1: Marquette University’s Snapchat Strategy w/ Tim Cigelske

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

In this episode Tim Cigelske, Director of Social Media at Marquette University, discusses creative ways higher ed can use Snapchat as an enrollment growth strategy.

Attracting today's new post traditional learners means adopting new enrollment strategies. Helix educations data driven, enterprise wide approach to enrollment growth is uniquely helping colleges and universities thrive in this new education landscape, and Helix has just published the second edition of their enrollment growth playbook with fifty percent brand new content on how institutions can solve today's most pressing enrollment growth challenges. Downloaded today for free at Helix educationcoms playbook. You're listening to enrollment growth university from Helix Education, the best professional development podcast for higher education leaders looking to grow enrollment at their college or university. Whether you're looking for fresh enrollment growth techniques and strategies or tools and resources, you've come to the right place. Let's get into the show. Welcome back to enrollment growth university. I'm AERICLES, some AVP of marketing at Helix Education, and we're here today with Tim Segelski, director of social media at Marquette University. Tim, how are you doing today? Doing Great. Thanks for having me. Thanks so much for joining us. Tim and I've been friends for a long time. He's always one of the very first people I'd turned to when I have a question about social media, and he's always doing really creative things with social at Marquette. So I'm really excited that you're here to talk to us today about some really creative ways marquette is using social and specifically snapchat, as an enrollment growth strategy. So before we get into that, Tim, can you give the listeners a little bit understanding of both Marquette University and your role there? Yeah, so we are Catholic Jesuit University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. For those not familiar, most frequently confused with Marquette Michigan, another midwestern area named after Father Marquette, a Jesuit explorer, and I know this because we can see in Google trends every time we make the tournament and Ncaa Tournament and basketball, you can see what searches are spiking and what related searches. So people are searching where's Marquette College, whereas where's Marquette? I...

...can tell everyone right now we're listening who are aren't familiar. It's Milwaukee, Wisconsin, just ninety miles north of Chicago, and my role I am director of social media. I've been here almost nine years and am I very first day at Marquette signed up us, sign us up for a twitter account. I thought this is, you know, this is the end. I'll be all of social and loan behold. Things of continued to evolve and you know, today we're on all the channels, including snapchat. Yeah, let's talk about that, because you've always been first of these channels. I think your want, marquet's one of the very first and high read to embrace snapchat. So talk a little bit about your decision to Jump On that bandwagon and let's talk a little bit about Father Marquette, that snapchat channel. Yeah, so, I mean, you know, for a lot of people who kind of grew up in social like myself, we experimented with these early tools like twitter and facebook and even my space before that, and so we, you know, experimentation was normal to us and we just kind of figured this out as we went. And when snatchet came out, I was of a certain age, you know. I think at that pointed one kid a second on the way where snap I was too old for snapchat and so I didn't initially understand it and there was a medium piece I was written by a former student here at Marquette talking about moving from this concept of disparagement and ridicule for things you just don't understand and you just automatically assume while they're stupid, because it's not for me, to one of curiosity and just trying to be like, okay, well, if this is popular, people are you know, it may not be for me, but there's something to it, there's something here that is making it resonate with people. So I took that to heart and even turn to my interns and said, okay, I don't I don't get it. This is my moment of being old. Please tell me why you like snapchat and it can you even, you know, do some leadership or a leadership opportunity in and write a paper about this and right a strategy document for why snapchat is relevant for your generation and what I can tell my boss is...

...and other people who are coming to me that this is actually going to be a thing and this is important for us as a from a strategic standpoint. So I think that was I lost lose track of time, but that was probably about three or four years ago and we've been on on snapchat and growing ever since. Tim I think you bring up a hugely important point there. I'm similarly one who didn't get snapchat. Still don't as much as some of my younger peers. I think it's marketers we have a responsibility not to disparage, like you said, and even if it's not for me, we owe it to ourselves and our respective employers to at least understand why this is so deeply exciting an emotional to so many people. And even if it's not for us, we need to understand why it is for so many other people. I think it's really, really good, good advice. Talk to me a little bit about Father Marquette, why you decided to go with kind of that persona rather than the university for the account, and how Father Marquette interacts with your community today. So, originally Father Marquette, you know, the namesake Jack Marquette, who is this Jesuit explorer of the Midwest. He was a persona on twitter and Instagram, had his own accounts. I speak to him like he's, you know, a real person. He's like, you know, three hundred eighty years old, but you know, it allowed me. It was kind of a happy accident at first sighting up the accounts and then realizing almost like I was writing fiction, like, you know, the the official, you know accounts for Marquette where the nonfiction, you know, official accounts, and this one, even though it was under my perview, I could have more fun with it. You know, it's like it was almost a character coming to life, and I think people, you know, I saw people respond to that and just kind of understand that this is different voice of the institution. This is like a friendly, goofy, grandfatherly voice that gave you a different view and because historically this historic figure was an explorer, even allowed us to leave the confines of campus and explore Milwaukee and explore the region. And it was it was kind of this evolving strategy of like, okay, we can have this fun voice, but we can also explore and...

