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.



How Libraries are Doing Pinterest Wrong


Ok, I admit it I am one of the 71% of women on Pinterest. I use it to get travel, culinary, decorating inspiration and I pin whenever I find something awesome I want to remember later. I also pin for my library, but unlike my personal Pinterest account, my library account is much different. I have noticed recently that many libraries are (in my opinion) using Pinterest incorrectly. Here are some of the ways:

1) They are glutting up people’s feeds

Posting a lot at one time gluts up your followers’ feeds. I don’t want to see a bunch of books that take up several pages of my feed.

2) They are pinning the same thing on different boards.

In the example below this pinner pinned the same book on different boards. Which is fine, but when pinned simultaneously it results in duplicates in my feed that I don’t want to see. It is my recommendation to select one board per pin and stick with it (even if it falls into multiple categories).

Wrong Way to Pin

3) They are using Pinterest like they use Libguides

A lot of library accounts that I have run into post all the new books in their collection. That is great for a Libguide but not for Pinterest. Pinterest is public, with a much wider user base. And as such, you as the pinner, should only pin a smattering of your collection. “The best of” so to speak. If you’ve noticed that you’re not getting a whole lot of repins on a certain type of pin that you pin frequently, stop pinning. Chances are, it’s not relevant to your audience. In my opinion a “New Arrivals” Libguide would be better for this. If you don’t have Libguides and want to use something comparable don’t use Pinterest try using a website like Wix.

4) They are posting things they personally find useful/interesting 

I love cats, but I’m not going to post cute cat pics all over the library’s Pinterest account because not all students necessarily share my fondness for felines. If you come across a great collection development resource or cute picture pin it to a private board or onto your personal Pinterest account.

5) They are using poor quality images

Small and/or pixelated images do not encourage repins or clicks. They are normally bypassed for visually appealing images.

In my opinion libraries should be using Pinterest they way brands do. It can garner interest, spark participation, and promote innovation if used properly. The infographic contest that I created was a huge success in my library and showcased the awesome graphic abilities of our students. If you look at major brands on Pinterest they are not pinning like crazy at one time. They are pinning relevant interesting material, in spaced time increments, that organically works as a promotion tool. Here is a great list of 5 Brands Winning at Pinterest that would be a great tool to utilize. Also the Mashies nomination list for Best Use of Pinterest is another awesome resource.

According to a recent study by Piqora “a pin on Pinterest is worth 25% more in sales than last year and can drive visits and orders for months.” How does this translate to libraries? If used correctly Pinterest can drive more checkouts, more visitation, and more interaction.  Redpepper has a fabulous article about how Kirkland successfully used Pinterest, which includes using Pin-worthy photography, sweepstakes, and partnering with bloggers. Libraries could use many of these tips for their own accounts.


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


Mashies Finalists- A Great Way to Glean Information for Amazing Library Promotion

By: DigitalRalph on Flickr

Yesterday Mashable announced their finalists for the 2013 Mashies awards. The Mashies awards celebrate the best in digital marketing, advertising and social media. The finalists were selected by a panel of experts and include categories like Best Use of Twitter  and Best Branded App.  In my opinion librarians can learn a lot from events that celebrate the best in tech and marketing like the Mashies and Webby awards. So much of the library is digital and looking to experts in the field can be an awesome way to improve outreach effectiveness and patron’s library experiences. Looking at the finalists’ entries can also be a great way to predict trends in social media and user experience and get ideas for new library marketing campaigns.

Every day for the next two weeks I am going to share my library tips/ideas based on the top three finalists in each Mashies category:

Day 1- Best Use of Facebook

  • Amnesty International- Trial by Timeline
    • “A tool that analyzes your Facebook profile for potential ‘crimes’ under international law.” (Chris Welch)
    • Library idea
      • What about a tool that analyzes your Goodreads profile for potential banned books violations!
  • Razorfish- smart USA Tag Your Own Adventure
    • “Based on the ‘choose your own adventure format’ FB users tag themselves into Razorfish’s video photo album which will organically reach the News Feed without media buy.” (shorty award)
    • Library idea
      • This is a great way to promote your library on a small budget. The more activity you get the more free promotion! Plus you can include your library’s collection of choose your own adventure literature. Definitely a win win.
      • There are a lot of free storyboard apps that you could use for this one.
  • Colenco BBDO- The Smart Phone Line
    • Participants joined the Samsung “Smart Phone Line” through Facebook and Twitter. Whoever was at the beginning of the line won a Galaxy S4. They could jump the line by tweeting and posting the new phone’s features that were released every day. Also the more their friends shared, liked and/or retweeted their post the further up they could move (citation).
    • Library idea
      • You could post/tweet a new book every day for a week. Patron’s could then repost/retweet to move up the library line. The person at the front wins! (Definitely would need someone versed in computer science for this one)

Other References:


Best Contests for Pinterest

Looking for a way to engage your patrons/customers/students? How about a Pinterest contest?! Pinterest contests can be a great way to engage your audience as well as sneak in digital literacy skill development that is fun and exciting to learn!

I have been scouring the interweb to curate a list of past and present Pinterest contests as well as some of my own thought formations. If you have any to add I’d love to hear them!

Interactive Image Contest

Repin to Win/Pin It to Win It

This has been done by various entities and is an effective way to expose your products to a wider audience. Here are some guidelines to checkout before you start your contest. Examples:

Library Repin to Win ideas:

  • New book arrivals
  • Your favorite booklist (using Goodreads)
  • Best places to study
  • Best study apps
  • Best YouTube songs to study to (pinning a video can be found here)
  • Have a “database/resource of the day/week” on your library’s Pinterest board that students can repin.

Theme Contest

  • Create Pinterest board based on a specific theme, best board wins (based on a set rubric) or board with the most likes wins, etc
  • Syracuse University’s Future of Librarianship contest

Guess this Image

  • Contestants can answer in the comments area. Here are a few examples that you can adapt for Pinterest:
  • SBCC’s Luria Library
  • Yahoo (see below):

Snapshot Jackpot

The UMHB Alumni association hosted this contest for Instagram but it could be adapted for Pinterest. The contestants were required to visit a particular place on campus, take a picture of the building, upload the picture to Instagram, and tag it #umhbcharterday13. The pic with the most likes won $50. (With Pinterest’s new hashtag capability this is an awesome contest to try out!)

Clue Contest


Video contest

  • Have users upload a video to YouTube based on a specific theme, then pin to Pinterest w/ a specific hashtag
  • JoAnn

Infographic Contest

  • During the spring 2013 semester I created an infographic contest. Students were required to create an infographic (using their own software or an infographic generator like easel.ly or piktocahrt) and post it to Pinterest, Twitter, or Facebook w/ the hashtag #tmlinfographic. Infographics were judged on a set rubric by faculty.
  • Here’s a link to the contest page


Daily Photo Challenge

  • Each day has a new challenge: your minor, your major, best (school color) combo, etc
  • Entries post to Pinterest w/ hashtag and @yourlibrary/company (ex: tmlphotochallenge, @umhblibrary)
  • Quinnipiac University’s #quphotochallenge

Schedule Your Pinterest Pins

pinterestMost people are familiar w/ scheduling their Tweets (Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, Socialoomph), PinGraphy let’s you do that on Pinterest!