Snapchat offers new ways for schools to market to students

When Snapchat first arrived on the scene, there were several districts in Ohio that sent letters home to parents warning of the dangers of this mobile platform. Rightfully so, since it offered teens a way to send photos and videos to their peers (or strangers) and have them disappear in seconds (unless they were screenshot by the person on the other end). The dangers of that were real, and for a school district, Snapchat quickly earned a reputation as more negative than positive.

Fast forward to 2015, and the possibilities of Snapchat as a tool for marketing have blossomed, especially as you attempt to reach younger audiences in middle school and high school. According to Business Insider (BI) Intelligence, Snapchat’s users are majority female between the ages of 13-25, and engagement is high on Snapchat, with 40% of 18-year-olds using it multiple times daily. Also, sharing increased 100% once Snapchat Stories (see video below) were introduced, with 1 billion views daily for stories and 760 million disappearing photos and videos sent daily. Per BI Intelligence, “Brands stand to gain a lasting advantage from adopting emerging social media early.” Why not give it a shot?

Here are three ways to consider using Snapchat as part of your social toolbox:

Pure Storytelling
When my school district was ready to host our Sophomore Tour Day as part of our recruitment activities, we offered up a behind-the-scenes preview and tour of the preparations for the big event by using a Snapchat Story, a 24-hour narrative with your clips. We experimented with this and found some moderate success in students being interested in following along as we added video clips and photos (with drawings and emojis added, too) of our teachers and students getting ready to host 1,000 sophomores the next day.

Storytelling is certainly the biggest advantage to using Snapchat to reach this desired audience. You can host tours, communicate messages or run specific campaigns, such as anti-bullying messages or public service announcements. The key to these stories is they disappear within 24 hours, so they become something you market across multiple platforms to create a sense of urgency or exclusivity.

Recruiting & Advertising
If your district recruits students or needs to advertise events or campaigns to this target audience, Snapchat becomes a powerful tool, because it is so personal and so immediate. Want students to buy tickets for an athletic event, a fundraiser or a theater production? Want to direct students to do something with immediacy or communicate a call-to-action to this demographic? Snapchat can be used to remind students about everything from events and activities to delivering special messages to prospective students. Later this year, my district will use Snapchat to welcome incoming students a week after they receive their acceptance package in the mail promoting our Snapchat account (cross-platform promotion). This personalized touch is just one way we are experimenting with the uniqueness of the platform.

Want students to be engaged in your school? Snapchat provides the perfect platform to communicate with them and involve them. From scavenger hunts to giveaways, you can engage students in fun ways by “speaking their language” via Snapchat, which is proving itself much more powerful with this demographic than the fading Facebook or Twitter.

Want to see how brands and colleges are using Snapchat? Check out these accounts on Snapchat:

  • University of Michigan (UofMichigan)
  • West Virginia University (WestVirginiaU)
  • Tennessee Wesleyan College (TWC_Snaps)
  • University of Kansas (jayhawks)
  • Taco Bell
  • Mashable
  • General Electric

Check out more brands using Snapchat.

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