5 Universities Killing It On Snapchat

Snapchat_LogoI am becoming convinced that Snapchat should become a library social media staple. Being a “cusper” (on the tail end of the millennial generation) I might not be as in-tune with what’s fresh in social as my younger counterparts, but the numbers don’t lie. Smith, from DMR, reports that Snapchat not only touts 100 million daily active users, but a demographic that comprises of 77% college students. In addition, Smith states that 71% are 34 years old or younger and 45% are between the ages of 18 and 24 years old. Since so many users are the age of traditional college students, I think this makes Snapchat worth the time/money investment for libraries.

Among the throng of brands proliferating Snapchat, I have not noticed a large number of academic libraries using the platform. Moreover I was also unable to find a substantive quantity of higher education institutions in general using Snapchat. However, I did come across a few gems in the postsecondary realm that really understood how to leverage this social tool. Listed below are the aforementioned institutions. I suggest that libraries follow them and monitor how they engage students online for inspiration, before delving into their own snapping endeavors. With features like Snapchat Stories, Live, and Discover, Snapchat is becoming more conducive for student engagement.

Before I list the exemplar universities, I wanted to share two content themes that arose during my Snapchat perusal, Campus Life and Media Reuse/Sharing. Campus Life involves promoting events on campus, taking users on “video tours” of departments or popular restaurants, and generally just communicating what it’s like to go to that university. Media Reuse/Sharing consists of universities sharing student photos/videos on Snapchat or other social media venues such as Facebook or Twitter. Users on social media generally love it when an institution will share their content and it allows the university to use it as organic promotional content. Ok…without further ado, here’s my list!

1) University of Michigan

Username: UofMichigan– I would have to say that this account is probably my favorite. UMich has one of the oldest university Snapchat accounts and the social team really knows how to leverage all types of media. In their Snapchat Stories they incorporate video, music, funny online clips, doodles, hashtags, and pictures. It’s clear that they know who their target audience is, and they are great at embedding themselves into the everyday activities of undergrads. Their current story on the freshman move in checklist and #selfie contest are prime examples of this.

2) MIT

Username: mitstudents – Most of the content I have seen from MIT centers on the “around campus” vibe. What makes their account fun to follow is the fact that they don’t display easy to access campus information, but rather provide you with a behind the scenes peek of what goes on at MIT. It serves as a sort of unofficial campus guide.

3) Colorado State University

Username: ColoradoStateU – Over the summer CSU initiated a #stateofsummer hashtag Snapchat contest. They encouraged students to share their summer pictures on social media for a chance to win a prize. This is a great example of utilizing user generated content to promote the university. Below is one contestant’s post that was shared on Twitter. You can see how students’ activities in the state where CSU is located, serve as a way to engage CSU’s current audience as well as advertise to prospective students.

4) Princeton University

Username: princeton_u – Princeton has caught on to their students’ social sharing tendencies. They not only share snaps on Snapchat but have a designated Facebook photo album entitled Snapchat Saturday. The album’s description reads “Featuring the week’s most fun and creative snaps to Princeton_U!” and promotes user content that exudes school pride.

5) Duke University

Username: @dukestudents – I attended Hootsuite’s webinar, Social Media in Education: Tips from 3 Pros, and got to hear some of the awesome social media efforts that are going on at Duke University. One platform they have found to be highly successful is Snapchat. They use it for outreach and to showcase student life at Duke. The snaps they post are funny and engaging and they have made great use of Snapchat Stories. If you have time I highly recommend you listen to the webinar.

Honorable Mentions

University of Nebraska- Lincoln

Username: unlincoln – Most of the content I’ve seen from UNL comprises of campus activities. Free events such as #Gradfest and Service Learning Fair are communicated from their account. It is a useful resource for students looking for interesting activities, but not highly engaging which is why they didn’t make the cut.

ucsf-snapchatUniversity of California San Francisco

Username: USFCA

Other Universities with Sanpchat Accounts

There are more and more universities joining Snapchat on a regular basis. Listed below are some that I have found interesting.

