LibMark Digital Marketing and Libraries Pt 1

After my last post,  it seems only appropriate that this one is my notes taken from a marketing seminar.

LibMark, which is the marketing subcommittee of the Public Libraries Victoria Network, ran a full day seminar on Digital Marketing and Libraries on Friday 23rd October.  From here on in are my notes from the day, which was great – I came away with a lot of ideas and new perspectives.  Hopefully these notes can give you some too.

The keynote speaker was Darren Sharpe –  Senior Consultant at collabforge, who spoke on “Social Media, Marketing and Public Libraries”.  (His presentation is available at

Australians are generally early adopters of technology.  We have one of the highest rates of mobile phone ownership in the world. 3/4s of Australian online adults use soical media and 1/4 have created their own content (Forrester Research).  Our largest online demographic is the 35-44 year olds (Gen X), followed by the 25-34, then the 45-54 and then the 18-24s.

Marketing has changed, it is now pull not push, many to many not only one to many, its about conversation now not just a message, its peer to peer not organisation controlled and its generative not static. Marketing is no longer fully in our hands to control and we need to be aware of this and to learn how to make the most of it.

Social media comprises:

  • connection – which enables people, data, events and issues to meet u
  • community – there is a lot of power in self-organising groups, which have represent an identity, have common purpose, trust and representation (See Seth Godin’s book Tribes)
  • context – where you can interpret, find, personalise and complement content that you find –
  • co-creation – take existing content, change it, add to it and more, then share it again

When talking about new forms of value, He gave us a quote from jeff Jarvis (2005) in “Who wants to own content”, which in its purest form says “The value is in relationships. The value is in trust.”

The new values in today’s social media are sharing, reputation, collaboration, attention, transparency, trust, authenticity and openness.

So what is the challenge for public libraries?

  1. Connect your with your community via Social Media (highlighted Boroondara’s blogs)
  2. Provide access to open data, tools and APIs (he gave examples from the Gov 2.0 Workforce)
  3. Build engaging user communities – our own tribes around a common purpose (WePlan Alpine and Open Austin)
  4. Enable crowdsourcing – so our users can feel involved (NLA Digitisation – OCR checking)
  5. Facilitate the acquisition of new literacies – help our users to learn and interact with today’s online environment

Libraries are rich with social objects – books for one, other items, that people can gather around, around which tribes can be built. We can provide the right conditions for tribes to flourish.

Libraries are only going to become more important as our communities look to use for our informational leadership.


Matthew Hunter from Thorpe-Bowker then gave a demonstration of Library Thing for Libraries and Aqua Browser, which I had seen before.  What was news was that there is a new interface for Global Books in Print (I think this is it) on its way – something to look forward to.


Matthew Van Hasselt from the State Library of Victoria (SLV) gave an excellent presentation on email newsletters and why they still have a place in our emarketing strategies.

SLV’s communications needs is to communicate broadly their range of offerings to geodemographically diverse audiences. They do this through traditional paid media advertising, in-house promotional materials, signage, website, editorials in media, social media and through their email newsletter. They use multiple solutions so that the message is communicated as widely as possible and so that they can ensure it is received by as many people as possible.

Email is considered by many to be old hat, a thing of the past, so why use it for marketing?  Email has many things in its favour, including: its a long standing communication tool – accepted and stable, its cheap and fast, measurable, understood, more formal than social media and more widely available – its not blocked by filters and more people have email addresses than social networking accounts.

One of the problems with social media is knowing which of the many tools out there to invest your resources in.  There is also the question of longevity, not only in the tools themselves, but in people’s dedication to them.  Whereas email has proven staying power and high use.

So how do you market via email?

  • Always ask permission – NEVER spam
  • Understand what your users want
  • Decide how you will give them what they want
  • Keep it simple, clear and to the point
  • Be responsive

What to consider in design? Matthew gave us some information from Nielson’s “Surviving inbox congestion”, including:

  • Average time given to an email newsletter after opening is 51 seconds
  • Only 19% of content is fully read
  • Content is mostly scanned
  • 35% of users only skim a small part of the content

Important stuff we need to be aware of before immersing ourselves:

  • Have a straightforward subscribing and unsubscribing process
  • Have an easy to read privacy policy
  • Offer both text and html options – for equality of access
  • Strip formatting from the text option – it can much it up otherwise – use Notepad to do this
  • Make sure all images have tags – for accessability
  • Check all links twice, more if you can
  • Have someone else proof read your work
  • Use a clear sender address ie. the name of your organisation
  • Create brief and relevant subject lines that will engage your reader

He recommend the Inverted pyramid of writing, where the information the reader must have for the communication to be successful is first, then the helpful but not crucial information, then lastly the bonus but not necessary content.  You want to be sure they get the important stuff if they only read for a short time.

Always give your users the option to view the enewsletter in a browser and include all the important links at the bottom of the newsletter.

For more examples, check out the Australian Writers’ Guild (, Empire Online (, and

Software services that offer email newsletters include MailChimp, iContact, Vertical Response and Mail Out.

Last notes:

  • Subscribe to your newsletter and test the experience
  • Don’t build your newsletter in email software
  • Get advice from someone already doing it
  • Learn some basic HTML for tweaking if needed
  • Keep it simple from the start
  • Be happy with the limitations of the medium


Leith Baggs stepped in on the day to replace a last minute cancellation and did a great presentation on viral marketing.   (her presentation is available on the LibMark blog at

Viral marketing is a broader form of word of mouth – as new internet tools give us a way to spread the marketing message indirectly as well as directly through our users.  Each person online has on average a network of 8-12 people in their close network – people who they would pass important messages onto.

Using such networks, a message’s exposure could grow exponentially, whilst being sustainable as well as cheap to distribute once the product has been created – after all its your users doing all the work of spreading the message!

Tips for great viral marketing:

  • Stand out from the crowd
  • Make it emotionally charged enough that people will send it on
  • Include something unexpected, weird or naughty to gain attention
  • Tell a story that people will want to share

YouTube is a great place to load your viral marketing product.

  • Creating a video is easy and YouTube is free for posting.
  • Homemade videos are fine and should be no longer than 3 minutes (shorter is better)
  • Descriptions should be clear and specific (shouldn’t be hard for librarians 🙂 )
  • Don’t use fake customer insertions – product placement is OK though
  • Invite your communities to submit videos
  • Tell everyone about it
  • Make sure bloggers know about it
  • But most of all, have fun and experiment.

Viral marketing can also be about a simple email that meets the tips above. Make sure you personalise it so that it comes from a familiar source (ie. your library name).  However, beware of being a spammer and respect the privacy of your users – you must get their contact details from them directly.

Some great examples of viral marketing:


The next session was Katie Dawson on Accessible Online Places for your Events.  Unfortunately I lost my notes on this session, but I can advise you to check EventBrite as a potential event booking tool for your library.  I know I will be.

I will post the rest of my notes from the afternoon in Part 2, coming soon.


  1. Thanks Anne, its always good to get a recommendation on something, so we will definitely be looking into Eventbrite for our library’s use.

  2. Yes, the link will be in Part 2 of my notes from the seminar.

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