#HigherEd and Snapchat: How @UF Tells Its Story on Snapchat


university of florida social media twitter

Oh Snap. The University of Florida (UF) is following its audience and has now joined the photo-messaging app Snapchat.  Why? Because that ‘s where the university’s audience is.

Todd Sanders, Director of Social Media at UF, said UFSocial started using its Snapchat account after “Our Campus Story” became popular among UF students.

“When that happened, we realized that we had an account, but weren’t fully utilizing it,” Sanders said. “It was probably time to start the car.”

UFSocial serves as UF’s official social media team that manages all the social media accounts for the university. UF has many social media platforms, of which the most popular are Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Snapchat, the university’s newest social platform, is creating more personal and individual relationships between students and their university. UFSocial debuted its Snapchat account with the handle UF1853 (1853 was the founding year of the University of Florida).

Social PR Secret: When a new social media network comes on the scene, be sure to claim your brand’s profile name. This way if you decide it’s a good for for your audience you will own the name and avoid brand confusion. 

The Snap Factor 

“If we don’t move on to the next thing, then we’re just hurting the brand,” Sanders said. He said that Snapchat is harder to measure, but is more authentic and relevant for students.

“If it doesn’t get screenshots, we don’t think it worked,” Sanders said. “It’s like people didn’t embrace it or want to grab it, so it’s a little bit different.”

He said they measure the content displayed based on the amount of views and screenshots on a given post.

UFSocial on Snapchat #UF1853 UFSocial team used Instagram to launch its debut #UF1853 to Snapchat










“If the audience is there, then Snapchat is a good platform,” said Lisa Buyer, author of Social PR Secrets and lecturer at the University of Florida College of Journalism @UFPUR4932 class. “It’s a quick and interactive platform.”

According to Snapchat’s blog, CEO Evan Spiegel said that Snapchat is a platform that allows people to show who they are “today, right now.”

Sanders said this is exactly what UFSocial plans to do with UF’s account. UF1853 will illustrate events around UF by posting current stories and snapshots that capture moments of the students, faculty, and campus.

Jet Joseph, a senior anthropology major at UF, said he is a frequent user of Snapchat, but was unaware that UF now has an operating account. He said that he will be friend-requesting UF1853.

“It shows the university is more personal,” Joseph said, “I think that’s a cool thing.”

The Art and Science of Snapchat

Melissa Lambert, the professional Snapchat artist and intern for UFSocial, said in addition to posting stories for students to watch, the UF Snapchat account will also respond to personal snaps and follow back students who request UF1853.

“Snapchat is just another platform for talking to students,” she said. Lambert said that she hopes UF students will be open to using Snapchat to communicate with the university by asking questions and providing feedback.

In the future, UF1853 will feature a tour of campus with added drawings to each picture. “It’s better instead of all the promotion, like go follow us on Snapchat,” Sanders said. “It’s cooler to have a project that people are interested in and that will share it and grow you in a more organic way.”

UF’s existing platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, have featured UF1853’s snaps to inform students of the launch of this new UFSocial endeavor. UF1853 has received over 5,000 followers and continues to grow each day, according to its Snapchat account.

Buyer said UF’s brand will benefit from the use of Snapchat since the target audience is spending their time there.

Social PR Secret: “Snapchat may be the place to start the conversation that will be continued in other platforms,” Buyer said.

As Snapchat continues to grow in popularity, so does its market valuation. Today, China’s largest e-commerce company, Alibaba, announced it will invest $200 million in Snapchat during the platform’s latest fundraising round.

Todd Sanders, Director of Social Media at UF, views a student’s Snapchat that UF1853 received. Sanders said that the UFSocial team looks at everything sent to the account. Snapchat, as UF’s newest platform, is creating a more personal and individual relationships between the university and students.

Want to join the conversation about higher education using @Snapchat? Join #SocialChat on Twitter Monday night at 9pm ET.

Learn more about Snapchat and higher education from this article:  SnapChat for #highered: 8 lessons learned from early adopters by Karine Joly or follow her on Twitter @karinejoly.

For more Social PR Secrets, Read Lisa Buyer’s Second Edition of Social PR Secrets.

Note: Victoria Price is a student at the University of Florida and this is her first guest blog post published on Social PR Chat. Victoria is in Lisa Buyer’s social media management class @UFPUR4932. #GoGators.

Contributing Writer: Victoria Price

Image credit: UFSocial Snapchat and Instagram Account


  1. University of Florida’s idea to create a university-run snapchat is reflective of how constantly changing technology has caused traditional universities to adapt. I wonder if other colleges will start creating snapchat accounts similar to this one. The only question I have is how will their snapchat account be controlled? Do you have multiple people contributing content? If so, that will be difficult to keep the content consistent to the University’s values and messaging.

  2. Very pioneering of UF! That’s great that they jumped on board; if only more Universities would understand they need to be where the students are in order to connect with them.

    I do think that getting onto programs such as SnapChat could be more risky and more difficult; as they mentioned, it is much harder to measure. But the only way to figure it out is to use it and develop methods.

  3. Snapchat is such a useful and relevant platform for college students. We use Snapchat for texting, interacting with communities and even as a news source. Every organization should consider a way to incorporate this platform into their media outreach programs.


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