Connecting on Snapchat

Published July 20, 2016

Erin Goetz

Just when you thought you had mastered Facebook and Twitter, along come other social media channels, like Instagram, Tumblr and Ning, to name a few.

One of the more popular channels is Snapchat.

Erin Goetz, social media specialist for University Communications, talks to the UB Reporter about Snapchat and why UB has a presence on the channel.

For those of us a little behind the curve, just what is Snapchat?

EG: Snapchat is a social media channel with one distinct feature: All of the content you produce disappears. There is no “profile,” so to speak, or public archive, which is unique compared to other channels like Facebook and Instagram. It’s about what’s happening now. We like to think of this channel as having a conversation with someone in the sense that once you walk away, it’s over. You will remember those interactions, but you can’t necessarily go back in time and revisit them. For that reason, the content is a little more raw. You aren’t trying to build this polished persona; you’re just trying to have fun in the moment.

Why is UB on Snapchat?

EG: The primary reason is that this is where the students are. Snapchat is the fastest growing social network and the most popular among teens. By design, it was built for a young audience. We want to connect with them and capture what life is like at UB for both our prospective and current students, as well as young alumni, and show all of the great things they are involved in and care about. The second reason is that this channel is really unlike any of the other platforms that we’re on, so we’re able to deliver unique content and tell our stories in a different light. That’s important because we don’t want one channel to cannibalize another. Snapchat complements them. Everything has to be captured live so, for example, where we might use Twitter to promote an event in advance, we can capture it in progress on Snapchat and post a photo afterwards on Instagram. It fits well within our ecosystem and plays a big part in our content planning. We’re seeing the highest engagement rate with Snapchat out of any channel and hope to keep that momentum going.

EG: What kind of content is UB creating on Snapchat?

We’re giving students an all-access pass to campus and things that matter to them. It’s more than just going to an event or promoting a club. It’s about going behind the scenes of the event, meeting the people who make it happen and showing students a side of UB they’ve never seen before. We’re showing sneak peeks, hosting giveaways, featuring student takeovers and offering tips for students on campus. UB is so big and so diverse that even a student who is actively involved in our community is able to find something that they maybe didn’t know before. That’s been one of the really fun parts of this channel: when you get messages from students who say ‘wow, I had no idea that existed at UB’ and can’t wait to check it out.

You mentioned a “student takeover.” What is that?

EG: A takeover is when we hand over our account to either a student or a club or another type of organization for a day and ask them to show us a “day in the life” or take us with them to an event or activity that they are a part of.

What are some of your favorite UB Snapchat stories to date?

EG: One of my favorite stories was the sneak peek of the Hayes Hall renovation. The building is stunning, so it made our job easy, but I think it’s a perfect example of the insider’s view we’re able to provide on this platform. I also really love the summer takeovers we’ve been creating with some of our students who have been doing extraordinary things on their break. They are traveling all around the world and having these incredible life experiences that we get to live through vicariously; opportunities that they’ve discovered at UB that I think will inspire other students to explore and take advantage of. That’s what it’s all about: showing them the possibilities. You can see some of these on our YouTube playlist, including this one from a student studying Chinese in Taiwan.

What’s in the works for UB’s Snapchat?

EG: This channel is constantly evolving and we are, too. We’re going to take this channel to the next level this year and really focus on getting students directly involved. This channel is for them and we want them to be a part of it. We also want to get more of the units within UB involved and help tell their stories. Our goal is for UBuffalo to become the hub for everyone from Geology to Theatre to connect with not only their own students, but with the larger student population as well and expose them to new areas of UB. We want to do more takeovers, get up close and personal with the talent that we have here — or the guest speakers that we draw — go outside the classroom, show how we impact the Buffalo community and give viewers a sense of the diverse culture here. We’ve only scratched the surface. If anyone wants to be involved they can submit their ideas here.