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do that would be to create a Snapchat account, so the museum joined on May 18. That day, Spruce snapped a behind- the-scenes tour of the building and sent it via Snapchat.
“It did exceptionally well, especially for a new platform,” Spruce said.
She’s learning as she goes and attend- ed the South by Southwest festival this year to get ideas about how to engage users via the app. Working for a muse- um that hasn’t opened yet has made it possible for her to experiment. One thing that became clear early on is the importance of cultivating a personality for the account.
“I really wanted to make it fun and create a Snapchat persona,” Spruce said. “It’s supposed to be a personal experience of how you view the world.”
NMAAHC’s Snapchat personality is a young woman in college who is expe- riencing the museum and the world around her. “Everything that we expe- rience in our Snapchat account is seen through that lens,” she added.
To mark 100 days until the muse- um’s opening, Spruce snapped a photo with an emoji. The use of fil- ters, emojis and stickers appeals to
young people and differs from the way the museum approaches its other social media platforms, Spruce said.
“We definitely don’t want to lose our [Snapchat] audience by being too aca- demic or informational,” she said. “We want to make learning fun.”
That attitude can also boost user engagement as the snaps receive direct messages and responses. With Twitter, you can only send a direct message to someone who already follows you.
NMAAHC’s Snapchat account caught the attention of the team. Members reached out to Spruce to host a Snapchat tour with sneak peeks of special exhibits and the ability for fol- lowers to snap their requests.
“I thought that was really cool that another government agency saw what we were doing and was excited and wanted to get in on the action as well,” Spruce said.
Archiving the ephemeral
One of the challenges facing the gov- ernment’s use of Snapchat — which, after all, was designed for ephemeral sharing — is making sure all the work that goes into creating a story doesn’t simply disappear.
Spruce described storyboarding a tour of the museum, carefully plan- ning the order of the photos and send- ing the finished product to followers, all the while knowing it would vanish in 24 hours. She downloaded the story to save it, but it still disappeared from users’ phones.
“I think finding the value in taking the time to create content that just disap- pears is hard to measure,” Spruce said. keeps a record of all stories and photos by posting them to its You- Tube channel, but it’s up to each agency to figure out a strategy that works for them.
Although Snapchat stories disap- pear unless they are saved elsewhere, account managers can keep track of success by seeing how many followers they have, how many people view their stories and how many people screen- shot the stories to save them. Another
way to tell if people are engaged with the content is if they snap back because followers can send a direct message.
The National Archives and Records Administration is tasked with helping agencies archive all electronic and social media records by 2019, includ- ing snaps. NARA does not use Snapchat for its own public outreach, but it tells agencies that do to follow the guidance GSA posted in March.
“When creating a story with images or videos, we recommend downloading it in its full form from within the app and taking screenshots of all unique conversations within the app, which can then be emailed to your agency email [account] from the device used to create the story,” Dana Allen-Greil, NARA’s web and social media branch chief, told FCW.
The “Guidance on Managing Social Media Records,” NARA’s Bulletin 2014- 02, explains how to capture and save social media records, including those created via Snapchat. Methods include using web capture tools and platform- specific application programming inter- faces to pull content.
“This guidance is also written to cover emerging tools,” Allen-Greil added.
As promised, snapped a story about Alexander Hamilton. Through photos and captions, it described Hamilton’s influence on American history and his role as a con- fidant to George Washington during the Revolutionary War. Hamilton’s face is clad in sunglasses as the first secretary of the Treasury enjoys his time in the sun. The caption explains that the hit Broadway musical helped keep Ham- ilton’s portrait on the $10 bill.
The government might be new to Snapchat, but the agencies that are experimenting with it are finding unique ways to reach a broader audience and harness a growing medium.
“I would love it if we could make the government more accessible to people,” Milcetich said. “[Snapchat] humanizes what can sometimes be perceived as a very big bureaucracy.” n
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