First of all let me say that I am absolutely pro-use when it comes to Libraries utilising social networking platforms to connect with their clientele in new and interesting ways. The Pew Research Center (http://www.pewinternet.org) reported that as of September 2013 73% of online adults use social networking sites. That is huge! I don’t even want to think of the numbers for kids with their smartphone access and their Snapchat and their Instagram… that is a scary amount of people who are socially interacting via the internet. It is imperative that libraries get in on this action.
I myself will admit to Googling before pulling out the yellow pages, I will check an organisations website to look at the information they have available rather than calling them, if they have a Facebook page or Twitter I will most definitely check that out. The use of social networking sites to me also feels like the organisation is more available or approachable because it is in a different setting. The business might close at 5pm and I can’t call them before then because I too am working, but at any time I can leave them a Facebook message and they might get back to me the next day. Sounds like email you say? Well it is basically, but the difference is that it is in a much less formal setting and in the case of Facebook it is in a platform that 71% of online adults use (http://www.pewinternet.org) so they are more comfortable with it than the formality of email. Well that is my opinion anyway.
So you have put your Library on Facebook… fantastic, good for you! You have created your Facebook page, put a lovely picture of your Library up and have been posting Library information on there at least once a day for 3 months, amazing! However, you only have 25 followers… and most of them are staff members, not such great news. In my experience this seems to be a common problem which usually stems from one of two things – lack of marketing or boring content. What I found surprising is that the former is the most common problem, people will not magically find your Facebook page, even if you put the little icon link on your Library website. It is not enough, you need more! You need to think of your Library Facebook page as a new service, because it is. It is a new way of obtaining information and interacting with not only the Library staff, but also other clients and you need to treat it as such.
So how do you market Facebook? Here are some ideas for an Academic Library:
- When you have Library stalls during Orientation or Student Services week have up flyers that encourage students to ‘Like’ your Facebook page, include a QR Code at the bottom of the flyer so that students can get there easily.
- You put up posters in the Library for everyone else, why not yourself? Put some up advertising the Library Facebook page. You could even have some bookmarks made up (an oldie, but a goodie) and give them out to students when they borrow.
- When you do Library tours or Orientation talks this is a prime opportunity, don’t just talk about the page, go there. Show them how great the information is, encourage them to connect and interact with you. I generally do all the ‘Contact us’ stuff at the end of my presentations, I go through the different ways clients can contact us and say to them that we have tried to provide as many avenues of contact as we can effectively manage so that they can interact with us in whatever way is most comfortable or suitable for them. I then show them the kind of information we have on the Facebook page and finish up by asking if there are any questions. Word of mouth is still a powerful tool, use it!
- You could target clients using computers, go around with some lollies or chocolate (always good motivators) or if you want to promote health perhaps you could take around a fruit basket and say that you are offering food as a bribe for people to ‘like’ your Facebook page. Be honest, they know what you are about so you don’t need to sugar-coat it!
- If you have the budget for it you could get coffee vouchers from the Uni café and give them to clients once they have liked the page. From experience I have found that people will do much for a free coffee J
If you are a Public Library you could still do many of the above suggestions, you could also try something like:
- If you have a Bookclub you could tell members that you will post information updates etc. on Facebook, encourage them to share their reviews of the book on Facebook too. Then you are actually marketing both your Facebook and your Bookclub.
- Come story time you are generally inundated with Parents, Grandparents and children, use this opportunity. Tell them you post information regarding story times and even photos from story times on Facebook, you could even post information that will be useful to parents such as, how to read effectively to your children etc.
- When you run competitions you could let entrants know that the winners will be posted on the Library’s Facebook page. If it is something like a poster competition you could even post pictures of the entries (make sure you let them know about this when they enter!).
There are so many options. Unfortunately the old Field of Dreams “if you build it, they will come” does not hold much water in the real world. You must put in the effort to reap the rewards.
Do you have any other ideas? Share them below.