What Does This Mean to Me, Laura?

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social media

Frustrated? Why your library needs to level up to content marketing

2nd May 2017

When your library finally started “doing” social media, it was probably a big deal. “We’re on Facebook!” you perhaps gleefully exclaimed. Then, your library may have moved into other channels, such as Twitter or Pinterest or Instagram. Maybe it even got a little edgy with Snapchat. The more places your library is online, the bigger the potential audience, right?


Just…hold it. Believe it or not, I’m not going to argue with you about the validity of that perspective (because I know there are thousands of marketing professionals who will happily do it for me; it’s not a good practice).  Maybe I’ll pick that battle another time. Right now, I want to talk about a bigger elephant in our library living rooms.

No matter how many online platforms your library participates in, I’m willing to bet that 99% of you reading this are frustrated by the results that you’re getting.  You may not be getting consistent engagement, and many libraries get virtually no engagement at all. I want to discuss some of the causes, and how you can start address this kind of issue.

“Why does nobody respond to our library’s posts?”

  1. It’s not getting seen in the first place.  This problem is worthy of its own post, so I’ll try to narrow it down to what you have to know right now. You are competing with everyone and everything else.  Mark W. Schaefer famously coined the term “content shock.” In a nutshell, it’s simply more difficult to get people to see your content, because there’s just way more content out there to compete with….and the amount of content people can actually consume has leveled off, while the rate of content production is skyrocketing. Schafer predicts a 500% increase in the amount of available content online by 2020. You think it’s hard now to have your stuff seen? It’s going to get a lot, lot worse.
  2. MOST IMPORTANTLY: Your library is still “doing social media” and not using content marketing. What’s the difference?
    1.  Social media is promotional: content marketing is useful.
    2. Social media is unconnected: content marketing is relevant.
    3. Social media is random: content marketing is deliberate.
    4. Social media doesn’t focus much on results; content marketing is data-driven.
    5.  Social media isn’t directed : content marketing is targeted.

With so much competition from every direction, and the need to show results to administrators for the time spent marketing the library online, why is your library still “doing social media?”  Let me guess:

  1. Doing online marketing well takes more time and effort. It’s so easy to just endlessly promote programs, right?
  2. Your library’s administrators haven’t yet connected the dots between the immense amount of work that online marketing takes and the fact that you don’t have very good results to show for it.
  3. It was such a massive effort to even get your library into social media/blogging/video production/whatever in the first place, evolving how it’s being done seems impossible.

For most libraries, it’s some combination of these three.  But, we can’t afford these kinds of roadblocks any more. It’s no longer a novelty for a library to be visible online: it’s a necessity. It’s time to level up how we present our libraries online, because “doing social media” doesn’t cut it.

So, here’s a blatant plug. If you’re ready to move your library to a place where people might care about its content, get yourself a copy of The Librarian’s Nitty-Gritty Guide to Content Marketing. Sure, you can buy a copy, or, since we’re all library people here, borrow it.  I’m not fussy, and I bet you’re awfully tired of being frustrated. Either way, it’s a win-win.