A Librarian’s Guide to Digital Marketing for Summer Reading

stack of books
Masthead Waves

Summer is a bustling season for libraries brimming with fresh programs and opportunities to connect with new patrons. The heart of many libraries lies in their summer reading program. How can you attract new readers and keep your loyal community members informed about all the exciting offerings? Crafting a digital marketing strategy can have a significant impact, even with constraints on time and resources. Experiment with incorporating a selection (or all!) of the concepts we offer below into your upcoming reading challenge, and witness the transformative effect it can have.



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Example from the San Leandro Public Library website

Maximize Online Presence

For many, a trip to the library first begins through their computer screens at home. Ensure visitors to your website can easily discover information about your summer reading program. Consider creating a dedicated page solely for summer reading on your site, providing readers with all the necessary details to participate. For enhanced visibility, prominently showcase your program by adding a banner to the homepage and other high-traffic areas, directing individuals straight to the summer reading page. In today’s digital era, establishing a robust online presence is vital for the success of your program and helps reach a broader audience while attracting more registrations. Here are some tips to optimize your online presence:

  1. Create a dedicated website or landing page for your summer reading program. This will serve as a central information hub for participants and make it easy for them to register and access resources. 
  2. Optimize your website for search engines to ensure it appears in relevant search results. Use keywords related to summer reading programs, books, and libraries to improve visibility.
  3. Leverage the power of online directories and listings to promote your program. Submit your program to local community websites, library directories, and event platforms to increase its visibility.

Following these tips can enhance your online presence and increase your participation in the summer reading program.

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Example from Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh via email

Implement Email Marketing Campaigns

Email is a highly effective way to promote your summer reading program and keep participants informed and engaged throughout the season. The trick is to send the right message at the right time. Below are tips on how you can implement successful email marketing campaigns:

  1. Build an email list of participants and potential participants. A great starting point for people to include are participants of past programs and reading challenges. Add a section in your newsletter or an update about the program to encourage people to sign up.
  2. Segment your email list to personalize your communication and target specific groups of participants. For example, you can send different messages to parents, teenagers, and educators.
  3. Craft compelling and engaging email content. Use eye-catching subject lines, including relevant program updates, recommended book lists, and exclusive offers or incentives to encourage participation. 
  4. Automate your email campaigns to save time and ensure consistent communication. Use email marketing tools to schedule and send emails at specific intervals throughout the summer.

By implementing these strategies, you can effectively communicate with participants, keep them engaged, and remind them of upcoming events and activities.

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Examples from Plainfield Library and PGCMLS via Twitter

Use Social Media Platforms for Promotion

Social media provides a powerful way to promote summer reading programs and engage your target audience. Since posting on social media is likely already part of your plan, now is the time to increase the volume. Don’t be afraid to post more often and try different formats. On Instagram, consider adding a story to promote your timeline posts. For Facebook, organize an event to promote online summer reading. Facebook automatically suggests events to local people in your community, which helps raise awareness. No matter the platform, be sure to provide a strong call to action for people to participate. Here’s how you can use social media for effective promotion:

  1. Identify the social media platforms where your target audience is most active. This could be Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or even TikTok. 
  2. Create visually appealing content to share on social media. Use images, videos, and infographics to catch your audience’s attention and highlight the benefits of participating in your program. If you don’t have a graphic designer in-house, plenty of online tools make it easy to create assets yourself—we love Canva for image banners and Animoto for easy videos.
  3. Encourage user-generated content by asking participants to share their reading experiences, book recommendations, or creative projects related to the program. This will increase engagement and create a sense of community among participants.
  4. Collaborate with influencers or local organizations to expand your reach. Partner with popular book bloggers, other local libraries, or educational institutions to promote your program to their followers. 
  5. Boost your posts when possible. It can be as inexpensive as you want—try starting with $25! Just be sure to narrow the audience to people in your target location.

By effectively using social media platforms, you can reach a wider audience, generate buzz around your summer reading program, and foster excitement. And remember, if you’re a Beanstack client, you can find ready-made social media images in the launch kit through the help desk.

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Example from the Bluffton Public Library website

Collaborate With Partners and Influencers

Teaming up with local businesses and individuals can significantly boost the success of your summer reading program. Such partnerships can entail issuing a press release or media advisory to expand your reach beyond your current audience. Share your press release with local newspapers, blogs, and radio stations, highlighting the importance of reading challenges for the community, especially for school-age readers. Check out these collaborative strategies to enhance the impact of your program:

  1. Reach out to local businesses or community organizations and propose partnerships. For example, you can collaborate with a bookstore by offering exclusive discounts on recommended books for your program participants.
  2. Invite guest speakers or authors to give talks or conduct workshops related to reading and literacy. This will not only attract participants but also provide valuable insights and experiences.
  3. Partner with local schools, libraries, or educational institutions to promote your program to their students or members. Offer incentives or joint events to encourage participation. If you’re a Beanstack client, consider setting up a tandem connection
  4. Engage with influential individuals in the literary and education fields. Collaborate with popular authors, educators, and book reviewers to endorse your program and reach their followers. 

By working with partners and influencers, you can tap into their networks, gain credibility, and attract more participants to your summer reading program.

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Example from Bedford Free Public Library via Twitter

Sustain Participant Engagement

After kicking off your summer reading program, keeping the excitement going to reach your objectives is crucial. Consistently use the same communication channels to keep participants interested throughout the summer. Here are some strategies to keep them engaged:

  1. Offer a variety of reading challenges and activities to cater to different interests and reading levels. This will keep everyone motivated and excited about their progress. 
  2. Provide regular updates and reminders about upcoming events, new book releases, or recommended reads. Newsletters via email, social media posts, and text messages all help keep participants informed.
  3. Foster a sense of community by organizing virtual or in-person book clubs, discussion forums, or live author Q&A sessions. Encourage participants to interact with each other and share their thoughts and experiences.
  4. Recognize and reward participants’ achievements. Highlight their progress, share success stories, and offer incentives or prizes for reaching reading milestones.

Implementing these strategies can sustain participant engagement, create a positive reading experience, and ensure the success of your summertime program.

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Example from York County Public Library via Facebook

Measure Success and Adjust Strategies

Measuring the success of your digital marketing is essential to ensure you’re on track and can make necessary adjustments. Here’s how you can evaluate the effectiveness of the marketing for your summer reading program: 

  1. Track website analytics to monitor the number of registrations, page views, and user engagement. Use tools like Google Analytics to gain insights into your website’s performance.
  2. Monitor email open rates, click-through rates, and conversion rates to assess the effectiveness of your email campaigns. Identify trends and make improvements based on the data.
  3. Analyze social media metrics such as reach, engagement, and follower growth. Pay attention to the types of content that resonate most with your audience and adjust your social media strategy accordingly.
  4. Gather feedback from participants through surveys or feedback forms. Ask about their experience, satisfaction levels, and suggestions for improvement. Use this feedback to refine your strategies for future programs.

By regularly measuring the success of your digital marketing efforts and making necessary changes, you can optimize your summer reading program and ensure its continuous growth.


We’re Here to Help

Did you know 10,000 libraries and schools worldwide rely on Beanstack to facilitate summer and year-round reading challenges? Our user-friendly software and mobile app help libraries easily promote and manage challenges while maximizing participation. See how Beanstack compares to programs like ReadSquared and learn more about our key differentiators, like reading list challenges, custom reports, and a 4.7-star mobile app. Contact our team today for pricing and to see Beanstack in action.

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