There’s one big thing I learned from my time as a TV news reporter that holds true as a library marketer: Winter weather sells.
Countless times each winter, my news managers would send me and the other reporters out into the snow to point at slick roads, stick rulers into the snowdrifts, even build a snowman — all on live TV.
We would interrupt regularly scheduled programming, stay on the air for hours with few or no commercial breaks, repeating ourselves over and over again. But TV ratings proved it was worth it. People love winter weather. They will sit and watch you for longer than they’re probably willing to admit. They might complain you’re on TV instead of their favorite show, but they watch. They send in photos of the patio furniture on their back decks covered in snow. They take videos with their iPhones of their kids sliding down hills. Some will even write your station’s name in the snow and send it in. I repeat: People love winter weather.
It may sound crazy. But it actually makes some sense when you think of it this way: Winter weather is a shared experience. It’s something we can all relate to. It affects us all in some way. And when news affects us all, viewership goes up.
I thought maybe this was just a weird TV thing. But several winters ago, when I started working as a library marketer, I found out that Winter Weather Wonderment extends past the evening news.
During one of the first snow falls at my library, I stepped outside and took a few random snapshots of the flying flakes. I showed some of the landmarks around us covered in snow. The library sign in front of a snowy background. The library building blanketed in snow. Nothing overly exciting. But snow seems to have a way of making most anything picturesque.
I posted the photos on our social media platforms. They blew up. We had record engagement numbers. (Still some of our most-liked material ever.) People liked them on Facebook. Retweeted them on twitter. Commented about them on Instagram. We were a winter weather sensation. Just like that. And it wasn’t a one time thing. We’ve been able to replicate the success almost every winter.
You can post similar photos and get yourself into the social media conversation too. They don’t have to be that complicated. You might not even have to leave the building for some. A fellow library staffer took this one:
The important thing is to go a step further and tie your photos into some kind of library promotion. This will help you take full advantage of the extra traction your photos are sure to get.
Try some of these ideas:
- Pay attention to snow days when your library is open, but schools are closed. Pair snowy photos with a reminder that your doors are open and your buildings are full of ways to help with that unexpected free time. Don’t assume families with a snow day will know you’re still open and programs are ongoing.
- Compile a list of books picked by your staff that are perfect for reading inside on a snowy day. Post them with links to the listings in your catalog on social media. Or just post photos of related book covers:
- Ask your customers to send in or tag you in photos of them reading in their coziest winter-reading spot. Retweet them on twitter or share them on Facebook.
- Make a snowman out of books:
- Look through your archives for old photos of past snow storms. Maybe you have particularly interesting newspaper front pages detailing record-breaking winter weather? Post photos or scans of those pages. (A great way to remind people about your newspapers and periodicals!)
- Create your own winter weather memes using a free meme generator. (You can use this one, but be careful, not all the photos or examples are safe for work.) You can also get creative with Photoshop or free options like Picasa or Canva. Whatever you use, make it funny and relate it to the library like this example:
If you live in an area where it doesn’t snow (lucky you, I say) you could replace “winter weather” in this blog with “extreme weather” in most cases and likely get the same result. Also, don’t discount a particularly sunny day. A beautiful photo of a really nice day may just encourage a fun day of outdoor reading.
What are your ideas for promoting the library during snowy weather or extreme weather? Share in the comments section below!
Want to become a socialbrary? Subscribe now so you don’t miss the latest from the socialbrary blog.
Learn more about the author.
Opinions are my own. This post does not necessarily reflect the views of my past or present employers.