Snapchat: A Valuable Social Media Tool for Higher Education Marketing and Recruitment

A new study found that 77% of college students use Snapchat at least once a day, and it is one of the fastest growing trends in social media for ages 13-25. With over 26 million active users, Snapchat has enormous potential to reach and influence prospective students throughout each stage of the admissions process.

The big question is: Can Snapchat actually be the next trend in higher education marketing?

Sure, why not? It’s effective, easy to use, and free!

University of Houston was one of the first universities to use the app to communicate with faculty, staff and students, and their account now has over 695 followers.

Each day, universities post tweets, Facebook statuses, and Instagram pictures about applying to their schools, getting accepted, and even general messages and pictures ‘through the eyes’ of current students. We see a few possible areas where Snapchat can offer that extra, yet much needed, communication between Admissions and prospective students.

Sold? Here are some ideas to get you started:

Cross Promotion – Integrate Snapchat into Instagram, Twitter and Facebook and build it to become one of your go-to social media marketing tools. Announce your school’s Snapchat username on your existing social media sites to build a following and create excitement.

Provide an inside look at campus life – Tour guides could take students on quick tours of the cafeteria, gymnasium or a freshman dorm – all virtually! They could send pictures of themselves at sports events, dance shows and in between classes. This provides students with a feel of what campus life is really like through the eyes of current students. Tour guides can forward their pictures to your marketing/social media coordinator to send out (so you retain control of content being posted).

Q&A Session – Whether it be a Q&A on the admissions process, ‘What to Bring to School,’ or even ‘Learn More About On-Campus Clubs & Events,’ what better way than to have students send immediate questions and receive immediate responses. Students could even send quick questions about the school at any time and get them answered.

Offer Incentives – Users respond positively to promotions. Bookstore discounts, application fee waivers, and tickets to sporting events are all great ways to build excitement. The ‘stories’ feature can even be used to offer limited time deals for students who choose to stay in the loop.

Invite Participation – Get creative! Invite students to take a picture with themselves and their acceptance packets, and reward the best ‘snap’ with a free school t-shirt or bumper sticker. Have a contest for current students to show a ‘day in the life’ at your university to prospective students. Ensure the content is useful and relates back to a marketing goal.

The discussions of Snapchat use in higher education have already begun, and just like other social media outlets when they first launched, there is hesitation to start snapping. But keeping up-to-date with what’s hot and what’s not in social media is vital. Snapchat certainly is hot right now. Take time to understand your students and what differentiates your school so you can provide valuable content. Try out different types of ‘snaps’ and see what works best.

P.S. Here are some basics for all you Snapchat rookies:

  • What is Snapchat? Snapchat is a mobile friendly (iPhone or Android) application that is used to interact with friends quickly via photo, video and caption. “Snaps” are the messages sent within the application.
  • What makes it different? Unlike SMS, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, Snapchat has a “self-destructing” feature where the photo or video is instantly deleted seconds after it’s opened by the recipient
  • Other features? Snapchat also as a  “Stories” feature, where users can create a rolling compilation of ‘snaps’ from the last 24 hours for all friends to see. Stories don’t destruct immediately upon opening and can be viewed over and over again throughout the 24 hours.