...go beyond campus and show people what Milwaukee has to offer, right in the edge of downtown Milwaukee. And then there was a natural extension for snapchat, because snapchat is really about the person. You know, there's so many brands now on social media that it's easy to forget that social media was originally just about people. And snapchat, when it was built, it was same thing. It was about, you know, taking selfies, showing yourself, showing your personality, showing your feelings and emotions, and that's a lot harder for a brand to do from a brand perspective, and I'm not going to do that for me on behalf of the brand. Yeah, that's a little bit too much of a leap for you know, I'm not the face of it personally, but Father Marquette, we have a we literally have a statue, a Father Marquette, a mini statue that travels around and became the person that got the selfies when we were taking snaps, and then, with the rise of bit Moji, he and now has his own Bitmoji. So it doesn't even even have to have the statue with us. With the statues, kind of this comber, some heavy thing, but I could be anywhere, take a snap and then add a bit Moji to it with father cats likeliness and persona, and I was a sudden. Now it feels like Father Marquette's talking to you, this sort of friendly image from a, you know, what can feel like an impersonal big institution. I love it's such a good idea. Yeah, Tim, I think when most people think about snapchat they're thinking this is for the traditional student or even younger. How exclusive is snapchat for the traditional student versus some of your other social channels? So I mean snapchat really is? I tell people, you know, it's four hundred and twenty five and younger. There's definitely some some give to that, and I saw maybe a year ago articles about how old people were flocking to snapchat. I think that was a little just to see like what their teenagers maybe we're doing or whatever, and I don't know if it lasted, but it's so far. It really has, I think, persisted as this place for younger audiences, the kind of eighteen to twenty five, eighteen twenty three. When I've been in focus groups with college students, they've kind of said the same thing as like yeah, part of the appeal is like my friends are there, you know, and it's like a place for us to hang out, as opposed to like a place with my grandparents and parents and aunts and uncles to all hang out. So, you know, people also forget that facebook started...

...as a place that was just exclusive for college students and it was seen as this kind of young party scene, and that's obviously very much a change with grandparents being on there and being a very big demographic and older demographic. So I think to surpass kind of just that one barrier of snapchat wants to grow. They actually are now called SNAP INC and they're bigger than just the snapchat APP. They, you know, I think last year rolled out these spectacles where you could take pictures with your glasses, kind of a trend, your version of Google Glass, and I think that's where we're headed as wearables, you know, become bigger. I think we're in the very early stages of wearables and things that live in your your house, like a person, like Alexa and Google home and all those sort of things. I could see snap reaching older demographics and different demographics than just you're twenty, some things in your teens with that Rowe we just haven't seen it yet and it remains to be seen how they do with that. I love it. I love it. I think a lot of Higher Ed admins are often skeptical of social channels for anything more than just mere brand awareness. If they're looking at what's your Roy Tim how is this really helping us grow in enrollment here? What's your response to something like that? So there's this thing it's kind of the silly thing that's game. If I gammification thing in snapchat called streaks, where if you reply back to people more than three days, there's a little flame next to both your names and you've started a streak. So now if you you send a message back and forth both of you every day, you maintain the streak and you add a number to it. If you don't, you lose the streak and it seems like a silly thing, but it's a big deals, especially big deal to, you know, prospective students and in young students. So we've done this. We have streaks going back and forth at this father marquete account with a number of high school students and current students. But what one anecdo that can share, which I think was really notable, is is a high school student who semi send Father Marquette a message on decision day and...

