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.

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

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

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

1. Do I have to write it all myself? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Do I need a blog? 

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

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

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

How will writing a blog help my library? 

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

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

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

How do I decide what to write about? 

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

How often should I blog? 

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

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

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

How do I know if my blog is successful? 

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

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

 

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

How to Use Facebook Groups to Promote Your Library

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

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

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

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

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

1. Find & Join Local Groups 

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

2. You May Have to Ask to Join 

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

3. Abide by Group Rules 

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

4. Share Library News and Events 

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

5. Start Your Own Group 

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

6. Recycle Old Content 

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

7. Use Your Group Cover Photo to Promote Events 

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

 

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

Pitching Your Library to the Media? 5 Mistakes to Avoid

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

2. Don’t ignore the deadline.  

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

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

3. Provide more than just the facts. 

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

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

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

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

5. Invite them to your events.  

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

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

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

 

7 Reasons You Should Be Using Evernote

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

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

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

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

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

1) Keep track of ideas

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

2) Find notes quickly

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

3) Clip web articles and pages

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

4) Eliminate little slips of paper

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

5) Share with team

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

6) Record meetings and conversations

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

7) Sync across devices

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

 

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

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

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

5 Apps to Streamline Public Library Marketing

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

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

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

Scrivener (Writing program)

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

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

Asana (Project management)

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

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

Slack (Team collaboration)

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

Price: Free for one team

Hours (Time tracking)

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

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

Pomodoro Time (Productivity)

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

Price: Free

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

7 Podcasts Public Libraries Should Be Sharing

What’s hot in content marketing today? Video certainly tops many digital marketing lists, so it may seem strange that a seemingly outdated technology such as podcasting is gaining in popularity.

The first podcasts were distributed as early as 2003, but they’ve become enormously popular in the last couple of years. A recent survey by Edison Research and Triton Polling found 21% of Americans 12 and older have listened to a podcast in the last month. That’s about 57 million people.

Podcast topics range from news and comedy to history and fiction. There are podcasts about marketing, entrepreneurship, small business, politics, sports, and religion. Many major media outlets also have complemented their regular editorial content with podcasts. National Public Radio, for example, fully embraced the trend several years ago.

Librarians around the country have started their own podcasts too. Rita Meade, for example, is a Brooklyn public librarian who hosts Book Riot’s Dear Book Nerd.

But you don’t have to start a podcast to make this medium work for your marketing. Like TED Talks, you can use podcasts as a jumping off point for your blog posts, social media, and even events. The breadth of topics means you can find something of interest for any of the library audiences you’re targeting as part of your marketing strategy.

To get you started, check out the following seven podcasts.

For Book Lovers

BBC World Book Club

Hosted by Harriet Gilbert, this podcast from across the pond interviews authors from around the world. Guests have included Elizabeth Gilbert, Jonathan Franzen, Neil Gaiman, and Jhumpa Lahiri.

For Kids 

Eleanor Amplified

Eleanor Amplified is a world-famous radio reporter in pursuit of the Big Story. Her adventures always seem to land her in trouble. From WHYY in Philadelphia, this serialized story podcast is designed for kids ages 8-12.

For Parents

Read-Aloud Revival with Sarah Mackenzie

This podcast aims to help parents build a family culture around books. Interviews provide insights about how to get kids of all ages to love books of all kinds. It’s especially useful for homeschooling families, but every parent will find its tips valuable.

For Writers

Writership Podcast

Professional book editors Alyssa Archer and Leslie Watts critique five pages of fiction from traditional and self-published authors. They share writing and editing tips to improve your writing.

For Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneur on Fire

Starting a new business isn’t easy, especially if it’s the first time. Fortunately, many successful entrepreneurs are eager to share their stories and secrets. The host of this daily podcast, John Lee Dumas, has interviewed more than 1,400 entrepreneurs, including Tony Robbins, Gary Vaynerchuk, and Tim Ferriss. His interviews cover everything from digital marketing to brand-building to finding the right audience for your product. This podcast is perfect for small business owners, entrepreneurs and startups.

For Citizens

Science Vs

Host Wendy Zukerman digs deep into the science behind hotly debated issues, to find out what’s true and what’s not. Fracking, gun control, and attachment parenting are covered in the current season. Science Vs. was very popular in Australia, where it was launched, but it’s now part of Gimlet Media, a podcasting company launched by Alex Blumberg, the co-founder of NPR’s Planet Money.

