Make the most out of mobile social marketing apps to promote your Summer Reading Program by using Snapchat, Instagram and Tumblr this summer. As 21st century librarians are always on the go, even more so during the summer months, mobile social marketing apps can be effective tools of communication. Here is a breakdown of three high-traffic platforms to engage your audience in real time with a few simple taps.

1. Snapchat is a photo-messaging app that launched in September 2011. Today, 46% of Americans ages 12 to 24 years old use it. As of May 2014, Snapchat users send over 700 million pictures and videos each day.

Snapchat is unique in its ability to create short (1 to 10 seconds long) images or videos, which can be enhanced with graphics or text, and sent privately and ephemerally to your friends, followers and family. Once the message has been reviewed it is permanently deleted from your account, your recipients’ accounts and from the Snapchat servers.

Quick Tips

Download other complimentary apps such as Snapbox (iOS) or Snapchat Saver (Android) to save Snapchats. These apps allow you to go back after the summer and analyze which marketing approaches worked best. Snapchat container apps also permit privacy/anonymity learning opportunities with your teens and may be useful in the compliance of your library’s social media policy.

Regularly send out messages to your Teen Advisory Board and encourage them to create and disperse same-day marketing for library events.

Screenshot your Snapchats so you can market this platform on your library’s other social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.

2. Tumblr has been around for quite a while (since February 2007) but has recently gained steam with their ever-improving mobile app capabilities. Recent app updates include the ability to customize your micro-blog account with a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) user interface, more secure two-factor authentication and the ability to mention other bloggers in your tags and reposts.

Recent studies have found that young adults are moving away from Facebook to Tumblr. In fact, of the Millenials polled, 61% state to use Tumblr regularly compared with 55% who said they use Facebook regularly.

Quick Tips

Take advantage of trends and memes to engage your audience.

Check out what other libraries are doing with Tumblr. My two recommendations are the Oskaloosse Public Library‘ and Darien Library.

Actively cite sources and use the “@” symbol to mention other users and their original content as a living demonstration of copyright and information standards.

3. Instagram first appeared in October of 2010. Since then, more than 16 billion photos have been uploaded from users spanning the globe. More than half of young adults with Snapchat accounts also hold an Instagram account. About 70% of Instagram users check their accounts and search photos once a day.

Instagram permits users to tag their photos, add a location, as well as edit and filter their photos. The social marketing app was purchased by Facebook for $1 billion dollars. Facebook added video sharing capabilities to Instagram to compete with Vine. Everything from cat pictures to book trailers can be created and uploaded with Instagram within minutes.

Quick Tips

Connect your library’s Instagram account with its Twitter and Facebook feeds to seamlessly provide the same content across all of your platforms. This works very well if you have designated library teen accounts.

Geotag, tag people and tag words to your photos for optimal exposure.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Use pictures and videos to instigate a library scavenger hunt, promote prizes and programs, share recently returned or new library materials and fun contests like “Library Shelfies.”




About Samantha Helmick

Samantha serves her Iowa community in the capacity of UX & Outreach Librarian for Burlington Public Library. She received her MLIS from University of Illinois, where she designed a sustainability internship with through PLA. Samantha volunteers as chair of the Iowa Library Association's Public Library Forum and YALSA's Division and Membership Promotion Committee, regularly contributes to LiTTech, and edReach, and is writing a textbook for the Library Tech Essentials series on “Mobile Social Marketing for Libraries” which will be published by Rowman and Littlefield in 2015.

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