Students are all over social media and one of the newest avenues they’re exploring is Snap Chat, the real-time picture chatting app for iOS and Android. With the app, users can take photos, record videos, add text and drawings, and send them to a controlled list of recipients. Users set a time limit for how long recipients can view their photos, up to 10 seconds, after which it will be deleted from the recipient's device and the company's servers.
Noticing major brands were taking advantage of the application’s popularity, University Store at University of Wyoming decided the time was right to run a SnapChat contest of their own.
“We keep tabs on other brands’ social media efforts, and Taco Bell is one that seems to be pretty innovative,” explained Ed Hays, assistant manager. “They’ve done great things on Twitter, and now they’re integrating SnapChat, as well. It made me wonder if any of our students were on the app and how we could use it to connect.”
On a whim, Hays decided to create a promotion to find out.
“It was very spur of the moment,” he added. “We like to experiment so I thought, ‘why not?!’”
Using the store’s current audience on Facebook and Twitter as a starting point, he encouraged students to follow their SnapChat account for access to secret promotions. The following day, the store sent all of their followers a picture with instructions to enter the contest via the app.
“We just typed the contest description into a word document and took a picture of it; it wasn’t very sophisticated, but it worked.”
And the race was on! The first person to respond by sending a picture of the store’s mascot, Steamboat, would win an outdoor furniture set, an unclaimed prize left over from a previous store promotion.
“We had a winner within 15 seconds,” Hays said. “It’s amazing how fast social media moves; it definitely makes you feel good – like we must be doing something right!”
With one SnapChat promotion under his belt, Hays is eager to expand the store’s presence on the app. In his opinion, the best demographic to start with is incoming freshmen.
“Their generation grew up on social media, so they’re even more active than our older students and are experimenting with all the newest applications,” he explained. “Freshmen orientation is just a few weeks away, so I have until then to decide exactly how I want to incorporate SnapChat.”
Regardless of which strategy he chooses, the takeaway Hays finds most significant from his recent contest is the need for exploration.
“It’s so important to continually investigate new resources and other avenues to connect with students,” he emphasized. “You never know what works until you try!”