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It’s Snapchat Story Time at the Public Library

snap-ghost-yellowThere’s a good way to tell if a social app is gaining in popularity: Check where it stands in the overall ranking of free apps in the Apple App store. As you might expect, Facebook Messenger, Instagram and YouTube are all among the top 10 (3, 4 and 8, respectively). Facebook comes in at #7.

But there is one social app that stands above all of these: Snapchat, which comes in at #2 overall (the question and answer platform Kiwi – Q&A is the top free app as of June 2016).

Though it was launched in 2011, Snapchat already has nearly over 150 million active users, according to some estimates. And nearly half of the people using the app – 45% – are between 18 and 24 years old. But the most eye-opening Snapchat statistic has to be this: Users view, in aggregate, more than 10 billion videos every day.

Video views have tripled since June 2014, and Bloomberg attributes the growth to Snapchat Stories. Launched in October 2013, Snapchat Stories enable users to string together a series of Snaps or videos to create a narrative.

Followers can view Stories for 24 hours, after which they disappear. Some brands, such as Taco Bell, use Snapchat Stories to launch new products and give a glimpse of behind the scenes. And several brands, such as McDonald’s and Mountain Dew, used the platform as part of their Super Bowl marketing.

Can Snapchat Stories work for public library marketing? As a way to reach younger audiences, Snapchat is very promising. And Stories are an intriguing way to encourage engagement. But like the early days of Facebook and Twitter, it will take a bit of trial and error before you begin to see success.

If you’re interested in reaching teens and young Millennials, here are a few tips to help get your library started on Snapchat.

  1. Be sure to talk to teens and Millennials in your library about how they use Snapchat and what they like about it. Ask what kinds of stories the library can create that they’d find useful or entertaining.
  2. The first step is to join Snapchat and learn as much as you can about how it works. Entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk has written a useful guide to the platform, along with tips on how to use it.
  3. Get your staff together for a brainstorming session about the types of Snapchat Stories you might tell. Here are a few ideas to discuss in your session:
    • Behind-the-scenes videos, such as a day in the life of a reference librarian.
    • How to find a job using library resources.
    • A scavenger hunt: Tennessee Weslayan College used the app to send five hints to prospective students about where to find the school’s mascot.
    • Giveaways are popular with brands, but can work for libraries too. One idea is to give away advance reader copies of new books.
    • created a Snapchat campaign to encourage followers to support causes.
    • Book reviews.
    • Staff picks of the month.

It may take some experimentation to determine what works best for your public library. But if you succeed, it could be a tremendous opportunity to bring teens and Millennials into the library.










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