Snapchat, the popular mobile app that allows users to send and receive photos or videos for 10 seconds or less, is taking over college campuses as a way to keep students connected. Many students use Snapchat to show off their everyday lives, and campus programs – including the University of Minnesota – are using it to reach out to them.
The Snapchat app has become one of the more commonly used social media platforms among college students because it’s the fastest way to engage students. With a few seconds of video or a photo, including drawings, emojis, or text, students can contribute to the campus community and feel like their personality and voices are being heard by many. These short messages can disappear as soon as they are viewed, or be shared for up to 24 hours in a “story” viewable by approved contacts. Snapchat is encouraging more engagement between colleges and students by facilitating instantaneous connections to promote contests, events, or to just communicate a friendly message.
The most unique aspect of Snapchat is that it’s instantly available, anywhere, at any time. Most other social media platforms such as Twitter or Facebook may be checked just as frequently, but posts may not make it online for days or weeks. Snapchat, in a nutshell, is live-streaming student life across college campuses all over the nation. These stories are organized by “geofilters” that change to show different custom photo stamps based on a users location. Just for the city of Minneapolis has multiple photo filters and even more for individual neighborhoods like Dinkytown, University of Minnesota campus, Northeast, etc. For example, here at the University of Minnesota, most colleges or departments have their own snapchat accounts. CEHD recently released a custom photo stamp for users in Cooke hall, and Student Unions and Activities their account to announce events on campus and give away tickets and gear.
At the start of Fall semester, the Snapchat introduced a U of M curated feed or “SnapStory” of what it’s like to be a Gopher, different every day, and always showcasing the best our campus has to offer. Although the Gopher Snapchat feed isn’t streamed outside the U of M area yet, it’s bringing students together and showing that everyone can have a unique experience while being a part of the University community.
Snapchat is like news reporting, live-streaming, and tweeting all at once – it provides a first-hand account in real time from the eyes of students. Some campuses have featured game days, and even cities around the world get to broadcast their lives to all users, competing to be the first to get their story published and shared far beyond their contact list. Snapchat is revolutionizing communication in higher education by sharing the best live content created by students, for students.