In her recent presentation Be Where Users Are: Online Marketing for Public Libraries the Librarian In Black, Sarah Houghton-Jan, explores some poweful marketing ideas for making your library (or your school for that matter) more visible and accessible to students and parents.
We teach students about managing their digital profiles, but are we managing our own? And are we making ourselves easy to find for both parents, students, and those wanting to connect with us globally? Creating a more virtual library also means being easily found.
How can we apply some of the Librarian in Black’s suggestions to school libraries/schools?
- Get listed in library directories on Google properly. You can submit your school library site to Google Directory here. (Google Directory sites come up higher in search results)
- Make sure you are listed in Google Maps as well.
- Ensure that your library has a link on local websites (like perhaps your local public library–what about local businesses that support your school, local bookstores, tutoring centers that work with students?)
- Your school probably has a Wikipedia page. Why not add resources like your library research page there?
- Of course, create a presence on Facebook, Twitter, etc. (Students may not be on Twitter but their parents might be, and both will be on Facebook, as Buffy Hamilton suggests in her excellent post Pivots for Change.) Sarah also suggests creating Facebook flyers or apps too, that are cheap but very visible. (I’m imagining a catchy Facebook ad promoting excellent qualities of your school or listing your library’s services).
- What about mailing flyers that can be posted in your local public library or to local nearby businesses serving students with your website and hours listed?
- Set up a “text a librarian” or “chat with the librarian” (meebo) service. Students tend to have urgent information needs when finishing projects and this kind of “just in time” help could be valuable. This may require some publicity to get the service used.
Other ideas to enhance your presence–
- What about checking out the school listing on Great Schools, and submitting an enhanced profile about your school, including information about your library, using this form? This service is highly used by parents looking to move into your area.
- Consolidate your presence using a service or your own website, so all your “contact” information for your library is easy to find.
- Wes Fryer twittered this recent CNN article about digital business cards. While that might be ‘overkill,’ on the other hand, as Joyce Valenza often asks, do we have some visible way we are branding our library and materials? I’m still working on that one, but Joyce’s site/avatar provides a great example of how to have a unifying identity for your library.
The point is to take care of our digital presence the same way we would take care of the appearance of our physical library(or our entire school), making easy to access, easy to find, and easy to understand and use.
As Seth Godin points out in his post “The First Transaction“,
” Digital transactions are essentially free for you to provide. I can give you permission to teach me something. I can watch a video. I can engage in a conversation. We can connect, transfer knowledge, engage in a way that builds trust… all of these things make it more likely that I’ll trust you enough to send you some money one day.”
Our goal of course isn’t an exchange of money, but if we want our students or parents to use our virtual spaces and learn from them, we have to make those first transactions ones that are positive. When our services are visible and easy to find, that goes a long way to building that trust and enticing our ‘customers'(i.e. students) to come back.
If a student can’t find us, or leave our sites frustrated because things are hard to find/use, then they won’t be likely to use our services. And they’ll possibly carry that negative impression into their other interactions with libraries. So what we do at the school level matters for them all the way up the chain if we want our students to become life-long, information literate, library patrons.
photo credit: “Kind Directions” http://www.flickr.com/photos/theamarand/3824017071/