The Stellenbosch University Library recently achieved remarkable success at the annual Marketing, Advancement and Communication in Education (MACE) Excellence Awards, securing a Silver Award among SU's total of 33 accolades. This was the first time that the Library entered the MACE awards with the entry title: Why does the library need a TikTok anyway? Notably, this event marked the culmination of a two-day conference focused on the future of higher education within the realm of artificial intelligence, held in Cape Town.
Recognising the need for a more inclusive and inviting library environment, SU's Faculty Librarians initiated an innovative approach using TikTok as a platform. This move aimed to bridge gaps and ease 'library anxiety' experienced by students, addressing concerns related to navigating library spaces and underutilisation of resources.
Understanding the popularity and reach of TikTok among the youth, especially with over 11.5 million users aged 18 and above in South Africa, the library strategically chose this platform to engage its primary audience: students between the ages of 18-24 at Stellenbosch University. However, the initiative also targeted the broader university community.
The project's goals and objectives centered on increasing library visibility and fostering positive connections with the student community. Their objectives were clear: attain 1000 followers by the end of the first year, continuously create engaging content, and showcase library services regularly.
Implementing this strategy aligned with SU's overarching goal of providing responsive, transformative, and inclusive services. Although initially planned for a monthly posting schedule, the project quickly gained traction, surpassing expectations with a significant following and engagement. By September 21, 2023, the library's TikTok page boasted 2,195 followers and 83.1k likes, exceeding their initial targets.
The success metrics didn't stop there. With over 1.1 million views and a 99% approval rate for content, the library achieved its goal of creating an engaging space, fostering comfortable interactions between librarians and students. Additionally, their efforts to showcase library services directly impacted bookings for study spaces, underlining the initiative's tangible outcomes.
In conclusion, SU Library's TikTok initiative reshaped its image, fostered meaningful connections, and significantly enhanced the academic experience at the university. This success story stands as a testament to the power of innovative engagement strategies in transforming student experiences and underscores the library's commitment to excellence, innovation, and inclusivity in academic services. As the journey continues, the library remains dedicated to furthering its positive impact on the transformative student experience. Explore their TikTok videos at https://www.tiktok.com/@facultylibrarianssu to witness this transformative journey.
Stellenbosch University Library and Information Service, Helpline Numbers: +27 21 808 4883, Corp Office / Postal Address: Private Bag X5036 Stellenbosch, 7599