Chico State University – Username: chico.state

Coastal Carolina University – Username: CCUChanticleers

Eastern Kentucky University – Username: ekustories

Eastern Washington University – Username: ewuathletics

Illinois State University – Username: illinoisstate

Kent State University – Username: KentStateU

Liberty University – Username: sparkyflames

Mount Aloysius College- Username: MountAloysius

Northern Michigan University – Username: NorthernMichU

Northwestern University – NorthwesternADM

Shepherd University- SUstudents

University of Houston – Username: uhouston

University of Kansas -Username: jayhawks

University of New Hampshire -Username: UNHStudents

University of Minnesota: Morris- SCummorris

University of Washington – Username: uwstudentlife

Valparaiso University- valparaisou

West Virginia University – Username: westvirginiau

Wichita State- Username: goshockers

Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania- Username: whartonschool

Let me know if you have any you want me to add to the list! I think that these trailblazers are perfect for some inspiration as you attempt your own Snapchat engagement.



Promote Your Library With Snapchat Stories

This is probably the best way libraries can start implementing Snapchat for promotional purposes. According to an article published today by Business Insider, Snapchat Stories has increased 100% with over 1 billion stories being viewed a day! Since this app is so widely used by individuals under the age of 25 (traditional college aged students), it’s a great marketing tool for academic libraries and public libraries alike. Listed below is the Snapchat Stories promotional video:

Here’s How Snapchat Stories Works:

  • You take a series of snaps (photo and video)
  • From those snaps you select “Snap to your Story”
  • The photos in your story are then available for viewing by all your Snapchat friends for 24 hours.
  • Snapchat states that because your story plays forward, it makes sense to share moments in the order you experience them.

Snapchat Stories is awesome because it removes the cumbersome task of individually sending the snap to each friend, and it creates a fun narrative for your patrons to view. The ideas for a Snapchat Story are endless, here are a few:

  • A day in the life of a librarian
  • How books make it to the shelf
  • How digital records are searchable (the process of metadata)
  • The research process

I’m going to be playing around with this over the summer. Add umhblibrary on Snapchat if you want to view our story! Also if you have any Snapchat Story ideas please comment below. 🙂

Update 2/5/2015:

Business Insider recently published instructions on how to add music to your Snapchat Stories!

You Might Also Like:

Snapchat for Your Library

How to Create a Snapchat Contest

How to Create a Snapchat Contest



In the beginning of January I started hearing a lot of buzz about the privacy chat app Snapchat. From NPR to Mashable, everyone was discussing this new app. One fortuidious morning, during my daily Feedly perusal, I saw articles by both TechCrunch and Mashable reporting on a study that found that over 77% of college students use Snapchat every day. This started my wheels turning and I decided to launch a Snapchat contest for my library. Listed below are the steps I took to create the contest.

Step 1: Design 

In keeping with the National Library Week theme, “Lives Change at Your Library,” I created a contest that required participants to create  a video, in 10 seconds or less, explaining what book changed their world outlook and why. To enter, contestants had to:

  1. Add our library as a friend
  2. Snap the video
  3. Send us the video snap

Step 2: Promote

I created a Libguide with the contest instructions. I also created a terms and conditions section. I made it clear that we would be saving the videos and sharing them on our social media accounts. Because Snapchat is chat app with a focus on private sharing, it was important to inform students that the videos were going to be used publicly. We promoted the contest by:

  1. Email: I sent both an email to the student body and a separate one to the faculty. Faculty support is huge for the success of our contests.
  2. Social Media: We promoted the contest on our Twitter and Pinterest accounts. Our public services team made an awesome animated GIF that we used on Pinterest.
  3. Flyers: I worked with our public services librarian to have flyers made and distributed across campus and in the library

Step 3: View Submissions

If you’ve ever used Snapchat you know that once you view a snap, it self destructs in a matter of seconds. To avoid this, I used the free iOS app SnapSave (there is also a version for Andriod called Snap’N’Save). Snap Save allows you to view and save all the snaps directly to your device. The way you do this is by opening the snaps in Snap Save and not Snapchat. If you open it in Snapchat the snap will self destruct. Once contestants sent me their snaps I saved them using Snap Save and also sent them a reply snap thanking them for their entry.

