Facebook and New Zealand organizations – a PR perspective

I recently had the opportunity to hear a talk by Dr Kane Hopkins (School of Communication, Journalism and Marketing, Massey University) on how New Zealand organisations are using Facebook*.

First up were his 3 takeaways for the session:
1. Facebook is best used as a space to interact with customers (via likes etc) – it is not an easy way to sell or market
2. “Likes”will enthusiastically engage with an organization
3. Much of what happens is meaningless!

Facebook is:
– a communication space – not a marketing space – it’s about people expressing who they are and who they like
– a customer services tool – people like organizations and then post customer services queries – this has created a burden for some organizations

Facebook observations:
– “liking” is easy – but pretty meaningless. For instance people can like something but not necessarily back that up by donating money – the exception is where likers have a strong attachment to causes they support (e.g Paws for Justice)
– because of this, Facebook on its own is not enough. Organizations successful on Facebook – like Paws for Justice – use it as just another communication channel
–  photos are king on social media – people are interested in photos of other people and spend more time looking at them than videos (this is worth keeping in mind!)

The actual research looked at 12 organizations – and posts over 21 days (these could be posts from the organisation themselves, or posts others had put on the organisation’s wall). The four models of PR (Grunig + Hunt, 1984) were applied to the Facebook communications of the organizations studied. On Facebook most for the PR activities of the organizations observed were in the areas of customer service, stakeholder engagement and events.

The challenge!
– organizations need to be smart – a Facebook presence may not be useful – and just because everyone else is on it, doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for you
– it is very difficult for a brand to establish itself on Facebook – big brands do well because they are big – so they will get a lot of fans (e.g. Coke)
– Facebook keep changing the rules which is becoming a problem with administering pages
– how does an organization keep people interested so they continue to appear in people’s news feeds?

The good news for organizations:

– people want to engage with you (especially younger people)
– Facebook pages provide venues for fans to voice opinions
– Facebook is a great source of marketing intelligence (e.g. Air NZ asking people where they would like to go)

Kane is undertaking more research in this area – and it will be fascinating to see what comes out of that. It is clear that it is still early days for understanding Facebook – and despite claims to the contrary out there, it is very difficult to be an expert on it!

*Kane’s presentation was base onresearch by a Massey University Master’s student – I’ve yet to get their details.

Great book on social media tactics

One book I have been really impressed with lately is 101 Social Media Tactics for Nonprofits: A Field Guide by Melanie Mathos and Chad Norman. The authors make the assumption that you have already devised your social media strategy, and  point out that their book isn’t intended to be one about strategy. Having said that they do offer a very simple four-step approach based on the POST method:

1. People – where are your constituents engaging and how can you best reach them?
2. Objectives – What do you want to accomplish?
3. Strategy – What do you want things to look like when you’re done?
4. Technology – How are you going to get there?

The book is organised around 5 sections – Setup, Communicate, Engage, Fundraise and Measure. Within these sections there are a number of individual tactics. For instance under Communicate, tactic 34 is Add events to your Facebook page while under Measure, tactic 99 is Create a Social Media Listening Dashboard. Then for each tactic there is extremely practical advice around What You Need, How to Do It and A Closer Look (which gives more specific detailed advice about tactics). Practical real-life examples from non-profits are also included. There is also an accompanying website detailing new case studies and tactics.

All in all, this is one of the most practical and user-friendly books on social media I have come across!

Ned Potter’s new library marketing blog!

Ned Potter has a fabulous new marketing blog – The Library Marketing Toolkit. It is designed to be a website to support Ned’s upcoming book of the same name, as well as being a standalone resource for all things to do with library marketing. You can check out more about the blog here – and there is a link on that page to download a free chapter of Ned’s upcoming book 🙂

Ned’s book includes a small case study from yours truly – my involvement was very much a tribute to the power of networking on Twitter! Basically Ned called for volunteers to write case studies for the book, and eventually contacted me about writing one on email marketing. I’m absolutely thrilled he has included a link to this blog on his new website!

 

Using hairdressers for word of mouth marketing

Last year Liz Knowles and I featured this excellent clip about using taxi drivers for word of mouth marketing in our LIANZA marketing workshops:

At the end of this cool little video they make a reference to hairdressers being their next target as agents for word of mouth marketing. I’m not sure if they ever did this – have yet to find the YouTube clip.

