How #HigherEd can use Snapchat Custom Stories for social media student takeovers

June 15th, 2017 Karine Joly No Comments

Social media students takeovers: a best practice in higher ed

In the 8-week online course on social media marketing for higher ed I teach, I ask my students – all higher ed professionals – to take over the Higher Ed Experts Instagram or Twitter accounts to share a day in their professional life.

I’ve added this very practical activity to my course last Fall, because student social media takeovers have become a best practice in higher education. The idea is to allow my students – people who will work with students at their school – to experience it first hand, so they can better help their students.

This is one of the reasons why I make sure to keep up with any news that can have an impact on how social media takeovers are done.

So, when Snapchat introduced Custom Story a few weeks ago, it automatically went on my radar.

After I saw this tweet from Dominique Benjamin, communications coordinator with the Admissions Communications team at Texas A&M University (who presented at the Higher Ed Social Media Conference when he worked for Duke University), I reached out right away to see if he could write a quick guest post to share his experience with all of us.

Dominique’s post is the 2nd in a new series focusing on higher ed social media success stories written by professionals working in schools (Got one? Email me at

Social Media Higher Ed Success Stories

Snapchat Custom Stories for Student Takeovers?

I’ve believed for a while that the most fun part of working with social media is throwing stuff at the wall and seeing what sticks. Trying new things is intimidating, but there are always lessons to be learned in success and/or failure.

When Snapchat announced Custom Stories at the end of May, all higher ed social media professionals asked themselves the same question: “What does this mean for us?”

After poking around the new features, I thought it might allow us to take a different approach to student takeovers.

The new update happened to launch the same week we had content scheduled to congratulate high school seniors who will attend Texas A&M in the fall. This campaign included a Snapchat takeover with two future Aggies on two very different sides of the country – one in California and one in Texas, but 200 miles from campus.

Only one person can be logged into a Snapchat account at any given time, but by using the new Custom Story feature, our two future Aggies were able to do their takeover at the same time.

Here’s how we did it, if you’d like to try for yourself:

Step 1: Create a Custom Story

Before getting started, make sure you are mutual friends with the students. Then, create a custom story that only they can add to and view. They’ll post from their personal accounts and, after recording a photo or video, they’ll be prompted to send it to your Custom Story. This means they can post the same content to their own Story if they want!

Snapchat Custom Story - Step 1

Step 2: Repost Snaps to “My Story”

As they post snaps, tap the cog icon to the right of the Custom Story. Find a snap that you want to repost (you can be as selective as you need), swipe up and select the ‘save’ icon. It should then be saved to “Memories”.

Snapchat custom story 1a

Go to “Memories” and, on the selected snap, send it to “My Story.”
Snapchat custom story 1b

Et voila!

The result

As expected, both students did an awesome job documenting their big day.

Going into it, I was concerned it might be a hassle to have to constantly monitor and repost throughout the day.

That wasn’t the case.

On the contrary, it was actually a joy to feel like I was following along in real time, and I imagine other viewers felt the same. If anything, the only challenge was keeping up with the dozens of messages from followers – e.g. “What’s your major going to be?” OR “Why did you choose Texas A&M?” AND lots of: “I love your outfit!” – and relaying them to the students so they could respond on camera.

Definitely, a good problem to have.

Snapchat Custom Story 3

Aggie Snapchat Custom Story

So, what does this mean for us?

When asked if they would use this takeover method again, the students said it did make it easier to manage multiple people posting simultaneously. However, for just one person it would be easier to just log in to the institutional account. Understandable, for sure.

Still, I imagine Custom Story could be useful for providing multiple perspectives of one large event (e.g. football games, graduation). I’m glad the students were willing to experiment with us!

Meet the author of this success story: Dominique Benjamin

Dominique BenjaminDominique Benjamin serves as communications coordinator with the Admissions Communications team at Texas A&M University, where he manages digital and social media for the Office of Admissions’ “Aggiebound” brand. Prior to his current role, he managed university-level social media accounts at Duke University. He holds a bachelor’s degree in mass communications from the University of South Florida and is currently pursuing a graduate certificate in technology and communication from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dominique is passionate about three things most of all: New media, storytelling and bowties.

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