Step 4: Post Submissions

I posted all video submissions on my YouTube channel and the Libguide.

Step 5: Judge

I asked faculty and staff members from the marketing, computer science, and education departments to serve as judges. I created a rubric using Google Drive and all submissions were sent electronically. Once the winners were chosen I sent them a snap letting them know they won. Below is one of the snaps I sent. You’re limited on text characters so you’ll have to get artistically creative (please don’t judge my wretched art work!). The first place winner won a $50 Visa gift card, and 2nd and 3rd place winners were awarded a $25 Starbucks gift card.


All in all the contest was fun to create and the students who entered had a lot of fun creating the videos. One of the faculty members offered her students extra credit for entering, which was  a big help for encouraging contest participation. I wish there had been more entries, but plan on doing a similar contest next semester with more promotion.

Has your organization used Snapchat? If so please comment below!

Want to read more? Check out:

23 Mobile Things: Snapchat

Promote Your Library With Snapchat Stories

Snapchat for Your Library

Snapchat For Your Library


Snapchat_logo Snapchat has been getting a lot of buzz as of late (Facebook offered to purchase it for $3 billion, but was turned down). It is currently valued at about $4 billion, and I think it will be the social media application of 2014 (here’s an interesting story of why teens use Snapchat by npr).

What is Snapchat?

Snapchat is a photo chat application developed by Stanford University student Evan Spiegel. What makes it different from Google chat, FB messaging, etc is the fact that the “snaps” (photos/videos/text) that you send are only viewable between 1-10 seconds, and then deleted permanently. It is known as the “next wave of private social sharing” (USA Today).

Who Uses Snapchat?

All Things D’s Liz Gannes reports that Snapchat is used by kids between the ages of “13-25 years old, with a growing contingent that’s aged 40 and over.” Business are also jumping on the Snapchat train. Mashable’s recent article 8 Brands Rocking Snapchat lists some awesome ways that brands are using this service.

How Can Libraries Use Snapchat?

Taking direction from the brands listed in Mashable’s article here are a few ideas I have:

1) 16 Handles Example: Ask your patrons to snap a pic of themselves with a roving library item/mascot. When I was attending TSMRI’s social media conference I attended the session 32 Flavors and Then Some: Creative Ways to Grow Your Social Presence. The presenters had the awesome idea of “steal this pen.” Students would take a specific university pen and take a pic with it wherever they were globally. They used Twitter for the sharing, but Snapchat is a great way to do this as well. As a library you could have students send a pic with a specific book, pen, mascot, etc. then in return they could be sent a 10 sec self destructing coupon code that they could bring into the library for a print of their photo.

2) Karmaloop Example: Karmaloop sends snaps of it’s brands new releases, office pictures, etc. You could do the same with the library. You could snap a “behind the scenes” video of the process of repairing a damaged book, a pic of new book arrivals, etc.

3) Taco Bell Example: Taco Bell used Snapchat’s Stories feature. This feature allows you to tell a story in a series of photos. You could do this in your library in several different ways: story of how a book is made, abridged version of a classic novel, etc. This might be one of the most useful ways for libraries to use Snapchat. These are just a few of my ideas. If your library is using Snapchat please comment below and tell us how your using it!


Here is another idea that I just discovered: The Snapchat Pitch. In this contest students have 10 seconds or less to pitch their idea to the ad agency DDB Oslo. If their idea is selected they will be flown out to DDB Oslo for an interview.

You could have students describe their favorite book or library improvement idea in 10 seconds or less. http://vimeo.com/84663955

**2nd Update:

This guy performed the most awesome song covers using Snapchat! You could do a contest having students create a video with visuals in Snapchat…Maybe reenacting plots from their favorite book or Shakespeare play?

