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Social Media and the Friends of Wood Library

By Judy Baker for the Friends of Wood Library, Canandaigua, New York. Jane Baker and Ellen Hemming, Co-Presidents

The Friends of Wood Library in Canandaigua, New York received their charter nearly five decades ago, long before the age of personal computers, the Internet, and social networking.  Beginning in 2010, a series of events converged which motivated the Friends to use social media to increase their visibility.  First, Wood Library moved operations to a temporary location as its historic facility was prepared for an extensive renovation.  The library reopened on May 1, 2011, with a large public celebration.

Then with the anticipated 2011 launch of a community-based funding initiative for Wood Library, the Friends, Board of Trustees, and library staff recognized the benefit of a coordinated branding, marketing, and communications strategy.  A vote for community-based funding was planned for July 2012, and the Friends contracted with consulting firm, Communications Services, for an advocacy effort to include direct mail, website development, and multimedia messaging.

One strategy employed by the Friends was to use Facebook to connect with potential supporters who vote, promote a VOTE YES website, and encourage turnout for the July 2012 vote.  Though the Friends had established a Facebook presence in 2009, the site was inactive.  With the vote for community-based funding just six months away, it was time to recruit more “likes” or “friends” and post a variety of content on a more frequent schedule.

By using social networking weekly, the Friends of Wood Library:

•    Increased visibility among its membership, library patrons, and the community.  The Friends Facebook page helped us to continue a popular raffle basket fundraiser in a new way.  In 2010 and 2011, neither the temporary nor renovated space allowed for the Friends’ major fundraising activity: an annual two-week raffle of 25 baskets contributed by local merchants and individuals.  The Friends decided to sponsor a monthly raffle basket with donated products and gift cards from local businesses and individuals starting in February 2012.  We posted information weekly about these fundraisers on Facebook.  Then we made more connections by “liking” the pages of donor-businesses and asking supporters to “like” these pages as well.  Other promotions included “Love Your Library Day,” the Friends marching unit in the local 4th of July parade, and a strawberry social right before the vote.  We promoted all these “Events” on Facebook and the Friends web page.  We also asked Friends members to share those pages with their Facebook “friends.”

•    Added more “likes” or “friends” on our Facebook page.  We held a contest to see how many “likes” we could get in a two-week period.  We increased our “friends” from 144 to 162.

•    Generated support for Wood Library’s community-based funding initiative.  For example, we posted 11 videos which featured Wood Library patrons explaining why they planned to VOTE YES.  We linked to news coverage, added photos, and shared messages from Friends leaders.  Additional posts promoted the VOTE YES website, public meetings, and the successful outcome after more than a decade of effort!
 
An active Facebook presence is just one of many publicity options for Friends groups.. Our goal in 2013 is to increase “likes” to 200, post more content about our contributing businesses, and encourage posts by our members.

Submitted by Judy Baker for the Friends of Wood Library, Canandaigua, New York. Jane Baker and Ellen Hemming, Co-Presidents.  Find us at www.woodlibrary.org/friends or www.facebook.com/FriendsofWoodLibrary.

This article first appeared in the “Empire Friends” newsletter (Winter 2013, Issue No. 52).  Used with permission of the Empire Friends Roundtable of NYLA.