For Public Library Marketers

Duct Tape Marketing

Like small business owners, public librarians wear many hats, overseeing every aspect of running their organization. So when it comes to marketing, they need practical ideas they can put to use immediately. This podcast, like the book it’s based on, delivers on that promise. Hosted by John Jantsch, author of Duct Tape Marketing: The World’s Most Practical Small Business Marketing Guide, the podcast covers SEO, messaging, social media marketing and more.

 

These are just a few samples of the rich world of podcasting. As you listen, you’re sure to find episodes perfect to share in social media, discuss in a blog post, or incorporate into a library book club.

Video Series Part 5: Four Ways to Promote Your Public Library Video

So far in our series about how to create a video for your public library, we’ve discussed how to choose the right spokesperson, hold a successful video shoot and edit your video in post-production. Creating a video news announcement is a serious investment of time and resources, so you want to get the final step right: promotion.

As you create your marketing plan, keep in mind that all the time-honored tactics still apply. So be sure to use both digital and offline methods to get the word out. But there are four tactics that are considered essential for promoting video. Let’s take a look at each.

1. Post It on YouTube.

This social network is the second-largest search engine, and it’s still the powerhouse for video. The most frequently searched topic is “how-to,” which makes YouTube a good choice for videos demonstrating the steps for searching library databases, downloading eBooks, and so much more. You can upload the video to your YouTube channel, and then use the link and embed code to share your video in other social networks and websites, as described below.

2. Feature on Your Website.

One way to ensure your video is seen by as many people as possible is to feature it on your home page. Use the embed code from YouTube and your website visitors can simply click to play.

3. Email It.

Email remains one of the most effective marketing tactics. There are two ways to use it to promote your video: include a link in your newsletter or feature the video in its own email to a specific target audience. When you segment your email list, you can identify the type of subscribers who would be most interested in your announcement.

For example, if your video promotes programs for children, you can create a subset of your list that includes only parents. Write a subject line and email copy that will catch the attention of both moms and dads, and insert a thumbnail image that links to your video. This strategy often produces much higher open and click-through rates.

4. Post on Facebook and Snapchat.

Video on both social networks is extremely popular – and growing. Facebook reportedly gets eight billion video views per day, while Snapchat gets 10 billion. New research by Brightcove shows “consumers are spending an average of six hours per week watching video content on social media networks alone.” And although 50% of social video views are on YouTube, Brightcove’s research proves that just posting your video there isn’t enough. More than a third of views are on Facebook, which means ignoring it – or Snapchat, Instagram or Twitter – means missing out on a sizable audience.

Further, the top two ways viewers discover videos are by scrolling their newsfeed (62%) or because it was shared by someone in their network (49%). Thus, be sure to encourage shares, likes, and comments, which will increase the potential for your video to be seen by more people.

Now that your video is ready, it’s time to get out your bullhorn and let your community, followers and subscribers know all about it!

Video Series Part 4: Best Practices for Editing Your Public Library’s Video Announcement

If you’ve been following the tips in this series about creating a news announcement video for your public library, perhaps you’ve already held a successful video shoot and now are ready to stitch together your takes and finalize your video. In this post, I’ll share a few tips and best practices for the editing process.

Choose your video editing software

There are several options for video editing software on the market. Among professional videographers, the best known and widely used are Apple Final Cut Pro, Avid Media Pro and Adobe Premiere Pro. But these can be expensive, and they also offer more features than what’s needed for a DIY video. Apple iMovie gets high marks from PC Magazine for its ease of use for beginners, and because it comes packaged with most Macs, it’s very affordable. For Windows users, there are several good quality and free options, such as Machete Video Editor Lite and WeVideo, which is a cloud-based option. (Check out this list of recommendations from HubSpot here.)

Keep the video short

Most viewers don’t watch more than a few seconds of video, so you need to keep two things in mind as you edit. First, open your video with a compelling teaser designed to keep viewers glued to the screen. This could be a compelling question or visual. Second, keep the entire length of your video to no more than three minutes. This doesn’t mean you should completely avoid longer videos. After all, some content – particularly instructional – calls for more time. But an announcement video is best kept to three minutes or less.

