As I explained in the 1st post of this series, SnapChat is really starting to look like a serious contender in the game of communication platforms with college students.
Is it time to adopt SnapChat for higher ed institutions?
As you know, we can learn a lot from the experience of early adopters of any new technology, channel or platform in higher education.
That’s the reason for this series of interviews from early adopters of SnapChat in higher education.
After Nikki Sunstrum from UM, Jason Boucher from UNH, Tyler Thomas from UNL and Tony Dobies from WVU, Beth Brashears, Digital Media Student Recruitment Specialist at Eastern Kentucky University and a current student in my 8-week online course on social media marketing for higher ed, has accepted to answer my questions about her experience with SnapChat.
1) When did you start using SnapChat at EKU and what was your goal?
I started to use SnapChat in December 2014.
When I started at EKU, it was the first time I was using social media to market to this generation.
It was important to me to stand out from other Universities, and I wanted to cut through the clutter. Instead of constantly inviting students to join our apps and add us on new social media sites, I wanted to go where they were already.
All of the teens and college students I know are on Snapchat. It made sense to be there with them, and show them that we understand them.
2) Why did you add Snapchat to your social media toolbox?
Because there is no way to organically grow Snapchat, the only two options were to cross promote or manually add students.
We got a lot of new followers after posting our username on other social media platforms, but the problem was that we didn’t have names.
Watch the whole video on EKUstories Snapchat!!! pic.twitter.com/SaSAFbZdeo
— EKU Admissions (@EKUAdmissions) February 6, 2015
I didn’t know if I was sending a Snap to a prospective student, a current student, or someone unaffiliated with the University. I decided to be proactive in adding students.
I now take our list of daily admits, and those who listed their cell phone numbers and said it was ok to text them (this is a private messaging app, so we made the decision it falls under the same category), and add them into my work cell phone as a contact with the date they are admitted, their name, and their birthday. Then I open the app and go to “Add Contacts” and send them a request if they already have the app.
In my experience, over half of students already have a snapchat associated with their cell phone numbers. I then send them a Snap with a picture of our mascot with the caption “Congrats! You have been accepted to EKU!” They receive this before they get their admissions email or letter.
3) What results did you get? What was the feedback from students?
Approximately 1/3 of students screenshot this and share it on another social network, and each time we get more follower requests.
Dozens of students have used the text option to ask questions about housing, scholarships, and other questions about the process. They feel more comfortable texting than calling or emailing, and I have had several students tell me they chose EKU because we were the most helpful and available, even more so than smaller institutions they have reached out to.
This means that I have to keep my phone at hand essentially 24/7, not just 8-5, because most of their questions come around 11pm, but it is a great way to communicate with students if you put the effort and time in.
In the next post in this SnapChat series, I’ll share another of the 6 interviews I conducted with higher ed professionals using SnapChat with college students.