Library Marketing Toolkit

10 top tips to take your organisation's Twitter account up a level

My current column for Library Journal is all about taking a Twitter account to the next level. It's hard to keep organisational accounts progressing - a lot of them plateau after a while - so there's 10 golden rules to get you past that point.  

Image of the LJ column online


The 10 golden rules in brief, are:

  1. Only tweet about your library one time in four
  2. Analyse your tweets
  3. Tweet multimedia
  4. Tweet more pictures
  5. If something is important, tweet it four times
  6. Use hashtags (but don’t go mad)
  7. Ask questions
  8. Get retweeted and your network will grow
  9. Put your Twitter handle EVERYWHERE
  10. Finally, avoid these pitfalls .

Read the full article with expanded information about each rule, here.

People don't need to know about all the services we provide - they just have to know what's relevant to them

Reblogged from the Library Marketing Toolkit Pew Internet have just released their 10 key findings from their Library research:

The slide I'm particularly interested in is number 11, which tells us that:

  • 22% say they know all or most of the services their libraries offer
  • 46% know some of what their libraries offer
  • 31% know not much or nothing at all of what their libraries offer . .

Initially this makes somewhat depressing reading, statistical proof of what we've all known for a long time: the public don't understand what modern libraries actually DO. The library brand is so synonymous with 'book' that there's little room for the many and varied services we offer, and it really is the services we must emphasize in our marketing, now the content we provide is often readily available by other means. Ambiguity or confusion is the enemy of great marketing - simple messages stick so much better. But inevitably, as we change to accommodate the new needs of our users, and add more and more aspects to the offer we make, it becomes harder to summarize the modern library and easily communicate how we can help people in their lives.

Actually though, the figures aren't that bad. 22% is a surprisingly high number to know most or all of the services their library offers - I'm not sure I know all the services my library offers and I work there! With an offering as diverse as ours no one needs ALL that we offer, so what matters is not everyone knowing everything, but each group knowing what is relevant for them. Perhaps it's time to stop worrying about whether people 'understand' modern libraries in general, and move on to simply ensuring that the parents know what services we offer for children, the people on the wrong side of the digital divide know we can help them get online and use new technology , the people who hold the purse strings know how important we are to the local community, and so on.

This process is formally referred to as 'segmentation' or 'segmenting the market' - dividing your users up into groups, basically, and tailoring the message to suit each one. It's something library marketing types go on about a lot, and perhaps fills non-marketing types with dread... But it doesn't have to be intimidating. At its simplest level, you’re targeting each group with a slightly different aspect of the same message, making sure they know about one key service relevant to them, and then letting them discover the rest once they’re in through the door.

Going back to Pew’s findings. the 31% who know nothing of the library is much more worrying. But again, the approach needn't be 'how do we tell all 31% everything we do in the Library!' - it can be about dividing that 31% up into existing segments, and targeting them with relevant services. The average person in the street doesn't need to think 'I know all about the Library'; they just need to think 'I want to start looking into the genealogy of my family tree, and I know the Library can help me', or whatever their need might be.  Segmenting the market is hard to do, but it's proper marketing - the results can be hugely beneficial.

Repeat after me: host content externally, embed content locally

Reblogged from the Library Marketing Toolkit Modern library websites now have ALL KINDS of content. Where there used to be lots of text and a few images, there's now much more dynamic content. We've got presentations, videos, audio, even embedded documents. This opens up a great opportunity to reach more and varied people.

It is possible to host all this stuff on your own website. But why do that when you can host them externally, and just embed them locally? It will save you an enormous amount of bandwidth, but more importantly, it will make your content infinitely more discoverable. We can't rely on people going right to the Library wesbite; we have to show up in their Google searches too.

As we all know, a lot of people don't know what libraries can do these days. If we host our content elsewhere on the internet, we're going to the people rather than relying on them guessing that the library might be the one to help. We're showing up in their searches. We're appearing on the platforms they frequent anyway. We're boosting our reputation among other libraries.

