Friday, April 7, 2017

9 Vital Ways Facebook is the Best Partner for Libraries

Two weeks ago, I presented at an Empowering Women in Business Conference about Facebook. A few years ago, I had researched how libraries can successfully use Facebook (10 Facebook Tips Patrons Wish Their Libraries Knew) and updating all of my information made me realize:

Facebook is still the best place for libraries to be!

1. Facebook is the Powerhouse Social Media Platform

Last spring, the Pew Research Center shared their update on social media statistics. They found 86% of Americans are online. Of this group, 79% of people are on Facebook. As you can see in the chart below, this far exceeds any other social media network. If you want to reach your patrons on a social media platform, you can't do better than Facebook.

2. Organic Reach is Better with Less Followers

It works to your library's benefit that you don't have millions of followers. Over the years, Facebook's organic reach has declined from 12% to 6%-2%. If you have over 500,000 followers, you're more likely to have the lower reach. However, libraries typically do better on Facebook. I always felt that if I had 100 organic reach, I was happy. For my library, that was actually 10% organic reach. On our popular posts, that would jump to 25% or more.

3.  Three-Quarters of Followers are on daily for 50 minutes!

79% of Facebook users are on daily for an average of 50 minutes. You are not going to get this reach anywhere else. Instagram comes in second with half of their users (which is only 32% of Americans online) visit daily. When Facebook is used successfully (following these tips that we discussed back in 2015), you are going to reach your audience more often than anywhere else online.

4. Facebook can Grow Your Newsletter

Since Facebook only shares your post with a small percentage of followers, you will want to find other ways to reliably get your message out. We highly recommend sending an email newsletter. With all of the social media platforms, email is still the golden ticket in advertising. Remember, Facebook's average reach is 6% or lower, but email is sent to 100% of your followers every single time. While not everyone opens their newsletters, an average of 20% subscribers do. So, use Facebook to your advantage and periodically redirect your traffic to sign-up for your newsletter.

5. You Must Be Social on Facebook

I always find it heartbreaking when libraries only post about their upcoming programs on Facebook. You want to kill reach? Don't be social. Treat Facebook like a bulletin board. It is really important to understand Facebook's algorithm. The typical user receives 1,500 posts in their newsfeed DAILY. So, Facebook had to come up with an algorithm to make sure that their users were getting the posts they most want to see. It is based on 100,000 factors, but the chart below is the simplified version that we know for sure: they pay attention to what users respond to on Facebook -- what did they like, share, give an emotion to, comment, or click to read? Those are the types of pages and posts Facebook will show that user more often. If followers aren't responding to your post, Facebook will assume they don't really want to see posts from you and will show them less of your future posts. So, whatever you post, make sure you post it in a way that you know will get a response from people. (For example, don't just advertise about an upcoming story time. Take a picture from a previous story time of an adorable young patron and casually mention that story time meets weekly. People will like the picture because of the cute kid!) If you know people are going to ignore your post, it doesn't belong on Facebook.

6. It is Easy for Libraries to Be Social

So, what do you post if you can't just talk about your programs? What worked for us -- we posted twice a day. In the morning, it was something serious and library related. In the evening, it was something fun that related to our common values with patrons: the importance of reading, author quotes, statistics to literacy, author news, etc. If you want specific ideas, check out our posts about the different types of viral Facebook content ideas that has worked in other libraries. In my previous library, we learned that articles that supported reading did really well as well as photos of kids reading and enjoying the library. You can also join The Shareable Clique, which 1,700+ libraries share their viral posts that may also work for your page, too.

7. Use the "Pages to Watch" to find Viral Content

Under you Facebook Page's Insight, you'll see an option for "Pages to Watch". This is a great place to follow other libraries with successful pages. Every week, you can visit this section and see what was most popular with their followers. If it was generic, you can reshare it on your page! [Facebook will give you a natural boost if you share viral posts that had received a lot of interaction from users. They love it when pages share quality posts and will share it with more of your followers than they usually do.] You can also follow other pages that have content you might want to share, like the Goodwill Librarian and Bookstr. Note: to schedule a shared post, just click on the Time Stamp of that post. That'll bring you to a special URL that you can use when you are scheduling ahead.

8. Utilize Facebook's Event Calendar

Facebook is really pushing their event feature. It can be time consuming making events online, but if you focus on the major events that are coming up, it is manageable. Do a chunk of them at once so followers will get an upcoming list. When your followers mark that they are interested in an event, it appears on their calendar AND it is advertised to their friends. When the event is a few days away, Facebook gives them an automatic reminder. You can also advertise that they can follow all of your events so they'll always be in the know.

9. Try a Facebook Ad

Many libraries have had great success with advertising their big events on Facebook, even with teen programs. Facebook is inexpensive and they allow you to limit your advertisement to people living within your area, gender, and age. It is worth trying out and see if you can reach more than your usual library patrons.

For more posts about Facebook, check out:

10 Facebook Tips Patrons Wish Their Libraries Knew

8 Free Ways to Boost Your Library's Facebook Reach

15 Viral Content Ideas for Your Library's FB Page! (Part 1)

15 More Viral Content Ideas for Your Library's FB Page! (Part 2)


  1. I've noticed that Facebook events also are being copied on to some event sites like evensi and others. Spreads the library information around. It looks to me like they are definitely getting it from Facebook.

    1. Oh, that's awesome! Another benefit! :-) Thanks for sharing.