Strategy: Snapchat Takeovers in Higher Ed

Takeovers aren’t just for Tuesdays. And they aren’t just for students.

Open Snapchat on any given Tuesday, and you’re likely to see Rams, Mountaineers, Aggies, Wolverines, Huskers and many other students across the nation taking over their university accounts. But there’s another way to leverage your University’s Snapchat presence – Special Edition Takeovers.

“What’s the difference?” you ask. Allow me to explain. Here’s how we approach the two different Snapchat takeovers at Colorado State.

Takeover Tuesday

We launched CSU’s first Takeover Tuesday back in February of 2016. We didn’t have a clue where to begin. Some of our challenges were: Where do we start? Who can we trust? How and what do we communicate to our takeover hosts?

After some trial and error, and the occasional imperfect takeover, we’ve finally settled into a comfortable groove. Here are three tips for getting started.

1. Create an Online Application

Create a Google Form. It’s quick and easy to create an online application. This is a great opportunity to gather important information that you’ll use later to vet your student takeover hosts. We require each applicant to provide their Snapchat and Instagram handles, along with other information including their campus interests and involvement, and what they would showcase if given a chance to host. We vet takeover hosts by examining their personal social media feeds to make sure the content they are posting is not inappropriate or controversial. Here’s the LINK to ours.

2. Tap Into Campus 

It’s likely that your communication partners on campus have their fingers on the pulse of the positive things happening in their colleges and departments and the impressive students behind the work. Request that your campus partners send you a handful of contacts every quarter.

3. Create Your Documents

When reaching out to students about takeovers, we use a series of email communications. These include messaging about storytelling suggestions, best practices, takeover rules and guidelines – including Dos and Don’ts – and of course, login information (unique passwords are created each time). Creating a takeover calendar and Excel spreadsheet are also musts.

CSU’s Takeover Guidelines

Special Edition Takeovers

As CSU’s Snapchat engagement and fan base grew, we realized that our stories got the most views and engagement when students talked to students (read more about it here). That’s when we decided to use the Takeover Tuesday model to allow campus partners take advantage of the audience we’ve already built.

Integrating Special Edition Takeovers into your Snapchat strategy is a great way to help campus partners connect with prospective and current students, communicate their events, activities, clubs and special announcements. When institutional messaging is delivered to students, by students in a voice and tone that other students can relate to, it’s a win-win. It’s kind of like sneaking vegetables into your kids’ dinners.

Who We Work With

We have collaborated with several campus partners on Special Edition Takeovers including Admissions, Advancement, Alumni, CSU’s Health and Medical Center, International Programs, Student Affairs, CSU Halls, clubs and more.

Beyond the geofence of CSU, we’ve also capitalized on the celebrity of some of CSU’s famous graduates by coordinating Special Edition Takeovers with television stars like Derek Theler and Bachelor contestant, Chase McNary.

Another fun way we use Special Edition Takeovers is to feature alumni, working and living in the real world. You can expect to see #CSUSocial collaborating with more alumni in the future!

Final Thoughts

CSU’s Snapchat audience was a meager 3,700 when we started takeovers in 2016. Thanks to strategic efforts and collaborations with campus partners – especially Admissions – we have boosted our current follower count to nearly 13,000. Because of this, we advise campus partners not to create their own Snapchat accounts, but instead, utilize the audience we’ve worked so hard to build. This is mutually beneficial because campus partners are able to speak directly to a large segment of our student body and while helping us fill content.

You can read more about CSU’s early Snapchat strategy here.

Your Turn

Who’s up for a Twitter conversation about Snapchat Takeovers? Tag me at @jensmith7 to let me know how your university manages Snapchat takeovers. What are things that work well for you? What doesn’t work? What are your questions or concerns? Have any tips to share? Let’s get social 👍