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Snapchat 101

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This is the first part of an occasional series breaking down popular social media platforms.

Snapchat. It’s a favorite social media app for students, and one that continues to baffle those born prior to 1986. Ignore it at your peril, because this platform is now used daily by 100 million people, brands and universities. What’s the appeal? Siobhan Sullivan, BC News & Public Affairs Assistant, walks us through the basics.

Snapchat Background
Launched in 2011, Snapchat has become a place for friends to connect, meet new people and share experiences. Like all social media apps, Snapchat has been updated numerous times. First adding filters, followed by videos, texting, money transfers, geotags, stories, and now face filters.

At the most basic level, “snaps” are real-time, spontaneous pictures or videos taken and shared with friends for up to 10 seconds. By default, Snaps disappear from the screen once they are viewed – unless a friend decides to keep it through a screenshot. In fact, the only way to “save” a snap is to screenshot. Taking one will notify the sender that you did so.

If you opened a snap too fast or missed the image, you now have the ability to replay. One replay every 24 hours is free and additional replays can be purchased.

Here is a rundown of a few basic functions:


There are three main ways to add friends on Snapchat.

image1 (2)Add by Username: If you know the username of someone you wish to add on Snapchat, enter it in the find field. Tap the square plus sign next to the username and it should turn purple, indicating you have sent them a request.

Add from Address Book: Choosing this option will link your phone contacts to Snapchat. How your contact appears in your phone (i.e., their name) is how you will find them on Snapchat. Just like adding by username, find the person you want to add and click the plus sign. It should turn purple when the request has been sent to private users. Public accounts allow a follow without approval.

Add by Snapcode: One of Snapchat’s newer features is Snapcode, a personalized code for every Snapchat user (think: bar code or QR code). You can add friends this way by taking a photo of someone’s Snapcode (companies have been making it their Twitter profile picture) and uploading it to the ‘add by snapcode’ option.


Snapchat has numerous options to sending a snap. These include: photos, videos, messages, and stories.

Screen Shot 2016-02-11 at 9.59.00 AMPhoto: Snaps are most commonly sent in photo form. To do this, choose the direction you want the camera to face (upper right hand corner on the Snapchat screen) either direct the camera at you (selfie!) or the opposite direction. Press the large circle once and there you have a Snapchat photo. You can also draw on the photo and/or add filters. More to come on that later.

Video: Sending a Snapchat in video form is just as easy as sending a photo. This time, instead of tapping the circle once, you will hold it down until you have what you want to send, or the time runs out. Videos also have new filters.

Messaging: Snapchat introduced messaging to keep up with the apps like Facebook and Kik, both of which allow photo/video sharing and messengers. Snapchat messaging is simple. You go to your Snapchat log and click the upper left hand ‘talk bubble’. You will be taken to a “chat with…” screen. Here, you can choose a friend to message. OR, you can go to your Snapchat log, if you want to immediately respond to a Snapchat you just received, slide left on that friend’s name and just type a message.

IMG_5525Stories: Snapchat Story is one of the app’s more popular features. To post something to your story, take a photo or video and on that screen there is a plus sign. Choose this option and a pop-up will appear asking you if you want to post this to your story. Choose yes. Now this Snapchat is available to all of your friends for 24 hours. To delete a story tap the icon next to your story, then choose the trashcan at the bottom of the photo. To see who views your story, go to the ‘story’ page, click the three vertical dots next to your story, a drop down of all your posted stories will appear. Views will show up via an eye icon with a number. That number indicates views. To see who those views are from, click the eye. (See some brands who are putting together some exceptional snap stories.)

Viewing other stories: To view a friend’s Snapchat story, open the app. If there is a new story, the bottom right corner will be purple indicating a new snap. Click the box and this will bring you to your story page. There, all new stories will be listed. Open one and advance through the snaps by tapping the screen. Friends are notified if you viewed their story.

Viewing Discover stories. Popular events (debates, games, Olympics) now give access to people who can’t be there in person. Discover includes stories from companies like ESPN, Food Network, and publications like Cosmopolitan and the Wall Street Journal. You can watch these stories just like any other story.

Photo/Video Filters: There are numerous photo filters to use every time you snap. After taking a photo, slide left on the screen until you find the filter you want. There are two alternative colored filters and a black and white one. There’s also a speed (mph or km/h) filter, a temperature filter, a time stamp filter, and geotags. To change from mph-km/h or from Fahrenheit-Celsius in their respective filters, tap the screen where the filter appears and it should change.