If you host a video on YouTube it will get views from people browsing that platform, as well as the views it will get embedded in your library website. The same applies for images which, if they're magnificent Special Collections images for example, you could put on Flickr in their own group, and embed them in the Library website (and why not set a up a Tumblr blog or a Pinterest board for them while you're at it?).

If you have Prezi or Slideshare presentations these can be picked up and featured by the hosting sites, leading to an exponentially increased audience. The same goes for PDFs too - host them on (like the new case studies for this website) or and they look good, get a lot more use (because people know what they're getting without having to open a file) and could become featured documents.

The Twitter for research PDF I recently uploaded to Scribd, to my organisation's account, was seen by around 3,000 people in its first two weeks of publication, because Scribd featured it on their homepage. So it was very useful locally, because putting on Scribd meant we could embed it locally making it more useable for our staff and students. But it was also useful internationally because it helped our institution reach a large audience, as a provider of useful guidance in an emerging area.

And what about Library news - why write it on the library website itself when you can host it on a blog and embed the RSS feed on your own site? Basically anything you think of can be hosted externally, embedded locally. What this means is you are AMPLIFYING your content and increasing discoverability - essentially, the work you put into your resources is going to be more richly rewarded.

So, repeat after me! Host externally, embed locally

A small change in the way these blogs operate

Picture of a spanner

Short version of this post

I will occasionally be reblogging content from the other blog I write, at, on here.

Longer version

This blog, thewikiman, used to have a lot of content about marketing libraries on it. In fact that's partly why I got asked to write a book on the subject in the first place. When the book came out and I launched the website to go with it, I started blogging about marketing stuff on there, and in order not duplicate content, I stopped talking about marketing stuff on here.

However, after thinking about it for a while and talking to people who read one or both of the blogs, I'll now be reblogging relevant content from the Toolkit blog on thewikiman blog. This for a number of reasons:

  • The content I'll be reblogging is relevant to both audiences
  • I blog far less these days anyway so splitting the posts between blogs makes them even scarcer...
  • I still sometimes hear this wikiman blog referred to on Twitter as 'one to follow for marketing' so there's an expectation that it'll have some marketing stuff!
  • This blog gets a larger audience than the Toolkit blog, and generally speaking I want as many people to read my posts as possible .

So I'm going to start by reblogging the last couple of posts from the Toolkit blog, and then carry on as normal from there. It won't be that the blogs are identical - there'll be plenty of stuff on here about library issues generally which doesn't make it onto the Toolkit blog, and the odd obscure marketing post on the Toolkit blog that doesn't make it on to here.

I hope that's okay with everyone! :)




The Library Marketing Toolkit is OUT NOW! Here's what's in it

The book I spent 2011 writing is finally out! Facet Publishing have printed and released the Library Marketing Toolkit and the pre-orders have been sent. There are details of what the book contains, and who writes its 27 case studies, on, but as you'll know if you've read this blog before I really like slide-presentations as a way of getting info across in a non-boring way; with that in mind, here's what you can expect from the book. Chapters, themes covered, case studies, etc.

Still too early for full reviews, but some pre-prints were sent out and have been getting some good feedback:

‘Ned Potter's  book will help any library succeed in creating a community that is aware and engaged in its library. He has written an easy to follow tool kit targeted at the specific marketing needs of librarians that is sure to become a favourite resource for anyone involved in marketing a library. There are case studies from libraries around the world that will inspire you no matter whether your library is large or small. You'll love this book!’ - NANCY DOWD, AUTHOR OF 'BITE-SIZED MARKETING'

[The Toolkit] is brilliant and  a great addition to the library professional discourse.’ – ANDY WOODWORTH

'The Library Marketing Toolkit is packed full of useful, informative and above all practical information about the best ways of getting your message across, and it should be on the shelf of every librarian and information professional who needs to promote the idea of the library and its value in a modern day society.' – PHIL BRADLEY, CILIP PRESIDENT

You can click here to buy in the US, via, or if you're in Canada you can click to buy via or finally in the UK you can click here to order via Amazon UK - or just get it straight from the publisher.

It's finally done!

- Ned