Making it Snappy: more Snapchat in universities?

Universities are using Snapchat. Just not as much as their students.

More on Snapchat and other social media in universities


A recent JISC survey and a new Chronicle report both note the rise of Snapchat in universities. Snapchat, along with other social media, is identified as a channel for universities for communication with students and by students with staff but also for recruitment purposes.

The JISC survey suggests that 40% of students (40%!) are now using social media as their primary means of communication with lecturers. I suspect many academic staff would be surprised at this figure.

The survey identifies Facebook as the most popular form of communication, followed by Twitter and WhatsApp. But, perhaps most intriguingly, 12% of those students using social channels to stay in touch say they use Snapchat.

The general trends towards greater use of social media by students and universities look similar in the US and the UK. However, institutions and staff do I think still have some way to respond to the social media expectations of students and to utilise such tools more comprehensively for recruitment purposes.

The Chronicle of Higher Education’s report on US universities using Snapchat identifies three main audiences: current students; prospective student-athletes; and prospective students. Current students though seem to be the main target:

Tyler Thomas, a social media specialist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, or UNL, said his school uses Snapchat to promote campus events, world events, contests, giveaways and to build one-on-one relationships.

“We have seen great growth in our Snapchat community and expect that Snapchat will become more of a priority in the months ahead,” he said.

Thomas said Snapchat was an effective tool because it allowed for quick bursts of content that could be shared in a number of ways, including drawings, graphics and

The University of Houston has also adopted Snapchat, although like UNL, Houston’s primary audience is current students. Jessica Brand, the university’s social media manager, said Houston adopted the app because its user-base was in line with the school’s key demographics.
“We continued to read articles about the growing popularity of the app, and eventually decided we should have a presence there as the university continues to find new ways to engage with our audience,” she said.

There are a few more examples in this piece but none seem yet to be terribly compelling.

Two footnotes to this:

JISC also revealed that when it comes to choosing where to study, students are taking technology facilities into account, with 45% of students saying technology played a part in their choice of university or college.

The JISC study also found that more than a quarter (28%) of students use their smartphones to draft essays, while 30% use tablet computers when studying.

Plenty of food for thought there for universities on the social media front but we still do have a long way to go I think.

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