Just recently I came across this article about the launch of the Right Royal Cabaret Festival in New Plymouth in June. And who was in the audience? Hairdressers! As TAFT chief executive, Suzanne Porter explains:

We targeted young hairdressers because they have a great ability to talk and they see so many different people every day that they can talk to about this event

I would think there would be lots of scope to invite certain professional groups, like hairdressers, along to events or launches in libraries. Has anyone out there tried this? Did it work for you?

Marketing and advocacy – or why you should get along to LIANZA’s course!

Heather Lamond, LIANZA’s president-elect, has recently blogged to promote the upcoming advocacy workshops that LIANZA is running in New Zealand. There has been slower uptake for these workshops and I thought I would pitch in and do some promotion.

One thing to be aware of is that advocacy and marketing are not the same thing. So if you have already attending one of the recent LIANZA marketing courses (co-presented by yours truly) you will be exposed to a different emphasis and pick up another skill set. As library marketing guru Kathy Dempsey says marketing is:

determining what people want, delivering it, evaluating consumer satisfaction, and then periodically updating the whole process.

While advocacy is:

getting people who have good opinions of your organization to speak to others on its behalf, to convince other people of its value

Dempsey’s definition does make it sounds like advocacy is part of what other people do for us, but as Heather points out:

we all, as individuals, need to have the skills, knowledge and strength to articulate our value and unique contribution (without having to wait or rely on someone else to do it).  This is not just about negotiating library budgets or funding for new buildings, but about being able to tell our story in a way that makes a difference to those outside our profession

This doesn’t necessarily come easy to everyone, but I believe it’s important to do our bit to develop these skills, so that we can be advocates for our libraries, our customers and our profession at every level. You can find details of the workshops in Heather’s blog post – be sure to attend if you can 🙂

 

Building a buzz (word of mouth marketing and libraries – book review)

Building a buzz: libraries & word-of-mouth marketing by Peggy Barber and Linda Wallace is a fabulous book. Starting off with a short description of what marketing is all about, they then emphasise the importance of having a plan and go on to describe the key components of a marketing plan and a marketing communication plan. They also include a great communication checklist you can use to self-evaluate all aspects of how your library comes across. The few pages spent on this are really useful stuff and are a great primer for getting up to speed in the area.

Then it’s on to the details of word-of-mouth marketing, and the 5 things you must have (and how to get them):

1. A good product and great customer service
2. A plan
3. A clear, conscious, consistent message
4. A prepared and committed sales force
5. People willing to testify

The book includes reports from the fifteen of the 35 libraries that participated in the Buzz Project that the book authors were involved with. These give rich detail about specific WOMM projects. Each mini case-study gives an introduction, the goals and objectives, key audiences, the message, strategies, tools, budget, impact and lessons learned. These provide a great framework you could use yourself, not to mention some inspiration. The overwhelming number of examples are from public libraries, but there is a case study from BP Information Services which showed how they used a staff survey to increase awareness of their services and to better target new resources to a globally dispersed workforce. It looks like three academic libraries were part of the wider project so it’s a little disappointing none of them made it to the book. Regardless of that there is highly useful information and examples in this book relevant to all sectors.

Kiwiana theme a winner [or catering for a library do on the cheap]

Recently we held a promotional event at Massey University Library for our academics, showcasing some of our newer services such as eTV and our Discover interface. Partly inspired by a Christmas do I went to last year, we decided upon a kiwiana theme for the food. We didn’t have a lot of money to spend so the cheap and cheerful fare of cheerios* and tomato sauce, sausage rolls, lamingtons, chips and dip etc made for a low cost catering option. And one we could easily put together ourselves. Sure we wouldn’t win any Heart Foundation ticks for it, but it was popular and fun. One I would recommend for those of us in New Zealand looking to entertain our library customers on a budget!

Kiwiana treats – Foxton Fizz, L&P and lamingtons

And we also served up a rather nice (alcohol free) punch.

*these are cocktail type sausages in NZ speak, not the cereal 🙂

How do we reward our loyal customers?

A few days ago I got a very welcome email from Ezibuy telling me that one of their very best customers they would reward me with some extra bonuses like priority delivery for the price of standard delivery and a $20 voucher for my birthday. I do spend a lot with Ezibuy so it’s great to be rewarded for my loyalty 🙂

One of the things we touched on very briefly in our recent Marketing for Libraries workshops was the question of loyalty. I refered (again) to the excellent article by Julie Badger, Turning cold sellers into must haves: marketing unsought library products.

