Easily Boost This Year’s Summer Reading Numbers

Two things I know for sure about libraries:

  1. They’re filled with books.
  2. They have some type of a Summer Reading Program.

It’s a staple of library programming. A summer initiative that rewards kids (and often adults, too) for reading. Some track hours read, others track books read. Some even offer rewards for other activities such as coloring sheets, storytime attendance, MakerSpace projects, and more.

Library committees spend months picking prizes, establishing rules, coordinating logistics, drumming up excitement — and, let’s be honest, probably a little infighting and stress to boot. (Long before Batman vs. Superman, there was Paper Tracking vs. Online Tracking. Has your library had this debate? Some of you are married to those printed reading logs. It’s a long, storied, familiar love affair you’re just not ready to dump quite yet. Alright, alright. We’ll leave that for another blog post someday.)

All this aside, I am sure we can agree we want as many of our customers as possible participating in our Summer Reading Program. The hope is to increase registration each year, right? My library watches registration, plus completion rates, which many argue is just as important as registration. (Maybe even more important.) Regardless of which metric you’re paying attention to — the first key step is getting the word out.

Summer Reading marketing can take many forms. I hope social is part of your strategy. And not just organic posts, but paid social media advertising, too.

First: I know what you’re going to say. You don’t have any money. Library budgets are tight. Especially when it comes to marketing money. I hear you. I get it. However, the goal of this post is just to get you to consider it. I simply ask that you don’t totally dismiss the idea of incorporating some money (it doesn’t have to be a ton) into your budget (either this year or next year) for paid Facebook advertising during your Summer Reading Program.

Facebook continues to become more and more of a “pay to play” kind of environment. Meaning you really need to put some dollars behind your messaging to make sure your audience sees it. Since Summer Reading is one of the biggest programs most of us do at our libraries, why not invest in promoting it on social media? Sure your followers may already know about it, but with Facebook’s targeting features, you can go beyond your audience and potentially reach members of your community who may be interested, but don’t normally participate.

This is a great way to boost attention before and during registration to get those numbers up. If you allow your cardholders to sign up online, then your ads can link directly to the online registration page. Consider extending yours ads past registration to promote things such as prizes, deadlines, events, etc. This will help ensure Summer Reading engagement and completion is at its best.

I was recently invited to a meeting of local business owners who were interested in Facebook advertising. I created a presentation to help walk them through the basics. I’ve updated a portion of that presentation just for you and uploaded it below. I think it gives you an idea of where to begin and what to consider. If any of the slides leave you with questions, feel to ask them in the comments below. I’m happy to help. In the meantime, happy Summer Reading — we can get through this together! 🙂

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


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