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Remember the time not so long ago when higher ed marketers were wondering what Snapchat was, how it worked, and whether it would ever be relevant for recruitment and yield? Snapchat has moved ever closer to the center of college and university social strategies.

Got Snapchat game? Here are four tips and recommendations for using Snapchat effectively:

1. Make time for Snapchat metrics

Goals first, tools second. Tracking Snapchat metrics allows you to gain insight into your target audience to better engage them.

Similar to baseline metrics you can track with Twitter (e.g., followers, following, likes, retweets) and Facebook, (e.g., likes, shares, comments), four Snapchat metrics to track include unique views, screenshots, completion of Story rate, and highest viewership.

Snapchat metrics must be manually pulled and recorded each day:

  • Unique Views: Number of people who view your Snap
    • Go to My Story and swipe up on the first Snap of your Story; the number next to an eye icon indicates the total views.
  • Screenshots: A screen grab of your Snap content
    • In the same area that shows total views, you can determine if your audience took a screenshot of your Snap. Look at the icon of two overlapping triangles. The number next to that image is your screenshots.
  • Completion of Story Rate: How many of your total followers complete your Story
    • Record this as a percentage. Take the total unique views (number next to the eye icon) and divide that by your total followers.
  • Highest Viewership: Total views of your Story
    • Record the highest viewership of a Snap on your Story.

2. Take advantage of custom Geofilters

A Geofilter is an overlay on a Snap. Snapchat offers users many Geofilters for events, holidays, trends in the world (e.g., elections, breaking news), and for fun. Users (and your institution!) can create Geofilters too

Would your students get excited if they saw a custom Geofilter during homecoming weekend? Do you think accepted students would Snap their friends from your spring accepted students day? There are many on-campus events where you can test custom Geofilters.

Two factors that change the cost of a customized Geofilter are square footage and the duration of time that the Snap is live. Geofilters can cover as little as 20,000 square feet, all the way up to 50 million square feet.

Here is cost breakdown using Santa Monica Community College’s main campus (2.14 million square feet) — a large, junior community college in Santa Monica, Calif. — as an example:

  • For a one-hour customized Geofilter around the main campus, the cost is $6.70.
  • For a five-hour customized Geofilter around the main campus, the cost is $33.30.
  • For a weekend-long filter, starting Friday at 4 p.m. and ending Sunday at 4 p.m., around the college’s main campus, the cost is $222.77.

Once you create a Geofilter, Snapchat provides data to track its effectiveness.

Metrics show you how the Geofilter performed by:

  • Reach: How many users the Geofilter reached in the selected parameters of the filter.
  • Uses: How many people used the Geofilter on one of their Snaps.
  • Views: How many times a Snap using the Geofilter is viewed.

To access your Geofilter metrics:

  • Click the home button in the top left corner
  • Click “My Geofilters”
  • Select the Geofilter
  • Scroll down to see your metrics

Not only do these metrics give information on how a Geofilter performs in a given space, but they also provide insight for further planning.

Test out Geofilters. Three ways to use the metrics you pull from Geofilters for planning are:

  1. Set the area of the Geofilter at different locations on campus and see which spots have the greatest reach, especially if your institution’s campus is a physically large space.
  2. Track when (time and day) and how many people used the Geofilter to see highest Snap usage.
  3. Note the Views, and document the peak time your followers view the Geofilters.

Here’s an example: Your institution is co-sponsoring a Relay For Life event, and you choose to create a custom Geofilter. Set your Geofilter around the start and finish of the race, on the day and time with the largest Snap usage and views. After the Geofilter’s time span is complete, create a tab to track these three metrics, as you would your other Geofilter metrics, for future planning. By noting these metrics, increase your engagement by promoting the Geofilter to your peak following.

3. Showcase your campus with the new limitless Snapchat feature

Snapchat is known for short, 10-second videos that disappear when the allotted time runs out. But time limits are a thing of the past with Snapchat’s new unlimited time frame release.

The benefit of this update is that you can keep your followers’ attention during content-heavy Snaps.

Take advantage of the unlimited time frame with these four ideas:

  1. Give a full-scale tour of a dorm room.
  2. During homecoming, or the first home game, take your Snapchat followers into the locker room for an inside view of the football pregame.
  3. Showcase aspects of your campus that are unique to your institution.
  4. Offer real-time Q&A opportunities with students, alumni, faculty, and staff.

4. Build your ambassador pool

Create an application for alumni ambassadors and current students to take over your Snapchat. Alumni ambassadors showcase what graduates from your institution are doing in the real world. Be strategic about who becomes an ambassador on your social networks. For example: If Chicago is a popular area for admissions recruitment, showcase alumni working in Chicago to show the possibilities of post-grad life to a prospective student viewing your Story.

One institution that sees great success with current student and alumni takeovers is Binghamton University. The students (and even the president’s dog) give a unique view of student life, studying abroad, the community, and internship opportunities.

Think strategically about your institution. Does a large population of your students study abroad? Showcase a study-abroad takeover once a month. Are there internship opportunities students are involved in around the community your institution is in? Schedule takeovers for showing the professional-development opportunities your students have.

Pro tipRepurpose your best Snapchat content.

Save each Snapchat Story when the takeover is complete. You can upload these videos to your YouTube page, share them in other social channels, or — like Binghamton -— include them in a blog post. This is a great way to extend the life of your content and give prospective students an opportunity to view the takeovers they missed before following your Snapchat account.

Uncover more Snapchat tricks on Higher Ed Live.

Higher Ed Live is a free professional development network that offers direct access to the best and brightest minds in education, covering the most important issues in the industry.

Now that you’re thinking about Snapchat, watch or download a podcast from Higher Ed Live:

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Bianca Tomlin

AUTHOR - Bianca Tomlin

What does a day as mStoner’s Digital Marketing Specialist look like? You can find me managing, creating, and optimizing on-brand, compelling content for mStoner’s marketing channels. When I am not researching the latest marketing and communication trends, I can be found managing and sharing industry knowledge through @mStonerinc and @HigherEdLive.

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