Special Video Filters: Snapchat video recently added some new special features.

Slow down: Scroll filters until you find the snail. This will slow the video down.

Speed up: Scroll to the rabbit icon, this will speed up the video.

Super speed: Scroll to the rabbit with wind icon, this causes the video to go faster.

Reverse: Scroll to the rewind/reverse icon. This will play your video in reverse.


Geotags: Geotags are location filters. BC has *a few.* One of the most popular is of Gasson Hall, another says “Boston College”. If you travel, chances are you will discover new geotags. Location services in your phone must be turned on (and allowed for Snapchat) for geotags to work. Just like the other filters, scroll until you find the one you want.

Text on Snapchats: If you want to add text to a photo or video Snapchat, click the T (after taking the Snapchat) in the upper right hand corner. This will provide a text space for you to type your message.

Drawing: If, instead of text on your snap you want to draw, click the pen icon. You can also change the color by tapping the color wheel. Fun fact: If you want a specific color but can’t get it by the color wheel, click the main color you want and hold your finger down dragging it across the screen. You will see the color changing, choose the color you want. There’s also an undo button after drawing.

Emoji’s: You can also add emoticons (or Emoji’s) to your Snapchat. Just like the texting and drawing icons, to add an Emoji to your Snapchat, click the paper icon next to the Text icon after you take your snap. Emoji’s will appear – choose the one you want. Fun fact: To resize your emoji, use two fingers on the emoji of choice, and move them apart, the emoji should get larger or smaller. To move the location of the emoji, use one finger to reposition it.

Fun Filters: To add a fun filter (eye lazers, princess crowns, etc.) turn the camera towards yourself(ie), and hold down on the screen (where your face is). An outline of your face will appear and at the bottom, different filters will appear in circles. Choose the one you want and then take a photo or video.

Multiple Filters: If you want to use more than one filter on a Snapchat, you can! First, choose the main filter you want (color, black and white, etc.) then hold down with one finger on the screen and scroll left until you find your next filter. If you want a third filter, you can do this again.


-Brands use Snapchat stories for promotion, but this platform is for real-time content. Don’t overproduce, or your friends and followers will be turned off.

-If a friend sends you questionable content, block or delete them. Simply click their name and choose block, delete, or report.

Teenagers are much better at snapchat than you. Sorry. When approaching this platform, bring students or younger staff into brainstorming sessions.

SMC Date Correction

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Correction: In a previous blog post the next Social Media Council meeting was posted as today, Dec.2. The next Social Media Council is Dec. 9, 2 p.m. in McGuinn 334. Apologies for the error and stay tuned for the preview.

#GivingTuesday Campaign


If you haven’t yet already, be sure to support Boston College Alumni’s #GivingTuesday campaign on your social media channels today!

Want to know more? Here are the details from the campaign organizers:

“Giving Tuesday is when people unite for a global day of giving before the holidays. This year we’re asking the BC family to make a gift to support Boston College. Donors can designate where their gift goes…including to your department or its programs!

As a bonus, if BC reaches 1,000 donors today, an anonymous donor will contribute $100,000 to financial aid.

We welcome you to join Boston College for Giving Tuesday in any of the following ways:

* Today we would appreciate it if you could please share our posts from BC Alumni Facebook, BC Alumni Twitter and BC Alumni Instagram.

* Or create your own posts on your social media channels. You can download special BC badges and graphics at Use the hashtags #GivingTuesday and #WeAreBC so that we can find your posts and share them on our website and social media.

* Ask your students and staff to download the #UNSelfie sign from, write why they gave to BC (maybe they gave to your department or one of its programs!), and post it on your channels or their own social media. Use the hashtags #UNSelfie, #GivingTuesday, and #WeAreBC so that we can share these, too.

We hope that you will join us in the #GivingTuesday movement. Together we can truly make a difference in the lives of current and future BC students.

Thank you!”

SMC 10/14 Review

The BC Social Media Council returned this semester with a full house and an hour packed with information.

Boston Tweet, A.K.A. Tom O'Keefe, posing with BC cupcakes, compliments of BC Dining!

Boston Tweet, A.K.A. Tom O’Keefe, posing with BC cupcakes, compliments of BC Dining.

The meeting kicked off with alumnus Tom O’Keefe, who explained that he is so identified with his brand that “my mom is the only one who doesn’t call me Boston Tweet.” A major influencer in Boston with more than 164,000 followers, Tom said his social media experience was bred from necessity when the stock market crashed and recession hit in 2008. At the time, Twitter was in its infancy and early adopters carved out niches long before industry brands adopted the medium. Tom found himself focused on his adopted city of Boston and affordable options for food and entertainment. That resonated with his demographic – college students and young professionals.

