Three Social Media Classes From Orkney Library

It’s easy to assume that eye-catching brand campaigns, celebrity thoughts, and cutting-edge memes take the crown on social media. A small library on a remote Scottish island with a population of 22,000 proves the opposite time and again.

Orkney Library & Archives has won the hearts and feeds of over 77,000 on Twitter, including celebrities and giants of the literary world. What began as an advertisement for the library and its local history (it was finally founded in 1683) has grown into a global fan base and consistently positive press coverage, largely thanks to social media.

The Purrs-Day Miaowder Club certainly. Somebody should write that.

– Orkney Library (@OrkneyLibrary) August 24, 2021

“When we started on Twitter, it seemed like a good thing to communicate, show what we did and talk about what was going on in the library,” said John Peterson, library assistant at Orkney Library & Archives. who oversees the social media activity told us. “And probably a bit to change perception, because libraries can have a stereotype that isn’t really ours.”

Build an organic following, one tweet at a time

Orkney’s online presence doesn’t have a dedicated social media manager – the existing library and archive staff have shaped the strategy from day one, which adds to its charm.

“Many times I have been surprised – and confused – by the fact that people who do social media for other library organizations are told to post 10 things a day between that time and this time,” said Peterson. “We don’t work like that at all. We do it almost exclusively over time. “

The Orkney Library’s unstructured, hyper-organic attitude towards the social is a clear departure from that of a traditional marketing department. However, this unusual approach results in posts that feel real, playful, and intelligent. The technical expertise of Orkney’s team is more literary and historical than internet culture, but the content they post on social networks expertly combines the two.

“If a colleague finds something upstairs in the archive, he gives me a phone and says, ‘Look, we just found that thing. It should be interesting. ‘ And that could end up being a Twitter thread. “

Every organization needs to find the level of formality that is appropriate for it and its strategy. Social is a spectrum, not an exercise in absolute terms. Even teams with a more structured publishing calendar and workflow can experiment with methods to involve subject matter experts in the content creation process or to identify a timely trend to inspire new posts.

Finding a knack for cheeky humor starts with trust

The Orkney Library’s voice on social media is a gratifying departure from what you’d expect from an institution more than 300 years old. (Note the constant jokes made at the expense of the spherical sculptures that adorn the library’s grounds.)

“If I looked back on the 10 greatest things we’ve done, they’d all probably have a sense of humor,” said Peterson. “Sometimes a lot of it is bad humor. There’s a lot of winking, dad, joke stuff.

As we all know from scrolling through our own feeds, comedy is tough to master on social media – especially for branded accounts. Orkney’s success begins with subtlety.

“It doesn’t have to be fun. It just has to be a light touch. It doesn’t have to be with a punchline, ”said Peterson.

For many marketing teams, composing the copy is just the first step in creating a social media presence known for ease. For every post that makes it into the publishing queue, dozens are often lost through lengthy social media approval processes.

“In a hierarchical situation I can absolutely understand that you can’t just let someone post freely because something could go wrong. But at the same time, you have to be able to have confidence in the person who is doing it to self-regulate, ”said Peterson.

“If I had to explain to someone what I was going to post, I probably wouldn’t post it in the first place. I think it would be a big part of, ‘I just don’t get it. What are you talking about?'”

3 pieces of advice for small brands to make a big impact on social media

Much like a great novel, Orkney’s stellar Twitter presence didn’t come overnight – it is the product of more than a decade of consistent efforts. For new brands or small organizations looking to get started with social media, here are three tips from the Orkney Library team:

1. Stay active and interactive

John Peterson’s top recommendation may seem simple, but it takes courage and persistence.

“Post regularly. Get in the habit of being an active account. “

“Life finds a way” -Dr. Ian Malcolm, Jurassic Park

– UNT libraries (@UNT_Libraries) June 7, 2021

However, social is a one-way street. Engaging your audience on a regular basis, be they consumers or other businesses, goes a long way in building goodwill and a lasting community.

“Interact with people, find people doing the same things. We connect with many other libraries and publishers, authors and bookstores. But if you’ve been to a bakery, network with other bakeries to see what they’re doing and what’s going on in the world, ”said Peterson. “Connect with companies that may not be in the same industry as you but are local. Make connections. “

2. Take care of your pictures

Whether you’re trying to land a joke or promoting an upcoming event, “showing” on social media is just as important as “telling” it.

“Every time you tweet that is just text, people scroll past it. You won’t stop, “said Peterson. “If we had something to say but there really wasn’t a picture, I would just use a photo of the outside of the library. People stop because of the picture and then read the text. “

The right visuals don’t necessarily have to be highly produced or require a full creative team to support them. Choose from the wide variety of apps available to create engaging images (no formal design steps required) or curate user-generated content to bring your feed to life.

3. Remember: size doesn’t matter

The Orkney Library is living proof that even small, distant institutions can compete with well-known names on social networks. Don’t underestimate the impact or reach of your brand.

“I think social media is a great equalizer because it means that no matter where you are, you can open yourself to the whole world. You could be followed by people anywhere. You just have to create the conditions for that, ”said Peterson.

Sprout’s own research confirms that trending or slipping into pop culture isn’t what consumers consider hallmarks of the best brands on social media. Instead, it is brands that engage their audiences on social networks and prioritize transparency that are seen as true leaders.

“Find what sets you apart from everyone else and use it,” said Peterson. “We’re a library and an archive, so we have stuff that a lot of other people will have. But we are the only ones on Orkney and we are the only Orkneys. “

In other words, treat social as a place where you can be authentic and stay true to your mission, expertise, or even your location. Social is the place where consumers discover new brands, trends and people. Make a first impression that is rooted in the real you, not a fictional version.

“Never underestimate your audience’s interest. Most of the people who see posts through our archives have never been to Orkney and never will; they probably don’t even know where it is often. But anyone can refer to an old photo, an old document or an old map, and everyone can refer to books. “

Everyone loves an underdog story

Amid the fast-paced, often chaotic storylines that dominate social media, Orkney Library & Archives stands out as a character anyone can (and does) get excited about.

Whether keeping up to date on the local cat twitter or promoting new library programs, John Peterson and his team have charmed readers around the world. Aside from its loyal following, Orkney’s social presence has earned the small library serious recognition through industry awards and visits to world-famous authors.

“Like all media, social media can get really, really dark. All you flip through is news and politics. So if someone comes across something that makes them smile rather than grin, I even find that very valuable. “

Are you looking for more ways to connect with your audience on social networks? Learn about seven ways to make them brand evangelists.

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