While doing research for a job interview, I came across a blog post on UBC’s Digital Tattoo website regarding Snapchat. Snapchat is one of the social media sites I have long been avoiding, because honestly, it just seems like a way for people to send lewd pictures to each other and I just don’t need that in my life. But despite what I think, Snapchat is extremely popular amongst teenagers and new adults and is the number one social media site my friends have harassed me to join. For those who are unfamiliar, it is a picture/ video sending app, but what makes it special is that whatever you send disappears within 10 seconds max, never to be accessed again. This allows people to send content to one another without worrying about its permanency, barring that the receiver doesn’t screenshot it (this and more logistical issues of the app are discussed the Digital Tattoo’s blog post). But really, why Snapchat is important to discuss is that it has over 100 million daily users, and content can be created by a company or brand, and accessed by anyone, rather than sent from one user directly to another.
But like Instagram, Snapchat is one of the apps that millennials are using in lieu of Facebook (their website says it is the best way to reach 13-35 year olds). So is it the next big thing? Do we all need to jump on board? As Simon Duenco in his article “The Truth About Snapchat” puts it “”If today’s kids are Snapchatting instead of Facebooking, the thinking goes, tomorrow we’ll all be Snapchatting, too, because tech habits, like hairstyles, flow only one way: young to old.” Duenco himself seems skeptical of Snapchat, but as I have now downloaded the app for ‘research purposes’, I can see both how addictive, and seemingly purposeless it is. So far I have mostly sent snapchats to friends of ridiculous things I see, or of weird face manipulation filters… and basically, the world would be no worse off had I not sent these images out into the digi-sphere. So this has lead me to wonder, are libraries using this app? Can Snapchat really be used in a library context?
The article “Getting acquainted with social networks and apps: Snapchat and the rise of ephemeral communication” by Katie Elson Anderson suggests that all social media apps can be used for outreach and marketing. And that the introduction of ‘Snapchat Stories’ in October 2013 is sited as a “game changer for business and organizations”, as it allows users to “compile individual snaps into a narrative that can be viewed multiple times during a 24-hour period.” However the article also outlines two major issues which would impact libraries
- the interface is not very intuitive and takes time to understand and
- Snapchat is only available as a mobile application, meaning that setting up an account requires the use of a phone number.
The article also states that as of its publication in 2015, it doesn’t seem like Snapchat is being used by many libraries, though this fact is hard to determine as “one cannot search on hashtags or keyword search usernames to identify library users.” Still Anderson does recommend libraries add Snapchat to their social media repertoire as it “provides a way to connect with users in a unique and genuine way which demands their complete attention, if only for a few seconds. Libraries can consider adding Snapchat to their outreach plan to tell their story and connect with the patrons who are familiar with the platform.”
So I decided to see what I could find through Google on libraries using Snapchat and a quick search brought me to the article: “Four Academic Libraries That are Killing it on Snapchat” on the blog librarianenumerations which identifies ways in which academic libraries/ universities are effectively using the app. The blog mentions everything from advertising content, creating contests and promoting their respective universities. However, more interesting perhaps for the more traditional library context are the suggested ways Snapchat can be used in the blog’s post “Snapchat for your library”. The most useful ideas are, snap chatting new releases, or quickly summarizing a book, or showing behind the scenes glimpses into the library. Really, Snapchat can be used much the same way as Instagram, but without the hashtags. More than anything however, I think that Snapchat could be used as a way for users to send content back to the library, such as requests for new books, or to show the library what they are reading, or reviews of books. It would allow libraries to truly understand the wants and needs of their young library users.
Overall however, it appears that Snapchat isn’t being used much within libraries (yet), but it seems that the app is a huge chance for libraries to engage with a young, often missed, demographic.
I’m curious to know my readers’ thoughts. Does anyone have ideas about how Snapchat could be used to a libraries advantage? Or is it just a fad/waste of time? I suppose in some ways, only time will tell.