Leadership and Management Development Community

 View Only

Video Marketing for Libraries: A Tool to Connect and Communicate

By Dan Bostrom posted 02-04-2021 09:20

Video Marketing for Libraries: A Tool to Connect and Communicate
By Melissa Fraser-Arnott

Libraries need to compete for their users’ attention in a noisy digital world. They need to inform and connect with their communities in memorable ways. A well-developed promotional video can help libraries to reach their target audiences in the digital world.

There are many free or low-cost tools available online to meet library’s technical video creation needs, removing cost and technical barriers to video production. The differentiating factor in creating a compelling library promotion video is communication planning.

Robin O’Hanlon has co-authored a book and articles on video marketing for librarians, including "Video Marketing: Best Practices and Simple Tips for Libraries" in the Marketing Libraries Journal. Melissa Fraser-Arnott, Co-Chair of the LMD Marketing Section, reached out to Robin for advice on video marketing.

The pandemic has forced libraries to either initiate or expand virtual service offerings in order to follow public health guidelines. Where do you see video marketing in this environment?

What I found most interesting in the context of the pandemic was seeing how libraries responded to promoting their services when their physical spaces were completely closed. Libraries had to communicate the message to patrons that, “Hey, we are here, just not in person.” I think this desire to connect was felt even more acutely because the pandemic immediately resulted in so people suffering and needing support. Libraries had to communicate a lot of information quickly about how our services and access to our resources had changed overnight, and an example of a video that did this really effectively was Duke University Libraries’ “Library Takeout.

You emphasize the importance of establishing a video’s purpose. Because libraries are currently offering more services and programs virtually than in the past, they might consider creating multiple videos for multiple purposes (entertainment, information sharing, community connection). How should a library plan their video marketing efforts if they have multiple purposes or messages to convey?

I think identity places an important role here. You can have different types of videos you want to create, and messages you want to convey, but they should all reflect who you are and what you stand for as an organization. Also, having consistent branding can go a long way in having your video marketing presence feel consistent, even as something as simple as a consistent opening and closing graphic.

You discussed the importance of correctly identifying your video’s target audiences. What advice do you have for librarians in determining whether their videos are reaching their targets?

I think this depends on what you were trying to promote with your video, but you can usually tell if you're reaching someone. If it's a resource like a website, you can pretty easily check views or downloads. If it was a workshop series or public program, you can track registrations and attendees. It's harder to tell if you're reaching the someone you wanted to target. I think they best approach is understanding where your target audience goes for information in the first place, and putting your content there. Also, use "snowball" promotion. You hopefully know at least one member of your target audience. Ask if they've seen your video, and if they have, explain that you are trying to get the word out, and ask them to share it with their community.

How long should a video be kept on a library’s website before it is removed and replaced with a more recent version?

I don’t have a hard and fast rule. If the information is outdated, then you should obviously remove it. Videos are a lot of work, so I'd suggest resisting the urge to update them for novelty's sake.

How do you test your videos production plans and scripts before filming or releasing them to the public?

Storyboarding is really helpful during the pre-production phase, and you don't need fancy storyboarding software to get started. Just take a piece of paper and divide it into six squares, then map out the key action. For scripts, get people outside of your production team to read them. I once wrote a script with a fellow librarian and the scene involved two students interacting. We then asked couple of our student assistants to read it and they all said, "Uh... We don't talk like this. Can we please re-write this for you?" Also, doing a "table read" with scripts is helpful - get your talent together via Zoom and have them read through the script, as though you were filming. You'll get to experience the flow of the dialogue, which can be helpful if you're, for example, working with humor and want to see how a joke lands. Listening and hearing is such a different experience than reading, and a table read can help you determine if your dialogue is clunky, repetitive, etc.

Who in the library should be involved in the library video production process?

I think whoever wants to be, and whoever has the time, energy, and patience to commit to a video project. I also think it's important to include individuals from different areas of your Library and from different backgrounds. Lots of folks who in libraries have no video production experience, so you can approach making videos as a learning experience that anyone can get involved with.

Robin O'Hanlon.

Robin O'Hanlon is the Associate Librarian for User Services at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center Medical Library in New York City. She has a BA from the Evergreen State College in Film Studies, a Master of Information Studies from University of Toronto's iSchool, and is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Criminal Justice at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. In 2017, she co-authored the book “Video Marketing for Libraries: A Practical Guide for Librarians.”

Melissa Fraser-Arnett.

Melissa Fraser-Arnott is the Co-Chair of the Leadership and Management Division’s Marketing Section. She is the Chief of Integrated Reference Services at the Library of Parliament in Ottawa, Canada. Melissa has a PhD from the SJSU-QUT Gateway PhD Program and an MLIS from the University of Western Ontario.