Previously, we discussed how libraries could use "spokescritters" (i.e., resident animals) to promote their services and collections. Many of these "spokescritters" have taken to social media as their primary promotional vehicles. How successful have they been?
Consider Mooresville (Indiana) Public Library's feline roving reporter, Cauli Le Chat. Her blog, Cat's Eye View @ MPL, has been viewed extensively--as of right now, it has 475,341 viewings. We saw this graphic from yesterday's blog posting:
Total Blog Viewings (as of February 24, 2018)
Cat's Eye View @ MPL
Mooresville Public Library (MPL) serves Brown Township in Morgan County, Indiana, which has a population under 15,000. Furthermore, Cauli Le Chat officially "retired" as roving reporter early last year, because she doesn't get out as much as she used to (she once lived down the street and would hangout outside the library--hence her "roving reporter" status), and also because her "minions" who typed her blog had been shifted to other various job responsibilities that left less time for blogging. Despite this, Cauli's blog still outperforms MPL's active Facebook and Twitter feeds, lagging behind only MPL's YouTube Channel, whose videos have over 1.2 million views (ranking second in the country among public libraries, behind the New York Public Library). Compare Cauli's success to MPL's second most-read blog, which showcases local history and has, as of now, 152,000 views.
Thorntown (Indiana) Public Library (TPL) has had two resident felines, Tober and Chance, whose blog has been viewed, as of today, 233,173 times. Thorntown has a population of 1,520 (as of the 2010 U.S. census).
Why have Cauli Le Chat and Tober/Chance become so popular?
- Quantity and Variety of Posts: Since Cauli Le Chat began her blog in December, 2010, she has authored over 1,300 articles on a wide range of subjects, most of which directly feature the library and its resources. The more you write, the more chances people will read something.
- Humor: Cauli Le Chat and Tober/Chance try to make their blogs fun to read. Their "catitude" mixes sarcasm with a uniquely feline intolerance for human foibles. Cat lovers "get" them instantly. Others appreciate how they gently poke fun at their colleagues (or things generally). Readers enjoy having a good laugh or at least a grin or chuckle.
- Cuteness: Library animals are simply cute, so those actually living inside libraries (like Tober did, and Chance does now) are huge patron magnets. People visit libraries just to see the resident pets. This factor is less apparent at MPL, since Cauli Le Chat doesn't actually live there.
- Worldwide Audience: Both Cauli Le Chat's and Tober/Chance's blogs have garnered readers from around the world. A global audience seriously boosts their statistics.
Does it really matter that these cat blogs have a global footprint? Most of these readers will never visit MPL's or TPL's buildings. But door counts alone don't fully explain a library's influence. Librarians track statistics to show patron resource usage. If a quarter million or half million people are reading about these library mascots, those readers count as patrons using library resources. The blogs provide information about, and promote, their respective public libraries, which is no different than any other library social media. If the Facebook "reach" or Twitter "impressions" are worthy of note in librarians' reports, then so is blog viewership.
Many, many libraries use "spokescritters" as public relations tools. As MPL and TPL have demonstrated, "spokescritters" can register enormous payoffs in terms of patron interest in what these libraries offer.