Planning: We wanted a creative and unique video to encourage Lee County residents to get a library card. The challenge was to make it evergreen and also entertaining enough to create engagement and expand our social media reach. Additionally, we would use this an opportunity to learn where people watch our videos. And as an added challenge, we had to film the video in a socially-distant and safe way. We have been honing our video communication skills and thought a “commercial” would be a good vehicle for this promotion.

In addition to the library card message, we would also promote the variety of materials available for all ages. In summer 2020, we began the plan for a humorous, eye-catching video that would appeal to all ages. With fall approaching - and the fact that we love Halloween here at LCLS - we decided to make it a Halloween-themed video. The script took time to refine. It started with librarians giving a spooky tour of the library which morphed into a rap song and then became a poem highlighting the collection. 

We enlisted help from our adult and youth collections staff to find just the right titles to promote. They offered us a wide selection of new and classic titles which helped us tighten the script and come up with a catchy flow. From there, when we recited the script aloud, we sounded like the classic vampire from Transylvania. With that in mind, we added a vampire narrator to our plan. We had our eye on a certain staff member with a flair for the dramatic whom we'd seen in other costumed programs and events. We pitched the script and storyboard to him and his response was “Yes!” followed by a goosebump-inducing Vincent Price laugh! We had our star. Next, we had to decide which of our branches met our many filming, shot and safety requirements. It had to have double doors (the vampire throwing open double doors and dramatically entering the library was a must-have on the shot list), space to lurk around in, the ability to dim the lights, and we needed access during closed hours for social distancing.

Implementation: Having planned the video shoot shot-by-shot, gathered all our props, including flashlights and a giant library card, we found that shooting the video went very smoothly. As an added bonus, one of our youth librarians offered us her life-sized, plastic skeleton. This unexpected prop added to the story and came “alive” with the help of fishing wire and a pole! Our selected branch location had not reopened to the public yet although was doing curbside holds pickup twice per week. This allowed us full access to the facility with the needed social distance.

Editing went quickly and closely followed our storyboard. We decided to publish the video, now titled Tales From Beyond The Stacks, on October 8 to coincide with our monthly email newsletter send and when our audience was in the Halloween spirit. As part of our experiment to determine where people were finding and watching our videos, we posted not only to YouTube (https://youtu.be/Vt2V21kVKCw) but to Facebook and Instagram also. This would allow us to measure the effectiveness of each platform.

Evaluation: We had a feeling Tales from Beyond the Stacks was going to perform well. We learned that Facebook was our top performer, followed by our YouTube channel, and in definitely third, Instagram. Right off the bat we had a lot of engagement and positive comments on Facebook. With a repeat post just before Halloween, our estimated reach was more than 9,000 and we had 400+ reactions and comments. The 1:26 minute video was watched for a total of 1,200 minutes with at least 360 full views.

Although the video promoted our materials and our card, we found that other libraries and businesses shared it. In fact, 80 percent of our engagement came from shares. Even OCLC included a nod to the video in their WebJunction feature, Social Library (https://www.webjunction.org/news/webjunction/social-library-164.html). Our YouTube channel resulted in 250 views with a high retention rate. Instagram resulted in 116 views with only 3 comments.

Having created this fun, and evergreen, Halloween video we learned that Facebook has the most engagement of our three social channels. Although this was our second most successful campaign on Facebook, we realized that because it launched during our Fandom Fest event with a similar color scheme, the video may have been overlooked. Typically, we run a campaign from a single point and use our channels to push to that venue. From this multi-channel experiment, we decided our normal method is more efficient and gives a more comprehensive view of success or failure. We are looking forward to rolling it out again for Halloween 2021.

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