For more than six months, we’ve been toying with the idea of launching a Boston College Snapchat. Yes. Snapchat.
In an effort led by NPA Office Manager Michael Maloney MBA ’15 and BC alumna Kathryn Breen ’12, the “WeAreBC” Snapchat launched Oct. 3.
I’ll admit to being a skeptic. Even with a strategy in place, questions persisted: Are we jumping on the bandwagon to a trend that will fizzle in a few months? How can this possibly be useful when the content disappears after 24 hours? What about the lack of analytics?
It’s Snapchat. Why do it?
• It’s getting harder and harder to ignore the numbers: there are more than 100 million* active monthly users are on Snapchat, 71% under the age of 25. An astounding 77 percent of college students are on Snapchat and approximately 400 million snaps are sent each day.
• Higher ed is starting to test Snapchat. In our research, the list of schools is growing and now includes: University of Michigan, UNH, University of Houston, University of Kansas, Eastern Washington University, University of Central Arkansas, Tennessee Wesleyan College and our own BC Athletics. From offline professional conversations, many other schools are considering the platform. Brands outside higher ed are already well represented and thriving: Taco Bell, the NBA, Audi and GrubHub to name a few.
• Analytics are challenging, but not impossible. What we are able to see are the views, screen shots taken and tally followers. Although it would be nice to have more, even these basics are enough to start to measure ROI. As those of us who administer social channels know, analytics evolve as the platforms grow: enter Instagram/Facebook, Twitter
• Finally, BC students were on board. Our new team of Social Fellows (along with every other student we spoke to) were excited and shared ideas of what they’d like to see.
It’s important to note here that most of our social media efforts started despite outside criticism. (I’ve heard that Facebook is a fad that would be gone in six months and no one would waste their time on a college Instagram or Pinterest account.) These channels were each started as a way to connect and meet students where they are.
They’re on Snapchat. They check it several times a day.
Boston College’s official Snapchat, WeAreBC, launched Friday. An hour prior to launch we sent out a teaser tweet from @BostonCollege:
We posted a first message to our Snapchat Story:
Then promoted the account with an introductory contest through a tweet and a post on @BostonCollege Instagram:
My healthy skepticism was surrendered within the first five minutes. Here’s the third snap we received:
Jesuits snapped us from church. It wasn’t staged. It happened completely organically. And over the next four hours scenes from our community poured in, some of them are highlighted below. We received snaps not only from Newton, Brighton and Chestnut Hill, but from California, from Italy and from Israel. We added them to our Story. Winners were picked and arrived to claim their prizes. And it was all gone in 24 hours.
We’re now up to 600 followers. Like most of our social media channels were, the pilot year of Snapchat will be a learning experience for both the administrators of the account and the community. Our strategy and execution will need to be modified and fine-tuned. But four hours proved that this can be an effective tool in our communication arsenal. The only one? No. A unique way to provide relatable, real-time content? Absolutely. We found that Snapchat isn’t just where our students are, but it’s where our alumni are. It’s where are staff are. It’s even where our priests are.
The launch of WeAreBC has been a gentle reminder that even those of us who are constantly plugged in may be missing something. Social media will continue to evolve and we need to remain agile enough to find the best ways to connect.
— Written by Melissa Beecher, Social Media Manager at Boston College
*Although the company has refused to disclose the total number of active monthly Snapchat users, it has been published that the numbers exceed 100 million: DMR, Forbes, DailyTech