Badger’s focus is on article databases and is highly relevant for the tertiary sector and special libraries. But read the article and think about applying the idea of brand loyalty to libraries as whole. Many of us put considerable effort into persuading people to become new members. Think about who our competitors are in this situation – bookshops, ebooks, Google etc. Some people are very loyal to these “brands” and persuading them to change will be extremely difficult. Our drivers for increasing membership are numerous – and especially for public libraries can include the expectations of our governing bodies. But I think we should at least be aware that our efforts to increase membership may require a great deal of effort for not always a great return. Would that (or some of that) effort be better rewarded by increasing usage amongst our existing members? Or should we focus membership drives on targeted groups that we know are more likely to become regular library users (that’s if we know who these groups are to start with!). Food for thought.

Another thing to think about – this really applies to public libraries – is the practice of deleting customers off your system if they have been inactive after a set period. I am pretty sure that in the public library I used to work at (some years ago now) we deleted customers who were inactive after 2 years. How does this square with our idea of libraries being part of a person’s lifelong learning? In that context two years may not seem like a long time. Sure people pass away, move away etc. But not all of them. Some of them may be customers you put in the hard yards to win. What do you do to get them back as return customers and keep them loyal?

And how do you reward the loyalty of your regular customers? When it comes to academic libraries I am not sure that we do and right now I am not aware of how we could, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we can’t! Dunedin Public Libraries reward their loyal users of their hot picks and holds services by offering prepaid cards that give discounts.

And why would we even bother? Well as Badger says:

We also need to nurture and reward our loyal customers so that they stay with us and hopefully generate positive word of mouth publicity.

For libraries the possibility to capitalise on word-of-mouth-marketing is a seriously big opportunity. As Peggy Barber and Linda Wallace say in Building a buzz: libraries & word-of-mouth marketing:

With all the newfangled technology out there, the commercial world is turning to word-of-mouth marketing (WOMM) as the most powerful form of advertising. This is great news for libraries because WOMM is truly powerful and because we can afford it. For the first time, the playing field is level. We can compete. We can win public awareness and support (p. 7)

So how do you reward your loyal customers?

2011 in review (or how WordPress gives your blog stats bling!)

WordPress has really upped their game with the annual blog stats. If you have a WordPress blog and haven’t checked out your annual report make sure you do. In the meantime here’s mine:

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 6,100 times in 2011. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 5 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

I’m not saying it has to be cheese and wine … but …

Welcome to my first guest post – this one showcases promotional events in an academic library. 

A big thank you to my colleague Heather da Vanzo, Humanities & Social Sciences Librarian, Massey University Library, Wellington campus

Libraries do need to up their game when it comes to marketing. Having worked in a variety of sectors, most recently in the Academic sector it’s clear that Libraries have moved from collection based institutions towards service based organizations – I’m just not sure we’re communicating the value of our collection to our clients.

Currently being in a small team our marketing has to be sustainable, we’ve agreed that 2 promotional events a year is feasible. We aren’t talking huge events – just 20-30 guests – again manageable and for us it allows us to offer a “hands-on” aspect to the session.

Tailoring the sessions to client needs is crucial – it keeps numbers manageable, but also ensures a clear message. So far our target audience has been postgraduates, researchers and staff but his could change, depending on the resources we market and the venue.

Heather da Vanzo presents at a Massey University Library event at our Wellington campus

As always it’s important we don’t reinvent the wheel so we’ve designed a check list of logistical tasks. The checklist ensures we can divide the tasks amongst the team and utilize a package of templates including a door sign, poster, bookmark and invitation email. Apart from saving time, these templates retain some consistency to the Libraries “promotion” brand.  We can easily change the colour and logo to match the theme of the promotional event.

Really it’s been about getting staff and researchers into the Library space and showing them the Library has what they need. Assuming we are familiar with the purpose of the institution and the needs of the clients, Librarians are in the best position to make the match between client and resource.  Essentially show clients our relevance.

We have offered, cake and coffee, cheese and wine, catering which doesn’t break the bank; but creates a welcoming impression with the client and gets them through the door. And it strikes a chord:

“Great session…..very informative and clearly presented…makes much more impact when you get a presentation rather than finding the info out by working through the data……and let’s face it….mostly we wouldn’t bother…….great cake too!” Associate Professor Ciochetto

We’ve found promotional events a great way to build relationships, promote our resources and look competent!

Note: Photo and quote used with permission