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A Tale of Two Libraries: When Non-Profit Does Twitter Right

On Thursday, April 3, in anticipation of the Seattle Sounders FC vs. Portland Timbers match on April 5, The Seattle Public Library (@SPLBuzz) called for all Sounders fans to compete with Portland’s Multnomah County Library (@MultCoLib) in a #bookmatch / #nerdpeprally / social media score.

Librarians from The Seattle Public Library and Multnomah County Library of Portland gave book recommendations in response to Tweets. The library with the most recommendations to its readers won, which, to my chagrin as a Seattleite, was Multnomah. As the loser, the Seattle Public Library built a Portland display in their libraries and staff dressed up in Timbers gear.

But the hope of this help-me-help-you partnership between the two cities’ libraries wasn’t simply to encourage interaction with librarians. It was to create what Linda Johns, adult services librarian at The Seattle Public Library, calls a “reading community suggesting books to one another.” Whether this will become a lasting phenomenon remains to be seen, but it’s exciting and informative for any brand to see how the event went down, what was successful, and why.


So how did it go down? I ran a Twitter Competitive Analysis for @SPLBuzz and @MultCoLib during the competition.

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Interestingly, the Seattle Public Library has about 1,000 more followers and sent more Tweets, but fell 200 below Portland in engagement and about 400k below in potential impressions. Some other stats:

  • The first “goal” (AKA Tweet) was scored by @MultCoLib 33 seconds into the match.
  • The score at “halftime” (halfway through the competition) was @MultCoLib 73 – @SPLBuzz 41.
  • There was A LOT of scoring from each side in the second half, where @SPLBuzz outscored @MultCoLib 152 – 132.
  • Alas, the comeback effort came up just short, with @MultCoLib winning by a final score (number of Tweets) of 205 – 193, and 52% of the voice share.
  • There were 178 total participants and 816 Tweets using the #PDXreads hashtag during the match, compared to 87 participants and 466 Tweets using #SEAreads.

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So why should I care?

There are lessons to be learned from both the winning and losing teams here.

Competition is key.

There were many instances of friendly PDX-SEA rivalry on Twitter during this event.

By lassoing competitive spirit or fabricating a competition, you can play on a piece of human nature that often drives a ton of engagement.

Influencers are important.

Get the right people on your side.

 Seattle might not have won this match, but getting the mayor to shoutout your program is a great way to build momentum and awareness for future events of this ilk.

Pick the right partners.

This was the #SEAreads Tweet that garnered the most potential impressions (113,706):

And this was the #PDXreads Tweet that got the most potential impressions (62,885):

Notice anything in common? By partnering with local organizations that boast their own large and involved fan bases, Seattle Public Library and Multnomah County Library win.

Frequency matters.

The Seattle Sounders have 102,000 followers on Twitter. The Portland Timbers have 60,800. But the Portland Timbers Tweeted about the #PDXReads campaign multiple times (resulting in most of that hashtag’s potential impressions), while the Seattle Sounders Tweeted about #SEAreads just once. We’ve talked about this before, but the more you Tweet, the more exposure you have–especially in a time-concentrated Twitter event like this one. Don’t be afraid to pump up your volume of Tweets. The results speak for themselves.

So we want to know…What’s the best example of a non-profit social media win you’ve seen? Is there a difference between how a for-profit and non-profit measures campaign success? Holler in the comments below!


Lucy Hitz

I’m the Head of Marketing Communications here at Simply Measured, where I'm responsible for our content program, social media marketing, PR, and comarketing ventures. I love yoga, The X-Files, peaty scotch, hiking, and poetry. If I were a social media channel, I’d want to be Instagram, but I think I’m Twitter.

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