Snapchat and Instagram are a huge part of college campus life these days. An overwhelming number of students use these social media tools; a recent survey done by New York-based advertising company Sumpto found that 77% of college students are using Snapchat daily, and similarly, an ever-increasing number of teenagers and young adults are on Instagram, where almost 90% of users are under 35. The fact is: college-age kids engage and connect largely through social media and this means that career services and other higher ed professionals can leverage these channels to communicate their messages to students.
Here, we want to discuss two specific, largely visual tools, Snapchat and Instagram, and why career service professionals should use them .
On one hand, a primary goal of the career services department is to engage with students and provide them with career development resources - and since students are nearly always on social media, it’s plain and simple good practice to meet them where they're already living. On the other hand, social media, when used correctly, helps bring people together - not just online, but in person as well. It is a tool used to communicate, collaborate, spread the word, and support actual, physical communities of people.
With this in mind, here are some reasons that your career services department should use these platforms:
- Mass, non-targeted emails get ignored or deleted. Despite being well-intentioned, mass e-mails are quickly categorized as spam. You are more likely to get students’ attention with a quick, easy-to-consume message that acts as a call to action to bring them to a larger message - and that’s where Snapchat/Instagram come in. If your updates are only on Facebook, Twitter, and e-mail, they can be lost in the din of competing voices. Snapchat provides a more direct and personal way to connect. Sumpto found that 73% of students said they would open a snap from a brand they recognized, and over half said they would open one even from an unfamiliar brand. Similarly, Instagram is a platform that so many students use already, they’re likely to come across your information as they’re scrolling through their feed.
- Your brand and culture are unique - show it! Savvy users realize that every Snap/Insta does not have to be a promotion - and in fact, it’s better not to promote all the time. Part of the appeal of these two platforms is that they allow a glimpse into your life and the lives of others. For Snapchat, its fleeting, instantaneous, and always up-to-date nature makes it more intimate than other kinds of social media. Instagram, on the other hand, can be both instantaneous (with Instagram Stories) and more enduring: you can get updates moment-to-moment, while your account as a whole represents your career center brand with its collection of event pictures, guest contributor take-overs (see below!), career-related infographics, and more. Allowing your students to connect with your department this way makes them feel closer, more welcomed, and gives your office a more approachable personality that fits with the end goal of getting students into the office for counselor meetings and events.
- Real-time updates (and, ok, maybe some promoting). This one is more Snap-specific. You can send your students real-time updates that they will actually check. If the room your event is in changes at the last minute, send a Snapchat. If your event is canceled or postponed - same thing. Otherwise, send out reminder snaps a couple hours before an event, or take a snap 24 hours before the event and post it on your story with the event information (emojis encouraged...in moderation!). Will there be food at your event? Snapchat it or put it on your Instagram story and students will come running. In theory it shouldn’t be about the free pizza, it should be about the event. But we all know that pizza gets students in the door - and that well-fed students pay better attention.
- Also - you don’t want to send your students ONLY event-specific Snaps - showcase the culture of your office and what makes it great. Does one of your staff have a (hilarious) career-related joke or pun? Is there a dog visiting the office at this very moment? You know what to do. And, while you’re at it, cross-promote it on Instagram as well!
- Video feature. Use the video/Stories feature to document your events. Seeing other people engaging will increase the likelihood that students will turn out for future events. We all know that FOMO is a real thing.
- A great channel for mentorship: Take-Overs! Ask an alum to take over your IG account for a day. They can share their career stories and provide a glimpse into their day-to-day, which has immense value for students (and engages the campus community in content creation). Get other guest contributors as well: current students with a story to share about an internship they had; perhaps a professor has particular insights about his or her career path; maybe even an employer/recruiter will want to take part! To make this easy on guest contributors (and standardized across contributions), provide them with an easy to follow format, for example: 1. Show us one thing from your work world that makes it great 2. Tell us one thing you wish you had known as a young professional. 3. Show us what's in your briefcase!
How To Get Started:
You may have been wondering how to get started...
- Create your account and give the right people access (multiple members of your staff can be logged into the account on their phones).
- Most importantly, make sure students know about your presence on these platforms!
- Cross-promote on your existing channels
- Put up some posters with your IG/Snapchat handles (Student Union? Main Dining Hall? Library entrance?)
- Engage (follow) other members of the campus and career community (The President of your institution, other offices who have accounts, etc.)
- Set some goals - one or two posts a week can help build a following and keep you top of mind.
- Check out a couple of our favorite accounts for inspiration:
Thoughts? Please share! firstname.lastname@example.org