In the latest of our social media guides, we’re talking all things book-related with a few handy hints on how to master social media for libraries.
Modern digital marketing, conducted online, and a traditional industry that relies on footfall and visitor attendance might not seem like they go hand-in-hand. But actually, social media marketing is the ideal match for libraries. It could even help boost visits at a time when library use is in decline. It’s also a great way to show your library is future-thinking, and adapting to modern technology with a wider range of services.
Choose Your Platform
The key to getting social media for libraries right is knowing which platform to use, and what for. A live book event, for example, would work brilliantly on Facebook, but would probably fall short on Twitter. The three platforms that would work perfectly for libraries would be:
Facebook, one of the oldest social networking sites, has 2.38billion monthly users. That’s a heck of an audience for your author event or read-along livestream. One of the most versatile platforms, it’s great for a variety of content – think videos, photos, micro-blog posts and business updates.
Twitter is largely text-based, and is great for immediate updates and sharing links. With 126million daily users, it’s another great choice for networking with authors and readers.
Instagram is a photo-sharing app, which is brilliant for brand awareness and sharing products or services. You can also use it to post ‘stories’ and short videos, which is great for getting ‘behind the scenes’ of your library.
Social media marketing can work brilliantly for libraries – but only if you’re consistent in your approach. Posting regularly is the key to grabbing those extra followers and translating website visitors into footfall. Frequent new posts and content will keep people interested in your service and inspire confidence.
The easiest way to make sure your content is up to date is to plan a schedule for each platform. Working out what to post and when is largely trial-and-error. Keeping an eye on what gets a good level of engagement is the first step to working out a regular routine.
There are plenty of scheduling apps and software you can use to create your posts in advance – relying on posting ‘in the moment’ is never a good idea and often means your content will be rushed and less interesting. Planning your posts across the different platforms will allow you to check you’re giving your audience a variety of content, and your posts won’t become stale.
There are several scheduling tools that you can utilise to make it as easy as possible. We like Hootsuite, Buffer, Tweetdeck and Sprout Social, which all offer a variety of plans to suit different needs and budgets.
Engage with your Audience
Social media is called social for a reason – it’s designed to build relationships and connect people. Whichever platform you decide to use, it’s important to interact with your existing audience – this will keep them interested, and also inspire other users to connect with you.
Make sure you reply to queries and comments in a timely manner. A fast and thorough response rate will fill users with confidence, and you’ll come across as friendly and reliable – which is exactly what people want from a library service!
You could also consider adding a live chat option to your website, and then advertising it via your social media channels.
The Royal Holloway Library Twitter account is a brilliant example of how libraries can interact on social media; they keep it professional, helpful and add in a touch of light-hearted comedy.
Over on Facebook, the staff behind the Surrey Libraries are great at friendly, personal replies – they’re also not scared to drop in an emoji or two!
Link to Local Businesses
Social media is a great opportunity for libraries to connect with other local businesses. Tagging them, sharing their content and teaming up to host both digital and physical events together are all great ideas. No longer just full of dark, dusty shelves, libraries have the power to be the hub of the community and bring people together.
There’s strength in numbers as well. Working with other businesses has the power to massively expand your audience, and it’s a great opportunity to share knowledge and gather inspiration. It could be as simple as re-tweeting some of their content, or organising collaborative events. Why not try teaming up with a local coffee shop to start a regular a book-club session, and then post about it online? Nothing goes better with a book than coffee and cake!
The Dublin City Libraries Twitter feed is full of interactions with local Dublin businesses and organisations; not only do they provide a variation in content, they also get a great level of engagement from the audience.
Utilise Polls and Quizzes
Polls and quizzes are a bit of a secret weapon when working on social media for libraries, because the possibilities are absolutely endless. They’re great for creating imaginative content, and they also encourage engagement with your audience – and they’re available on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram Stories.
You could try:
- Creating a poll on which version of a book cover people like the most
- Asking whether people preferred the book or film version of certain novels
- Askingwhich author people would be most interested in hearing speak at an event
- Posting quotes from famous literature and asking people to name the book or author
- More general questions, such as which services they’d like to see the library provide
Facebook and Twitter allow for simple tick-box style polls, but Instagram Stories provides more variety. The New York Public Library (below left) have posted a general question and answer box, while the Glasgow Womens Library (below right) have used the more simple emoji slider.
Link to and Engage with Authors
Teaming up with authors is a great way to provide your audience with some brilliantly entertaining content, and it’s also going to boost your followers – there’s nothing readers enjoy more than the opportunity to interact with their favourite writer.
If you’re posting to Instagram, having an author ‘take over’ your feed or Stories for a day is a great idea. This involves handing the account over to them entirely for the whole period, and gives readers the chance to get to know them a little better. Live events work particularly well on Facebook, so you could host live readings, where writers are invited to read excerpts of their books. For more text-based posts, you could offer a Q&A session with authors over on Twitter; hashtags are especially useful in this situation, and allow readers to follow the feed more easily.
Consider Online Events
Online events don’t necessarily have to be linked to authors – they’re a great opportunity for libraries to use social media to establish themselves as a digital community hub. There are many people who can’t get out and about as often as they’d like, and rely on the online services you provide – but still want that social aspect.
We love the following ideas:
- Quizzes, whether book based or general knowledge ‘pub quiz’ style events
- Virtual bookclubs, which meet regularly online to discuss the latest novel
- Virtual library tours, which give users the chance to see ‘behind the scenes’
- ‘Meet the librarian’ events, where users get the chance to grill their librarians on all things book-related
Celebrate National Days
National days, weeks and months are great when looking for content ideas, because there are literally thousands to choose from.
There are the obvious ones, such as World Book Day, Celebrity Read a Book Week and Children’s Picture Book Day, but you could also join in with others such as:
- Pride Month could include several posts showcasing great LGBTQ+ literature and authors
- International Womens Day could include takeovers by female authors, and posts relating to feminist issues
- National Gardening Day could feature great gardening books, and gardening tips from green-fingered authors
We love how Sussex Library joined in with Mental Health Awareness Week by posting a relevant quote. They then added in some local images and hashtags.