Marketing Your Small or Rural Library through Social Media

Thursday, September 4, 2014
11:00 am – 12pm
Penny Hummel Consulting

Feels like social media that there are a lot of mouths to feed and there’s always something more.

Rural/urban differences social networking (as of 2008)

  • Fewer social media friends
  • friends located closer to home
  • set profiles to private at higher rate


PEW Research Center Social media update (2013)
Urban users 71% Facebook, 21% Pinterest
Rural users 71% Facebook, 17% Pinterest

Pinterest and Facebook are the highest for Rural Areas

Rural people are using Facebook and Pinterest at a high rate.  They like to connect to people closer to home.

Small and Rural Libraires:  less likely to have social media presence, serve a lower portion of highly engaged users, serve a higher proportion of non-user

Social media is like teen sex:
“Everyone wants to to do it.  No one actually knows how.  When finally done, there is a surprise it’s not better.”  March 2009 tween by Google Analytics evangelist Avenish Kaushik

“Librarians often envision the role of the library as a community center. Social media allows them to put this philosophy into practice. ” Laura Soloman, Library Services Manager, Ohio Public Library

Social Media = communication from many to many

Has to benefit everything we’re doing… just not the likes we get on Facebook.

1.  Listen, Follow what’s going on
Create and save a search (or searches) in Twitter for your library’s name
Do the same in Google Alerts

2.  Create a strong foundation

  • Meet your patrons in their “social neighboorhood”.  Facebook for the most part
  • Establish clear goals
  • Create a social media policy
  • Allocate sufficient staff resources
    25% listening, 50% commenting and communicating, 25% creating

Facebook – what matters?

  • Post reach – how many ppl see an individual post from your library
  • Page reach – how many people see your content during a particular time
  • Number of followers
  • Likes, comments, shares, clicks

What makes a great post?

  • Unique
  • quote
  • photos, video
  • stories
  • open-ended questions
  • humor
  • delight
  • pulling heartstrings
  • brevity
  • surprise
  • That “I want to share this” feeling

Think about magazine headlines.  Why do they grab you?

  • Successful posts:
    25 literary pun names for your cat
  • Mobile library post with book covers and post with books to read in June
  • Take a selfie of yourself reading and be entered into a drawing to win free gas
  • This week in history post…  (tbt)  Elephant breaks into Restaurant, eats pies
  • Freegal post (Topeka and Shawnee Public Library) used album cover
  • Quizzes (Who was your favorite Sherlock?)
  • Funny Book Memes
  • "My book is almost finished, but I’m just not ready to say goodbye to these characters. Maybe if I just read the last chapter really slow … "
  • Promoting events (Pretend Play)

“… a call to action draws on social capital.”  – Laura Soloman, The Librarian’s Nitty Gritty Guide to Social Media.  Everytime you promote the library, you’re making a withdrawl.  Think about social capital and spend it wisely.

Not all about blowing the library’s own horn all of the time.  Do more than just promoting things and issuing invitations.

How to build social capital – thank ppl for comments, respond promptly, pass on useful links, provide info ppl care about, ask for opinions and encourage feedback.    Think about this the most when people complain  – respond promptly.

Someone in the audience had a teenage daughter tweeting about authors and had several respond to her.  Great feeling!

Developing Content:

  • Think of it as curating
  • Use a conversation calendar and schedule them in advance.  tbt posts
  • Post same kind of content on the same day each week
  • re-pin important posts back up at the top of your Facebook page.
  • Reveiw Facebook’s page insights

What increases FB engagement:

  • Posts on Thursdays or Friday: 18%
  • Posts outside of business hours: 20%
  • Shorter posts, more engagement
  • photographs
  • Open-ended questions

Certain types of questions get more comments:
Should, would

Best Practices:

  • Word of mouth offline
  • Add social media URLs to publications and business

Whether ppl like it, click a link, share it, etc…  This is what Facebook tracks.  The more interaction you get, the more followers see your posts with Facebook algorithms.

  • Tips for power users:
  • Pose questions that spark nostalgia or a really good feeling
  • Use compelling images
  • Share quotes that are inspirational to your audience
  • Maintain a casual, friendly tone…

Advertising on Facebook:

  • Case study:  7 libraries of varying sizes each committed $10/day to advertise for 28 days.
  • Ads targeted each library’s demographics and zip code.  Increase in followers for each library ranged from 101%-427%

Most popular categories on Pinterest

Food and Drink

DIY and Crafts

Home Decor

Holidays and Events

…  Most popular non-ficton

Pinterest Ideas:

  • Current Books
  • Downloadable
  • History
  • Gardening  (resources on the web from area, books)
  • Parents and Kids
  • Library Cats
  • Great Gatsby
  • Library Rennovation
  • Community Board
  • Holmes Public Library (26 different boards)  Technology Boards
  • Bookstore Books
  • Local Businesses, Kindergarten READiNESS (resources to crafts, links to materials)
  • Book Love
  • Homeschooler Resources
  • Displays

How to get Started:

  • Allocate Staff Resources
  • Goals
  • Commit to a plan
  • Set up initial boards with at least 9 things each

Best Practices:

  • Links to social media
  • Add pin it button to website


  • Facebook and Pinterest places to be
  • It’s about curation
  • Spend social capital wisely
  • Set measurable goals and allocate staff resources
  • Stay abreast of changes, try new things, and continuously adapt.

Teens are using Instagram more and more.

Creating identity and brand..

Check out Ben Bizzle’s site.  He’s a thought leader on advertising and what photos work well on Facebook.


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