SnapChat Early Adopters in #highered: University of Michigan (@umich)

February 26th, 2015 Karine Joly 30 Comments

With the multiplication (explosion?) of communication platforms used by prospective or current college students, it’s tough – but necessary – to keep up for communication and marketing professionals working in higher education.

As I explained in the 1st post of this series, SnapChat is really starting to look like a serious contender in the game.

Is it time to adopt SnapChat for institutions?

It’s always tough to say with certainty as the final decision always depends on your goals, your audience and – let’s be frank – your team resources.

You can always learn something from early adopters in higher ed.

That’s the reason for this series of interviews from early adopters of SnapChat in higher education.

Let’s start with Nikki Sunstrum, Director of Social Media at the University of Michigan. The UM Social Media Team celebrates its SnapChat account’s 1st year TODAY.

1) When did you start using Snapchat at UM and what was your goal?

Nikki SunstrumThe University of Michigan launched its presence on Snapchat in February of 2014.

With reports indicating the “flight” of the millennial demographic from platforms like Facebook, the popularity of ephemeral messaging among our student body and potential students was only increasing.

Following brand and third party research we entered the world of snaps and stories with the goal of pioneering strategic implementation by a higher education institution and engaging our target demographic in a thriving space which organically cultivates creativity and community development.

2) Why did you add Snapchat to your social media toolbox?

SnapChat UMOur Snapchat presence has truly been the gift that keeps on giving.

We have seen an entirely new level of interaction from our audience. Not only do they share images with us but they also express themselves through video, and with their artistic abilities.

Those of us who work in social communications have become very familiar with the need for “calls to action” in order to garner engagement. What we have discovered with Snapchat is that our students and followers on this platform want to share with us naturally, including us in their daily lives and communicating with us freely.

The progression of the platform itself as it matures and is adopted more widely has also greatly benefited us.

The private messaging feature allowed us to dedicate a staff resource to being our “Snapchat Ambassador,” regularly answering questions and offering friendly advice for incoming and returning students during fall move in.

The recent addition of geo-filters allowed us to showcase the outstanding creative abilities of our students through the creation of four unique overlays that are now used by any and all Snapchat users in the great campus/Ann Arbor area.

We also leveraged the featured launched with Snapchat Discovery to share our new “card” and encourage additional followers from our other platforms to enter this space. In growing this audience we are able to drive more and more real time engagement and are already planning multiple collaborative campaigns with organizations University wide.

3) What results did you get? What was the feedback from students?

um_snapnumbersOur feedback has been nothing short of incredible! We gained over 1,100 followers in our first week and received over 800 Snaps.

Dozens of tweets expressing excitement over our launch flowed into our feeds.

Some did initially think it seemed odd and funny that a university would have a Snapchat account and questioned its use in higher education communications.

As we celebrate one year on the platform however we can attest with certainty that Snapchat is perfect for universities!

Analytics now reflect our audience has grown to over 5,000 users and our stories regularly see over 3,500 views, which stats greatly increasing with each new campaign.


4) How do you use or plan to use these connections going forward?

This school year we will continue to make targeted efforts to cover events on campus in real time via Snapchat.

This means actively seeking opportunities to attend and drive participation to a diverse series of events. Additional efforts to offer opportunities for smaller units or organizations on campus to leverage our platform and explore its features have resulted in outstanding multifaceted campaigns and help improve overall collaboration across campus.

Stay tuned

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.

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