**3rd Update

I just posted a new post: How to Create a Snapchat Contest. It describes the contest I created this last semester.

**4th Update

Madonna just announced that she will be releasing her new music video on Snapchat tomorrow. It seems like this platform is definitely becoming more of a mainstream marketing tool!

Tips for Using Piktochart



Being a visual learner myself, I am a huge fan of infographics.  They have gotten so popular that it seems like you can’t scroll down a Pinterest/Tumblr/Facebook feed without seeing at least one plastered on your screen. With their rising popularity has come the prevalence of infographic generators. These handy tools are great for those without graphic design program experience (or for those who don’t want to pay for one).  One of my favorite generator apps is Piktochart. I am currently teaching Piktochart 101 to an English class where I work so I thought I’d share my tips and thoughts while it’s fresh on my mind.

The interface is a lot cleaner than it used to be. There there is only one version (there used to be two, the old and new, which was confusing). The free version lets you select from a set of 8 templates (one being blank).  Before I get into tips here are some things to be aware of when using Piktochart:

  • Must use shift to select multiple images (ctrl does not work)
  • Can’t delete countries on maps (just country specs)- Piktochart has an awesome maps feature that lets you embed interactive maps. The only bummer is that you can only modify the geographic locations’ color and data. You can’t delete or zoom in on a specific country.
  • Can’t upload gifs
  • Can’t click and drag images into infographic itself, you have to use the upload option
  • Does not have a huge selection of image choices
  • Click and drag is glitchy
  • Image layering can be tedious- A lot of times when I am using layered images and I want to modify an image that is underneath another one the program won’t let me. To modify a layered image you have to un-layer them all, modify, then relayer.
  • Can’t Search Graphics, you have to scroll through them
  • Can’t press delete or backspace to delete something you must select it and then click trash
  • Font types in the font selection menu are all listed in the same font, they also don’t change when you select text and hover your mouse to see what it might look like.

Tip 1: Use Curalate’s Image Chart

Curalate does one of the best jobs at showing you how to utilize color, size, etc on your infographic. Here are a few specs to keep in mind:

  • Use Multiple Dominant Colors
  • With Medium lightness
  • A 2:3 aspect ratio
  • and less than a 10% background

Tip 2: Setting a Color Scheme

I normally use Kuler to select a unique color scheme and then enter in the HEX numbers into my infographic using the advanced settings. I would recommend having an eye dropper browser tool at the ready. These are great if you want to get the HEX number of a color on a web page. I usually get the color using the eye dropper, pop it in to Kuler, and set up a color scheme. The eye dropper also works great for shape colors. For example you could use the dropper to get Facebook’s logo’s exact shade of blue and then change your Facebook shape icon on you infographic to that color (most shapes are black). Here’s what kuler looks like:


Tip 3: Using Graphics/Images

Piktochart’s stock image selection is not great in my opinion so I rely heavily on the creative commons image search. It’s great for quickly finding copyright free images. I especially like searching the clip art gallery to find symbols and shapes to use. Piktochart does not have a lot of image modification features so you might need to use a photo editor. Gimp is a great free option and works on Mac, Windows, and Linux operating systems.


Mashies Finalists for Library Promotion Inspiration- Part 3

Please view past posts for more background: Mashies Finalists for Library Promotion Inspiration Part 1 and Mashies Finalists for Library Promotion Inspiration Part 2

In my first post I stated that I was going to create library ideas based on each nominee for every category each day. This has proven to be a bit too time consuming so from now on I’m only going to select a few nominees from multiple categories and post about once a week.

Alright today I am taking on the categories of Best Real-Time Marketing and Best Use of Google+:

Best Real-Time Marketing

Mashable describes this category as “the best branded digital response to current events as they’re happening.” I think utilizing current event information is a great way for libraries to demonstrate relevancy, promote their collections, and respond to patron complaints.

