Sep 19 2014

Why Higher Ed Institutions Are Using Snapchat to Reach Students

Colleges tend to use the photo-sharing service to reach three distinct groups.

College students are among the most influential trendsetters on social networks. But the target shifts with the popularity of apps.

Colleges have been using social media outlets to connect with their students and alumni for years. But because students often occupy the bleeding edge of social-networking trends, the medium used for these outreach activities has to change with the times.

Enter one of the latest attempts: Snapchat, an image-based mobile app that's used to send more than 700,000 photos and 1.2 billion messages each day, according to a 2014 Internet trends study by research firm KPCB.

New York-based marketing firm Sumpto surveyed 1,600 college students to learn about their social networking trends. And 77 percent of surveyed students were using Snapchat at least once a day. Further, 73 percent said they would review messages sent from brands they were familiar with.

These numbers haven’t escaped savvy social media managers at higher education institutions. Many of these leaders have begun leveraging the popularity of the image-sharing app to find new ways of reaching their audience.

6 Higher Ed Institutions on Snapchat

  • University of Houston (UHouston)
  • University of Michigan (UofMichigan)
  • Tennessee Wesleyan College (TWC_Snaps)
  • Eastern Washington University (EWUAthletics)
  • University of Kansas (jayhawks)
  • West Virginia University (WestVirginiaU)

Know of other universities using Snapchat? Let us know in the comments.

The University of Houston's social media manager, Jessica Brand, said in January that Snapchat has become a fresh way to tell the university's story.

“Using a new and effective tool to reach students is a reflection of how the university is always looking forward and embracing cutting-edge technologies," Brand says.

The Chronicle of Higher Education reported that universities typically use Snapchat to reach three groups of students: enrolled students, prospective students and prospective student-athletes.

Tennessee Wesleyan College used the service to share hints during a scavenger hunt for new-student orientation, USA Today reported. Similarly, the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor used Snapchat to advertise its campuswide event Festifall, according to The Chronicle.

Tony Dobies, social media manager for West Virginia University, told The Daily Athenaeum that the university uses the service mostly for fun, but also to help spread important campus information.

Athletic recruiters looking for the next rising stars have also been active on the service. And a change to the Division I recruiting rules that took effect in August has opened the field to a variety of new online outreach techniques, Time reported.

The service is also being used to reinforce an existing audience. Erin Brogan, a student at the University of Kansas, oversees her team's Snapchat account. She says the photos she posts have resonated with the team’s fans.

“People are excited that the athletes they love and follow are showing up on their phone screen,” she told USA Today.


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