As social media platforms often do, Snapchat recently did a major update and basically changed everything, from the user experience to the layout to the way you find and follow people and brands.
I am a heavy Snapchat user in my personal life. In my role as a library marketer, I am in charge of posting and data analysis on the platform. So I’m on it many times a day. I’ve also taken part in #ChatSnap on Twitter (it’s a weekly chat about Snapchat!) and I’ve read Chelsea Pietz’s book, Talking in Pictures: How Snapchat Changed Cameras, Communication, and Communities. I’m familiar and comfortable with the platform.
My first impression of the change was this–Snapchat is moving back to its original mission of promoting personal connections and conversations between individuals. Which is not good news for most brands. Most companies are preparing for a pay-to-play move by Snapchat. I expect that, at some point in the near future, Snapchat will offer marketers the chance to buy their way into the main feed of their followers and those who don’t pay will get little or no organic reach (think Facebook).
But for now, we should all be moving our libraries in a new direction to work better in the updated Snapchat. With the change, getting personally connected to your followers is now even more important. That’s because the new Snapchat algorithm sorts a users’ feed based on the people they interact with most often, putting the most frequent connections at the top of the feed. So, if you are talking and having conversations with your followers, they’re more likely to see your stories posts. If you don’t take the time to engage personally with users, you’ll be pushed to the bottom of the feed.
This is not to say that you need to engage with every single user every single day. My personal way to approach this is to send Snapchat messages or chats once or twice a week to a group of users. I do it alphabetically so it’s easier to keep track of who I’ve messaged. I might just ask a question like, “What are you reading this weekend?” or “Did you know you can get a passport at the library?” and then send it to 20 or so followers. Even if they don’t respond, the very act of reaching out from my end is enough to bump my stories up in their general feed. It literally takes five minutes of my time.
My Library is still appearing in the main feed for our users. This is also true for the long list of libraries which I follow on Snapchat. I’m not exactly sure why libraries are distinguished as friends instead of brands, which are now in the Discover tab, but I’m not going to complain or bring attention to it!! I haven’t seen any drop in the number of views on my posts to the Library account.
And for all the talk that the change will drive users away from the platform, data shows us usage hasn’t dropped. Stifel’s social media usage tracker shows Snapchat’s audience reach dropped by only about 0.1 percent in February. In an article posted in US News and World Report, Analyst John Egbert says Snap seems to have lost only about 90,000 of its 187 million global daily active users in February. 18 percent of U.S. social media users are on Snapchat and users spend an average of 30 minutes a day on the platform. That number is higher for millennials. You can get updated Snapchat user stats here. It’s pretty fascinating and when I feel like I might be wasting my time on the platform, I just read these.
The bottom line is libraries should still be active on Snapchat. But it shouldn’t be your top priority. There are other platforms–namely Facebook and Instagram–where your time is better served. Use Snapchat to share videos of special occasions, news about new books, profile a Book of the Day, and practice your video and storytelling skills. Don’t devote major resources to it.
A post I wrote about Snapchat last year still applies and you can use it to help you brainstorm ways to connect with followers on the platform. It is important to have a presence of some sort on Snapchat. If you haven’t yet claimed your account, you should. You should be posting at least once a week. And you should offer to answer questions or provide help to your followers on the platform. We have to go where our cardholders are in order to best serve them.
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