Snapchat — What is it, how does it work, and why are the kids so addicted to it?
Snapchat is the country’s second most loved social media platform behind Facebook, and eMarketer reported almost half of Snapchat’s users are 18- to 24-year-olds. In fact, even though Facebook is the nation’s favorite website, Snapchat is most definitely your students’ favorite app.
What Is Snapchat?
Snapchat is an image-based mobile messaging app. Users send photos with captions, drawings, emojis, and various filters over the picture to communicate with each other. After a few seconds, though, the picture is gone forever.
With 77% of college students using this app at least once a day and half of students using this app as a main avenue for communication, it only makes sense that universities take advantage of this platform for admissions and community involvement.
How Does Snapchat for Higher Education Work?
There are three main ways to use Snapchat for Higher Education.
1. You can send one-to-one or one-to-many Snaps.
A Snap is the Snapchat term for a post. Basically, it’s a picture or video that has a time limit (generally 10 seconds, but the sender can make it shorter) before it disappears forever.
Someone can take a picture of his or herself, add a caption or emoji, change the filter over the picture, and even draw on it with their finger.
That person can then send this to one or many friends with whom they are connected on the app. This is how many teens and young adults are keeping in touch.
2. You can create your Snapchat Story to share with all of your friends and followers.
The purpose of a Snapchat Story is similar to posting a status on Facebook instead of sending a direct message: broadcasting. A Snapchat Story is a collection of Snaps posted publicly by a user throughout the day.
To create a Story: after creating a Snap, post to “Your Story.” Throughout the day, these Snaps add up to a multi-Snap Story. For a more detailed explanation, check out this infographic from HubSpot.
Whether it’s a bake sale Tri Sigma is having on the Quad or updates for one of the campus veterinary hospital’s injured miniature horses, it’s all newsworthy on Snapchat Stories.
3. Finally, you can share your Snaps with everyone around you with Snapchat Live Story.
According to Snapchat’s Support page, Live Stories are “compilations of Snaps from Snapchatters at events and locations around the world. Live Stories are curated by Snapchat, and typically appear for 24 hours.”
Here, people can join a particular community or use that community’s filter and post a Snap for everyone viewing that story within a certain event or location. Then, under the option for posting to your own Story, will be an option to post to that community’s story.
If you are on campus of a university, you could access and contribute to that campus’s Snap Story. Only those who are on that campus in real time can view that community story.
The point of a Live Story is both to unite the community and communicate events, sales, news, etc. It’s kind of like 10-second news reports on your phone.
Take Over with Takeovers
A “takeover” is when managers of an account give a student or a group of students access to the account for a certain amount of time.
There was a time when Snapchat in the hands of students was NSFW chaos. However, with the right provisos and management, this popular application has become extremely useful for showcasing campus culture among prospective and current students.
Takeovers can be massively successful. Take it from schools like West Virginia University who host student “Snapchat takeovers” every Tuesday. One of their campus tour guides, Brady Smith, said, “Takeover Tuesday allowed me a unique opportunity to interact with … current students, prospective students, and even alumni.”
“Allowing students to take over for the University is perfect,” another WVU student said. ”The students make up what the University is and represents, and there is no better way to truly and honestly show that than by letting students ‘take over’ the various accounts.”Students make up the University, and there is no better way show that than social media takeovers.Click To Tweet
Two other universities who are “killing it” at the Snapchat game are University of Michigan and Colorado State. U of M gives a helpful infographic for other schools looking to utilize their Snapchat forces but not sure when to post Snaps. Colorado State’s blog offers a helpful layout of how they manage their own Snapchats and their student takeovers.
How Your School Can Kill It at Snapchat Too
The Snapchat game can be tricky, but if done right, your school can use Snapchat to attract prospective students, engage current students, and remind alumni of the good ol’ days.
1. Form a Snapchat Squad
Enlist students from several different departments who you know will be reputable and responsible. Each week (or month or day or however frequent you think takeovers should be for your school), send out an email instructing the student(s) assigned for that particular takeover on when and how to use the college Snapchat account. An hour before they are scheduled to take over, send them the password. Once their takeover window is over, change the password and prepare for the next takeover.
2. Set Up the Snapchat Squad Rules
In this email you send your Snapchatters, make sure they know exactly what is expected of them. Colorado State has a sample email here that they send out to takeover students in which they lay down the law of the school’s Snapchat. Have fun, be creative, but don’t get crazy (Bon Qui Qui anyone?).
3. Create a Geofilter for Your School (If There Isn’t One Already)
This artistic feature is what lets people in your location (i.e., on campus) or event (such as a football game or career fair) know which Live Story they’re connected to.
4. Snapchat Smartly
Colorado State also has a Do’s/Don’ts article on their blog that’s pretty helpful with how to efficiently utilize the app on a college campus. It includes tips on how to use music and custom geofilters, among other things.
5. Have Fun and Keep the Community Engaged
Snapchat is truly a magnificent app for uniting students and faculty and engaging those within the community. You can hold hashtag contests, track campus events and activities through Live Stories, and even use it with prospective students.
Eastern Kentucky University uses the platform to let students know they got into the school through personalized Snaps. According to Beth Brashears at EKU, “Approximately one-third of students screenshot this and share it on another social network, and each time we get more follower requests.”
Connect with Your Community Through Snapchat
Snapchat has taken the country by storm, especially among the younger generation, because it is an app that doesn’t just send black and white words. It’s engaging, entertaining, creative, informative, and inspirational. But more importantly, Snapchat has been used to connect people with each other, with communities, and with brands in new and exciting ways. We hope that with the help of our Snapchat tips and tricks, you can kill it and captivate your campus as well.