Why colleges are turning to Snapchat for recruitment

Millennials spend up to nine hours a day staring at their phones, according to a 2015 survey by Common Sense Media.

One popular multimedia mobile app, Snapchat, about 100 million users globally, and research suggests around 77% of college students use it daily.

In an effort to reach students where they are, colleges have begun using Snapchat for recruitment and admissions outreach, Patti Zarling reports for Education Dive.

The University of Michigan (U-M) was the first higher education institution to use Snapchat for strategic student engagement, according to Nikki Sunstrum, director of social media at U-M. When U-M launched their Snapchat account, their goal was (and still is) to find prospective students and introduce them to U-M in a friendly manner.

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On Snapchat, the university both delivers messages and encourages others to talk about the school. For instance, administrators facilitate thoughtful conversations between young alumni and prospective students on the platform. Sunstrum also posts Snapchat summaries of campus news and events, allowing prospective students to stay in-the-know about what's happening on campus.

The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay (UWGB) also uses Snapchat to engage prospective students. For UWGB, Snapchat serves "as the front door to the campus," says Jena Richter Landers, a social media specialist and graduate of UWGB. As an example, last year, hundreds of applicants learned they'd been accepted by watching a Snapchat post from UWGB. Recruiters also host Q&A sessions via Snapchat for prospective students throughout the school year, Zarling reports. 

Katelyn Santy, a UWGB student recruitment and enrollment coordinator, says that as powerful as Snapchat can be for engaging students, it doesn't work for everything. She encourages students who have detailed admissions questions to speak live with an advisor. Some students still want to use social media but want more privacy than Snapchat provides, so the institution also allows students to ask questions through a private Facebook group created specifically for the incoming class (Zarling, Education Dive, 9/18). 

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