Oh CAM, You Look so Snappy

So……… we’ve had Snapchat (add us, CSUCamtheRam) since December 2013 and debuted it when our football team went to the New Mexico Bowl. We’re not shouting that out because we want to be the hipsters of universities creating Snapchat accounts, (although, while we’re talking about it, we might as well claim it) but to say, “we’re still kind of new at this thing.”

Screenshot of a "Selfie" Snap that was posted by students to a Facebook group.Our social media overlord, Kimberly, started this account for the simple fact we wanted to communicate with the demographic mostly associated with this platform, especially those perspective students. We decided to use our mascot; a lovable and awesome Ram that we knew was going to exemplify a fun, energetic, witty, and good sense of humor for our university’s brand. We’ve taken that mentality to heart and have found that planning snaps, outside of contests (we’ve only run a handful and all were a success), hasn’t been the way to go, and that spontaneity has been our bread and butter. We only snap to “My Story” unless we’re responding directly to users, but you’ll read about that soon. We’ve snapped athletic events, selfies of our live animal mascot, our two-legged mascot at university events, and even created a diorama for a President’s Day snap.

Advertising and responsive snapping have become increasingly important in our “strategy” but also has been by the seat of our pants, slowly becoming a regular occurrence. The two platforms that have helped our audience grow are Instagram and Twitter, almost all just saying “we have a snap account, add us!” including a snap we just posted for everyone to see. One of our contests (that we actually *might* have borrowed from the New Orleans Saints) used Twitter and Snapchat together and it worked really well.

Responding to direct snaps (snaps that come directly to CAM) has not only been fun, but is also making a BIG impact with our users. We’ve had tweets and Instagram posts from current and perspective students saying how much they love CAM responding to them on Snapchat.

Content for Snapchat

Snapchat picture of CAM, with text overlayed that says "Flawless."So, how do we decide what to snap? The most important reminder: We are using CAM as a personality, so it’s important that he acts like a normal 18-25-year-old…Ram. Follow social media trends and fads (we suggest the comedy section of Vine.) It’s important to keep up with pop culture that interests a large majority of young-ins to effectively snap as a personality. We typically save this type of content as our spontaneous snaps.

What about planned snaps? We always keep in mind holidays, large University events (homecoming, graduation, etc.), and then work them into our overall social media strategic plan. We’ve promoted concerts, parades, and speakers, while always trying to maintain CAM’s voice and sassy personality. As mentioned earlier, contests are where it’s at. We’ve had snappers send a snap of where they’re at over summer break for the chance to win a prize, or decorate an image we provide. Our snappers have been incredibly responsive, and they create content that can be shared on other platforms. This not only showcases the awesome things our Rams are up to over extended breaks, it also helps promote our Snapchat account without being…overly aggressive.

To screenshot, or not to screenshot? We hear that question a lot. Snapchat etiquette among friends would dismiss the suggestion. However, Snapchat between brands and users leaves a little wiggle room. We only screenshot snaps that directly relate to CAM or CSU and we ALWAYS ask permission from the snapper before re-posting the snap to Snapchat or sharing it on other social media channels. Ninety-nine percent of the time, they say yes. But when it comes to Snapchat (and social media in general), it’s better to ask for permission first rather than asking for forgiveness later.

Measuring success

Snapchat of a candle, with text overlayed that says "CSU's 145th Birthday!Snapchat picture of the Lory Student Center Plaza, with overlayed text that says, "Meet me here tomorrow at 1:45 for..."When it comes to measuring success, we keep it simple:

  1. Save a picture of each snap for documentation
  2. Record how many views and screenshots the snap had before the “My Story” 24 hours are up
  3. Count (yes, count) how many friends your account has at the beginning of each month

Since Snapchat’s search function is, well, specific, it’s hard to get more friends on Snapchat. We rely heavily on word-of-mouth among students and cross-promoting CAM’s Snapchat account on other social media channels. So far, it’s worked for us. Today, CAM has more than 1,000 friends on Snapchat.

That’s how we do it, how do you snap?

Happy snapping university people!

Learn about the launch of our CSU Snapchat account.


Ashley Manweiler contributed to this post.