Intersperse B-roll footage

B-roll is supplemental footage that can add visual texture to your story. For example, shots of your library interior or exterior, last year’s event, or an artist at work can be interspersed in your video to increase excitement about your news. It’s also used to cover up your cuts and transitions.

Add titles and text

Your video should start with a title that explains what viewers are about to see. In addition, you’ll need subtitles to provide information about who’s speaking and what their role is. When adding text, it’s important that it can be clearly read. So, use a contrasting color as well as a plain and simple font and superimpose it over a plain background so it is easy to read.

Don’t forget the call to action!

As you close your video, be sure to let the viewers know what you want them to do and direct them to additional resources. For example, let’s say you’re announcing a new event. Your call to action should encourage them to sign up and tell them where and how they can do that.

Did you miss Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3? In the next post in this series, I’ll talk about how to upload and promote your video. Check back soon!

Streamlining Social Media Marketing with Mobile Apps and Online Tools

Guest blog post from Caroline Vallila, Springboard:

Social media marketing is one of the most effective ways to promote a business, organization, campaign, event, or product. Celebrities, politicians, and people like you and me are using social to share their journey, experience, and yes, even what they had for lunch. With a single post, tweet, photo, or video, we have the power to instantly connect with people across the globe. Once it is determined which social media platforms are relevant to your needs, there should be consistent and creative engagement. To help streamline social media processes and get the most out of your experience, below are several applications and services available for curating content, scheduling posts, managing multiple accounts, and tracking results.

Content Creation                                             

As previously highlighted in our introductory guide to building a stronger social media presence, visuals help posts to stand out from an endless stream of text and entices users to “stop the scroll”.

  • Adobe Spark is a free graphic design application that allows users to create social graphics, memes and animated videos.
  • Pixabay offers more than 940,000 free stock photos, illustrations, vectors, and videos which can be socialized without attribution.
  • With it, content can be curated from other sources and shared along with personalized comments across multiple social media platforms.
  • Hootsuite Enhance allows users to create compelling images and then add customizable text, watermarks, company logos, and filters before sharing to Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest right from the app itself.
  • With gifs, users can take any video from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or YouTube and quickly turn it into a GIF using its web application.

Schedule Posts in Advance

To ensure content reaches your target audience, it’s important to post frequently and at optimal times. With the following tools, you can schedule multiple posts to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram at specific times throughout the day:

  • Buffer makes it easy to consistently schedule content across multiple social media profiles to increase reach and user engagement.
  • With Hootsuite, users can also manage multiple social profiles and schedule effective social content from a single dashboard.
  • Schedugram is an easy way to queue posts to Instagram. In addition to setting specific times to post images or videos, Schedugram automatically converts uploaded files into the right size and format for Instagram.
  • Yala uses machine learning to determine the best times to post to Twitter and Facebook.

Manage Multiple Accounts

How many window browsers do you currently have open? If the answer is more than two, these tools can help! Consolidate multiple windows into one, organized and easy to read window to improve your workflow:

  • Ghost Browserenables users to log into any website with multiple accounts from one window.
  • Engage is a standalone app by Twitter to help users manage multiple Twitter profiles.
  • Panda 5 also enables users to browse multiple websites at the same time for distraction free reading and built-in bookmarking to improve workflow.

Content Reporting & Analytics

 To gauge how your social media marketing is performing, it’s crucial to analyze and compare weekly, monthly, or quarterly content reports and analytics. By understanding which types of posts provoke more interactions and comparing which platforms amplify your social media presence, analytics can help your company reach its end goal. From generating leads to bringing awareness to a cause, the following tools can help track results:

  • PostReachautomates content reporting by delivering traffic statistics, page views, clicks, and shares through weekly email notifications.
  • SproutSocial measures follower growth, analyzes engagement ratios, and monitors trends in popular hashtags.

 

Overall, social media marketing is one of the smartest and simplest ways to connect with the public on a more personal level. We recommend implementing a well-thought out social media strategy first, and then streamlining processes to ensure each account runs as efficiently as possible.

 

 

 About the guest blogger:

Caroline Vallila is responsible for public relations, social media, account management, and media relations at Springboard.

Video Series Part 3: Lights, Camera, Action! Tips to Make Your Video Shoot Go Smoothly

So far in this series about how to create a marketing video for your public library, we’ve covered the pre-production process and how to choose a video spokesperson. This post provides some useful tips for the shoot itself.