Nominee: Bodyform– Rubber Republic

  • Rubber Republic created a hilarious response to “a disgruntled boyfriend’s rant on Bodyform’s facebook page.” The video features  “Bodyform’s fictional CEO Caroline Williams apologizing to Richard for the flagrant use of metaphors in the company’s advertising of feminine hygiene products” and was posted 7 days after the comment. The video currently has 5,325,707 YouTube views.
  • Library Idea- Videos are a great way to get your proposed solutions out to a large audience. Try making a video response of your library’s solution to common complaint.

Nominee: The Poop Tweet– Razorfish

  • This video does a wonderful job at explaining how powerful a timely and creative social media response can be. Razorfish created a tweet in response to someone’s comment about Smart Car’s durability. The response was blogged about, then picked up by Reddit where it reached number 1 twice, and the next morning it was making headlines around the world. The video states that they generated 22 million impressions, increased their Twitter mentions by over 2000%, and searches for “tridion safety cell” increased by 333%.
  • Library Example
    • All libraries get complaints from patrons. With the advent of social media like Facebook and Twitter many of these complaints are disseminated digitally. It’s important that libraries not only respond to digital complaints but do so as quickly as possible.
    • Sometimes digital complaints stem out of one’s desire to vent their frustrations and aren’t even sent directly to the institution they are complaining about. Tracking these comments down allows you to be a fly on the wall and peer into real people’s conversations about your library. For example our library has had many tweets about people talking in the quiet study area of the library. The only way we were able to find those tweets was by searching for the word “library” and limiting by location via zip code. In response to those tweets we offered this solution:


  • Library Idea- If you have patrons complaining a small collection you could calculate how large your paper and digital collections are and tweet it. If people are making comments about how libraries are out of date or no one reads actual books you could tweet out your yearly book checkout statistics.

Bottom Line: Respond to complaints in a timely manner, have a sense of humor, and don’t ignore the power of social media regarding this area.

Best Use of Google+

Nominee: The #CadburyKitchen- Mondelez International

  • Cadbury invited chocolate lovers to a Google+ Hangout hosted by French Patissier Eric Lanlard. The hangout featured tips on pastry creation and information about his new book.
  • Library Idea- Google+ is not as utilized by libraries as Facebook, but in my opinion it should be. The main reason is the Hangout feature. Google+ Hangouts allow up to 10 people to video chat at once. This could be a great way to offer reference assistance or teach a library workshop and/or orientation to small groups. You could offer a Hangout featuring a local author and have a Q and A about their new book.

Mashies Finalists for Library Promotion Inspiration- Part 2

In yesterday’s post I discussed sharing my library tips/ideas based on the top three finalists in each Mashies awards category.  The Mashies celebrate the best in marketing. Since these companies are highly skilled in what they do I think it only makes sense to learn from their genius. Today I am taking on the category oooof:

Best Video Series

Nominee 1: Idea Channel- PBS

    • I have been a huge fan of this channel even before I found out that they were a Mashies nominee. In fact I wrote about them a few weeks ago in a post about quality videos for flipping the classroom! This youtube channel “examines the connections between pop culture, technology and art. New videos are posted every Wednesday.” My favorite video is “Is Google Knowledge.”
    • Library idea
      • You could use these videos for flipping your classroom. TedEd is a great tool for creating lessons around YouTube videos.
      • You could create library instructional videos and based on their format:
        • Videos around 8-10 min in length, enthusiastic “live” person narrator (no voice over), engaging topics that spark initial interest based on a scholarly idea (ex: Is BMO from Adventure Time Expressive of Feminism), etc

Nominee 2: Dawn- The Big Picture Docu-series– Publicis Kaplan Thaler

  • These YouTube videos called “The Big Picture” highlight dawn’s role in wildlife rescue.
  • Library idea
    • Again another flip video resource.
    • Ideas for your own videos: Highlight a little known fact about your library or how you’re improving your community using stories told by real people with beautifully shot video.

Nominee 3: Raising the Bar- Creative Artists Agency