Speakers David Lee King (standing) and Ben Bizzle
Librarians learned a dazzling array of tips and tricks for increasing their public relations efforts on Facebook in a Midwinter ALA Masters Series session today. Ben Bizzle, director of technology at Crowley Ridge Regional Library in Jonesboro, Arkansas, and David Lee King, digital services director at Topeka & Shawnee County (Kans.) Public Library shared ideas with a packed audience on how to maximize reach and increase impact cost-effectively.
Bizzle developed a case study with seven libraries over 28 days to demonstrate how a $10 Facebook ad increased the libraries’ Facebook audiences. “Meet $10,” said Bizzle, talking about the $10-a-day Facebook ad. “Ten is gonna ask thousands of people a day to like your library.” The libraries, which included small and large urban systems (including Chicago Public Library), all found at least 100% increases in their Facebook fans, and one library saw more than 400% increase in Facebook fans after 28 days.
Facebook knows how to show your ad to get more likes, Bizzle said, and it is easier now to set up an ad than when ads were first available. Ads can be created around a library’s demographics and zip codes.
Bizzle also promoted ALA Think Tank (on ALA Connect  and Facebook ) for finding new ideas for content, the “make ’em laugh and pull their heartstrings” stuff that keeps readers engaged and the library page in their Facebook timelines. ALA Think Tank members use a Dropbox (email Bizzle at Ben@benBizzle.com to gain access) to share funny and touching images on their library Facebook pages.
“Let the library be the George Takei  of your community,” Bizzle said.
More than half of all Americans over the age of 13 are on Facebook, said David Lee King, and librarians can reach that public for free on Facebook. “Anybody like free?” King said.
He acknowledged that running a Facebook page means a lot of hard work, so libraries should split up the task among staff. “We have a schedule set up, provide guidelines and goals, and then let them go,” he said. Guidelines include when to post; how to create compelling content; and goals like gaining more visitors, likes, or comments.
Compelling content includes being relevant to fans, sharing personal likes such as book favorites, being there for customers and answering questions, and being seasonal and timely.
The work pays off, said King, because it helps create buzz about whatever your library wants to do.
“You want them [fans] to think your library is cool,” said Bizzle.