AskUsNow! Marketing Plan: 2015-2016

Maryland AskUsNow!

Marketing Strategies:  2015-2016 

The following strategies have been developed thanks to feedback given from 11 AskUsNow! partner libraries who completed  marketing assessment forms, feedback from site visits, and ongoing phone and email conversations with the partner libraries.


Goal 1:  Bring online visibility to Maryland AskUsNow! using a variety of social media platforms.

Strategy:  Use Facebook, Twitter, and one more social media platform to reach out to prospective and current AskUsNow! customers.   "AskUsNow! campaigns" will be developed to promote the strong customer service and creative approaches that librarians use to answer questions and resolve issues from a diverse online audience.  We will be selling Maryland AskUsNow! to our online audiences.

A Social Media Statistics and Updates page was created to post the outcomes we have with our social media followers:

Final Outcomes:  

  • Facebook 
    • Total Posts:  347 
    • Average Reach: 75 users/post
  • Twitter 
    • Total Posts:  894 
    • Average Reach: 99 users/tweet
  • Six Facebook Posts/Week
  • Eighteen Tweets/Week
  • Pre-made social media posts created and used by 15% of the full partner libraries; 20% full partner libraries retweeted or shared posts/tweets

July-September 2015:

  • A social media team was created, presented by 3 public, 1 academic, and 1 volunteer librarian.
  • "Pre-Made Social Media Posts" were created for any MD library to use in their online promotion of the service:
  • Campaigns:
    • Began #tbt campaign to highlight questions from years prior (2006 to approximately 2013) that are quirky, showcase obsolete technology, or have a fun, trivia-like answer. Some posts include a question posted in the early afternoon and its answer posted later that evening. These posts have generated interest and interaction by users.
    • Launched a two-week campaign to welcome back students to school. School districts and relevant school groups - such as the Maryland Homeschool Association - were tagged on Facebook and Twitter with a short message reminding students that AskUsNow! can assist them with their school projects.
  • Outcomes:
    • Used meme posts strategically to include a photo and brief statement promoting AskUsNow!. 

October-December 2015:

  • Campaigns:
    • Promoting and cross-promoting "statewide library and nonprofit services."
    • AskUsNow! developed a targeted social media plan during Maryland STEM Fest, combining #mdstem with posts about STEM-related topics and prior chat assistance on STEM topics. This effort resulted in various retweets by Maryland Public Schools, Maryland STEM Fest, and other educators.
    • AskUsNow! began strategically linking to applicable SLRC resources - along with the link to - to cross-promote relevant information sources.
  • Outcomes: 
    • AskUsNow! increased the number of posts that highlight our special partners -- such as NOAA, Maryland State Law Library, and Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped -- including the link to their mobile AskUsNow! page.
    • Had a tremendous increase in Twitter engagement:  the tweets that received the most engagement started with "Did you know..." "Looking for..." or "Need..." and included 1) help with homework and 2) Edgar Allan Poe.
    • AskUsNow!'s recent guest blog posts at the Maryland Humanities Council and Maryland Nonprofits increased our total mentions by other social media accounts.  Partner libraries utilized our ready-made social media posts during holiday closings, also increasing our mentions and reach.

January-March 2016:

  • Campaigns:
    • AskUsNow! launched an "availability" campaign from 1/25-1/31.  The posts focused on how AskUsNow! can assist customers in finding affordable assistance (personal interest, business, and community resource-based) in their communities.
    • Developed a week-long campaign to celebrate Engineers Week (2/21-2/27), highlighting how AskUsNow! provides career resources and STEM support.
  • Outcome:
    • Instagram premiered on New Year's Day, and will be used 3 times/week to promote the types of questions we answer on AskUsNow! and include a link to our service.
    • The most popular availability campaign posts had to do with “no free money” resources and taking affordable college classes without enrolling at a college.  
    • Link clicks for in Twitter posts remained steady, with nine clicks total. Twitter users are compelled to view our website based on our social media content. 

April-June 2016

  • Campaigns:
    • Maryland Genealogy
    • Primary Elections
    • Final Homework and Research Help "Pushes"
    • NOAA’s Ask-A-Librarian service.
  • Outcomes:
    • Final reach and engagement totals are available at​
      • Facebook 
        • Total Posts:  347 
        • Average Reach: 75 users/post
      • Twitter 
        • Total Posts:  894 
        • Average Engagement: 99 users/post
      • Six Facebook Posts/Week
      • Eighteen Tweets/Week
      • Pre-made social media posts created and used by 15% of the full partner libraries; 20% full partner libraries retweeted or shared posts/tweets
    • Facebook and Twitter will remain in use for FY 17 because they continue to gain followers and increases in reach and engagement to MD followers.
    • Paul announced to the Social Media committee that the Instagram pilot project will discontinue after June 2016.  While Instagram had a steady increase in followers, the account did not have significant increases, or decreases, in customers engaging the service or clicking on to use the service.    

Goal 2:  Update customers on how Maryland AskUsNow! works using online publicity tools.

Strategy:  Send an e-newsletter to the partner libraries.  The partner libraries will decide on how to disseminate the e-newsletter.  Possible ways include 1) attaching a URL with a snippet of the newsletter in the partner library's newsletter(s) and 2) forwarding the newsletter to our targeted online reference audiences.

​Final Outcomes:  Marketing ideas were shared from September 2015-June 2016 that could be done online or adapted to print.

Goal 3:  Visually represent quantitative and qualitative data about Maryland AskUsNow!.

Strategy:  Create infographics to send to educational  nonprofits, historical societies, archives, and other nonprofits and for-profits who have similar audiences.  The infographics will give AskUsNow! customers a more transparent idea of why AskUsNow! is important to anyone who need answers to quick and in-depth questions.

​Final Outcomes:

  • 41,403 Questions Received and Answered
    • Level 1:  7358
    • Level 2:  9291
    • Level 3:  12,624
    • Level 4:  12,130
  • Descriptive Codes:  Top 5
    1. Student Assignment
    2. Library Card Account
    3. Personal Interest
    4. Database & Research Tools
    5. Programs, Events, & Services

Goal 4:  Tell an AskUsNow! story.

Strategy:  Write on blogs and crowd-sourcing websites about how AskUsNow! has affected your library customers.  The blogs and crowd-sourcing websites should specifically reach out to a Maryland audience. 

Here are some of the local and statewide blogging efforts to promote AskUsNow! to targeted audiences:

Final Outcomes:  Level 3 and 4 questions (in-depth research questions from statewide, targeted audiences) made up 3/5 of AskUsNow! chat questions.


Budget:  We will be finalizing a budget as we get closer to the FFY16 (End of September 2015).  As we get into the last quarter of FFY15 going into FFY16, we will use free and low-cost, online marketing tools to achieve our usage and online visibility.

  • The FFY16 grant was awarded in March 2016. 

We would like to encourage AskUsNow! partner libraries to adopt our strategies, and at the same time please continue to promote and sell AskUsNow! using the strategies that work best for your targeted library audiences.  Some of these strategies may include, but are not limited to:

  • Demonstrating AskUsNow! at programming and outreach events:
    • College orientation/First Year Experience courses
    • Information literacy courses
    • Media specialist and educator professional development
    • Senior expos
    • Conferences
  • Promoting AskUsNow! alongside of printed and online homework help pages and electronic resources.
  • Giving information about AskUsNow! at library card registration or on your library card registration webpages.


Outside of the local, partner library marketing strategies, the statewide marketing strategies will be done online only.

All of the statewide marketing goals will lead to:

  1. an increase in AskUsNow! usage on and partner library websites.
  2. easier search engine and online access to AskUsNow!.