Social Media & Society Analysis Academic Libraries Using Instagram: A Case of Elusive Success (My Conclusion)

Well, this assignment produced quite a few surprises for me! After my research and reflection, I think that academic libraries need to be prepared to conduct advance research and planning if they want to jump on the Instagram bandwagon, which I don’t recommend as appropriate for every academic library.

My analysis paper discusses how social media has become the means of library–student engagement, with Instagram widely touted as the most effective platform. Why should academic libraries set up an Instagram account? Because Instagram’s photo–sharing format appeals to students, who are accustomed to and like the visual presentation of information. Yet, Instagram demands a continual cycle of attention to maintain followers and relevance: snapshot, filter, edit, post, like, comment, repost, follow, and so on.

From an informatics perspective, Instagram helps academic libraries communicate with and connect to students since each incoming college class will consist of exponentially more Instagram users. Academic library Instagram accounts are most successful when staff administrators remember that they are conveying information to young adult students, who follow social media trends and campus events. I found that Instagram’s use by academic libraries also serves pedagogical purposes. Instructional librarians should consider integrating Instagram into library class sessions because it coincides with two ACRL frames: authority is constructed and contextual and information creation as a process. Finally, in an educational environment where return–on–investment has reached paramount status, academic libraries must demonstrate their connection to student success, and I think library Instagram accounts can function as either formal or informal altmetrics.

I concluded that, despite many positive aspects of academic libraries using Instagram, this social media tool often proves to be a case of elusive success. Brookbank (2015) asks, “Does it necessarily follow, however, that college students will want to interact with their library via social media?” (p. 236). For academic libraries with limited staff, assessing student interest in an official library Instagram account and the type of content to be posted, such as research tips or library resources, is crucial. Ultimately, I believe that academic libraries using Instagram should think of it as an experiment, which can provide more insight about the underlying links between libraries and students as well as how the library–student relationship can be improved.

*See my paper (link above) for a more detailed analysis and my complete references.


2 thoughts on “Social Media & Society Analysis Academic Libraries Using Instagram: A Case of Elusive Success (My Conclusion)

  1. I absolutely LOVE your paper. I would have thought that Facebook was the best way to reach your patrons. However, after spending a few days with my 22 year old nephew I definitely learned otherwise. That generation takes their social media and their social media likes very seriously. They love Instagram but it seems like they are almost over Facebook or use it in a different way. For our generation I feel like it is the other way around. Which obviously makes it difficult to reach all of your patrons if you are only catering to a specific age group. I feel like in the case of academic libraries perhaps utilizing a third party social media platform would be ideal. They could theoretically only post one thing but that post can span across various social media platforms. I took a close look at Hoostsuite for my paper and I feel like it would be perfect for an academic library setting. It would be a great way for them to manage their return on investment.

    Also, I love all of your blogs and papers. You understand Library Science in a way I could only hope to one day. You rock and never forget it!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you!!! Yes, I was also surprised by how much of an “edge” Instagram has over the social media platforms among current college-age people. I do think there’s a connection to the preference for visual information versus text. I feel like your paper and my paper intersect! 🙂 I absolutely agree that a management tool, like Hootsuite, would be the best method for academic libraries to add Instagram to their other social media output, especially since it would offer them analytics for studying return on investment. Hootsuite would help academic libraries to manage their social media much more effectively and efficiently, which is needed since academic librarians have so many other more pressing responsibilities. And I’m happy to say that I’m friends with a future presidential librarian! You will be brilliant!!! Your blogs have demonstrated your strong research skills and your dedication to always placing patrons and their needs first, which is what we’re called to do in this profession!


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