It’s no secret that Generation Z (ages 13-19) use social media constantly. But where do they spend the majority of their time? Two primary channels are Instagram and Snapchat, and that’s where you’ll find that audience.
Neither has been around as long as Facebook and Twitter, but both are rapidly evolving and are drawing huge numbers of users. Snapchat and Instagram offer users the ability to use photo and video to create stories, furthering user engagement, and beginning to change the course of social media generally.
Instagram: The photo, and with the introduction of Instagram stories, now video-centric platform allows users to share photos and short videos with friends. It’s the number one social media channel with 63% of teenagers using Instagram daily, according to eMarketer, compared to 54% for Snapchat. Sharing videos, photos and adding filters provides instant gratification for the Gen Z user whenever his or her followers like or comment. Don’t forget to include hashtags in your post as a way to insert yourself into relevant conversations. Do some research by searching for hashtags related to the content you’re posting, and use variety as the platform will penalize you for using the same combinations of hashtags by not showing your content as frequently. Use a mix of popular hashtags and those with fewer posts associated to reach more targeted audiences.
Snapchat: The disappearing photo and video platform is growing in popularity, with 75 percent of teens using it, according to a recent The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Once the followers view the “snap,” it disappears. Snapchat is changing how users interact on social media, with geolocation, augmented reality filters and stickers that enable more creativity and reinforce a sense of urgency that’s missing from LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Snapchat According to research from Snapchat, the average user spends 30+ minutes per day on the platform, and open the app an average of 25 times per day.
A rule of thumb is that you’ve always got to be where your customers are, so independent schools need to pay attention to both of these social channels. You need to talk to your current and prospective students – to meet them on the platforms they’re using. If your 2018 marketing strategy doesn’t include either Snapchat or Instagram, it’s time to reevaluate your plans and create strategies for both. Given the highly visual nature of Instagram and Snapchat, it’s a perfect opportunity to share school life and connect with students.
Here are five ways to use these tools effectively:
- Student life: Showcase student life on both channels using great imagery, videos and appropriate hashtags. Provide value for the students that follow you on these channels by doing fun giveaways, scavenger hunts and sneak peaks to help engage them. You might even turn your social channel over to a student for “day in the life” style posts.
- Architecture: Whether your campus is modern or vintage, your spaces inside and out can make for compelling visuals. Do a “story” about the buildings and common spaces to help people know your campus better.
- Faculty: The people who teach these children all have interesting stories to tell. Go and find them and share them.
- The arts: All art can lend itself to interesting stories. What are yours?
- Tours: Think of a viewbook, but live. Use the social posts to show people around and tell them about the school.
The key for both Snapchat and Instagram is to plan your visuals. Before you start, develop a strategy of how the imagery will be used, where and when, and then make a “shot list” to be sure you get what you need. That way, when it’s time to post, you’ll have a clear idea of what goes where and when.
This “content calendar” need not be limited to Snaps and Instagram posts – you can use the same process to feed your website, other social tools, and even the agendas for campus meetings and events. An integrated content calendar should be a feature of your school’s communication strategy.
There have never been more opportunities and tools to help you share what’s great about your school. Make it happen!
This post has been updated since it was initially published in 2017.