How Instagram Stories saved me

The truth is Snapchat terrifies me. I’ve been casting sideways glances at it for years wondering when (rather than if) I’d be forced to dip my toe into this most ephemeral of SM platforms. All the reading was saying that this was the platform with the most growth and the highest usage among teenagers and young adults. So with my work hat on (managing Hull Uni Library’s SM channels) I thought it was simply a matter of time.

The biggest issue I had with Snapchat was that I am not an active user in my personal life.  There is only so much reading you can do around the intended use of a platform and it’s potential capabilities. For me, to truly experience how you can use a platform within a work setting, you need to have some hands on experience of using it personally. Your own account can be your test bed for trying different forms of content and for exploring some of the additional features.  This worked for me with Twitter, where I felt confident taking over the work channels as I was an experienced Twitter user and had some idea of would work and what wouldn’t.

So it was with some trepidation that I laid out plans for creating a Snapchat channel for the Library for the start of the new academic year.  My plan was to create stories around key events such as open days, induction period and new exhibitions in our art gallery.



Oh joy of joy. Here was Instagram’s direct competition to Snapchat’s model and most importantly in a platform that the Library was established on and one I understood! It also coincided nicely with my aim to increase our following on Instagram as I believe this platform is great for showing the “other side” of life in the Library.

Early testing involved me playing with stories in my own account whilst asking Snapchat users in the Library how it compared. As Instagram added more and more features in those first few weeks it was obvious that it was a viable alternative. Phew!

So I set to playing and for the first week of induction I did a story every day around things such as finding your way round the ground floor, volunteering with the Library and printing a document. The stories took next to no time to create and just rely on a bit of planning and some creative thought. Have I got any to show? Of course not! Although you can save them, I allowed them to disappear into the ether. Hopefully they went to a better place.

Finally, Instagram allows you to see who has viewed your story. A feature I really like as it allows me to work out the percentage of those who have viewed the story who are students. I’m aware that a lot of our most active correspondents are other Libraries or other departments in the University so it’s great to get an understanding of how many others are engaging.

Next Steps:

  • Increase staff participation – Want to get more Library staff creating content for the feed.
  • Student generated content – student take overs and their stories.

Further Reading:


About the author

Mike Ewen

Hi, I am the online co-ordinator for the University Library. I look after all our websites, online resources and social media channels. I have a particular interest in how social media is used across higher education and am one of the organisers of the University Social Media Group!

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