. Either way, librarians are full of knowledge and sharing that knowledge via social media is always a good idea for content.

Visual

As we’ve said many times before on this blog, we live in a visual world for social media with the most engaging posts being videos or images. Eye-catching visuals are what stop followers from scrolling through to see what your post is all about. But visual doesn’t have to mean just video content or photography, it could also mean graphics, infographics with pertinent information, memes or GIFs. Have fun with exploring the different ways your message can be relayed visually. It can be humorous, personal, or just straightforward facts presented in a visually pleasing way. 

Interactive

Got an audience who likes to participate? Give them content they can engage with. Post polls or surveys on relevant topics to get their feedback. Do a live stream where there’s a Q&A portion. Host a webinar where participants can interact with the speaker. You could even hold a contest with a giveaway. Find out what makes your followers excited and create content they can comment on. Not only will this involve your patrons, but increased engagement will maximize your social media reach too!

Storytelling

Another theme libraries are too familiar with! Share success stories, employee spotlights, or a look behind the scenes. Libraries often have rich histories and are pillars in a community, which gives you an opportunity to share the origin story of your library that people might not know. Using storytelling as a tool for sharing content can make what you post more personable and align with your library’s mission statement and values. You can also share your patrons’ stories (with permission of course) to show through their perspective how they appreciate and utilize your library.

Explore each of these types of social media content—mix and match themes and see what resonates most with your following to know what to hone in on when you’re planning your digital marketing strategy for the new year!

Mixing Old School Tactics with New School Trends

Through advanced virtual meeting technology, email, and social media marketing, there are a number of ways to get in front of your patrons. These innovations seem to have pushed former points of contact like mail or phone into a relic of the past. But why can’t we use both? It’s important to keep moving forward and be aware of marketing trends and best practices, but it’s really all about finding what works with your community. Not everyone is on social media and sometimes you don’t have every email address you need. Mixing traditional forms of outreach with newer technology trends can sometimes create the perfect recipe for success.

Snail Mail Campaign

If your library is looking to get a message in front of a wide audience of varying age demographics, then mailers might be the best option for you. Hear us out…it may be referred to as “snail mail” but it can be effective in piquing interest and directing people to your website or social media for more information. This classic marketing tactic also combats any digital inequities that there may be in your surrounding communities. You can reach patrons who might not have access to WIFI or smart devices, especially about the services your library offers to create digital equity for all!

Here’s how to get started. Make sure you have a mailing list for the patrons or future patrons you’re looking to target. As with any marketing or outreach effort, having a plan and a specific audience will yield the best results. Then find a way to present your information as clearly and succinctly as possible. Depending on your printing capabilities or budget, you can create one-pagers, infographics, brochures, lists, etc. Get creative with it and keep in mind what will connect with your audience.

Using traditional mail is not free, you will need to budget for postage expenses. You might want to consider a local partner that is already planning a mailing. They might allow you to slip a one-pager into their mail campaign, in exchange for the library providing some other service or cross promotion. Good old-fashioned bartering!

Include Digital Aspects

Creating the snail mail campaign is your “old school tactic.” You’ll probably find that you can’t include everything you’d like to share on a one-pager, and that’s when you’ll want to mix in some “new school trends.” Feel free to link to a webpage or even use a QR code for recipients to scan for further information. Of course, always list a phone number and contact information as an alternative to those who might not be able to navigate to your website or use a smartphone to scan a code. These links don’t have to lead to a page with more information, they can also bring people to a registration page, event page, etc. Whatever your call to action is, you can include it in your mailing campaign.

Measure Your Success

The hardest part about traditional marketing was analyzing the success of a campaign. Back in the pre-internet days, we didn’t always know how to gather data. How can you tell if someone opened and read your letter? That’s why combining both tactics is the best of both worlds. You’re sending more personalized outreach and you can see who is engaged by tracking QR scans, event registrations, or webpage visits. We know this because we just tried it for ourselves.

This past September, we sent a snail mail campaign to all K-12 schools in New Jersey. The contents of our campaign was a cover letter and brochures covering the statewide services that pertained specifically to this demographic. We included a webpage, QR code and promoted an upcoming Q&A webinar. In addition, we followed up via email to each school principal and sent a blast in the Department of Education’s monthly broadcast memo, utilizing both paper and electronic forms of communication for this campaign. We had over one hundred registrants for the virtual webinar, proving that our tactics were successful in getting our message to the right people. We encourage you to push the boundaries of library marketing and try out different techniques, because the right combination of communications makes all the difference.

How to Improve Website SEO

SEO is a three-letter acronym that encompasses so many things. Standing for “Search Engine Optimization,” it’s the process of improving your website to increase its visibility through a Google search. You can get as deep into SEO as you’re comfortable with, but it’s important to at least know the basics and always make tweaks to your website to get as many visitors as possible. Here’s a breakdown of the different areas of SEO and what to keep an eye out for when working on your site with tools that can help keep each section in check.

SEO Basics

There are a few basic things that are good to set up at the launch of your website, but can be added in on the back end later on as well. If you’re using a platform like WordPress, it’s a good idea to install an SEO plugin like Yoast. This add-on will unlock extra tools to help boost your website’s SEO with minimal effort from you. You’ll also want to make sure your website is indexed so all pages and content can be found. Lastly and equally as important, create and submit a sitemap for your website. This is a blueprint of your website that helps search engines find all of the different pages on your website. Speaking of all the different pages, keyword research is also important when creating content. In a previous blog, we detailed the strategy of keywords and tagging. Feel free to brush up on those tips to make sure search engines are picking up on the topics that summarize your content and get to your target audience. 

Technical SEO

A big factor in designing websites today is making sure it’s mobile-friendly since so many users are accessing your page on their phone. Whenever you’re creating pages or making changes, it’s always good to pull it up on your phone to see how it looks and if all the features work correctly on a mobile device. Other technical details to check are site loading speed, using “HTTPS” in the URL, and identifying broken links. Basically, anything that isn’t serving a purpose on your website should be fixed, like broken links or orphan pages disconnected from the rest. If anything is moving slowly or acting buggy, see if you can get to the bottom of why because all of this affects your SEO. Not sure how to quickly check these features? Use free tools like a Site Audit to check the “crawlability” of your website.

On-Page SEO and Content

When writing content for your website like news articles, blogs, or informational pages, keep in mind the readability of that content. This is another place where SEO plugins can help, scoring the readability of your words and making suggestions for improvement. Other free tools like Grammarly can provide SEO writing assistance. Make sure the images you use are optimized for SEO and include meta descriptions for each page. Your content should be organized and properly tagged and outdated content archived or updated to keep SEO simple. The good news is, if you’re ever overwhelmed with the complexities of SEO, a quick online search will result in a wealth of free tools that will audit pages and make suggestions for areas to focus on.

Ten Reasons to Visit Your Local Public Library

We recently wrapped up our statewide digital marketing campaign, “Life Happens @ Your Library.” This campaign was created because most people know that libraries are the place you visit to borrow books, but not everyone knows what libraries have to offer beyond books. We hope that you’ve been sharing the graphics and videos produced in that campaign, but if the written word is more your style, we’ve outlined below ten reasons to visit the library that you can highlight when promoting your public library to the surrounding community. In celebration of it being Library Card Sign-up Month, there’s no better time to share all of the benefits your library has to offer for free to library cardholders.

10. Wi-Fi and Tech

In areas where internet access is not equitable, your local public library offers free Wi-Fi and computers available for patron use. Many public libraries also have iPads and laptops for use onsite or to be checked out with your library card.

9. Events

Lots of local libraries plan a number of events each month. These events could include informational presentations on topics like finance and health, or they could be social events. Sometimes libraries coordinate visits or book signings with local authors. Often the library will have a regular book club, writing group, and crafting clubs for adults and children. Even if a library doesn’t have something planned, they typically have meeting spaces or rooms that can be reserved for meetings or groups of your own. Some libraries even have recording studios for musicians or podcasters. Check your local library’s event calendar to see what they have planned each month and what type of common spaces can be utilized.

8. Makerspaces

Makerspaces are increasingly popular in libraries and can be places where people learn to use technology and explore their creativity. The average makerspace is an area that has computers, 3-D printers, audio and video capture and editing tools, and traditional arts and crafts supplies. Many makerspaces have accessible resources such as tactile cards, sound puzzles, or seeing eye maps. Makerspaces encourage people to interact and create. They are awesome resources for entrepreneurs as well, giving free access to various types of machines, tools and equipment.

7. Borrowing A Variety of Things

As most people know, your library is full of books (or eBooks) of all genres and reading levels to borrow. What you might not be aware of are all of the unique items other than books that can be borrowed from the library. Most libraries have movies, music, magazines, and newspapers to be borrowed. Beyond that, your library could have seeds, gardening tools, cake pans, museum passes, board games, puzzles, toys, outdoor games, tools, musical instruments, telescopes, colorblind glasses, video production equipment, podcasting equipment, crocheting or knitting kits, and so much more. All you need is a library card and to inquire within your local public library to find out about what they have!

6. Job Search Assistance

Community members who are just starting out in their career or looking for a career change can use the public library’s databases to take compatibility or skill tests to find which career path suits them best. Then they can find job openings in their area with reference librarian support on how to perform an effective search. Assistance may also be available for resume writing, mock interviews, and networking skills. Need to improve your tech skills? Check with your local public library to find out how they can help you land that job!

5. Small Business Resources

Looking to strike out on your own and start a business? Already have a business, but you need help growing it? Public libraries can help level the playing field for entrepreneurs and small business owners who might not be able to afford the costly resources that large corporations readily have access to. State-funded electronic resources allow small business owners to access detailed information about consumers, industries and other businesses to conduct market research. These resources can also help you build your prospect lists, and research your competitors. Find readily available sample business plans, tax deduction and legal information for employers, as well as videos on business topics of interest. Reference librarians can offer additional support and some libraries are even patent and trademark resource centers for entrepreneurs. Check with your local public library to find out what business resources they offer.

4. Homework Help & Tutoring

Some libraries offer one-on-one tutoring for homework that can be accomplished in person or virtually. Get extra help with computer skills, SAT prep, and ESL assistance at the library.  If your library doesn’t have a designated tutor available, statewide databases can be utilized for SAT prep or topic-specific assistance. Explore www.jerseyclicks.org to see what resources are available to residents of New Jersey.

3. Social Work

More and more public libraries are hiring social workers that are available onsite by appointment or during designated time slots. Social workers are able to provide individualized client consultations for questions that require subject expertise. Patrons can turn to social workers for guidance on food stamps, health benefits, government subsidized internet access, and re-entry services after incarceration. Social workers can alleviate the stress that vulnerable populations face when dealing with bureaucratic hurdles and offer both compassion as well as specialized knowledge on these topics. Check with your local public library to find out if a social worker is available to assist you.

2. Digital Literacy

Many libraries have literacy labs and provide training and credentialing for adult residents. Online programs like Northstar Digital Literacy are available for public use as well as one-on-one support with library staff. Adults can ask specific questions or visit on a more regular basis to increase their comfort with using technology or the internet. Digital literacy areas covered by Northstar Digital Literacy include: Basic Computer Skills, Internet Basics, Using Email, Windows OS, Mac OS, Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint, Google Docs, Social Media, Career Search Skills, Accessing Telehealth Appointments, and Supporting K-12 Distance Learning.

1. Health Resources

The pandemic put a spotlight on inequities in the healthcare system, however libraries have always been on the front lines providing a wide range of support to their communities. Some libraries have made iPads available for patrons to borrow, that are fully loaded with apps for health resources and telehealth appointments. Some libraries have staff who are trained in administering and distributing Naloxone, the drug used to reverse an opioid overdose, should an incident occur onsite. Public libraries may have free kits including hand warmers and blankets for community members who don’t have a warm shelter. Others have health and wellness stations available with a variety of free items such as first aid kits, socks, rain ponchos, chapstick, and feminine products. And as always, library staff can provide further support in scheduling appointments or resources on getting covered through NJ’s official health insurance marketplace.

Tips for Consistently Engaging Facebook Content

Even amidst this era of change across social media platforms, the one constant has been Facebook. It may not be as “cool” as the others, but roughly 2 billion people still log into Facebook every day. That’s a pretty big audience for your library’s content and we’ve collected some tips to make sure you’re getting maximum engagement.

Understanding the Algorithm

Facebook’s news feed algorithm focuses on a few key elements. Users that interact with your library’s page by liking or commenting on posts will see more of your posts in their newsfeed. The idea is that those who show interest in your content are prioritized. This is why engagement is so important because those who regularly interact with your posts will continue to see more of them, plus the more engagement, the further a post reaches. Understanding when this audience is typically online will also play a factor. If your followers are typically liking posts at lunch time, catering future content to this timeframe will ensure they see it quickly – and hopefully they will like or comment, magnifying it to others. Lastly, the algorithm observes what user engagement habits are, and will optimize for their behaviors. Guessing how long a user might watch a video for, or if they’ll comment on a story, will play a factor in how the content is presented in the newsfeed. The algorithm is always evolving and more recently has been focused on video, so creating reels or short video clips will expand your page’s reach.

Get to the Point

The optimal length of a post is between 25 to 55 characters. Attention spans are short and getting to the point quickly is the best way to reach your audience. Also, in the mobile app, posts are shortened after 80 characters with a “see more” prompt to open the post up for all of the text. Since many people are typically viewing their newsfeed through the Facebook app, it’s good to have key details in the first sentence. Typically, you’re guiding someone to click a link for more information anyway, so the rest of the post doesn’t need to be wordy.

In addition to writing zippy copy, the posts that seem to have the most value for Facebook followers are images and videos. Scrolling can be fast-paced and posts are much more eye catching to stop the scroll when they’re unique graphics or a short-form video. Always keep in mind what type of content resonates most with your audience and consider if it can be relayed visually.

Maintain a Schedule

If you’re just starting to generate content for your Facebook page, aim for three posts per week and move up to daily posts from there. The best times to post according to Sprout Social is morning hours, Monday through Friday. Those who posted at 3am saw the highest number of engagements, possibly because not many other pages are posting at that time and the content was fresh at the top of user newsfeeds whenever they first log on in the morning. Keeping an eye on when your audience is typically engaging with your posts will also help determine the best timeframe. Once posts are out there, checking back at intervals throughout the day will help you stay on top of any follower engagement. You can quickly reply to comments or messages, which will boost the reach of that particular post.

Introducing Instagram Threads

As Twitter has undergone some changes over the past year, many social media users are looking for alternatives to use for short text-based posts geared toward public conversations. Introducing “Threads” created by Meta (Facebook & Instagram.) The app became available on July 5th and had over 10 million signups upon its launch. Although social media platforms – much like fashion trends – can come and go, we’ll share the basics of what Threads offers and you can check it out and decide for your library if it’s worth the switch from Twitter.

The app enables users to sign up straight from their Instagram accounts. In the top right corner of your Instagram app are three horizontal lines. Once you open that menu, you’ll see that there is an option for “Threads.” Clicking on that will download the Threads app and setting up a new account is intuitive. You can bring your profile photo, bio, link and followers over from the Instagram app, which eliminates any need to take time to build a new profile.

Threads then opens up to a scrollable feed of short-form text similar to the layout of Twitter. Your feed will consist of content from accounts you already follow plus creators suggested by the platform’s algorithm. Unlike Twitter, which only allows 280 characters and 4 photos or videos, Threads posts allow 500 characters and the ability to add up to 10 photos, and videos up to five minutes in length. Users can engage by liking, commenting, reposting, quoting and sharing each “thread” to their Instagram story or feed. Since Meta created Threads, it’s intended to work smoothly with both Instagram and Facebook for cross-platform sharing. The interface looks very similar to Instagram’s, so users of that app will be familiar with the same heart, comment, and share icons as well as the layout of the different page tabs.

In addition to moving the same username and followers over from Instagram, any accounts that your library has blocked on Instagram will be automatically blocked on Threads. Those who wish to limit interactions can choose in settings whether to allow replies from everyone, accounts they follow or even restrict comments altogether. The security settings will be similar to Instagram where users can report one another for violations and specific words or phrases can be hidden from a feed. Threads will also include features such as direct messaging, trending topics, and an “improved” search function.

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg hopes to see the Threads community grow to over one billion members. If your library is looking to move away from Twitter, it doesn’t hurt to give Threads a try and see if it’s the right fit for the content that you’d like to share.

Design Tips for Social Media Graphics

It’s not always feasible for a library to have a full-time graphic designer on staff, but with a little guidance, anyone can whip up a graphic for social media. Using free design tools like Canva is a great first step as there are templates available and each one is already sized to the correct social media format. Beyond the basics, we’ve gathered some creative tips for making your designs stand out on social media.

Use Texture

Textures can add a tactile quality to your designs and create a sense of depth. Visual texture is achieved through lines, shading, and use of color. Pre-set background options available through templates can create a paper, fabric, or metal look to your graphics and make them more interesting. Texture can also create a specific mood or feeling. There are many different ways to incorporate texture into a design that can be eye-catching to followers as they scroll their feeds.

The Rule of Thirds

The rule of thirds is a principle that divides a canvas into three even rows and three even columns. Used in photography and art, this rule creates a balanced design by placing important elements at the four central intersecting points. These are the “hot spots” where a person’s attention immediately lands. Here are some great examples of the rule of thirds used properly in designs.

Gradients

Using a gradient is a great way to jazz up a basic social media graphic. Having a subtle change in the hue of a background color can give an image depth without being overpowering. This could be a nice option for a graphic with a lot of text, to make it more visually interesting. On the other hand, gradients can also be used in a bold way, with bright colors, when you’re trying to make a statement.

Use Templates

Depending on the type of social media posts that you’re creating, if you’ve found one style that works best, there’s nothing wrong with reusing it multiple times. Look at it like you view your branding colors or guidelines, it can add a uniform element to your posting or tie themes together. You can also make small tweaks to the posts through images or coloring but keep the overall template the same. Not every post has to be a completely unique design and templates can be recycled if they’ve performed well.

Experiment

Using templates can make creating a graphic more efficient, especially when something needs to be posted on the fly, but don’t be afraid to try new designs in moments when you have more time to create. Test out different layouts, colors, and styles to see what resonates the most with your social media followers. We recently created graphics fit for Instagram Stories to promote the NJ State Library sessions at NJLA’s annual conference. Each session covered a different topic, so I used Canva to play around with different design elements to make each one unique. The examples of my designs below show that you don’t need to be a graphic designer to create pieces that will get the information you need out there in a visually pleasing way.

Busting Social Media Myths

There’s a lot of information out there about what best practices are for social media marketing. Among the good tips that are based on analytics, there is also misinformation that can stop small organizations that don’t have a dedicated marketing team from wanting to even bother with social media. Social media may be free, but behind the scenes, we know that it costs a lot of time and energy. We’re here to bust those social media myths and let you know that any effort your staff puts into your social media strategy will be worthwhile in the long run.

Myth #1: Be on every platform

There are so many social media platforms that cater to different user demographics, and new ones crop up all the time. Don’t feel like you need to master each platform. The best way to approach social media marketing is by truly knowing your audience. Once you know who you’re sharing your information and content with, that should narrow it down to which channels you use to deliver your library’s message. Focus only on the social media platforms that your audience consistently uses and interacts with. Even if that’s just one platform, narrowing your content to a place where your followers engage with it the most will be time well spent.

Myth #2: Post multiple times a day

It can be easy to get caught up in the high expectations for frequency of posts. Some organizations post multiple times a day, but that doesn’t mean they’re more successful at marketing on social media. It’s not about the frequency of posts, it’s about being consistent. Creating meaningful content that connects with your patrons is the priority for social media marketing. Another myth that’s out there is that using scheduling tools can hurt post performance. Scheduling tools are vital for small teams like those at public libraries. They’re a great time saver and way to plan out weeks or months of content to be ahead of the curve. When researched further, it was found that using a scheduling tool does not have an effect on engagement.

Myth #3: Images & Videos must be perfect

The best thing about social media is that looking authentic is more relatable than looking polished. Staying true to your organization’s brand standard is important, but beyond that, create the kind of content you enjoy and have the time to create. Not every image needs to be photoshopped and not every video needs to be professional. Patrons will connect with the creativity and the message more than how that message is packaged. This type of marketing is interactive and can be fun and engaging for your community, so don’t put pressure on making every post perfect. Give your staff room to try new things and see what clicks with the audience most. Feel free to check out easy tips on how to enhance your visual content, but there is no need to conform to the myth that every graphic needs to be flawless.

How To Be A Better Blogger

Even though short video form has become more popular in social media, that doesn’t mean traditional blogging has fallen by the wayside. People consume content based on their needs and lifestyle, and many prefer to scan quickly through a blog to pull out the key points that apply to them, rather than sit and watch a video. Those who enjoy reading (essentially all of your library patrons) still appreciate a well-written and informative blog post. Here’s how to make your blog the best that it can be, based on research collected from successful bloggers.

Write Longer Posts

It may seem counterintuitive in a digital world with waning attention spans, but blogs originally were meant to be more long-form writing online. The average blog post in 2022 was 1,376 words long. We’re not suggesting anyone write long posts just to meet a word count, but it seems as though the longer posts perform better because they’re well-written, well-researched, and informative to the audience they’re written for. Making an effort counts to readers, and the more time that is spent writing the content and the more thorough (longer) the content is, the better the blog will be. In the draft process, feel free to refer back to our blog about boosting traffic because incorporating the correct SEO keywords will also help make sure your hard work gets noticed by the right readers.

Include Resources

Your blog may be fueled by opinions or your library’s perspective on a particular topic, but what will make it more legitimate is citing other resources as backup. Journalists cite sources, and bloggers should cite the facts or figures that they’ve researched on the topic. We could sit here and blog about marketing tips every month just based on our own experiences, but what gives this blog credibility is our links to other marketing resources. It not only gives the reader more content to consider, but allows them to bookmark the resources that apply to them. This doesn’t mean just linking to outside articles, but also including quotes from other contributors or graphics created by third parties will enhance the quality of your blog. Your patrons seek out your perspective, but they’ll also learn more about the topic from a variety of sources if you include them all in one place on your blog.

Publish Frequently & Consistently

The age-old advice for successful marketing emphasizes frequency and consistency, and blogging is no different. Create a schedule that works best for your library and your staff. Keep in mind that the more content you put out there, the more chances you have to connect with your audience on topics that they care about. The average blogger posts weekly or monthly, but those that see the most success publish blogs multiple times a week. Anyone who is writing many blogs a week probably isn’t spending a lot of time crafting the perfect almost 2,000 word think-piece. That’s why it’s important to find the right balance between significantly researched blogs and frequency. Not every blog has to be a masterpiece, but try to find the right publishing schedule and stick to it so readers know when to expect new content. Once that is set, you can get creative and play around with the genres and formats of your blog—feel free to reference this guide to library blogs for inspiration and more tips!

Inspiration for Library Reels

Creating original short and snappy videos for social media is probably at the bottom of your library’s list of priorities on a day-to-day basis. It takes a lot of brain power to come up with an idea for a video, let alone have the resources or skillset to execute the plan. We understand that most libraries do not have a devoted marketing team, but we’re here to tell you, you don’t need one! Thankfully, the most popular videos on social media are the unpolished ones. You don’t need to be marketing professionals to jump in on the trends and have some fun. Need inspiration? Check out the following simple ideas for reels!

FAQ’s & How-To’s

Doing a Q&A or running through the most frequently asked questions on social media from your patrons is a great idea for a short video. This format makes it easier to show the answers to these questions by talking right to the camera or showing viewers how to do something in your library. If video still feels overwhelming, text and graphics can be used instead with music over it. Address topics like, upcoming events, how to access your databases, or how to reserve a study room. Multiple questions could be answered in one short video, you could even make a series out of this, or have themed Q&A sessions.

Timelapse

Audiences always respond to behind-the-scenes content and anything that shows a side of their library that they wouldn’t normally see. Why not try filming a time-lapse video of a process? Whether it be checking in new books, your daily routine at the library, or a kid’s craft project, it’s easy to just set up a phone (most smartphone cameras have a timelapse video mode) and let it fly! You can also use a free timelapse app to speed up regular videos that were already filmed. It’ll take a long activity and speed it up into a short video, perfect for the short attention spans of today’s digital world. Add some music along to the background and you’re good to go!

Photo Recap Slideshow

This is another fun workaround to actually filming or editing videos. Why not create a slideshow recap? If you took a bunch of pictures at story time or a community event that was held, put them all together with transitions and a soundtrack. You can add text for captions or descriptions of each photo. There are even apps that will allow you to time your photo montage to the beat of a song. In Instagram’s Reels Templates tool, you can drop your photos into a time-stamped template to match it with music.

Static Graphics

Images or graphics can easily be turned into a video clip by using another app like InShot and this is a great technique for making video content out of something you already have! A photo of a page of a book with a great passage, inspirational quote, even an informative tweet. Snap a photo and turn it into a clip. The photo stays static so people can read it the way they would a regular post, but you can add text or music to enhance the message. You can even record a voiceover reading or narration of the book excerpt. As with most content ideas, there’s always room to turn this into a regular series. Have every staff member read a page from their favorite book, or highlight a different genre every week. You could even create a challenge asking patrons to do the same with their favorite book quotes and create a hashtag for it!

There are so many ways to explore short-form video within your limitations as a busy library. Hopefully these ideas have inspired you to play around and learn the different features in Reels or TikTok to start creating some quick and easy videos for your library’s social media.