ST. LAWRENCE UNIVERSITY MAGAZINE | WINTER 2017
herever you fall on the social
media love-hate spectrum,
understanding social media has
become a critical component of
strategically navigating the higher
education landscape. With each
generation of digital media apps comes the changing demands
and communications channels that inform and connect
alumni, current students, and prospective students alike.
Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are the dominant spaces
where the University continuously shares the St. Lawrence
experience with tens of thousands of people. The latest
addition to the St. Lawrence social media stable is Snapchat—
an obsession for some, and a mystery to others.
What exactly is Snapchat?
snapchat is a mobile phone app that allows users to send
photos and 10-second videos to followers. They can add captions,
emojis, and draw on their messages (known as snaps). Users can
even use a camera filter to turn themselves into cats, dragons, and
Olympians—or swap faces with people nearby. For most users, it
is a quick-hitting, ephemeral modern day passing of silly notes.
Snaps only last, at most, 10 seconds before being automatically
deleted, unless added to the user’s Snapchat Story, which extends
the availability of the content up to 24 hours. In recent months,
news media outlets, special interests groups and
marketing agencies have used Snapchat stories to
distribute content to millions of users.
It’s hard to ignore the demographic data of the
more than 150 million daily Snapchat users: 60
percent are between the ages of 13-24 and 30 percent
of teens rank Snapchat as the most important social
network.*Those are key demographics for most
colleges and universities’ marketing efforts, but deciding
to join Snapchat is much more complicated.
St. Lawrence and Snapchat
when our communications team debates whether or not
St. Lawrence should join a social network, we outline the
ways that platform could help the university and how it would
benefit the community. Most snaps are shared privately between
people or small groups. Institutions need to consider how a
university’s content strategy would blend in to that landscape.
Meg Bernier Keniston ’07, M’09, St. Lawrence’s social media
manager, spent more than 18 months thinking and talking about
Snapchat with her colleagues and her student social media team
before creating the account. “I don’t take the decision to join
another social media channel lightly,” she explained. “Each channel
requires time, energy and resources to make sure St. Lawrence
stands out among our peer institutions.”
As user numbers increased on Snapchat, the 10 members of
the student social media team began researching college and
university accounts, evaluating effective content and assisting
with generating a strategy that would engage our target
audiences: current and prospective students.
“We launched ‘stlawrenceu’ in January 2016, hosting a
surprise day-long launch event on campus that garnered more
than 1,000 followers in less than 24 hours,” Keniston said.
“The team has spent the last 10 months sharing incredible
stories which has helped us earn more than 2,400 followers,
making it St. Lawrence’s fastest growing social account ever.”
With every new channel comes a learning curve. Keniston and her
team have found that a 40-second story can sometimes take four
hours to strategize and produce. For now, St. Lawrence uses
Snapchat to highlight snippets of student life and help high school
students navigate the college admissions process. What’s next
depends on how the platform evolves and the features and
functionality it adds. So, snap yourselves in and join us for the ride!
Not on Snapchat? We’ve created a YouTube playlist with some of our
Take a picture of the Snapchat logo
above to follow us.
*Data from Media Kix
Snapchat Unsnapped: Year One
BY DEBORAH DUDLEY