Who says sharing serious information has to be, well, serious? Certainly not Gina Nerone or Andrew Hahn, who have a lot of fun and sometimes even get downright silly in sharing health and safety information and tips with students at UW-Madison. Their style is, as Andrew puts it, sometimes “campy,” and their tool is the Snapchat, the fastest growing social media platform among young people.
Gina and Andrew, who are Web and Communications Assistants at University Health Services, shared their experiences with Snapchat at Wednesday’s Social Media Breakfast Madison, saying they are able to use Snapchat to communicate one-on-one in a way that catches – and holds – students’ attention.
“Snapchat works great for this,” Andrew said, “because it is an informal medium, it’s conversational, and it’s really simple to add and share content to it.
“It’s a video-based platform which means it’s extremely memorable. You can include more context to the tips you’re giving them without relying on them to read all the way to the bottom of a post. And younger audiences are already on the Snapchat so by approaching them in a video platform with an informal voice we can reach these audiences where they already are.”
“We’re just trying to show students that we’re students too and we’re trying to give them all the information they need to lead a happy and healthy lifestyle,” Gina said.
Here’s an example:
Of course, sometimes the message requires a more serious (though not too heavy) approach:
These Snapchat videos were posted as Snapchat Stories, an option that keeps the videos available for viewing for 24 hours.
Regular Snapchat images only stay on the platform for up to 10 seconds after being viewed (the sender selects the exact duration in seconds).
While the 24 hour option is still a big limitation, the ephemeral nature of Snapchat images and videos is both a curse and a blessing, Gina said. It can be disheartening to put all that work into creating a video and then have it disappear so quickly, but that is one of the big appeals of Snapchat for a lot of people, so the platform is generating a unique audience that can be reached, engaged and influenced.
Gina and Andrew walked us through some of the most entertaining – and playful – aspects of Snapchat, including emojis, filters, text, icons, and the ability to draw right on an image. The results can look something like this:
You can use “Community Filters,” which are free or “Promotional Filters” which are paid and intended to promote a business or product (yes, Snapchat has to make money too).
Gina and Andrew estimate the UHS Snapchat account has about 150 followers, and they are trying to grow that number by spreading the word by publicizing their Snapchat URL (https://www.snapchat.com/add/UHSMadison) and displaying a Snapchat QR Code (right) that links directly to their account (go to Snapchat, point your camera at the ghost, press the image gently and then click “add friend”).
It’s a lot of work to create interesting Snapchat videos – “We have a lot of bloopers,” Gina said – but it’s worth it when you see your views increasing and get positive feedback from your audience.
Andrew said metrics is a big challenge with Snapchat. There is no official follower count but you can see the number of views per clip and measure your success in driving traffic to web pages. Promotional filters do come with additional analytics.
Other quick tips Andrew and Gina passed along:
- Links don’t work in Snapchat so you should create short, snappy URLs for pages you want people to go to, and then include those printed URLs in the text of your image.
- You can download Snapchat images or videos to your phone and reuse them in other platforms.
- Snapchat has a powerful chat function. UHS used it, for example, to ask students about their sleep habits and then used the responses to create an interactive Snap.
Overall, they said, Snapchat is a valuable way to connect with your customers and potential customers because it’s where the young audience is, it makes maximum use of video, and it’s informal, simple and, most of all, a lot of fun.
Here is Gina and Andrew’s PowerPoint: