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.

The Data-Driven Public Library: Marketing Science Meets Art

Did you know that data about your community can help you get more funding for your public library? Or that it can help improve email open rates?  

Marketing is driven as much by data as it is creative. To improve our performance as public library marketers, we have to be adept at both. Just as data-driven marketing has moved front and center for corporate marketing professionals, so it must take a central role in our marketing efforts.  

Of course, we’re no stranger to data and analytics. It drives many of our decisions, from what programs to run to what books to order. But there’s another side to data: It can tell us which target audience will be most receptive to messages as well as which platforms are performing best. But that’s not all.  

One benefit of a data-driven approach is that it can be used to refine audiences so that we target the right people with the right messages in the right places. For example, you might think the best place to promote an event for teens is on Facebook, but a review of your data could tell a different story. Perhaps the teens in your area interact more with your weekly newsletter. 

These insights can help you develop a more precise targeting approach. This is a big deal for public libraries, which often have limited resources – both people and budgets – for marketing. By focusing on high-performing activities, you can eliminate anything that’s not working. After all, why spend time on something that’s not generating results?  

For example, an analysis of Facebook engagement statistics will help you identify the posts that get the most likes and shares. This data is instructive because it hones your approach to creating content. 

Likewise, scrutinizing a few key data points about your website on Google Analytics can reveal much about your site’s performance, including which blog posts get the most engagement, how visitors find your website and the path visitors take.  

If you’re already using data to improve your social media posts or drive traffic to your websites, here are a few other surprising ways you can put data to use to improve the marketing efficiency. 

Content Marketing: Tell Relevant Stories 

It’s important to note that there are many sources of data available to the library, so it’s critical to think beyond Facebook statistics, visitor data and website analytics. 

Two sources of data to consider are demographics and library card usage data.  At the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, lead marketer Angela Hursh uses both to guide the stories she tells about the library as part of her content marketing efforts, according to the Content Marketing Institute. Each local branch of the library has a distinct personality, so Hursh uses demographic data to create content specific to each one.  

Most interestingly, she also uses library card usage data to create behavior-based marketing personas, which she then uses to create targeted email marketing messages. As a result, subscribers receive messages relevant to them, which in turn raises the open and click-through rates.  

Programming: Have a Greater Impact  

Data also inform how public libraries can allocate resources and determines what programming to develop. For example, if a large percentage of the population can’t easily get to the library, the library must find a way to get to them. So, community outreach programs for one branch might be more extensive than those for another location. 

Libraries can also use data from programming to make adjustments. Rather than focus only on outputs, such as how many people showed up for events, public library staff should focus on outcomes. For example, what impact has your computer literacy program had on increasing participant’s level of comfort with technology? An analysis of the data can reveal areas of the programming that can be improved. 

Advocacy: Getting to Yes 

Data is also a powerful tool for advocacy efforts. In 2012, Ohio’s Wadsworth Public Library (WPL) used insights from voter registration data to get out the vote in support of library funding. The marketing team compared the voter data to its patron information and used the analysis to target neighborhoods with high concentrations of library users. A door-to-door campaign combined with signage and direct mail in these neighborhoods worked. The levy passed with 55.6 percent of voters in favor, according to Library Journal.  

Public libraries have numerous sources of data available to them. Getting it isn’t all that difficult – you either have it already in-house (usage data), acquire it from external sources (census data, Pew research on libraries) or purchase it (Gale Analytics on Demand). However, understanding how to analyze the data you have and what to do with the insights you uncover can be both overwhelming and challenging. We’ll cover both topics in future posts about data sources and insights. 

Thinking of Using Video Marketing in 2018? Here’s What You Need to Know [Infographic]

Everyone is jumping on the video marketing bandwagon these days, and it’s no surprise why. Video is wildly popular. For example, there are a billion users on YouTube – about one-third of all Internet users – and they’re watching 500 million hours of video each day. 

But is it really effective for your marketing efforts? What’s the best way to create and use video in 2018? 

Answers to these questions and more are in the infographic below, which was created by BreadnBeyond. 


The State of Video Marketing in 2018 [INFOGRAPHIC]
Courtesy of: Breadnbeyond

Drama in the Public Library: 8 Ideas for Facebook Video

Content is the main driver of interest in your public library Facebook page. You may know already that images create more shares and likes than text or link posts. But did you know that video is even more popular than images? According to research by Locowise, video has the highest reach and level of engagement compared to any other type of content. 

That means public libraries can really boost engagement on their Facebook page by curating, creating, and streaming video to their page. Here are eight ideas for developing video content that engages your fans and attracts new followers. 

1. Tell stories

Every library has multiple stories it can tell via video. Consider showing what happens behind the scenes. For example, record your staff preparing for an event or the reference librarian at work. On the Facebook Group Library Social, Jennifer E Burke points out that “good library marketing videos don’t have to feature anyone on-camera, anyone with a book, and text + pics (even stock pics) can be powerful and effective videos.”  

2. Playful memes

Consider putting together a funny scenario related to day-to-day library activities, such as getting a library card (see the video above) or what happens in the library after it closes. (See this cute example here).  

3. Author videos

Many authors now create “book trailers” for their new releases. Consider curating them on your Facebook page. Or, interview local authors not only about their latest book, but also about their writing habits and their favorite things, including places to write, music to write to, books, authors, and movies.  

4. Events

Live streaming video is another option for public library marketing on Facebook. In a recent study, Livestream and New York Magazine found that 82% of consumers prefer live video to other types of social posts. Live streaming is perfect for events, where you can broadcast speakers, music, and other performances. Facebook offers some tips for producing a successful live stream here. 

5. Book reviews

Use video to record book reviews and recommendations. One option is to create a list of the top recommended books in a single category or for one of your target audience segments, such as moms or teens. 

6. Children’s storytime

Move beyond the circle by recording your children’s librarian reading the latest book for storytime. This allows even kids who are stuck home sick in bed to enjoy a story or two. 

7. Exhibits

Have you just curated a new art show or book exhibit? Promote it with video. (Tip: This is also a great topic for a behind-the-scenes video!) 

8. News show

For those who harbor an inner Katie Couric, you can update your community about all the latest library events and announcements in your own weekly news show. You can stream it live, prerecord it and post later, include just one person reading the latest updates, or incorporate a live interview. It can be short – or as long as 20 minutes.  


The great thing about video is that it’s much easier to record today than it was in the past. All you need is a smartphone and a great idea! 

5 TED Talks that Help Public Library Advocates Influence and Inspire

Whether it’s at formal, high-stakes events, at board meetings, or in one-to-one conversation, you’ll have numerous opportunities throughout the year to advocate for your public library.   

But getting others to see our point of view or buy into your vision isn’t always easy. How can you get better at discussing your talking points and influencing others? Here are five TED Talks that will help you deliver an idea with greater impact. 

Focus on One Major Idea 

“Your number one task as a speaker is to transfer into your listeners’ minds an extraordinary gift – a strange and beautiful object that we call an idea.” – Chris Anderson 

Chris Anderson is the curator of TED and has listened to thousands of talks. He argues there is a secret to what makes TED Talks so successful. You must build an idea inside the minds of your audience members – and he offers four guidelines to help. 


Cultivate Your Voice 

“You have an amazing toolbox.  This instrument is incredible,  and yet this is a toolbox that very few people have ever opened.” – Julian Treasure 

Julian Treasure, is a sound expert who has advised businesses on how to design sound in their physical spaces and communication. In his talk, “How to Speak So That People Want to Listen,” he focuses on the human voice and how we can use it to get others to listen.  As he points out, it’s not just what we say but how we say it. 



Listen First to Understand 

“You have to listen to one another.  Stephen Covey said it very beautifully.  He said, ‘Most of us don’t listen with the intent to understand.  We listen with the intent to reply.’” – Celeste Headlee 

If you’re preparing for a conversation with someone who you need to persuade, whose viewpoint you suspect may be diametrically opposed to yours, you may be tempted to ready the rebuttals. But as Celeste Headlee, who has spent decades interviewing others as a radio host, points out, when we aren’t listening to each other, we’re less likely to find compromise. In this talk, she shares 10 ways we can have better conversations.  


Connect to Moral Values 

If you want to persuade someone on some policy,  it’s helpful to connect that policy to their underlying moral values. – Robb Willer 

So many of us are sick of the vehement disagreements over politics and wish we could find more common ground. For public library directors and their staffs, this isn’t simply an academic exercise. To cultivate more support for our libraries, we need to find ways to connect and help others understand.  

Robb Willer is a social psychologist whose research on moral values illuminates the way they can be used to bring people together. The key, he says, is moral reframing, that is, connect your desired outcome to your listener’s underlying moral values. 


Start with Why 

People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.  If you talk about what you believe, you will attract those who believe what you believe.” – Simon Sinek 

In a talk that has been viewed more than 36 million times, Simon Sinek explains how great leaders and organizations inspire others to take action. It all starts with telling others why you do what you do. 



Encouraging Your Audience to take the Next Step: Call-to-Actions

Every set of marketing goals involves one core idea: Encouraging your target audiences to do what you ask. After all, to reach your goals and show results, visitors must come into your library, people have to register for workshops and events, and sponsors must support major initiatives. 

That’s why the most critical link between your marketing campaign and your marketing goals is the call to action, or CTA. 

CTAs invite the reader or viewer to take the next step. This might be signing up for your newsletter or downloading a resource guide. Without a call to action, there’s a strong likelihood your target audience will not move further into the “sales funnel,” as business marketers say.  

There’s plenty of proof that CTAs have a substantial impact on results. For example, one 2015 study showed that emails with a single CTA increased clicks by 371%.  Another found that adding CTAs to your Facebook page increased click-through rate by 285%.  Over the past three years, I would imagine that these numbers have increased.

Omitting CTAs from your marketing efforts is an obvious missed opportunity. But if you’re incorporating them into your marketing and not seeing these kinds of results, here are eight tips for increasing their effectiveness. 

1. Make them stand out.

Good design is vital for CTAs, which should “pop on the page.” Brightly colored buttons that stand in contrast to the page background are hard for readers to overlook. 

2. Keep it simple and clear.

Help readers understand exactly what they should do next, but keep it short and to the point. 

3. Use action-oriented words.

Some of the best for libraries include: Join, Register, Build, Start, Learn, Discover, and Find. You can find more examples here 

4. Be personal.

Using pronouns such as “you” or “my” is more conversational and less formal. This change in tone is highly effective. SproutSocial points out that when the reader feels you’re speaking directly to him, the conversion rate increases by 42% over generic wording. 

5. Create urgency.

We’ve all experienced this when interacting with marketing. When we think a deal or special is about to end soon, we act immediately to take advantage. This works with library marketing as well. For example, if you’re promoting an event, phrases such as: “Register Now! This event sold out quickly last year!” can increase registrations.  

6. Add to every communication.

CTAs belong on every piece of marketing, including your website, emails and flyers. Marketers often overlook offline opportunities, such as presentations and webinars. For example,  you can add a CTA asking attendees to sign up for the library newsletter into your slide presentation. 

7. Embed into social posts.

Marketers regularly include CTAs on social media advertising to drive readers to landing pages. But CTAs are also effective on organic posts. For example, we recently promoted one of our special events on Facebook and we included the CTA, “Learn more here,” which linked to details on our website. 


8. Don’t forget video.

According to YouTube, the service reaches more 18-49 year olds than any cable network in the US. In fact, the average person spends 140 minutes a day watching video on the internet, Business Insider reports. Thus, video is a highly attractive medium for any marketing program. But to make it truly effective, you must be sure to add CTAs to any video you create. 


These tips should help you create more effective CTAs that help you reach your marketing goals.  

I’m going to end on a call to action of my own: Sign up today for our NJSL Direct newsletter to get more marketing tips – direct to your inbox! 

When Marketing Your Public Library, Encourage Talk

When consumers share information about brands and products they love in social settings, those recommendations often lead to sales. A recent study by Engagement Labs showed that social media conversation is “much different from what people are saying in private conversations with friends and family.” Thus, these real-life conversations are just as important as the ones happening on social media.  

This is no less true for nonprofits and public libraries than it is for major brands. As marketers, we should take steps to cultivate real-world conversations as much as we tend to our social media programs. 

How can you get members of your community talking and sharing news about your library with friends, family and co-workers? Turn to traditional marketing activities to generate excitement about new initiatives or garner support at budget time. Here are a few activities that can spark conversations about the public library in your community: 

Pitch local TV and radio

Although it’s on the decline, local TV news still has more viewers than cable or network news programs, according to Pew Research. The study by Engagement Labs also found that traditional media and advertising – TV, radio, digital – play a significant role in stimulating consumer conversations. While advertising is usually too costly for public library budgets, you still can take advantage of public relations. Take advantage of events and guest speakers, as well as news about your latest community initiative, to pitch compelling news stories to local reporters. 

Go door-to-door

To learn more about residents’ library experiences and promote its services, volunteers for the Bloomington, Ill., Public Library knocked on doors. Not only did they collect valuable data – such as how often a resident visited the library or what prevented them from visiting more often – but they were also able to share information about online resources and library cards. 

Community appearances

Take advantage of local events, such as craft fairs and farmers markets, to set up a table and promote library programs.  

Speaking opportunities

Seek out opportunities to speak to the local PTA, at government town halls, and to local community and business groups. 

Identify and cultivate library champions

Research shows that people are more likely to act on a recommendation from a friend than from advertising. That’s why asking for help from some of your library’s biggest fans is one of the most powerful ways to spread the word. Ned Potter, author of The Library Toolkit, recommends cultivating library champions from each segment of your audience, parents, Baby Boomers, teens, etc., to reach the wider community more effectively. 

Potter also stresses that a top-notch customer experience is the best way to drive word of mouth. “If you’re serving the needs of your given community successfully and with style, they WILL be telling their friends about you,” he says. “They’ll be tweeting about you. They’ll be dropping your name into conversations.” 




5 Twitter Metrics That Will Reshape Your Content Strategy

Trying to figure out how to get more people to follow your Twitter account and reply to your tweets? Twitter’s robust analytics platform can help you get a better understanding of who your followers are, what they’re interested in, and how you can shape your content strategy to engage them more. 

The Tweet Activity Platform is available to all users, but you must log onto with your username and password to turn it on.  Once you’ve logged in, you’ll find a wealth of analytics tools to help you understand just how effective you’ve been in reaching and engaging the Twitter audience.  Analytics are updated in real-time, so you can adjust your messages immediately. 

These five metrics provide useful insight to shape a more targeted Twitter content strategy. 

1.  Account Statistics  

On the home page, you’ll get an overview of the last 28 days of activity on your Twitter profile. These top-level metrics give a birds’-eye view of your performance, including how often your profile has been viewed, how frequently you’ve been mentioned and if you’re showing steady growth in new followers. 



2.  Tweet Activity 

Click on the Tweets tab to learn which of your tweets are the best performing. Tweets with the most click-throughs and the highest engagement rates can be reposted at different times over the next few days to generate more engagement. 



3.  Audience Insights – Followers 

There’s a slew of interesting data on the Audience Insights tab under the Your Followers drop-down about interests, demographics, lifestyle and consumer behavior. Use the insights from these charts to develop content that most interests your followers. Consider, for example: 

  •  Interests. This chart ranks the percent of your audience interested in a particular topic. Rework your strategy to create more content relating to the top 2-3 interests. 
  • Demographics. Do more men or women follow your account? Homeowners or renters? If you find you have a higher percentage of high school graduates following your account, you may want to promote your job interview skills workshops on Twitter. 


4.  Audience Insights – Personas 

Also under the Audience Insights tab, select the drop-down for “All Twitter Users.” This data is interesting to look at, but not particularly useful. However, you can filter this data and look at specific “personas.” This is useful data for marketers who want to reach specific demographics. 

To see this data, click in the box next to “All Twitter Followers.” Twitter will display several filtering options, including ParentsMillennialsGeneration XBaby BoomersSmall Businesses, and more.  

Let’s see what the profile looks like for Millennials on Twitter. They’re most interested in comedy and music. More than half are high school graduates and are married. Thirty-two percent are in professional or technical fields, and 26% are homemakers. Seventy-five percent are homeowners.  

Now compare these interests to the type of content you’ve been producing. What content can you produce or share to better match their interests? By developing content more closely aligned to these interests, you’ll have a better chance of drawing their attention to your public library.  


5.  Compare Profiles

Another powerful feature is the ability to compare audiences and thus benchmark your performance. If there is a significant gap between Twitter’s persona profile and the profile of your followers, then it’s likely you aren’t reaching the right audience. With this knowledge, you can take steps to develop content that matches your target audience’s interests. 



Twitter compiles its persona profiles based on its own data and several of its partners. Hover your mouse over each heading for more details about the data source.  

Twitter Analytics provides valuable insights into both performance and audience preferences. Use these insights to develop a more effective content strategy. 



In the Tech Age, Libraries Are More Vital Than Ever

“Who goes to libraries anymore?” Since the rise of the internet, we’ve heard this argument again and again. Why are public libraries necessary when we have all the information we could possibly want at our fingertips? 

But two of the most powerful arguments for public libraries are – ironically – technology and information. Many Americans say they need help learning how to use technology and how to sort through and make sense of the enormous volume of information online.   

In fact, 76% of U.S. adults say they would benefit “a lot” from more help with accessing information that can help them make decisions, according to a recent Pew Research Center analysis of survey data. Respondents specifically called out several needs – several of which public libraries provide – including technology training and help searching online resources for trustworthy information. 

These findings underscore what makes public libraries vital resources for their communities.  

Libraries as Technology Education Centers  

Public libraries are a key resource for people who want to become more digitally literate. According to Pew Research Center, nearly 80% of Americans believe libraries “definitely” should offer technology programs for their communities.  

Although 75% believe libraries are already effective at helping people learn new technologies, there’s always more that can be done. And according to Pew’s latest analysis, many library constituents are expressing the desire for more training on how to use computers, smartphones and the internet. This is important for our communities, because technology skills are highly valued in the job market and greatly enhance a job seeker’s value to potential employers.  

But because they aren’t comfortable with computers or online research, those most likely to benefit from technology help are harder for public library marketers to reach with digital marketing strategies. Traditional marketing activities continue to be the best way to get the word out about your programs. For example, you can:  

  • Post flyers in local business and municipal facilities frequented by this target audience. 
  • Run ads in local newspapers. 
  • Conduct outreach to community groups such as senior centers, the local Y, and clubs. 
  • Build relationships with leaders of multi-cultural organizations, who can help you connect with hard-to-reach audiences. 
  • Use public relations tactics such as posting details of workshops in event listings and reaching out to local reporters. 
  • Work with your township officials and other organizations to include mentions of your events in community newsletters. 

Mobile Access to the Website 

Three out of every four Americans owns a smartphone, so it’s not surprising that library visitors who access the library website are doing so more often from a mobile device. According to the most recent Pew data, 50% of those who visited the website used a mobile device such as a tablet computer or smartphone. That was up from 39% in 2012, which means in 2018, it’s very likely to be an even higher percentage.  

This points to the importance of having a mobile marketing strategy. Your plan for reaching mobile audiences should include the following: 

  • Build your website so that it’s easy to read on the Web. One of the simplest ways to accomplish this is to make the site responsive. That is, the content adapts to the dimensions of the device being used. With a responsive site, your content is easy to navigate and read in the browser, on a smartphone and on a tablet. 
  • In fact, all content should be mobile-enabled. That means shorter paragraphs, and clear images.  
  • Pay particular attention to optimizing email newsletters. The majority of emails are read on mobile devices, so be sure your newsletter is mobile-friendly. 
  • Build a presence on social networks that are predominately mobile-based, such Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat. 

12 Months of Public Library Marketing Ideas

We begin each new year with high hopes. We set resolutions, and we’re determined to carry them out. Unfortunately, research shows we’re usually unsuccessful. About 45% of Americans say they always make New Year’s resolutions, yet just 8% of us keep them 

Gretchen Rubin, the author of “The Happiness Project,” offers a few tips for sticking to your New Year’s resolution. These four are easily adaptable to public library marketing:  

  • Create specific goals 
  • Monitor your progress
  • Hold yourself accountable – publicly 
  • Avoid the urge that something has to be “perfect” before it can be “done” 

So, in the spirit of New Year’s resolutions, as we enter the holiday season and close out 2017, here are a few ideas you can adopt for your marketing program, one for each month of the upcoming year.  


Expand your newsletter subscriber list. Try one – or more – of these 25 ideas from marketing software company, Hubspot. Tip #11 is a very easy change to make!  


Create a Snapchat campaign. This ultimate guide from Business Insider can get you started. Libraries will find the ideas for building anticipation, telling stories, and combining video and images most useful.  


Take an online marketing course. WebJunction offers several courses and webinars specifically designed for public library staff. If you are a LibraryLinkNJ member, you can try one of the many online learning options from free of charge.


Incorporate video into your marketing. If you haven’t yet invested in a video strategy, it’s time. In 2014, 64% of consumer Internet traffic was to videos. In 2019, that number is expected to be 80%-90% of all consumer Internet traffic.  


Start a live broadcast. Facebook Live has exploded this year…. Interactive streaming video services Periscope and Meerkat gained traction last year, and some say they are set to explode this year. Always wanted to have your own TV talk show? Here’s your chance. 


Make your website mobile-ready. As you’ve probably noticed, everywhere you go, people have their eyes glued to their smartphones. So it should come as no surprise that mobile Internet usage exceeded desktop usage way back in 2014. A mobile friendly site will make it easier for your visitors to read your content on their phones.  


Post more frequently to your blog. Not sure what to write about, especially on a weekly schedule? A blog is a fantastic outlet for sharing news, educational instruction and proof that your library adds value to the community. Start with these great content ideas. 


Commit to writing better email newsletter subject lines. They’re so important, yet how often do we dash them off quickly, with little thought? A great subject line will entice more people to read your newsletter. Try these ideas for making yours stand out in the crowded inbox. 


Research and experiment with an emerging trend. Early adopters of emerging trends are usually retail businesses or major corporations. But these tools have potential for public libraries too. Here are 10 Marketing Trends to Think About for 2018.


Create serial content. We don’t need anyone to tell us how powerful storytelling can be. But the public’s growing appetite for serial storytelling is exciting and instructive. There are several inventive ways to start your own local “serial” focused on a single topic: create a weekly event series at the library, on your blog or perhaps through a podcast.  


Hire a freelancer. The “gig economy” – where freelance writers, artists and experts of all types provide their services on a cost-effective, project basis – can provide public libraries with services they wouldn’t normally be able to afford. Dip your toe in by commissioning an image through Fiverr for just $5.  


Measure your 2018 marketing results. Have your resolutions paid off? Do you gain more Facebook followers and newsletter subscribers? Did your blog help you get your budget passed? If you’re not sure how to measure marketing success, here is an oldie but goodie tip list and infographic that hopefully will help.  


You can adopt any or all of these resolutions. Do one each month, or start them all from the beginning of the year. Keep me posted throughout the year on your progress in the comments below! 


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. 


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.  


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.