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Sunday, October 06, 2013

ALCOP's 2013 Conferece: Day 1 Highlights

Paula Watson-Lakamp kicks off the conference.
I've just attended the first day of the ALCOP Conference, so I have lots to share. In the interest of actually getting this written and posted right away, I'll just mention some highlights.

First: What's ALCOP? It's the Association of Library Communications and Outreach Professionals. This is the third annual conference of this small, focused organization. (See my coverage of the first conference.) It's taking place in Fort Washington, PA, a suburb of Philadelphia, and its 50-plus attendees have come from as far away as California, Tennessee, and Canada. 

This morning's keynote was from Paula Watson-Lakamp, Communications Manager for the Poudre River Public Library District in Colorado. She talked mainly about her experiences in this job, which she's had for just a few years. Paula has a marketing and design background, not a library background, so she had to learn some things along the way -- and she had to teach the librarians a few things, too.

When she started at PRPLD, she joked that she became "the brand police," which helped her "make lots of friends." (Sarcasm!)  The staff didn't get the importance of branding. It's also been hard to convince staffers that marketing is everyone's job, and that each person should be aware of programs and events so they can tell users while working at the desks. In the ensuing discussion, Dr. Curtis Rogers of the South Carolina State Library suggested that, instead of asking the circ staff to "do marketing" it might be more successful to change the terminology to "help us with getting the word out" about what's happening. I suggested that they try using a "secret shopper," telling the staff that they could be evaluated at any time by a "patron" who was actually sent in to evaluate the staff's knowledge and customer service.

Paula runs the library's blog, and one cool thing she plans to do to build relationships and engagement is to interview the main "mayors" of Foursquare -- those folks who "check in" to the library most often on the app. If someone is checking into the library upwards of 40 times a month, they'd probably make a great ambassador / advocate!

SUNY-Oswego's Facebook page
After the keynote, the first session I attended was about Student-Centered Strategies in academic libraries. Michelle Bishop and Brandon West from SUNY-Oswego talked about various ways to engage university students. Here are some of my favorite tactics:
  • Posting pictures of students in the library on their social media accounts and then encouraging students to tag themselves
  • Posting archival photos of the campus and asking followers to guess what area of the campus is in the photo
  • Including students on their Social Media Team to get their input
  • For contests, putting some of the instructions on the library's Facebook page so the participants would have to Like and use the page. 
Adam Haigh takes a question.
In my next session, I heard Adam Haigh talk about Developing and Executing a Marketing / Outreach Strategy from the Ground Up after his job morphed to include outreach and assessment at Lander University. Adam said he likes to connect with people "where they least expect it." He's doing things such as using tools to search for social media content that's tagged for Lander Univ so he can comment and have discussions with others. He also appears on the campus' radio station twice a week, sometimes doing trivia with students and sometimes talking about what the library offers. He also volunteers to help at the school's athletic events, thereby meeting students there to show a librarian in a different light. 

Later that afternoon, I attended another social-media-focused session called Making Friends with the Library. Here, Lisa Burgert and Alejandra Naan from the University of San Diego shared how they've been starting accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. and building a social media following. 
Lisa looks on while Alejandra gestures at one of their slides.
Here's some of what they've found success with:
  • Following faculty members on Twitter to learn about their news and accomplishments
  • Putting links to their social media accounts everywhere, including on LibGuides
  • Having scavenger hunts where some of the clues are on the Facebook page, so students have to Like the page to play.
  • Following other campus departments they're connected to in order to support them and share their posts; then the favor is often returned. 

Jennifer also sees marketing as a cycle, just as I do.
In my last session of this very full day, I listened to Jennifer Burke, an independent librarian with a marketing background. She has founded Intellicraft Research where she does consulting, brand management, research, and more. (Check out her marketing blog too.) In her presentation on common mistakes of planning your marketing, she shared lots of great tidbits and quotes; one of the most memorable was that marketing is "a bit like a shark: when marketing stops, the organization dies." She stressed that marketing is a cycle and that it's not an evil word. 

 Jennifer Burke
Jennifer's main message was that you need to have a strategy before you decide on things like goals and tactics. It's fruitless to do bits and pieces of things in an uncoordinated fashion. Some of the most common marketing mistakes are not having metrics and measurable goals, not having a calendar / schedule for activities, talking about features instead of about user benefits, and not including a call to action in your communications. She also warned listeners about "shiny object syndrome" -- getting dazzled by the latest cool thing and jumping in without assessing whether it's necessary or if it fits into your strategy. "Resist the shiny objects!" she urged. 

If you want to know more about ALCOP (and I hope you do), you can check out its website. This new site is still under construction, so check back as it grows. However, you can already use it to join the association. 

See my coverage of the 2nd day of ALCOP here

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