Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Short-term blog for long-term marketing gain

There was some interest in our library's Black History Month Blog project, which debuted last year, so for those of you who are interested in this kind of project from a marketing standpoint, I thought I'd give you a brief overview now that it's underway again.

Our Black History Month Blog highlights all kinds of information related to Black History Month, including items from our collection, campus events, biographies, television programming, web sites, a "Picture of the Week," exhibits, etc. in celebration of Black History Month. Library staff are the main authors of the posts, but we have made an effort to reach out to the campus by contacting departments and student organizations who may have something to share on the topic and we invited them to draft posts or add their comments per our guidelines.

As far as the marketing value goes, I think the jury is still out on how effective this approach is, but I think it has a lot of potential. After heading this project up for the second year, I can say that it usually starts out slow with little involvement from the campus community, but as the month progresses and there is greater awareness and word-of-mouth about the blog, we tend to get more participation. I was pleased to see that this year, I had some immediate responses from student groups who wanted to share information about upcoming events. The drawback of this short-term approach is that as momentum builds, the project comes to an end. However, there are also lots of positives: A short-term project could be ideal for librarians who don't have the staff or resources to commit to a long-term blog; choosing a timely topic can demonstrate the library's relevance; the topical approach lends itself well to encouraging conversation. Last year, I talked to some students about how they found out about the blog, and they told me that their professors mentioned it in classes and directed them to check it out. This was very encouraging to me and demonstrated that the blog generated some buzz.

In terms of promoting the blog itself, a button that links to it is displayed prominently on the VCU homepage (you may need to hit refresh a couple of time to see it on the bottom of the page), on the VCU Libraries page, our Black History Month events page, and there is an RSS feed to it on our various profile pages (like this one) and related research guides (like African American History). We also promote it on listservs and the usual stuff.

While I didn't initially approach this project as a marketing tool (although I did try to employ some marketing concepts in working on it), a short-term, topical blog could certainly be a marketing avenue worth exploring. If you would like any more information about this project, you know where to reach me.

1 comment:

Ivan Chew said...

Hi Jill, I popped over to the blog and saw the "Final Blog Post" dated 28 Feb 2006. I think the real value has yet to be seen. See, the blog would serve as an archive on the web, which means even after the project has long ceased, there's a chance that people might pick up the thread/ idea/ featured collection. See, if it weren't there, I'd never have known your project existed. CHeers