Ferndale is a small community just north of Metro Detroit. It is only about four-square miles in size and surrounded by larger communities. It's a hidden gem in Detroit. It is a walkable community valuing art and music. Despite the close-knit community, Ferndale Area District Library (FADL) has found it difficult to get noticed and stand out from surrounding libraries.
Advocacy and marketing represent the same meaning for FADL. It's about how they tell their story, let people know what they do and what the library can do for them through programs and services. Flyers, newsletters, press releases, social media and other marketing tactics are the priorities of one person — FADL Marketing Coordinator Jeff Milo. “He talks to all the librarians, gets their programming information and distills it down into one message going out,” says FADL Library Director Jenny Marr. “We’ve had great success with this strategy, rather than having the youth services sending posts one way, and adult services doing something else, it’s been very cohesive.”
During a webinar hosted by EBSCO and FADL, Jeff Milo presented tactics and tips for libraries looking to engage in advocacy and marketing:
- Press releases – Used for high-profile events, concerts, author visits, or new resources, including a new item in their “library of things”.
- E-newsletters – Sent once a month, FADL uses their newsletter primarily to generate enthusiasm for people to register and attend library events.
- Print newsletters — Have been highly effective in generating library card signups. Newsletters contain news articles and up to three months’ worth of full event listings. Ferndale has seen program attendance boost because of their print newsletters.
- Print mailers — Distributed to resident mailboxes. FADL has only created two print mailers to date, but they've experienced many library visitors who came because of the mailers. The library found it was important to reach all community members, including those who did not have digital access.
- Podcast – The FADL’s podcast includes content related to conversations around books, or interviews with authors. Jeff Milo confirms that the podcast has been successful in reaching a new audience.
- Flyers – Community members sign up for programs merely because they saw a flyer in the library. It still works!
Check out LibraryAware if you want to create attention-grabbing flyers.
Jeff Milo also shared the ways in which FADL approaches social media:
- Every post is like a mini chapter in an ongoing story of our mission to enrich the community.
- FADL’s social media channels are used to generate enthusiasm for library resources and programming and foster a sense of community.
- We use social media to demonstrate the talents and ongoing efforts of library staff and what they do to enrich the community. Whether a masterful readers advisory, a great idea for programming, an engaging story time, we document it all and share via images and engaging copy.
- Make sure you are promoting inclusivity and equity. You can use social media to let people know that your library is a welcoming place and a safe space for everyone.
- Demonstrate the range of access, describing the library as a place that can be visited almost every day, every week. Mention what is offered by the library to folks who already have their cards or if you are looking to reach non-users at home, use social media to send reminders of all that the library has to offer.
Beyond these useful tips and insights, Jeff and Jenny shared much more on their library’s social media strategy, including how and when to use specific social platforms, and when to direct traffic to their website. The innovative staff of FADL also dipped into details including content recommendations for social posts, what their narrative goals are, when to post and how often.
Looking for more insight on library marketing as it pertains to website management? Watch this video to learn about FADL’s requirements for their website.