Spread the word: Using social media to promote community programmes and events

Christchurch City Libraries has been using social media since 2007 when we started our blog. Since then, we have added Flickr, Facebook, and Twitter. These tools help us share our stuff, inform people about events and resources, and allow us to have conversations with our customers. Here are some things to consider, particularly if your community group is using social media.

Think, practice, and play

Why does your group want to use social media? The best reason is to be where people are, and to be able to communicate with them. Once you’ve decided that, there are many social media tools you can use.

Play with them as yourself before you launch your organisation’s online presence. This gives you time to see how the platform works, to practice using it, and to become more familiar with getting the best out of the medium. Once you have launched on a social network, spend some time posting and browsing.

Bike Maintenance Evening

Orange Chair @ Parklands. Bike Maintenance Evening with The Bike Shop’s Graeme Taylor at Parklands Library, 18 June 2015. Flickr: Orange-Chair-Bike-Maintenance-1060721.jpg

Plan and prepare

Once you’ve become more familiar with how social media and various platforms work, consider how you will use it. Think sustainability.

  • What tools best suit your organisation?
  • Who will be doing the writing and posting?
  • How much time do they have?
  • Can the tasks be shared?

Favourite tweets and like Facebook posts that you think work well. You can learn a lot from good examples:

  • What wording works?
  • Is there a call to action?
  • What makes you want to read more?

Be there

The most effectively communicated message is tailored to the medium – in Twitter you need to be pithy and punchy, in Facebook you have a bit more room to explain things.

There are tools that allow you to share posts between platforms, but it is best to do a Facebook post in Facebook etc. Being present also allows you to gauge what’s happening in the community, to answer queries, and to take part in discussions.

You should be a listener as well as a broadcaster.

The World of David Walliams
David Walliams. WORD Christchurch Autumn Season. Charles Luney Auditorium, St Margarets College, Christchurch. Flickr 2015-05-14-IMG_7286


Be alert. If something is in the news, share what you have that is useful and relevant. Timeliness is one of the most powerful advantages of social media – it is no coincidence that Twitter is quoted often by the media. If you are promoting an event, give people plenty of prior warning and follow up with more messages closer to the time. It is not a simple matter of mentioning the event once.

Photos, pictures, and video are powerhouses

What’s the stuff that gets people revved up in social media? Images and videos – historical and  contemporary – have great traction. Whether they are heritage images, photos of events, or shots from around town – these are often things that get retweeted, reposted, liked, and shared.

We use Flickr to manage our images, and this works well in a social media context. You can plop images easily into blog posts. It also interacts well with Twitter, Facebook,  and Tumblr. Build up your collection of images by keeping your eyes peeled for interesting things. It is easy to take and share photos in the age of digital cameras and smartphones.

If you are on Facebook, have a go at making an album of images. They make the most of your pictures, and are easily shareable. Think about the size of the image you are using – a PDF A4 portrait poster might look good pinned up on a noticeboard, but on Facebook it’s not ideal.

If you have graphics, images, or posters you want people to share or print out, consider having a downloads section on your blog or website.

Taking photos during your event is not only a record of what happened, it is a great tool for you to use when promoting your next one.

Te Pao o Tahu kapa haka group in performance

Te Pao o Tahu kapa haka group in performance Matariki at the Christchurch Botanic Gardens, Sunday 21 June 2015. Flickr: 2015-06-21-IMG_7703

Participate as well as promote

Start conversations with your followers. If you have questions, ask them. Answer their questions. Comment on their posts. Follow other local groups and organisations, and you will be setting up a useful network for your group.

If you want an idea on which organisations to follow, see who your favourite groups are following – and then follow them too. Build up your network and you will start seeing interconnections, crossovers, and ways in which you could work together.

The reciprocal sharing of information and ideas is one of social media’s great strengths. It is a place to broadcast your message, but also to listen to what other have to say, and talk about it. Sharing is a two-way street and offers lots of opportunities.

Promoting both your own activities, and those of other groups, is a way to maximise engagement with the community. Hashtags – which work on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr – are a way of hooking into a wider community.

If you worry that social media is catering only to the online community, remember that people online talk to people offline too – so your message can be spread through word of mouth.


Facebook has a large audience, and allows you to connect with relevant groups and local organisations. Creating a page gives you a space to share events and other information.

As at April 2015, over 2.5 million Kiwis active on Facebook every month. Find out more Key trends about Kiwis on Facebook.

Facebook photos

Facebook automatically resize and format your photos when you add them to Facebook. To help make sure your photos appear in the highest possible quality, try these tips from Facebook:

Resize your photo to one of the following supported sizes: Regular photos (width in pixels): 720px, 960px, 2048px. Cover photos should be 851px by 315px

Use Insights

Facebook Insights allows you to find out more about your users. What demographic are they in? When are they online? What posts do they find most engaging? Use the data to help you. For example, we found our users were mostly online between 6pm and 9pm. We can schedule posts for this time for maximum reach.

