How to Use Snapchat for Schools

When the Snapchat social network launched in 2011, it seemed like it would be a fleeting fad for teenagers. Its main feature – sending photo and video messages that self-destruct after the recipient views it – is reminiscent of passing notes in class.

Snapchat does appeal to a younger demographic, specifically people under age 25.  It has become known as a fun, entertaining, and authentic social platform. Young people love its casual and candid approach as well as the creative doodles and filters you can overlay your photos.

If you’re wondering if your school should be on Snapchat, the answer is, it depends and is particular to your school. If you’re wondering why, let’s look at the numbers (Zephoria, updated August 2020):

  • Number of Daily Active Users – 238 million
  • On average, users open Snapchat over 30 times every day
  • The average number of Snaps sent daily – 4 billion
  • As of April 2020, Snapchat reached 75 percent of all young people aged 13 to 34 years in the U.S.
  • Snapchat users spend 30 minutes on average on the app
  • The Snapchat audience over the age of 35 has grown over 40 percent every year

Snapchat Is About Transparency

One of the reasons young people love Snapchat is because it is known for being authentic (like Instagram). Fed up with perfectly staged posts, the Snapchat demographic is looking for simplicity, sincerity, and silliness. Snapchat is a way to share authentic moments with your audience, giving them more insight into your school.

What Snapchat Doesn’t Do Well

  • Snaps don’t go viral

Since users can’t share your snaps with others, your content won’t go viral on Snapchat.

  • Snapchat won’t grow an organic community

Snapchat has a very limited search function. You’ll need to recruit users from other channels or invite people to find your school’s profile.

  • Snapchat doesn’t offer in-depth analytics

Snapchat doesn’t give you insights. It doesn’t even tell you how many followers you have. You’ll have to use social listening to figure out if people are talking about your school on Snapchat.

Snapchat Privacy

The most important thing to remember about Snapchat is NOT to follow your followers back. Trust me, you don’t want to see what they’re posting. Most Snapchatters use Snapchat to share their personal life with their friends, and they most likely don’t want you to see what they’re sharing.

If there are certain students who want you to follow them – like social media ambassadors – get their permission first. Make sure your school’s social media and/or privacy policy includes a statement about Snapchat.

How to Use Snapchat for Schools

Here are some ways schools are using Snapchat to stay in touch with their demographic.

Here are 13 ways schools are using Snapchat to stay in touch with their demographic.

    1. Directly share snippets of life on campus
    2. Send out important announcements
    3. Advertise upcoming events
    4. Create creative snap stories about school activities
    5. Publishing “Throwback Thursday” pictures of activities in past years
    6. Use geofilters to promote brand awareness. Geofilters are simple graphic overlays Snapchat users can use when they visit your school or a specific event. Learn more about Snapchat geofilters here (scroll down).
    7. Along the same lines as a geofilter, you can create custom filters and lenses. Get in on the fun of this creative channel (and be sure to use your school’s branding assets).
    8. Run a contest. For example, you can run a contest inviting users to post a selfie of themselves on campus for a chance to win something (source donations from your local business community).
    9. Similar to the contest idea, another way to take advantage of Snapchat is to launch your own campaign asking students to get involved by submitting their own content. I’ve discussed the benefits of user-generated content on the blog before; not only does it save time, but it creates more meaningful and relatable content. Take your campaign to the next level with your own filters and lenses and using branding to boost engagement. And don’t forget to promote your campaign so people can find your Snapchat account and follow your Story!
    10. Interact with your community by asking questions. (i.e. “What favorite song would you like to hear performed at our school’s Spring Music Event”?) Having trouble coming up with ideas? Try sourcing questions from ice-breaker books or click here for a list of types of questions to ask on social media.
    11. Snapchat users love “behind-the-scenes” types of snaps. Get creative with pictures that show “a day-in-the-life” Snapchat stories. Add an element of comedy if you can.
    12. Share snippets of special activities, even Zoom activities can work!
    13. Share new and upcoming school changes. Use a quick 10 second snap to build excitement about the new development.

The concept behind Snapchat is to generate fun and candid, unscripted conversations. Use this platform to showcase your school and what makes it a great place to attend. Authenticity will help you be more successful with the Snapchat community.

Do you have a Snapchat channel for your school marketing? In what ways are you using the platform? Please share with the rest of the school marketing community.

About the author 

Brendan Schneider

Hey, I’m Brendan, and this is my blog. After 28 years working in private, independent schools in mostly admissions, enrollment, marketing, communications, and fundraising roles, I decided to make SchneiderB Media my full-time job, where I help schools get more inquiries through my Fractional Digital Marketer program. I also started the MarCom Society, a membership created expressly to help, support, and train marketing and communications professionals at schools.

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