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Marketing strategies for colleges work best when advertisers make the message personal. In 2007, just 61 per cent of colleges used Facebook to interact with students. Today more than 98 per cent do so, while 100 per cent of colleges use some form of social network to engage students – former, current, and prospective. The popular Snapchat app, which allows users to share photos and videos which disappear after viewing, is a relatively new social media platform for marketers to utilise. Snapchat is gaining a huge global following, including in Hong Kong, where its use is rising steadily. According to a survey by Sumpto, 77 per cent of college students use the app, so it's clearly worth experimenting with as an education marketing tool.
Some schools have already signed up to Snapchat and more are following suit. Given the success rate of other social media sites for colleges, Snapchat's unique platform is ripe for engaging potential students. Here are some ideas on how schools can benefit from Snapchat’s popularity.
Behind the Scenes Campus Views – Academic standing is the top priority, but students are also looking for a place to call home. Many colleges use social media to share campus events, indicating what makes the campus unique whilst showing students that they're not just a face in the crowd. Athletic recruiters have been the first to use Snapchat this way by giving prospective students an insider's perspective into life as a student athlete.
Snapchat Scavenger Hunt – One college in Tennessee, in the US, staged a scavenger hunt for prospective students on a campus orientation day. The snaps gave hints about where to find the college's mascot throughout the day and it proved to be a fun way to show the approachable side of academia.
Exam Results – It's possible for lecturers to use Snapchat to send test results to students. Official channels would need to be followed too, but quick feedback like this could inspire students.
Campus Promotions – Many businesses use Snapchat to offer exclusive deals or share discount codes. Schools can also use Snapchat to alert students to free giveaways on campus and it could be a great way of engaging students during fresher's week.
Practical Updates – Cancelled classes or weather warnings can be shared via Snapchat. It's a quick and easy way to keep students updated and the fact that recipients hold down buttons to receive a snap confirms the message has been received.
Keeping Up With Alumni – Encouraging interactivity, perhaps in the form of” remember when...” snaps, keeps alumni closely connected with their alma mater. With prestigious alumni and a close, helpful community, a school can become more attractive to potential students.
Interaction between prospective students and institutions can help students decide which college is right for them, and keep current students engaged in campus life, creating a more positive educational experience. This is reflected in results and in student satisfaction surveys – both essential for an education marketer. We're only just beginning to understand how social media in education marketing works, so now is the time to experiment and try something new. Snapchat is a great opportunity to start reaching out to students in a fun, new way.