Recently touted by AdWeek as a “social media darling”, Snapchat is becoming the social app of choice by the young set (think Gen Z) and an advertisement platform to watch closely. Set apart from other social networks by its decidedly transient visual and text messaging capacity, Snapchat is also attracting media companies with its Discover channels where fresh content is posted daily – and for a good chunk of change despite the absence of targeting and data for ad sponsors to analyse.
Recognising that getting acquainted with Generation Z will be of importance to those operating in the youth and student travel market, WYSE recently spoke with three organisations who are actively utilising Snapchat to communicate their brands with young people.
In the first of the series we spoke to Jason Boucher, Social Media Manager at the University of New Hampshire (UNH) in the United States, to find out how the institution is benefiting from the Snapchat revolution.
“Fish where the fish are”
UNH: We started using Snapchat in September 2014. We wanted to have more personal communication with both current students and perspective students. Snapchat seems to be more of a direct message to our targeted audience; more personal and more fun since we can share photos, text, drawings, and it’s all timed.
WYSE: Who is UNH’s target audience? What typifies this audience?
UNH: The audience is students and perspective students. Soon, we will transition to also include alumni and the overall community because as students advance and become alumni, it seems smart to stay in touch. As long as Snapchat grows, we should too.
WYSE: Do you have a strategy for attracting followers on Snapchat? How does this strategy differ from other social channels that UNH actively uses?
UNH: We try to post engaging content across many social media platforms, but we use Snapchat to collect content from students (our followers) and then share with the larger audience.
Instead of pushing out content, Snapchat allows content to come to us from across campus. We’ve had even more success since launching a UNH-specific geofilter. Students have been telling us how much they like it (both through Snapchat and through other social media channels) and they consistently use it in their stories and snaps, which helps UNH extend its reach across social media and helps promote the school and our brand.
We use the My Story feature in Snapchat to communicate and share photos or messages with our followers. Each time a new follower is added, we send an animated GIF snap back from the #UNHSocial team. Snapchat is used to engage students on a more personal level – their daily stories on Snapchat are their daily lives that they’ve chosen to share with us. It’s more intimate in some ways—more personal.
WYSE: How many social media platforms does UNH actively utilise? Which platforms are most popular and why?
UNH: The University of New Hampshire uses more than ten social media platforms almost every day. Our five most popular and most successful platforms are Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Snapchat. Instagram is steadily growing with more than 100 new followers each month. Snapchat is steady too, but isn’t growing as fast as Instagram or Twitter.
WYSE: Is free WiFi readily available on campus- even for non-student visitors?
UNH: Yes. The university provides free WiFi for students, faculty, staff, and guests. It is also available outdoors in many areas and at the recreation and fitness center.
WYSE: Where do you see Snapchat going in the next year? Will it fizzle or sizzle?
UNH: Snapchat keeps growing and adding new features, so I see it sizzling and growing more and more on campus. With a new class coming this autumn, we’ll definitely add a lot more followers on our Snapchat, which is called unhstudents. We plan to use our new followers and Snapchat connections going forward to promote events (athletics, lectures, curtailment, news, memes, photos, and contests) on campus and as a way of pushing information to our stakeholders, in this case current students and those recently admitted.
WYSE: Do you think that Snapchat offers something unique or special to the travel industry in terms of marketing?
UNH: Yes. I keep seeing different cities around the world represented on Snapchat with their own channel for a day and with many geofilters, which are illustrations splashed over the photo or video to identify what you’re looking at. It’s a great way to promote a city and allow people on Snapchat to see what’s happening around the globe and get a sense of what life is like elsewhere from individuals instead of businesses or news outlets. Snapchat aggregates content and makes it easy for followers to share and view Our Story no matter who you are, so that’s a great way to aggregate content.
WYSE: I recently spent a week with my 15-year old niece and noticed that Snapchat is her go-to messaging app. Do you think it’s accurate to say that Snapchat is attractive to fairly young users? Why do you think this is? Is it something to watch as Gen Z grows up?
UNH: It definitely trends younger, but universities are beginning to pay attention and use Snapchat, as the demographics shift. If young folks are using it and they keep using it in college or at university, then it’s a no-brainer for a school to have that channel and be able to connect with that audience. I always say, “Fish where the fish are.” If they’re on Snapchat, then I’ll make sure to stay in that pond until it’s dry.
About Jason Boucher
Jason Boucher is Social Media Manager at the University of New Hampshire (UNH) in the United States. He oversees the social media activities for the university, working closely with the communications and marketing team to grow social media participation from students, faculty, staff, alumni, prospective students and the local communities that UNH operates within. Jason is an avid proponent of social media and the positive role it can play within higher education.
Founded in 1866, UNH is fully accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges and is home to nearly 1,000 faculty members and more than 14,000 students across its various colleges and schools.
Read the other interviews in the series:
If you are scratching your head and wondering how you missed Snapchat, you may also want to listen to Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel lay it all out for you or check out their other instructive videos to get oriented.