Who Said Books Are Outdated? The New York Public Library Dominates Social Media

By Michele Weisman Many companies and nonprofits attempt to integrate social media into their marketing plan. The New York Public Library (NYPL) is one great example. The NYPL will be celebrating its 100th anniversary with exciting social media initiatives. The NYPL is the top public library on Twitter and Facebook, and has popular YouTube and Tumblr pages. Last week, the main 42nd Street Branch, the classic New York landmark, announced a new partnership with Foursquare and a mobile challenge called Find the Future: The Game, an overnight scavenger hunt to be held at the NYPL. During this year's Social Media Week in New York, the NYPL hosted four events, including the opening reception. Businesses can learn a thing or two from the NYPL and here are some of the ways they are doing it right:

NYPL on Facebook and Twitter

With over 31,000 active fans on Facebook and over 117,000 followers on Twitter, the NYPL is the top public library in the social media space. The mission of the NYPL is to inspire lifelong learning, advance knowledge, and strengthen their communities. On Facebook, the library encourages signs ups for a library and its monthly email newsletter. The NYPL also posts and responds to their fans daily, post pictures frequently, and shares articles relating to their events and the social media industry. Librarians & staff tweet daily on what’s happening at the Library, NYC & beyond.  Want to ask a question? Patrons are encouraged to send the NYPL a tweet, text at 66746, or call at 917-ASK-NYPL.

NYPL Checks-In On Foursquare

To celebrate the upcoming 100th anniversary of the library’s iconic Stephen A. Schwarzman Building on 42nd Street, the NYPL became the first public library system to offer a Foursquare badge. Foursquare users can now connect with their favorite NYPL locations through tips at 90 libraries in the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island.

Badge holders will receive a complimentary one-year Foursquare Friends Membership, which will provide them with special perks. Foursquare users who check in 10 times will be rewarded with a photo opportunity in front of the Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III Trustees Room fireplace. Library mayors could be selected to win special rewards including a tour of the Map Division or tickets to a LIVE from NYPL event.

In a press release, Dennis Crowley, CEO and co-founder of Foursquare, stated “The NYPL has been a New York institution for 100 years, and it’s pretty amazing to see them starting their next 100 by embracing new ways to reach their fans.” Maybe Foursquare check-ins at the library will increase the number of library cards and encourage more reading!

Overnight Scavenger Hunt

For the first time in its history, NYPL will open the doors to the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building for an overnight, interactive storytelling experience, in which 500 people will compete in a smartphone-based challenge. Find the Future: The Game, created by the acclaimed game designer Jane McGonigal, is a series of challenges delivered via an app on each players’ mobile device.

The quests are designed to encourage players to explore and reflect upon the objects from the library’s collections. A player might be tasked, for instance, to scan a QR code located at the Declaration of Independence, and then respond to a creative essay prompt. Once enough quests have been completed, they will be “unlocked” for the public, who can begin playing the game online May 21. To sign up to become one of the first 500 participants; interested participants are asked to complete a “top secret” quest for entry. Watch the trailer to the game here.

The future for any organization, including libraries, depends upon its ability to reach and engage its community through various social mediums. Most businesses don’t realize how big of a deal their social media actions can make. What you say, or don’t say, tells your customers a lot about your company. The NYPL’s commitment and passion to new media and technology establishes itself as a thought leader.

What has the NYPL taught you about how to incorporate social media into your marketing plan? Share your thoughts in the comments!