Your Online Campaign

Using the Web is becoming second nature. Here are some ideas of how to market your website or promote your library or event.


There are millions of blogs on the Web— an exact number is the subject of great debate. However, their ability to give instant news updates has driven them to become mainstays of many news organizations; in fact, many bloggers are now credible pundits. Consider posting an announcement to community blogs created for neighborhoods, cities and states. They are a good way to get word out about events/votes/etc. So which blogs should you pay attention to? Good question. Start scanning and then building a list of websites and blogs related to libraries if you haven’t already. If you want to try to pitch the discussions or blogs that are part of these sites, sign up or volunteer as an editor for them. Talk to your friends about specific blogs you know of and ask for contact information. You may want to start a library blog.

Direct Email to Supporters

Direct email is used more and more for outreach … you can acquire lists by buying them (usually voter lists or from other organizations). You can also micro-target populations, too. This would include likely voters, those with a high propensity of library users, etc. For your direct email piece, do the following:

  • Pay special attention to crafting subject lines so that even if a recipient doesn’t open it, he or she still gets a mini-message just by seeing the subject line (i.e. Vote to Keep Your Library Open or Today is Election Day or Help Fund Your Local Library).
  • Keep your messages short – 4 or 5 sentences.
  • Consider who should send out the email. Use prominent community members or special advocates such “Friends of the Library” organizations.
  • Include a URL in message.
  • Coordinate the email with other aspects of campaign, e.g. direct mail, newspaper ads.
  • For larger scale campaigns that have funding, consider placing paid or sponsorship banner ads on newspaper or other websites.

Electronic Discussion Lists

Electronic discussion lists are voluntary networks where individuals sign up to receive email messages submitted by other electronic discussion list members or owners. Electronic discussion lists are slower than chatrooms and rather than happening very quickly on a Web page, messages arrive via email. Some electronic discussion lists are moderated, so only the moderator or approved messages can be posted. Other electronic discussion lists are a free-for-all, with all members able to post messages at will. Electronic discussion lists are very common for clubs or member organizations. They can be an effective way for a large group of people who share similar interests to have a discussion.

Managing social media strategy within your organization


When your organization is mentioned online, whether it's a responding to criticism, thanking someone for a positive comment, or an opportunity to be a part of a conversation that relates directly to your organization's concerns, there's a relatively short time to respond effectively. In addition to monitoring your library’s presence on its own social media sites, you should monitor the Internet for mentions of your organization's name, the names of key leaders of your organization and mentions of your individual campaigns and events. By monitoring keywords (and/or hashtags on Twitter) for topics related to your organization or campaign, you can also identify the online community that shares your concerns and build new relationships.

There are a variety of fee-based monitoring and engagement services available, but organizations without a budget for these tools can use a variety of free and low-cost services to track and stay notified about online communications that relate to their work and brand. In a webinar hosted by Techsoup in 2010, Amy Sample Ward and Allen Gunn give instructions for creating a social media dashboard using a combination of search strategies combined with RSS feeds and other online tools.

“Social Media Listening Dashboard”

Archived webinar fromTechsoup (2010), Amy Sample Ward and Allen Gunn

“Listening Literacy For Nonprofits”

August 19, 2009 by Beth Kanter, Guest post on

Internal Communications

Since social media places staff on the frontlines of your organization’s communication channels, planning and good internal communication is key to averting public relations problems. Have a plan in place to deal with difficult situations, negative comments or a crisis, should one occur. Clear and thoughtful planning will help social media staff feel more comfortable and confident in their roles.

Additionally, you will want to have a formal social media policy in place and review it with staff. In “Doing Social Media So It Matters: A Librarian's Guide” Laura Solomon recommends reviewing social media policies created by other libraries and organizations and offers these resources:

UT Southwestern Library Social Media Policy (PDF)

Policy Database at Social Media Governance website

Further resources

Presentations and webinars

Slide presentations from PR Forum events at past ALA Annual Conference including:

  • "Going mobile @ your library®" (2011) by Joe Murphy, librarian at Yale University and mobile technology innovator,
  • "Next practice in communication @ your library®" (2010) by Stephen Abram
  • "Diversity @ your library®: Broadening Your Audience and Engaging Communities" (2008) by Eric Friedenwald-Fishman.
  • "Breaking through the message clutter @ your library®" featuring a panel of industry experts offering powerful tips and strategies on how to deliver library messages to the public. Speakers: Tom McNamee, editorial page editor, Chicago Sun Times; Dave Baum, Chicago broadcaster and media trainer; Eric Friedenwald-Fishman, creative director /president, Metropolitan Group; Kevin Kirkpatrick, executive vice president, Metropolitan Group andGeorge Eberhart, editor, American Libraries Direct.

Creating a Social Media Policy

Archived Techsoup webinar November 8, 2012: Ben Stuart and Andrea Berry

Social Media in 30 Minutes a Day Workshop

This workshop was part of the 2012 Grassroots and Groundwork conference, at Mystic Lake, MN - given June 8, 2012 by Amy Sample Ward.

Nonprofit Marketing/Communications Blogs

Amy Sample Ward

Co-author of “Social by Social: A handbook in using social technologies for social impact” and “Social Change Anytime Everywhere: How to Implement Online Multichannel Strategies to Spark Advocacy, Raise Money, and Engage your Community.”

Beth’s Blog: How Nonprofits Can Use Social Media

Beth Kanter is co-author of “The Networked Nonprofit” and “Measuring the Networked NonProfit”

David Lee King

Digital Services Director at the Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library.

David Lee King and Michael Porter also contribute to the Outside In blog at American Libraries magazine.

Debra Askanase, engagement strategist and digital marketer.

John Haydon: Discussing Social Media Marketing for Nonprofits

Author of "Facebook Marketing for Dummies"

Katya's Nonprofit Marketing Blog

Katya Andresen founder of Network for Good

Kivi's Nonprofit Communications Blog

Kivi Leroux Miller

NTEN: The Nonprofit Technology Network

List Servs

ALA‘s PR Talk List Serv is a very active and helpful community of communications, marketing and public relations professionals working in libraries.

Sign up for the basic ALA Mailing List Service list first (instructions below). Once you're logged in, you can add subscribtions to various lists such as PR Talk.

For first-time users to set up a Sympa account:

  1. Go to: ALA Mailing Lists Service.
  2. Click on the First login? link in the left navigation.
  3. Type your e-mail address and click the button labeled Send me my password.
  4. Retrieve the password from your e-mail account. Tip: If you do not see it in your inbox, check your junk mail folder, as sometimes that is where your filtering system places it.
  5. Return to the interface and log-in.