Snap Chat for Student Recruitment
Mar 08, 2016
Should Snapchat be included in your student recruitment and retention efforts?
We made a conscious decision not to address Snapchat in our recently published ebook, “Turn Social Media Into a Student Recruitment & Retention Powerhouse“. Heck, we said, there are just so many social media platforms out there – let’s just focus on the Big 3 and see how our readers respond.
Well, the feedback was fast and furious and filled with “Why didn’t you include Snapchat?”
So here’s our response – and we will be updating “Turn Social Media Into a Student Recruitment & Retention Powerhouse” as soon as possible.
What is Snapchat?
Launched back in 2011 as a “…visual mobile-messaging platform for friends” that offered users the ability to send an image that, once viewed, disappeared. In their first blog post, the company describes their mission: “Snapchat isn’t about capturing the traditional Kodak moment. It’s about communicating with the full range of human emotion—not just what appears to be pretty or perfect.”
Snapchat lets you share images (snaps) or video clips with your friends – but only for a matter of seconds because then the Snapchat servers delete them.
Currently, Snapchat claims to reach more than 60% of the US 13 to 34 year-old smartphone users, and 37% of the monthly Snapchat users in the US are 18 – 24 years of age, with 26% between 25 to 34 years of age. And both those age brackets are critical to your ability to achieve your enrollment goals. (Source: www.snapchat.com on March 1, 2016)
What are your tools on Snapchat?
Snapchat offers you:
- Snaps – the ability to share images with friends
- Chat – the ability to chat via text, similar to Facebook Messenger or Skype or lots of other chat services
- Snapchat Stories – a group of images or videos that have a longer life expectancy than Snaps – up to 24 hours and can be viewed repeatedly until their time limit is up
Last year, Snapchat has launched “Discover” which they describe as “…a new way to explore Stories from different editorial teams. It’s the result of collaboration with world-class leaders in media to build a storytelling format that puts the narrative first. This is not social media.”
That last sentence is interesting – Snapchat feels that Discover is not social media because “Social media companies tell us what to read based on what’s most recent or most popular. We see it differently. We count on editors and artists, not clicks and shares, to determine what’s important.”
So much for democratization.
Anyway, the bottom line is that you have Snaps, Chat and SnapChat Stories for your recruitment and retention efforts.
Early Success Stories Outside Higher Ed
Some of the early success stories include retailers with special offers and discounts to followers and sports teams/organizations with special exclusive content for followers. One approach drives sales, the other drives engagement and relationships – which should drive future sales.
For some examples of what some are considering ‘break through’ usage of Snapchat, check out these stories.
How are colleges using Snapchat for student recruitment & retention
Based on what we have seen, read and heard…colleges are using Snapchat in an apparent attempt to make it work. To create an event that justifies the effort.
Tennessee Wesleyan College has focused many of its efforts on improving student life, such as putting it to work in its orientation program with a “Where’s Wesley” scavenger hunt. Shope also explained that the school uses it to share updates about events and activities on campus.
Why the decision was made to limit the orientation program to Snapchat – or add it to Snapchat – is something we don’t know since we weren’t involved with the effort but when we read statements like these, we are concerned that the decision was made “…because Snapchat is there…” rather than “…because our audience is there and they want to use Snapchat for school communications…”
“Snapchat is immediate, personal and reaches the student where you can find them most: on their phone,” says Brittany Shope, Web coordinator at Tennessee Wesleyan College and curator of TWC_Snaps.
“To reach out via a smartphone application like Snapchat as opposed to students’ e-mails makes the student feel like the college has taken extra steps to get in touch with them.” (Source: http://college.usatoday.com/2014/04/09/universities-using-snapchat-for-recruitment-advertising-and-student-engagement/ on March 1, 2016)
How are potential and current students responding?
Lack of hard metrics, we found these statements of interest.
“I think that from a marketing perspective it’s always worth trying new forms of social media to reach out to people,” says University of Maryland senior and avid Snapchatter Lauren Kirkwood. “But at the same time, I don’t see how they could get across a message with any real substance over Snapchat.”
University of Kansas senior Max Stept agrees: “I respect them for trying to be innovative, but I feel like it’s a little invasive.” (Source: http://college.usatoday.com/2014/04/09/universities-using-snapchat-for-recruitment-advertising-and-student-engagement/ on March 1, 2016)
What about Analytics?
We know we’re in trouble when we head over to the Search bar in Snapchat Support, type in “analytics” and get “Sorry, we didn’t find anything relevant. Try again?”
Our next step was good old Google Search where we found Snaplytics a 3-person shop in Denmark that “…helps brands, agencies and online influencers utilize Snapchat as a commercial channel by providing an automated analytics platform…” Based on their site, they seem to be able to help report on opens, screenshots, completion rate (“The percentage of people that started viewing a story compared to how many of them that saw the last part of a story – and the steps in between.”), and tap rate (“The percentage of people that saw the whole video or looked at a picture for the whole duration set.”)
The usual ‘soft metrics’ of social media.
Which means you might want to include an offer with a clear call to action that includes a way to track it all back to Snapchat.
So What’s the Recommendation?
We’ve signed up for Snapchat and have added some colleges as ‘Friends’ but haven’t seen anything come through which probably means we need to spend more time on Snapchat waiting to see a Snap or a Story before the Snapchat servers delete them forever.
Our recommendation is – get it. Play with it. Learn it. And ask your prospects and current students about their usage of Snapchat. Try some things and see how they work – but if you’re going to invest your institution’s resources (personnel, equipment, technology) set up some tests that tie with your institutional objectives regarding enrollments and retention.
Dudley Stevenson, founder and CEO of DWS Associates, has over thirty-five years’ experience in consumer marketing, business-to-business marketing, and direct marketing, including developing, planning, and implementing go-to-market strategies. He's also the author of "Marketing Direct: Breaking Through The Clutter." Working with organizations ranging from start-ups to Fortune 100 companies, he and his team have helped clients such as IBM, Sony, Neiman Marcus, Arizona Highways, Marshall Field & Co., Mrs. Field’s, UNICEF, and Patagonia implement successful direct marketing programs. A longtime member of the Direct Marketing Association and the American Marketing Association, Stevenson is also a sought-after speaker. He’s given hundreds of presentations and workshops on marketing and direct marketing. His “Marketing Planning 101” workshop alone has reached more than 100,000 marketing and sales professionals.