Instagram vs. Snapchat – which one to use?
More and more teens are adopting Snapchat, and this is a platform all colleges should adopt or at least seriously consider, even if it’s difficult for those teens to participate in the campus conversation. Teens can still get an intimate view of student life, but only if they view the Snapchat on that day. So find out which day of the week your target demographic will be most available and publish on schedule. If they’re in a high school located in the southeast in a Friday night in the Fall, they will probably be attending a football game instead of checking Snapchat.
Producing good quality snaps on a daily basis to attract new followers can be very time-consuming, and it’s better if someone in your team has a video production experience to create a storyboard with different shots, lenses, captions, and then coordinate the talent with the location or event. Alternatively, hand over the property to vetted students or interns to create more relevant snaps, and it’ll also feel more authentic. Make it clear that it is a student-managed Snapchat.
Again, the biggest downside of Snapchat is the 24-hour expiration, the current lack of metrics, and the amount of time required to produce a snap. In our interviews with college students, they mention loving Snapchats because it’s fun and it gives them a sense of privacy with their group, but they later quit so they can focus more on their studies and social life. Apparently, watching and creating snaps are both time-consuming for them, so don’t feel obligated to create a new snap every day either.
Instagram is easier to produce and more forgiving with their built-in filters. Meet with your marketing team to brainstorm themes and create an editorial calendar with specific hashtags. Virtually anyone can take a picture with their smartphone, and it’s even possible to add photos from your digital SLR. Instagram posts are also easily shared across Facebook (since they own it), and more discoverable through hashtags. One of the easiest way to engage users is to simply repost or click “like” on their images, since it carries a similar “social economy” as Twitter (like, retweet, reply). By integrating Instagram on the homepage, visitors will have a better understanding of you college’s values and mission—the attributes behind your brand. However, they may also be skeptical if the images are overly produced or do not contain reposts.
So which one to use? Both if you can, but understand that even though they both overlap to some extent, Instagram is more likely to have an impact with prospective students who aren’t aware of your college, and Snapchat is better at engaging current and prospective students that already know your college. Audit your resources (staff and equipment), and define your goals (brand awareness and/or engagement).