Whether you decide to hire a professional or do-it-yourself, these tips will help you become familiar with the process, know what to expect on the day of the shoot, and improve the quality of your video.

Put together your video team

Every video shoot needs at least five people. Of course, the spokesperson (also known as the “talent,”) needs to be present and already familiar with the script. You’ll need a camera man whose job it is to capture the video. Likewise, you should have a dedicated audio person, who ensures the sound quality is good by monitoring volume levels and listening for unwanted noise. A director, much like the Hollywood kind, can assess the performance and give instructions to improve delivery.  An assistant can keep track of takes, mark up scripts with changes, and handle miscellaneous tasks.

That is of course a perfect case scenario. If you don’t have 5 people, don’t worry! Work with who you have. As we know in the land of stretched budgets and resources, we often need to wear multiple hats to get the job done.

Get the lighting right 

Too dark, too light, too many shadows: lighting can affect the quality of your video in big ways. If you’re new to video and on a tight budget, it probably doesn’t make sense to buy professional photography lights. Instead, work with what light you have. First, turn off overhead lights, which tend to create unwanted shadows. To improve your setting’s lighting, find three lamps and place them strategically around the subject to accentuate and create natural tones.

Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse  

Be sure to provide your spokesperson with the script a few days ahead of your shoot. On the day of the shoot, rehearse a few times and have the director provide feedback. Once everyone is comfortable, begin shooting, but aim to get two to three takes of each section of the script. This will give the editor plenty to work with in post-production.

Shoot small sections

Don’t attempt to shoot the entire script at once. Instead, break it into pieces at logical break points. Review each take after shooting, adjust and shoot another take or two. During the editing process, you can string together the best takes.

Mark timings as you go

As you progress through the script, have the assistant note the start and stop times of the best takes. This will make it easier to find them during the editing process.

 

You don’t have to be a professional to shoot good quality marketing video, but it does take a bit of knowledge and some practice. You can find plenty of advice by searching Google, but I found this video from Wistia and the accompanying Forbes article to be very helpful.

We’ll cover the editing process in our next post. Check back soon for the next installment of this series!

 

Video Series Part 2: How to Choose the Right Spokesperson for Video News

In an earlier post, I covered how your public library could gain more publicity by announcing news via video. That post covered the pre-production process, including how to define your audience, create a storyboard, write a script, and choose a setting.

There’s one other piece that I didn’t cover, but which is very important: How to select the right video spokesperson. This may sound easy, but it can actually be quite challenging. At the outset, you may want to choose based on relevant roles in your organization. For news about children’s programs, for example, the logical choice would be the children’s librarian.

However, to ensure your message resonates with your target audience, there are several other criteria to consider. Here are five qualities your video spokesperson should have.

A Demographic Match with the Audience

Your audience is more likely to trust someone they can relate to. That’s why matching your spokesperson to your target audience is so important. If you’re reaching out to Millennial moms, you’ll get better results if your video spokesperson is also a Millennial mom, one who can make a personal appeal.

Loves to Be On Camera

Much like the fear of public speaking, being on video makes many people uncomfortable. Be sure to choose someone who isn’t intimidated by the camera. Even better, find someone who loves it! Their enthusiasm will come across in the video, and your shoot will be much easier.

Exudes High Energy

This is especially important. A fair amount of enthusiasm and energy will be lost between real life and your recorded segment. If your spokesperson relays information in a normal tone, they could come across as flat or dull on video. But a high-energy delivery is certain to hold the attention of your audience.

Speaks Clearly

It’s incredibly important for your spokesperson to be able to speak slowly and clearly. Of course, rehearsals are essential for anyone, but a confident and articulate speaker will be able to deliver your message clearly and efficiently. Competency in this area will pay off during the shoot itself because you’ll have fewer takes. But it also pays off in the editing process because you won’t need to spend much time fixing flubs.

Channels Your Brand Personality

Because video is a visual medium, appearance plays a major role in how successful your spokesperson will be at delivering your message. The best candidate will have a personality and style that matches your brand. Most importantly, they should be passionate about your library and initiatives.

 

As you consider potential spokespeople, it’s a good idea to audition a few candidates on camera first. This will give you an opportunity to evaluate and compare performances.

We’ll cover the filming process in our next post. Check back soon for the next installment of this series!