The Ontario-based Cobourg Public Library may serve a smaller population than other libraries, but its practical and creative approach to marketing helps this library have a big impact on its community of just over 30,000. Libraries of all sizes can get inspired by how Cobourg spreads the word about its full catalog of community-engaging programs and nearly 20 unique e-resources.
Start with a Site and Social
“Our community is receptive and responsive, especially on social media,” shared Heather Viscount, Manager of Access Services at Cobourg. To ensure they catch patrons’ eyes as they scroll through their social feeds, the library regularly posts and tweets reminders about programs like Wandoo Wednesdays, where patrons could drop by to learn how to use Demco Software’s Wandoo Reader, and the Cobourg Cookbook Club.
But Cobourg doesn’t stop there. A customized Boopsie mobile app helps the library engage smartphone-owning patrons, an audience that’s expected to grow as Statista projects that the number of smartphone users in Canada will reach over 24 million this year.
Add an App and Interactive Promotions for Extra Engagement
As their presence on social media makes clear, Cobourg values opportunities for community engagement both in and outside the library’s physical branches. One component remains the same no matter the location of the interaction: “Whether at outreach events or in programs at the library, we focus on making recommendations as organically as possible, tying a specific resource or program to the patron personally,” notes Viscount.
Cobourg’s promotion of its new Boopsie app is a quintessential Cobourg marketing campaign. Prior to the launch of the app, the library ventured to the local government to promote the app’s upcoming launch, leveraging a short animated video created in-house by the library’s grant-funded youth intern.
In June of this year, the library promoted “Download Day,” a campaign designed to encourage patrons to download the app through social media and on their website. The campaign was a success — in fact, the library saw 124 downloads of their app in a single day.
A “Show Us Your App” contest rounded out the download-driving campaign. Patrons could be entered into a drawing for a tech-themed gift basket by coming into the library and showing they had downloaded the app. To promote the contest, librarians wore cardboard “phones” with the library’s logo that read “Ask me about the app!”
Today, about 16% of the library’s community uses the app monthly. Viscount has heard from patrons that they “love the app because they can find what they need all in one place. They like being able to not only monitor their family’s library accounts, but use the app to download audiobooks and books directly.”
A Little Comfort Goes a Long Way
For librarians considering launching a marketing campaign, Viscount suggests combining tools for the most success. Posters, bookmarks, webpages, in-person outreach, and social media — use them all together to reach the widest audience possible. Beyond investing in promotions and marketing, she also says a little staff training goes a long way. “A knowledgeable staff is key. Patrons’ questions about programs and resources need to be quickly answered so they can start getting the most out of the library’s resources right away.”