Sunday, November 8, 2015

Launching a University Snapchat Account: The Research

When I took a graduate assistant position at my university's office of communication, I knew that I would be working a lot with social media, as well as writing content for the website, taking photos and helping with various other projects... I never really thought that I would be the main social media person for my whole university!

Though my university is small (about 2,000 students), running all the social media accounts and keeping them updated on a day to day basis keeps me really busy! I never realized how much work it was to find, think up, create and post content that appeals to a wide audience, as well as keep up with my other work responsibilities. It has been a great learning experience. I regularly post on the university's official facebook, twitter and instagram accounts, and then we also post somewhat regularly on Tumblr, Flickr, and Pinterest.

When I began working over the summer, I thought it would be a good idea for my university to get a Snapchat account, since about 77% of college age students use Snapchat every day... which makes it a great tool for a university! It could appeal to both current students and prospective students, and help get the word out about events on campus as well as general campus life.

I began researching how other universities used their accounts. University of Michigan is usually a great place to start... I regard them as university social media gurus... especially since they have a whole social media team. 

UMich joined Snapchat in 2014 as uofmichigan and has really paved the way for other university accounts. They post often (at least every other day) and provide students and other followers with exciting content about events, campaigns, university history, and interviews with interesting people. I really hope that my university's feed can get to that point someday.

I looked into a lot of different ways to run a Snapchat account for a university, and at the end of my research, I concluded that it would be best to get together a team of reliable students from different facets of the university to create a Snapchat Team. I wanted someone from the activities management program, the outdoor adventures program, the diversity center, etc. so that we could have a wide range of posts from students who are pretty involved.

Before students got back to campus in mid-August, I asked the directors of some of our university's clubs and organizations to recommend active members who would be interested and passionate about being on the Snapchat team. I then emailed them to see if they would be interested, and started getting a plan together

I thought it was important for the account to be run by current students (and me, a kind-of student, kind-of administrator) since they know campus and their fellow students best!

I also wanted to get some official geofilters for my university that would make sharing campus snaps easy and fun! More on that later!

Since I have not had experience using Snapchat outside of my own personal account, I am regarding this as a learning experience. I am excited to learn what works and what does not work and how my team and I can work together to improve the feed.

Have you used snapchat for a corporation or university? Feel free to share some tips, and stay tuned for more updates on how the account is progressing.

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