Why Your Social Media Needs More Llamas

Do you remember when those two crazy llamas got loose and cable news and the Internet went bonkers?

Two llamas on the run in Arizona.

Someone (almost as clever as the two llamas in question who managed to outsmart their owners) dubbed it “llama drama” at the time.

No one could take their eyes off the “llamas on the lamb.” News helicopters were streaming the chase live on television. It made headlines all over the Internet. People in the area flocked to the streets to get a glimpse of the furry fugitives. Honestly, add a white bronco with a legendary football player in the back, and the Internet may have just blown up on that very day.

The two llamas were stars. They quickly became a trending topic on twitter. Complete with hashtags like #llamas and #llamasontheloose, which dominated the social chatter for a good part of the day.

I decided the library should get in on the fun. Why not? We love llamas at the library. I mean, the “Llama Llama” costume character is a hit anytime he visits.

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I searched our online library catalog for the best llama book I could find and then took to twitter. This is what I came up with:

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Some simple text. A shortened link to our catalog so people could find the book. And a couple key hashtags. Then – boom – we were instantly part of the conversation. We were part of the #llamadrama sweeping the nation.

One of our customers retweeted the message, adding that her library rocks and called us “badass opportunists” for the clever tie-in. It’s a badge I’ll wear proudly. Thank you, kind tweeter.

This idea is something the public relations world has been doing forever. They often call it “newsjacking.” The art of inserting your organization or company into the news cycle. Usually it’s in the form of a press release, or media pitch. The hope is you can offer a unique angle for a breaking or popular news story that gets people to notice your business.

The llama newsjacking for the library took me very little time. But the impact was huge. It was retweeted like crazy and resulted in more than 5,000 impressions on twitter alone. It ended up being the post with the highest engagement on social for us that month. Beyond just the fact it promoted an item in our collection – it also showed we were in tune with current events. It helped keep us relevant and in the conversation. Raising awareness is just as important as circulation, in my opinion. And, at the very least, people like to see you can have a little fun and that you’re a real person – not just a twitter account on autopilot.

Here are three ways your library can be a badass opportunist on social media too:

Check trending hashtags daily.
If you don’t have a twitter account, get one! It’s a great way to be a part of timely conversations and events. From your home screen, you can regularly check what’s trending throughout the day. You should try to do this several times throughout the day. Just below your twitter profile information you’ll see the most current list of the top 10 trending hashtags and subjects on twitter. Here’s a look as of the time I was writing this post:

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The default is typically the top 10 trends in the United States. But you can click that “change” button to see what things are trending just in your area. You can narrow it down to city and state. Twitter also recently added a “Moments” tab that lets you see ongoing trending conversations.

Cash in on the trend.
All of us in the library business are lucky. We have a ton of resources and material on just about any subject you can possibly think of. So more than likely, you should be able to find a way to tie into at least one of the top 10 trending topics at the time. For instance, in the example of the trends above, #GreaseLive is second on the list. You could easily use that hashtag to promote the Grease movie or soundtrack in your collection. Is it available digitally? Even better. Promote those e-resources. Also, most of us have broadway books in our collection. You might even have the musical song book in your collection. Or go broader and promote books about the late 1950s – the era of Grease. You get the idea. The possibilities are huge with our diverse collections.

Caution is important.
Jumping into these trending topics can be a lot of fun. However, you don’t want to wear it out. Something like #lamadrama, where the Internet is buzzing at maximum speed, only comes around every once in awhile. Those are the times when you really want to play along. However, constantly beating your customers over the head with these types of promotions may get annoying. Also, be careful when you’re picking your tie-ins. Use common sense and good judgment. Avoid controversial or political topics. And never try to benefit off of a tragedy.

Take away: Make checking the trending hashtags part of your daily routine. Make cashing in on them maybe a weekly or even as-needed thing. But whatever you do, jumping in on some fun Internet trends will increase your user engagement and add fresh, relevant content to your feeds.

What are some of the ways you’ve used a trending moment to promote your library? Tell me in the comments below!


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Learn more about the author.

Opinions are my own. This post does not necessarily reflect the views of my past or present employers.

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