Four Tools Every Library Marketer Should Use to Reach Millennials

With each of these free tools for library marketing, libraries can break out of their physical space and meet young patrons in their digital space. Today’s patrons, especially that coveted Millennial demographic, expect their library experience to translate online. Libraries need to look beyond their four walls to the world of boundaryless social media to meet the needs of these young patrons. Whether it’s generating urgency for event attendance, providing an asynchronous forum for book club, or capturing fleeting attention through flash storytelling, these tools present creative opportunities for libraries to reach patrons and build community.

Going Live with Facebook

When a business or individual goes “Live” on Facebook, their video is pushed higher in feeds with notifications dispatched. Libraries can strategically harness this option to generate interest in programming, whether spontaneous or planned. This feature is especially ideal for performances, but the key way to capitalize on Live is by creating urgency. Don’t go Live only during an event; let the feed into your library in the moments before kick off. Libraries can take a page out of Beyoncé’s book by “dropping” content unannounced like the singer released her album Beyoncé to the shock and delight of fans. Consider holding back on marketing an event ahead of time. A Live video could give patrons exclusive access to an event through social media. Younger patrons might not be aware of the library’s events that fit with their schedules, much less that there is programming targeted toward them. Live can help fix this problem by popping up to highlight events designed for these patrons to help convert them into lifelong patrons who understand how the library fits their needs.

Find Your Patron Neighbors on Nextdoor

The social media site Nextdoor takes your neighborhood community online. Nextdoor verifies residency for each user, making sure the online space is for your real neighbors. Users can join the community chatter online, which is shown through a central newsfeed and is sent out in email and text notifications per user preferences. Libraries will want to take advantage of the free marketing opportunities on Nextdoor. Looking to promote your fundraiser? Libraries can create an event that shows up in the calendar and in the feed, adding pictures and contact information to flesh it out. Keeping a close eye on Nextdoor posts can give libraries an opportunity to introduce younger patrons to library services. For example, if someone is looking for a public fax machine, the library can jump in and introduce its fax service. Creative use of the poll feature gives libraries a way to find the needs of younger patrons.

Facebook Groups for Book Clubs

It can be tricky to coordinate a book club time that works for everyone. You could be losing patrons who cannot fit a discussion into their schedules. Creating a Facebook Group for your book club can take the conversation out of the library and into a space that everyone can join. Asynchronous discussion will allow patrons to participate even if they cannot make an agreed upon time. Within a Group, libraries can create polls to get patron input on book selection. Facebook Live can spark a discussion and generate interest for special events. Migrating the group to a Google Hangout for live discussions can give everyone a chance to participate. Creating a Facebook Group for book discussion groups could capture Millennial and new adult patrons by giving them an opportunity to participate when it works for them.

Tell Your Story with Instagram

Libraries are in the story business, from programming to lending out books and materials that each tell a story. Instagram Stories use pictures and video to create a clever and engaging narrative with immediacy; each Story only lasts for 24 hours. Consider these micro-stories as exclusive content for your patron audience. Push your very best content to strategically target Instagram’s 18-29 user base. Highlight new adult-geared programming, such as a Adulting 101 series, Brew and Books nights at the local bar, and Flash Cheap Craft Nights. Other potential stories for libraries could include accelerated compressed time footage of setting up a new library display or space and giving a behind-the-scenes look at the library, such as opening day book drop sorting after a holiday weekend.

These free social media marketing tools can effectively move the library out of a brick and mortar building and into the hands of today’s “born digital” generation. Understanding how to strategically create community outside the library can strengthen a library’s bond with its base, converting views and likes into lifelong patrons.

Using the Little Free Library to Promote the Big Free Library

Two of the most important questions to ask in traditional marketing are these:

What wants or needs do I meet?
Where else are people currently meeting those wants or needs?** 

For now, let's answer the first question in the simplest way possible: free books. Libraries offer far more than free books, but we can agree that this is the most common and recognizable use case. Reframing the second question, then, where else are people currently accessing free books? 

The most common place could be your local Little Free Library. Something like a birdhouse for books, a Little Free Library is a small wooden enclosure with 1-2 shelves of books inside. Usually, these books are originally stocked by a private individual known as a steward and then maintained in a "take one, leave one" model. Civic organizations such as churches and boy scout troops may also be stewards. For a list of registered LFLs in your area, check this handy map.

Little Free Libraries attract the exact population that you want to bring to the library: those who are both intellectually curious and community-minded. By design, though, they have a limited and sporadic stock of books. Often, a person walks up to the box, quickly browses the shelves, and discovers that nothing suits his or her taste. What better moment could there be to remind that person of the public library? In marketing speak, here is a person in your target audience who has expressed intent to use a product that you offer.

Here are three ways you can market your public library using a Little Free Library:

1) Add your information to the shelf

Most Little Free Libraries are maintained by people who love public libraries. In fact, of the 17 in our area, 2 are maintained by retired librarians. Ask for their permission to include some materials from the public library in their LFL. 

2) Donate books from your withdrawn items

You might also recruit the person in charge of withdrawing items from your collection. Ask them to cherry-pick titles to donate to Little Free Libraries and place some specially-designed stickers or bookmarks inside. 

Note: a particularly friendly steward might let you put these in all the books within their LFL.

**Notes on measuring effectiveness: give away something small if they bring the bookmark when they sign up for a library card

3) Build your own


Note that the ideas expressed here don't just apply to Little Free Libraries. Coffee shops, churches, and retirement communities also have the same sort of small lending library. If you see success with your LFL campaign, consider extending it to these locations as well. Did you find these recommendations helpful?

Do you have a Little Free Library success story to share? Let us know in the comments!

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Enter to win the Summer Search Giveaway!


**The giveaway is now closed. Thanks to all who entered!

What’s the Koios Summer Search Marketing Giveaway?

It’s summertime, and that means that your community is looking for things to do. Koios helps libraries show up online, and this summer we want to help you get the word out about summer reading, book clubs, concerts, and more. To do that, we’re giving away $2500 in search engine marketing from now until July 4th.

What do I win?

Have you ever wanted to see your great program at the top of search results? Ten libraries will receive a prize pack of Google marketing worth $250: that’s enough to have your program seen by over 2,000 interested residents!

How does it work?

  1. You choose a program or service to promote

  2. Koios creates a Google search campaign for it

  3. Residents see it in relevant search results for 2-4 weeks

  4. You get new library fans for free!

 How do I enter?

Enter up to six times between now and July 4th by:

What are the rules?

  • To win, you must be affiliated with a public library in the U.S., U.K., or Canada.

  • Multiple librarians from the same library may enter to increase their chances.

  • The contest will end on July 5th, 2017.

  • Winners will be notified personally by Twitter or email, and collectively in a press release.

  • The prize package must be used to promote library resources to the local community.

  • The prize package must be used by December 31st, 2017.

  • The prize package cannot be transferred or sold.

  • Media and documents created in the course of implementation are the joint property of Koios and the winning library, meaning both Koios and the library may reuse them afterwards without the need for permission from the other party.

  • Koios may add to or change these rules as necessary in the interest of fairness and fun.