While working on the program of the 2nd Higher Ed Social Media Conference (now available on-demand), I had the chance of seeing some very cool social media initiatives – including Kelly Bennett’s work with SnapChat.
Kelly Bennett (@KellyABennett), Manager of Social Media and Marketing Strategy at Miami University, Oxford (OH), has used SnapChat for a few months with some success. She’s been nice enough to answer a few of my questions so we can all learn from her experience.
1) You’ve started to use SnapChat at your institution. Why did you jump in?
Miami University started using Snapchat in April of 2014 – when we realized that’s where our students were most active on social media. In a study done by Sumpto, 77% of college students use Snapchat daily. We also started to notice that activity on Facebook and even twitter was decreasing and we wanted to stay engaged with our students.
2) What have been the most successful snaps so far for your school?
Some of our most successful snap stories we’ve done have been “behind the scenes” tours of new Residence Halls and campus facilities.
Others have been prize-driven contests. For example, in September, Piper Kerman, author of “Orange is the New Black,” spoke on campus about the Criminal Justice System. Seats were limited and the talk sold out, so we did a ticket giveaway the day of the talk though Snapchat. Because Miami University is located in the Midwest, leaves of trees were beginning to change. Miami University asked – through a Snapchat story – for students to snap us a photo of an orange-colored tree on campus for a chance to win 2 tickets to the talk, and we would share our favorites by adding them to our story.
This involves some work because in order to do this, you must screen shot the snap, then log into your snapchat account through another device and take photos of the snaps and add them to your story. The outcome was a success and we reached over 2,000 snap story views – a record, at the time!
3) How does SnapChat compare with more traditional platforms according to your own experience? Is it worth the time?
The beauty of Snapchat is that it is one of the most authentic form of social media. Because a snap story only lives for 24 hours, it isn’t expected to be polished or edited. People just want to see a genuine look at campus life and this allows us to do so. The other benefit of Snapchat is the urgency to view a story. Again, because it only lives for 24 hours, if someone waits too long to view it, they’ll miss it. Stories also must be created in real-time, so if a cool event is happening on campus, and we create snap story of it, there’s a chance students can still make it to the event and get to enjoy it!
4) Any interesting lessons learned with this platform you can share with your social media colleagues working at other schools?
This is the analytical geek in me talking, but one of my favorite aspects of snapchat is being able to see how many people view or screen-shot a story.
At Miami, like most colleges, there are so many events that take place every week. I’ve started doing a Monday morning Snapstory of all the fliers I can find that showcase campus events that will be happening that week, whether that be a movie night, a speaker, a festival, or an important deadline. Many times I see which item is “screen-shotted,” which shows me which content students are most interested in.
I’ve even had some snapchats from prospective students raving about a campus visit, and alumni thanking us for showing Miami experience and bringing back memories of their time on campus. As we continue to experiment we will develop further ways to engage on this platform.
UPDATE: Want to learn more on how Miami University uses SnapChat?
Kelly Bennett will present about the topic at the 2015 Higher Ed Content Conference (April 15, 2015)