Create events

Facebook events are a great way of building a community. If you make an event page, you can invite people to the event, and you can also share information on it. See our Matariki event on Facebook.


Facebook advertising

If you have some money in your budget for advertising, consider using some of it on Facebook ads or boosted posts. You can target your information using demographics, and ensure your information gets a wider reach out into the community.


Useful Facebook resources

Facebook pages

Here are some local Facebook pages that illustrate how an active presence and community can work well. They take a different approach and yet are all effective:

Other social media platforms and tools

  • Twitter is a microblogging platform with a fast sharing, active community.
  • Instagram is increasingly popular, and allows you to add filters to your images and pin them to a location.
  • Tumblr lets you create attractive, highly visual blog posts.
  • WordPress and Blogger are blogging platforms, and many groups use their blog as a website.
  • Flickr is a photo-based blogging platform.
  • Social media management tools like Hootsuite and TweetDeck allow you to monitor interactions and to schedule posts.

There are of course many more …


Conversation Prism by Brian Solis and JESS3 (http://www.theconversationprism.com/) [CC BY 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons


The Ultimate Cheat Sheet of Photo & Image Sizes on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn & Other Social Networks [Infographic]  Hubspot

Social Media Gameplan
A nine-step guide by Sport New Zealand for sports organisations starting off in social media.

Honoa te hapori me te hapu – ki te ipurangi – Getting your community and hapu online
A Department of Internal Affairs resource to help communities, hapū and iwi develop digital initiatives.

Social media
Useful information on social media in the New Zealand Government Web Toolkit.

Christchurch City Council courses for event organisers
Learn how to plan, organise and promote your own community recreation programme or event. CCC regularly run two workshops throughout the year: Get Set Go! and Spread the Word! These workshops and guides have been designed in collaboration with Wellington City Council.

Information updated 20 October 2016.
This post is an updated version of a 2013 post.

I’ll tumblr 4 ya

Tumblr2Tumblr. Think of it and no doubt you think of the associated phrase F*** Yeah. There are plenty of wibbly GIFs and fan stuff (Is Michael Fassbender a shark?) and a lot more besides. As a blogging platform, it is easy to set up, fast-growing, and has recently been purchased by Yahoo.

If you go to Explore Tumblr, you will get a feel for the type of stuff being posted: LOL, Food, Fashion, Art, Vintage are the current top five tags. You can follow Tumblrs, and tagging is critical as it is the main means of finding stuff.

Excellent background reading is found in two articles:

I love Kate’s description of  Tumblr as “the best baby Twitter and WordPress didn’t know they ever had.”

Central Hawke’s Bay District Libraries is the only Kiwi library doing it at an institutional level, but New Zealand librarians are colonising the space. I’ve been dabbling for a while, in order to figure out how and why a library might want to be in this social space. Here are some observations:

The potent image

There is a strong visual component to Tumblr. GIFs, video, images, photos, and even text itself are all well-handled in all the blog themes. If you have an art or photo collection that you want to promote, Tumblr should be a strong contender.

Even the monthly archive of your blog pulls together posts in a super-visual style:


Literature lovers unite

Publishers, booksellers, literary people, and readers hang out on Tumblr. They share literary news, photos, and snippets of interesting stuff. Often these people or groups will have a Twitter, Facebook, possibly a Flickr, and Tumblr is their publishing place of choice for longer format material.

Things to think about

It is easy to share …

You will find a lot of sites make it easy to post stuff to Tumblr. You can also reblog posts you like. This is super-easy – I especially love how you can get Flickr images up into Tumblr with a simple click. I’ve set my Tumblr up so it fires off a tweet when a new post goes up. It is all interconnected and simple.

– but who does the content belong to?

When you reblog a post, it looks like it is your content which can lead to confusion. Sometimes it is unclear where the post originally came from, or who owns the content. This can be problematic for libraries in terms of copyright and attribution.

An in-between place

Not as short as Facebook and Twitter, not as discursive as your WordPress/Blogspot blog or website – Tumblr can serve as a place where you both share your own content and repost stuff that is useful, interesting, and relevant.

Let’s get together

Tumblr would be a great space for us for the GLAM sector to share content collaboratively. It would be an environment in which to share our historical content and images (remember vintage is one of the top five tags – so there is an inbuilt audience). Some of us keen on making DigitalNZ sets had a go at promoting the gems we found via The DigitalNZ Fan Club.

Tasty Tumblrs

Smithsonian Libraries
A Tumblr of semi-random stuff from the stacks of the Smithsonian Institution Libraries
Millions millions
The official Tumblr feed for The Millions, the online magazine offering coverage on books, arts, and culture.
The Composites
Images created using a commercially available law enforcement composite sketch software and descriptions of literary characters.
Writers no one reads
Highlighting forgotten, neglected, abandoned, forsaken, unrecognized, unacknowledged, overshadowed, out-of-fashion, under-translated writers.
Day-by-day reflections on history and culture

Tumblr tags

Reading list

This article was also published in Library Life’s social media issue, August 2013.