“I believe in and support local business. I’m the type of person who wants to know the bartender and recognize the owner when I go out to eat or drink. Especially in a city like Boston, there is an interconnected-ness,” said Tom. “At the time, in 2008, local businesses were suffering. I had lost everything. I started using Twitter as a way to share tips like where you could get a meal that filled you up all day. It’s a a powerful communication tool, it lends itself well to networking.”

As his Boston Tweet following grew, so too did the user expectations. Timeliness was and continues to be a challenge, he said.

“The best thing is the nonstop flow of information. And the worst thing is the nonstop flow of information,” Tom said. “It’s amazing that we’re at this place where we’re all journalists. We’re all responding in the moment to what is happening right int front of us.”

Tom has spun a business model from his Twitter prowess, and works with local and national companies to promote events, products and ideas. He also is the founder of Flutter, a concept that marries crowdsourcing and charitable giving.

Tom said what sets him apart from other personalities on Twitter is his continued focus on Boston exclusively, positivity and authenticity. “I know exactly who I am and what I believe in. My followers know who is behind the account. They value that transparency. And I always try to be positive and support local charities….within a character limit.”


BC Athletics Associate Director of Communications Lizz Summers gave a brief presentation on the new department website and a strategic shift from using the hashtag #WeAreBC to #BCEagles. Lizz said that considerable consideration was made into this decision. Although used for years as a hashtag to show BC pride, #WeAreBC is also used by groups from around the world, including high schools, competitions and, of course, British Columbia. Because Athletics’ messaging was becoming so diluted from non-BC community members, the shift was implemented on Aug. 1. Lizz asked all Council members to support the new hashtag, #BCEagles, if posting about Athletics’ events or programming.

Boston College Alumni Social Media Manager Cheryse Ong updated members about upcoming programming and the Office of International Programs asked Council members to support International Education Week (stay tuned on their Facebook page.)

Finally, the Council had a brief discussion on Periscope. Social Media Manager Melissa Beecher briefly talked about some experimentation News & Public Affairs is doing with campus tours and events. Athletics will be using Periscope for press conferences and BC Alumni is using the medium for campus events. We’ll be sure to continue discussions on this medium as more members start adopting, or are interested in learning more.

Our next Social Media Council Meeting is Dec. 9. What topics would you like to see covered?

#BC2019 Are You Ready?

Logo of the BC2019 social campaign

Greetings, SMC-ers! We are asking all Council members to support the upcoming #BC2019 campaign. Be sure to follow @BostonCollege and @BC_Admission for the official Admission announcement, which will come soon.

In the days following the mailing of decision emails and letters, the BC channels will publish fresh content to keep our online community engaged. Be sure to support the effort by sharing the posts and using the #BC2019 hashtag on original content to make a great first impression to our newest Eagles.

Remember, this is an opportunity to showcase your individual program, school or department. We’ll be adding the best #BC2019 posts and tweets to a Storify and Tagboard, so don’t be left out.

Need some inspiration? Here’s last year’s #BC2018 summary.

Thanks for your support and email with any questions!

SMC Preview 12/10

Screen Shot 2014-12-04 at 2.39.51 PMThe last Social Media Council meeting of the semester is next week. Scheduled for 12/10 in McGuinn 334 at 2 pm, this hour is dedicated to discussion of current trends and upcoming social campaigns.

Come ready with questions for students because our team of interns, the Social Media Fellows, will kick things off with a panel about what they view as effective and ineffective social media. The team have provided invaluable insights and content this semester. If you have topics you would like to see covered, be sure to ask or email in advance.

Council members will be asked to share what campaigns you have planned for the upcoming semester, so we can better plan and collaborate. Major campaigns that started this month include the Boston College, Admission #BC2019, the Boston College Career Community, a LinkedIn group that brings together alumni and students, #IamBCLaw from Boston College Law School and the Boston College Snapchat’s new geolocation filter.

Remember to RSVP to and we’ll see you Wednesday!

WeAreBC Snapchat

Teaser GraphicFor 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?

Some facts:

• 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 HoustonUniversity of Kansas, Eastern Washington UniversityUniversity 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:

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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:

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My healthy skepticism was surrendered within the first five minutes. Here’s the third snap we received:

IMG_9658Jesuits 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