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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