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March 29, 2007

8 Online Marketing Tips for Libraries

By Li Evans

Librarybooks I've got a soft spot for libraries.  I love books, and as a kid, I'd spend hours upon hours with my neighbors in our library which was just around the block from my house.  Lately, a lot of librarians have been linking to Search Marketing Gurus.  Our article on the 31 Places to Manage Your Reputation Online has become rather popular with these great group of people.

So with all of that in mind, I wanted to come up with some quick tips and ideas to help any library with a website to take advantage of some simple and easy online marketing ideas:

  • List your library with Google Local
    Most libraries take for granted that they will come up in local searches.  While it can be assumed, this would be only natural that a library is listed in the Google Local listings, it isn't always the case.  Don't let your library miss out on this opportunity to be found, submit your library's information at Google's Business Center.


  • Promote Your Library's URL Offiline
    Library's can miss the perfect opportunity to reach beyond their doors when they don't promote their website URL.  From printing it on library cards, to ensuring that the stickers that show the book is property of the library, all present perfect opportunities to remind readers of the library's website, long after they walk out the doors.  Any type of fliers that are printed to promote library events, make sure your URL is prominently displayed as more and more people look to a website to gather more information about events they see posted on billboards, roadsigns and even on TV.


  • Photo Galleries & Flickr Badges
    People of all walks of life, love to look at pictures.  Showing off pictures of events at the library is a great way to draw attention to them and to share the great time that was had.  Flickr and other photo sharing services allow you to store your pictures and share them with an entire community.  Flickr also always you to create "badges" (like the one at the top of "SMG" here) which bring attention to your photos and get people interested in the website.


  • Start a Book Review Blog
    Starting a blog is simple these days.  From typepad, to wordpress to blogger, you can start a blog for free, customize it to your liking and update it as often as you want.  For libraries on a budget, most of these services have free versions which you can utilize.  Promoting is easy, just post a link to it within the navigation of your library's website.  Ensure that your blog is properly branded with your library's information and links back to the library's main site.

    Using the blog to help promote new books that are coming into the library by offering a review, is a great way to build up interest for people to check out and read the books.  You can also highlight the "classics", childens' books and the list can go on.  Don't forget, you can easily generate interest in a long forgotten book this way too!


  • Create "Reviews by Library Members" Section of the Library Website
    Get your membership involved.  Create a special section of your website dedicated to library members and what they read.  When checking out their books, ask your members if they'd be interested in sharing their opinions of the book when they bring it back in, and if they'd like you to feature it on the website.  Including a small picture of them along with their review can add that personal touch, which will more than likely encourage them to pass on the link to family and friends.


  • Events Calendar Online - PDF Version
    Posting your events on your website is a great way to inform visitors who come to your website of the upcoming events.  However, how do you hold their interest after they leave your website?  Create the calendar in some kind of text editor or spreadsheet and then make it into a down-loadable PDF version.  This will enable you to brand the calendar with the Library's information, and the visitor to hang it on their refrigerator, and keep you in mind each time they go for the milk with those cookies!


  • Create an Opt-In Email Newsletter
    If you haven't already, create an opt-in email newsletter for library members.  Offer a way to sign up on your website, and keep a sheet for a newsletter "sign up" right where members check in and check out their books.  Don't forget to ASK!! 

    Newsletters that people opt-in for are a great way to speak to a very captive and highly targeted audience.  They want to know what's going on at the library, they want to know what kind of books are coming in, and usually they want to help out if they can!  That leads me to my last "tip."


  • Create a Volunteers Section on the Website
    Wouldn't it be great to highlight those contributions of time, energy and assistance no matter how big or small they are?  Most people love to be recognized for their efforts, and we all like to be thanked for giving our time.  What better way to say thank you, than to have it for everyone to see?  Using pictures, quotes and special graphics can even personalize the page a little more.  It will also lead to your volunteers passing the link to the page along to their family and friends.

Feel free to contribute any other ideas you might have to help out your local library or any library for that matter!  These great folks, do a tremendous job each and every day to help all of our communities, it's the least we can do to help them out a little.


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The blog bookreview tip would really work wonders, the librarians always needs to read books to recommend anyway :)

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