or, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Fear and Loathing at a Public Library Reference Desk

Boosting a Post on Facebook

   May 27th, 2016 Brian Herzog

boostfacebookI mentioned this in passing at a meeting not too long ago, and it got enough interest that I thought it'd be worth posting here.

The meeting topic was library marketing, especially for programs. I mentioned that my library occasionally boosted Facebook posts to great success - and it seemed like no one else in the room had done this for their library.

Not that we're experts - above, "occasionally" means twice in the last three or so years. We've only done it for huge events (a major author coming to speak kind of events) where, with just about a week to go before the event, the number of tickets we'd given out was frightening low. We'd be scrambling trying to push awareness of the event however we could, and so we'd boost that post on Facebook too.

In general, our posts go out to an average of 400 people. That varies wildly, but that's probably a pretty good average. When we boosted the posts though, those would reach 5,000 people.

I think we allocated about $20 for the boosts, which we paid for on the library's credit card. Later, the Friends reimbursed us from the programming budget, since it was program advertising. We'd choose a new targeted audience by location, and just use Chelmsford's zip codes.

And our events were successful, so I'm inclined to say this was worth it. Tougher if your town only lets you pay for things by check, but still worth looking into because it isn't a whole lot of money and does seem to help us reach people on Facebook (although, I do hate having to play Facebook's game).

Does anyone else do this successfully, or regularly? Has it ever backfired on you? Please share your experiences in the comments. Thanks.

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Example of Direct Advertising

   January 26th, 2010 Brian Herzog

Guerilla Marketing book coverA patron asked for help finding books on Taoism, so we walked over to the Religion section. As we were flipping through the index of books in the 294's and 299.514, I noticed something odd - many of the books we picked up all had bookmarks in them.

It's not uncommon for people to leave bookmarks in library books. But in this case, all of the bookmarks were identical - they were all business cards for a local yoga studio. Interesting. After I finished helping the patron, I went to the 613.7's, and sure enough - all our yoga how-to books also had these business cards tucked in them.

I dislike businesses targeting patrons, and in fact it's against our library policies, but I did think this approach was clever (although I shudder to think whose business card would end up in the 613.96's).

It also reminded me of a library tactic I fail to use effectively: put promotional bookmarks in books. It's a great way to drive traffic to your subscription databases, online subject guides, special programs, or general announcements, but it's also tough to maintain.

But too, this book-based advertising could be used as a fundraiser for libraries. Local business could donate money to purchase books on a certain topic, and in exchange they'd get a label on the book saying it was donated by them. Libraries would be able to expand collections, and perhaps also charge these businesses a fee on top of that.

This last idea is of course a terrible one. But the one before that is legitimate, really. And for another interesting library/business idea, check out Brett's idea for "Amazon Libraries."

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