Let’s call the whole thing off

I’m a little bit confused about Thing 19. Apparently advertising is “only 10% of marketing (if that)”, the rest of it being what we *actually do* and the services we offer. But in the same paragraph I read that “a lot of libarians offer brilliantly appropriate services or tools for their users, but they just don’t wield the megaphone enough in order to get the message out there” um, but surely ‘wielding the megaphone’ is the advertising part, so what are we talking about- marketing or advertising?

If I’m honest, I haven’t come across anything in the Cam23 programme that is going to fundamentally change the services we offer our users. It hasn’t turned up masses of vitally important information that we were previously unaware of and that our students must know about, but it has shown me several platforms that could be adopted for more successful ‘megaphone wielding’. To me, reaching users on as many different platforms as possible is a way of advertising our library, and to argue that it’s not advertising because it’s ‘connecting and conversing’ seems to be going to extraordinary lengths to avoid saying that we *need* to advertise our libraries. Conversation can only develop when there’s something there to engage with, and the only way we can make our users more aware of our presence is by advertising.

Perhaps the distinction is too subtle for me. The social media we’ve been exploring has shown me lots of new and exciting ways of presenting the information that is already there. Yes, these new platforms offer huge opportunities for engaging on a personal level with our users, and the fact that both librarians and users can interact in meaningful ways has got to be a good thing, but the boundaries between advertising and social media are becoming increasingly blurred.

Arguments about whether it’s advertising or marketing aside, what’s the one Thing I think our library could adopt to help engage with our users? I’m afraid the answer has to be Facebook. There are several reasons for this:

  • It’s versatile and flexible
  • Most of our users will have an account (and will have had for several years)
  • It’s fairly universal
  • We can set the tone easily
  • At least some of our librarians are comfortable using this format (if not particularly comfortable with the personal/professional divide)
  • Facebook has the critical mass needed to make it really successful, something even Twitter hasn’t quite managed yet
  • It’s interactive and can be used to engage as well as advertise
  • It can be used to help further a sense of community – something especially useful in the college context

Now I’m not a huge fan of Facebook on a personal level, but over the past few weeks I’ve come across quite a few good library pages and have been convinced that it can be used to good effect if we were ably to get enough support. Facebook page addresses can easily be added to library guides and literature for incoming students, to email signatures of library staff for further coverage, as well as a link on the library web pages. I can easily believe that it might be something that users would look at and engage with if bought to their attention, and well maintained, well-judged page (like the Jerwood Library’s) would do a great deal to promote the friendly and approachable face of the library.


1 Comment »

  1. magistra Said:

    I think one of the ideas about using social media for marketing is that it’s not just about a more effective megaphone. Because that’s a model of one-way communication, like advertising: you tell people something and hope they listen. One of the things I’m trying to discuss on my post on marketing is that a conversation needs to be more than telling people things they’re not necessarily interested in knowing.

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