After combing through the dark, dusty, digital corners of the internet, I have compiled a list of do’s and don’ts for turning your Snapchat account into a must follow for students, alumni, and faculty and staff.Snapchat is no longer the new kid on the social media playground. As the platform continues to grow among K-12 and Higher Ed, schools have begun to explore ways to maximize their marketing reach using this unique platform. The question is no longer should my school or bookstore be on Snapchat. It’s how do we create a Snapchat account that entices and entertains followers?
Before we get to the list, let’s go over why Snapchat is a platform every university, college or school should be adding to their brand. In 2016, Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram had the highest engagement (measured in hours spent on the site) among 18-24 year olds. Snapchat is second only to Facebook, having easily surpassed Twitter, Pinterest and Tumblr. With an incredible 69% of internet users in this demographic on Snapchat, it’s no longer a platform that can be ignored. But I have good news—it’s easy to use once you figure out how it is different from other types of social media.
That said, let’s get to it.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Snapchat
Do have fun with the images and videos you post
With every picture or video posted, there’s a ten second opportunity to leave a lasting impression linked to your store. Would a picture of the front of your bookstore be more memorable than a short video of a person in a gorilla costume playing bongo drums outside of the main entrance? Probably not. Rather than falling back on the ordinary, look for those moments that are funny and unique to your store. Make your followers laugh or smile, and you create a connection that will be beneficial to both the store and the student.
Don’t try to share too much information
You have 10 seconds to get your message across. If you jam 45 seconds’ worth of information into one image, you will be left with forgettable material rather than a lasting impression. Or worse, you will lose the interest of your audience. Be focused and concise with all messages.
Do choose surprise over structure
With any other social media, posts can be scheduled and planned, but that’s not the best way to use Snapchat. Audience engagement will decline if your content is too easily anticipated. Rather than scheduling your week, be ready to post as events unfold. Especially on a college campus, you never know what might happen from day to day. Keep your content varied and versatile so your audience eagerly awaits your next post.
Don’t post daily
That’s right, you don’t need to post something every day. Unlike Facebook and Instagram, more content isn’t better. The nature of Snapchat prevents you from building content (however, you can save photos and videos in Memories). Every 24 hours your story will disappear. Constantly changing material is what keeps Snapchat fresh and entertaining. Use the app when you have something to share that your audience will enjoy (suggestions to come). Most importantly, keep your posts natural and not staged.
Do form a genuine connection with the audience by posting authentic content
Snapchat has already helped you along by offering a few editing capabilities on the pictures. You can draw or write on images and they have fantastically fun filters, but other than that, the picture you take is the picture you use. This helps create authentic moments. Snapchat users expect glimpses into real life as it happens rather than a scripted, filtered view of reality. Aim for honest moments of school pride rather than staged perfection.
Don’t message your followers directly
Sending a direct message to a follower is like calling or texting them. It could be seen as invasive, at worst, or bad form, at best. As a general rule, keep the pictures and videos in the bookstore’s story rather than sending individual messages. Your audience will come to you when they have time to engage and will enjoy your content more.
What to Post for Your Bookstore
Now that we know why Snapchat should be a marketing focus and the do’s and don’ts in running the account, let’s dig deeper and discuss how the images you send will begin to build your brand and engage your audience.
Post pictures or videos of students and the campus community
Monmouth University posted pictures of their basketball team’s bench celebrations. Not only did their followers love it, but the story was picked up by ESPN. In just a few moments, they sparked campus pride, engaged people with fun/funny images, surprised their audience and shared an authentic moment that demonstrated to the people at home what they were missing. How can this apply to your bookstore? Take pictures at your events, host a selfie station with different props in your store and entice people to come to your next store event.
Tell the stories of the people on your campus
Having fun with your posts is great, but don’t be scared of finding more serious moments every now and then. Why did Humans of New York take off in such a big way? It’s heartfelt and genuine. People are sharing bits of their life, which allows readers to see a reflection of themselves in someone else’s journey. Their stories remind us that we are not all that different. Applying this idea to your bookstore might be as simple as asking your students during graduation week to share what their post-college plans are or maybe their favorite college memory.
Promote your sales, contests and giveaways
Everyone loves a good deal. Having a flash sale on sweatshirts? Make that your Snapchat story for the day. You could even take it a step further and add a promo code to give those who follow you a little extra off. Host a “Snappy Hour” sale. Or why not start a yearly scavenger hunt around the start of football season to win tickets to the first game—or any prize the store chooses. Set up the rules and the first clue in your story. Have participants send you a snap of themselves in their university shirts or with the school’s geofilter when they get to each location so you can send them their next clue directly. This engages the students in a fun event and drives them back to the store.
Show the behind the scenes of campus life
Snap a picture of the boxes when you get a big shipment into the bookstore, share pictures from an event set up or give a sneak peek at an upcoming sale. The more exclusive the content is perceived to be, the more interesting it will be to your followers. While a picture of unopened merchandise boxes might not be the most obvious choice for exciting content, remember there are YouTube® channels entirely dedicated to people opening boxes and unpacking them. Show your audience places and instances they wouldn’t otherwise get to see and you might be surprised at the reaction the post generates.
Don’t just choose one of these methods, use them all. Mix it up and keep your followers on their toes. Customize your posts to the preference of your audience. If the number of views aren’t painting a clear enough picture of the kind of content your followers want, then conduct an informal survey. Ask people who come into the bookstore or go to your events what they enjoy seeing the most. Not only will you receive better insight, but you will also be reminding them to follow the store.
Good luck and happy snapping.