‘bizarro breaking bad librarians’

Jason Scott photo by Webstock on FlickrJason Scott is mad and he wants you to know it. In fact he’s bloody furious – people’s stuff is being deleted, the world’s nascent digital history is being destroyed, entire artforms are being erased and forgotten. But he and his “bizarro breaking bad librarian” friends “are going to rescue your shit” and if you’re really lucky it may even find its way into a museum.

Jason, @textfiles, is an archivist and historian with a particular interest in digital formats. He started out on BBS systems and has filmed a documentary about them. From there he started collecting textfiles and ascii art and this has developed into a network of archives. Some of the ascii art started out as teletype art and even typewriter art before being transferred to ascii.

Out of the Yahoo announcement that it would close down Geocities in 2009, the “human race coming online for the first time”, was born the Archive Team (not to be confused with archive.org) and his principles of RAGE (“I find hostility’s really worked out for me”), PARANOIA (trust no one with your data – companies are constantly being taken over and destroyed and with them goes your data) & KLEPTOMANIA (backup everything and download entire sites to protect them for posterity). With software such as the Archive Team Warrior, a virtual archiving appliance, they encourage site owners to capture their own sites to help with the ArchiveTeam archiving efforts. But they can only grab public information and encourage everyone to make secure back-ups of all their private data. After hearing of the loss of the sole copies of recollections of deceased family members and entire family histories when Geocities was deleted we should all make this a priority. Recent projects include saving as much of MobileMe that they could get to – they have rescued 420 Terabytes of data over the past two years.

Jason also has a very famous cat Sockamillion @sockington.

Professional reading: Digitising the Dead Sea Scrolls

The Dead Sea Scrolls, the oldest known surviving biblical and extra-biblical texts in the world, are slated to be scanned with high-resolution multispectral imaging equipment and shared online, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) and Google announced …

The high-tech imaging of the scrolls, to be conducted with Google’s research and development operation in Israel, was originally conceived as part of an IAA initiative to conserve the thousands of delicate papyrus and parchment fragments and monitor their conditions much more accurately and noninvasively.

According to the IAA, the technology will also help scholars rediscover writing and letters that have “vanished” over the years. And “since we’re going to have the best possible images,” said Pnina Shor, the IAA’s Dead Sea Scrolls project manager, “we said, ‘Why don’t we take all the images, add to them all the translations, the transcriptions, the commentary and put them online?'” …
Read the rest of this article

Sargia Harrison
Information & learning

Te Manu Tukutuku (the Maori Kite)

Kite“Heritage is a precious taonga” it says in the introduction t0 Bob Maysmor’s book Te Manu Tukutuku.  Traditional kite-making knowledge and skills are brought to life in the pages of this edition.

In Otautahi, Christchurch, Kite Day is celebrated on the last Saturday of January every year. In 2011 it takes place on the afternoon of Saturday, 29 January on the south side of the pier at New Brighton beach.

Kites are part of the heritage of many different cultures.  For indigenous New Zealanders, kites were used for recreation and were also part of a spiritual tradition where the kite represents the connection between the tangata (the people) and the sky-dwelling deities, particularly Rongo (god of peace and cultivated plants) and Tane (god of forests and birds), Tawhaki (god of thunder and lightning) and Rehua (a star who lives in the highest of skies – eldest son of Rangi and Papa).  Maui was also adept at kite-flying and his association with kites has a much more utilitarian connection; when his kite was flying, there would be good weather, suitable for celebrating and for carrying out necessary work.

He KupengaKite-making originated in China, and this skill was picked up by Maori on their southward migration route centuries ago.  Many Polynesian kites are made in the likeness of a bird, representing the soul or spirit of the kite-flyer, hence the term ‘manu’.  Tuku means to pay out so tukutuku means the feeding out of the line as the kite is flown.

The native flora of Aotearoa provided a wide range of materials for kite-makers to use.  The bark of Aute ( paper mulberry)  is especially good for making fibrous cloth.  Leaves of the Raupo ( bullrush)  were also used to cover the kite-frame, particularly in the Southern areas which were unsuitable for growing Aute.  Upoko tangata (cutty grass)  is also recorded as being used for kite-wings. Kareao, Manuka and Toetoe were used for the frames and Harakeke was used for binding and for forming the feet of the birds.

Te Manu Tukutuku features lots of coloured illustrations of locally-made kites held at various museums in Aotearoa and overseas.  Many different types of kites and accessories are illustrated and lots of songs and proverbs featuring kites are scattered throughout the pages of this lavishly-presented pukapuka (book). 

 Particularly large kites were launched with great ceremony and kite-flying contests were held, attracting large crowds.  Instructions on how to make your own manu taratahi (triangular-shaped with a tuft tail – taratahi meaning one point) are at the back of the book if you want to have a go at traditional Aotearoan kite-making.  Bring it down to Brighton on Saturday and join in the kite-flying fun, or just build one and fly it anywhere, anytime!

Nicole Reddington

New Brighton