Why Do Library Marketing Campaigns Suck So Much?

7 Aug

I have to say that while I am delighted with the concept of ALA‘s Atyourlibrary.org social media outreach initiative, I am slightly dismayed by its execution so far. For being an online-centered initiative, the website is drab and cluttered. And while obviously young and hip, the initiative’s spokesperson is less than articulate and struck me as having fairly banal things to say about the campaign:

As a huge proponent for pushing libraries to market themselves effectively, I am obviously in support of ALA’s effort. But a dull website and a lackluster public appearance do not an effective social media strategy make.

Also, why are parents, teens, kids and job seekers the target audiences for this social media outreach initiative? Those are already many libraries’ main users. And I don’t think these demographics are necessarily the main users of social media. It seems more logical to me to use social media to target folks that don’t necessarily already use the library regularly and who use social media a lot, like people between the ages of 18 – 60. Of course, if we did this, libraries would definitely need to think long and hard about what kinds of services we provide, or need to provide, to that demographic, which is a whole other post right there.

I guess I feel like a broken record in saying this, but I just think that libraries could do so much with savvy marketing campaigns, and so far, library marketing campaigns seem to suck. That’s right, suck.

So what do you all think? Is this initiative missing the boat a bit, or am I just crazy? And please, please let me know of any really awesome library marketing campaigns that you know of…

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4 Responses to “Why Do Library Marketing Campaigns Suck So Much?”

  1. Alison August 7, 2010 at 5:28 am #

    Didn’t you think it wasn’t a coincidence that they picked such a young spokesperson to be the face of the campaign? Shame she wasn’t better spoken, because I agree with you, she could have been more polished to represent the ALA. Still, I agree the campaign could have been a lot more slick. Isn’t it basic marketing?

  2. Sumanjit Manhas August 7, 2010 at 7:28 am #

    I agree with you Heidi. The same thoughts ran through my mind when watching this video and exploring the campaign website. The spokesperson seemed very unenthusiastic. In this day in age we need innovative strategies that catch attention not fall under the radar.

  3. Jon Strang August 7, 2010 at 5:08 pm #

    I was underwhelmed by that campaign as well. Especially since it came from the largest possible funding source for such campaigns! It really promoted a sort of status quo as far as I’m concerned, drawing only those who were already likely to go to the library.

    You’re right that an innovative campaign would really target non-users. Maybe you should do a mock-up of a social media campaign for the 30-somethings for your final class project?

  4. Maggie Hodge Kwan August 12, 2010 at 12:53 am #

    Thanks for this, Heidi. Like each of the previous commenters, I have been quite underwhelmed by the lack of interesting and effective marketing campaigns. My biggest pet peeve is the “@ your library” campaign that so many libraries seem to use! (for example, “DVDs @ your library” or “cafes @ your library.”) I haven’t had any marketing experience, but if I get any incredible ideas, I’ll definitely send them to the ALA!

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