They say you have to learn to crawl before you can learn to walk. When it comes to adopting a new institutional social media channel like Snapchat, I am pleased to be crawling at a snail’s pace.
Snapchat gets the largest share of attention from 18-24 year olds, and I have to admit: that made the Public Affairs and Marketing team a little nervous. We tossed around the idea of jumping into Snapchat for months, but we weren’t quite sure how, or what we would do with it. Would we allow our students to take it over? How might that work? These are big questions for our new-ish marketing team!
We didn’t want our students to roll their eyes and ignore us. We didn’t want to start something that would’t provide value to our campus. And we had to be intentional. With so many goals, it was time to call in the experts: our students. Would they engage with us? Would our presence encroach on their social media territory? How should we even use it?
To our surprise, the response from students—and maybe a few employees—was something like, “It’s about time!” Hope on Snapchat seemed so obvious. Why did we wait so long? “It’s only Snapchat!”
Finally I decided to go for it. What’s the fun when there’s no risk involved, right? The Hope College Snapchat account hope_college was announced to students via Instagram and Twitter on the Friday before Christmas break as a three-week holiday campaign to keep our students engaged from home.
In our first campaign we collected snaps to share with our Instagram and Twitter followers. It was a chance for any of our students to become “instafamous.” The response was great! Within an hour we had all kinds of snaps sent to us. Emphasis on all kinds (see below). It was fun to see what our students received for Christmas and to have a glimpse into their family’s traditions. Apparently Hope swag was Santa’s gift of choice.
Since that first campaign, I have enlisted the help of a few trusted student workers to watch for incoming snaps. They are also adding original content to our Snapchat Story. A Story is a series of snaps (can be photos or short video) pieced together in a narrative that can last up to 24 hours and is only available on Snapchat. This is exclusive content not found on Facebook or Twitter. Pretty cool, huh?
My intent with Snapchat has never been to use it as just another marketing tool, but rather a secret weapon for meeting our students wherever they are—about whatever they are interested in—in the moment they care about it. And because much of our content is created by students for students, there’s an added flare of authenticity not found on our other social media. Our faculty are even joining the fun!
Working with students to launch Snapchat has turned out to be an ideal partnership with teachable moments for all involved. I am able to manage the account and give direction while observing how our student workers are using the application. At the same time, they have freedom to be fun and creative while wearing the hat of a marketer. It’s going to be a lot of fun to watch what we do with Snapchat in 2016!
Add us! hope_college