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Royal Readers – A Social Success Story

When the Royals made it to the World Series in 2015 everyone was trying to get a piece of the action. Fans were scrounging for tickets, affiliated brands were putting up billboards and local organizations were loving all the attention on KC. Somewhat surprisingly, one of those groups was the Kansas City Public Library. At a recent Social Media Club of Kansas City event, Liesl Christman who was the digital content specialist during the MLB playoffs, gave a presentation about how the library succeeded in attaching their organizations social media presence to this highly visible event. The biggest takeaways from Christman’s presentation were: stick to your strengths, follow the conversation and find your allies & rivals.

The majority of the publicity for the library came during the 2015 season, but the Library had actually tested the basics of the campaign in 2014. In a few posts to test the waters, they stuck to their expertise and used book titles to see how rival libraries would take the ribbing.  The response was lively and fun, garnering attention from media. Throughout those first few posts, the Library defined their “trash talking” voice to be lively, yet friendly. According to Christman, this voice was built off the enthusiastic librarians who work in the libraries. In the following year, the Library employed similar tactics when the Royals once again made it to the playoffs.

As Christman admitted herself, she wasn’t much of a baseball fan, but with her abundant resources of book titles and clever librarians, she and the team were able to enhance the 2015 interactions with book spine poetry. Sticking to their expertise of books and their good-natured ribbing approach, the Library let the books do the talking and took chances with their posts, playing on differences between the competing cities and extending their social media wars even further into full-out bets. The Library team followed the action of the game, but didn’t get involved in the play-by-play, but planned as well as they could for potential outcomes. The emphasis for the KC Library wasn’t on abundance, it was on quality of the interactions.

The allies in this case were actually the rivals because while the competing city libraries were getting the brunt of the KC Library’s jokes, they were also helping fuel the good-natured feud. This interaction helped build followers for the Library’s accounts and impressions skyrocketed more than five times from the previous month. With those increased impressions, Christman was able to spread the word about the Library’s other services and programs when there wasn’t a baseball going on. While not able to provide specific numbers on increased visits to the branches during that time, the Library’s notoriety continued to grow with articles being published throughout the country about the twitter war.

How can organizations learn from this KCLibrary success?

  • To stick to one’s strengths, the strengths need to be understood. What’s the organization voice? How do followers interact already?
  • In following the conversation, there needs to be knowledge of where it is happening and what language people are using. Track trends, listen to conversations being had online and see how the voice that’s been established will play or not play in each situation.
  • Finding allies & rivals extends from following the conversation. This takes time and research, but can expose opportunities for improvement or collaboration that can be hard to find anywhere else.

Finding a home run hitting campaign or social tactic isn’t easy, but as the Library showed, with the right approach, it is possible.

Why do I work at AWG? “I value the opportunity to work with family businesses. My dad owned his own business for 35 years, so it is what I know and cherish. Plus, I love food, so thinking about it everyday is a huge plus.” -Kate