16 Jul 2018

DEVELOPING SNAPCHAT AT MAYNOOTH UNIVERSITY LIBRARY: THE STORY SO FAR

Highly Commended post in the Conul Training and Development Library Assistant Blog Award 2018. 
This post is by Edel King, Maynooth University Library 

Introduction 
Social media is an extremely effective way to connect. Maynooth University Library has always had a strong online and social media presence on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and the MU Library Treasures blog. However, Snapchat was a new frontier.

Portrait of William Shakespeare from the ‘Fourth Folio’ on our blog ©Russell Library, Maynooth University

 What is Snapchat?


Snapchat logo ©Snapchat

Snapchat is a mobile messaging application used to share photos, videos and text (Webwise).
Its focus is the here and now. Posts are called Snaps. Alternatively, you can create Stories with multiple Snaps. Snaps are viewable for anything from three seconds to indefinitely and Stories for 24 hours.
Images and videos can be manipulated with filters ranging from geo-filters (location-specific) to dog-ears! Emojis, pictures and text can also be added.

Trying out a filter! © Edel King

My role with Snapchat 
I am a member of the Maynooth University Library Digital Communications Team (DCT). Last October I was given responsibility for Snapchat. Snapchat was new to me; I learned by doing. I spoke to a Transition Year work experience student about it but mainly I just figured it out myself through trial and error.
The Library uses Facebook to flag upcoming events and for photos after events; Twitter in a similar manner but also for immediate news such as a system downtime. Instagram is primarily for images of library activities. Where to position Snapchat in all of that?
(Below are some examples of what we send out from our social media accounts)

Commemorating 1916 on Twitter ©Maynooth University Library


Library Event Notification on Facebook ©Maynooth University Library


Advertising our Information Literacy classes on Instagram © Maynooth University

Our focus on Snapchat is on student life. I created short (the appeal of Snapchat is brevity) demo pictures and videos of all aspects of the library – such as how to access the Library or borrow books. I posted these on a phased basis over the first few weeks of semester 1. I was told that unusual angles are a feature of Snaps. Below is an example of such an image.


An instructional Snap ©Edel King


I began to look around for new content. Some days it was easy – perhaps there was an event happening in the Library. Often, questions were repeated e.g. “Where's the stapler?” so I would do a Snap answering the question (at the end of the information desk, just FYI!). News we wanted to impart to students, e.g. closures, also became Snaps.


Opening hours for a new Semester © Edel King


One issue I was concerned with was how often to post. It’s a fine line between being engaging and annoying. I discovered that with Snapchat continuous posting is key. On an uneventful day, I might only post once but often it’s more frequently.
A colleague came up with the idea to advertise our DVD collection with a feature called "Movie Monday". Every Monday we highlight a DVD from our collection. As a film fan, I am enjoying finding a suitable DVD and Snapping it with a fun caption.


Advertising Movie Monday ©20th Century Fox

I have run two successful campaigns on Snapchat. One was to attract more followers. Students added the library Snapchat account using a code and new followers were entered into a draw for €20 credit on their MyCard. The second competition was for existing followers, asking them to take a “shelfie” (a picture of their bookshelf), which they posted to Snapchat. The winner received a coffee shop voucher.

Limitations of Snapchat 
A limiting feature of Snapchat is that you cannot see engagement with the Snaps. Followers can’t “Like” or “Share”, and I can’t see if followers even look at a Snap. I send out Snaps, hoping that they reach their audience and are appreciated.

I have asked for feedback and have received a good reaction, with sample responses below.

They always post helpful tips, reminders, events and important info. I love when they share pictures of the different films they have available. 
Eimear, 2nd year 

It really helps me to know what events are going on in the library and helps me to find my way around. 
Ellen, Final year 

Conclusion 
Since September of last year, followers have increased from 94 to 346 (as of 09/05). There is always a large spike in followers during a campaign but there is a steady stream at all other times.

The increase in our followers since September 2017


I have really enjoyed learning about Snapchat and I feel it is a useful social media tool for the Library.

References 
Webwise. 2018. Explainer: What is Snapchat?. [Accessed 8 May 2018].

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