...said Hey, Father Marquette, I've made my decision, I'm where I'm going to college and and I like snap back was like and like don't keep me in suspense in Father Marquet, because his friend, she speaks a it's a little friends. So it's like Mona me and that sort of thing so it sprinkling, like the limited amount of French I know, some color and character. And and then she wrote back with both the bit Mooji's or snap back with both the bit Moojians. I've decided to come to Marquette, you know. And then I celebrated and took screenshots and center back a message with, you know, celebrating Father Marquette. And then, like shortly after that, on the Hundredth Day of our streak, she was on a field trip with her friends and took a picture in with all of her friends in the back of a bus on a field trip and said Hey, today, father marquetes days are hundred day of the streak and we, like you, get like some special designation for that. And so, like all of her friends and her really celebrating with Father Marquette, I'm like, this is great. You know, it's not that. It's not just her, it's a social experience that she's sharing with all our friends. And so I you know, it because of the demographic of perspective student Snapchat is is a extremely important channel. I think that's the really important reminder for us that a great example of a student who was deeply connected with your social channels very early in the funnel. I think we often put a lot of emphasis on our website, making that first touch relationship some of our our top level advertising, as well as the relationships that the develop with our enrollment coach. But this student specifically had a deep, Long, streaky relationship with Father Marquette before she actually made her decision. So it is absolutely influential. That's really exciting. Tim You've been very public about how you didn't get snapchat originally. I'm the same. What would you say to another college university who's hesitant to jump on board the SNAPCHAT train? How do they get over that fear? I don't understand it. And then what should they do to be as creative as what you've done with with Father Marquette? Marquette. So I teach fair number of snapchat workshops and I've done some webinars and that and that sort of thing. And you know,...

...there's, I guess, two pieces of advice. One, as I'd say, just talk to your kids or your cousin or your you know someone at that family re union who's snapping all day. Like ask them, like you know, ask them why they're using it. What appeals to them and they'll tell you they'll really open up unless you really enjoy it. One of the most fascinating things I've I've been a part of the summer is doing focus groups. Done three hours worth of focus groups with college students and just have them tell me, you know, why they use snapchat, why it still appeals to them. And then the second one is goes back to the streaks and I actually tell people you don't get it at for you won't get it at first. You will. It will feel really awkward and it feel really different and that's because snapchat is built first and primarily and only for phones, and that's a sea change from people who grew up with computers. So if you if you use the computer before you use to phone, you're going to find snapchat weird and it's going to take a while to understand how it works as a mobile first application. I tell people, even if you're sending the dumbest snaps, even if you don't know what you're doing, start a streak with someone else, a trusted friend who will do it, and then just every day a little more comfortable and you'll understand it. And and then, even if you again, you don't use it and it's not for you. That's fine. It's just now. You'll understand it if you want to understand it from a marketing and communication perspective. Love it. Super help of advice and, I think, a great reminder that. I think a lot of US listen to this and in me myself go boy, if I only had a tim you know, someone who could be creative and thinking in, you know, bit Emoji and snap slang. That's what we need. Me, this kind of amateur standup comedian, and one I think, well, I think that might help. I think what you just helped the audience realize is that, know, you were data driven. You you decided what to be based on the research and you did your homework and and your own personality and creativeness and cleverness helps greatly. But you're giving people what they want, which is, I think, a really important lesson for all of us. Yeah, Tim anything else we haven't covered yet today that you want to make sure our listeners understand about snapchat or social as they go off to kind of lead the way thrown campus and institution. One of the piece of data that came out...

...of these focus groups. I ask students what percent authentic are you on facebook and what percent authentic are you on snapchat? How much of are you yourself? And they say, and this isn't separate focus groups and the overwhelming answers on facebook, on about ten percent myself, and on stapchat I am eighty five to ninety five percent myself. And I tell people snapchat's really a throwback to prescial media communication because it's faced. It is, you know, it's media through technology, but it is kind of facetoface. You're showing these moments that are ephemeral, that disappear, and it's just like having a conversation with your friend over the fire with some beers. There's no one keeping a record of that conversation. It's in the moment. It's what you're talking about right now. It's sharing kind of an ephemeral but lasting experience and when they're using snapchat that kind of see the same thing. A's like maybe I'm communicating with a friend, you studying abroad, someone who's, you know, in different city or whatever, but I'm sharing a quick, authentic moment. There's no record of it after this because it's, you know, into thin air. But I'm able to be myself that way rather than something that lives on my facebook timeline that all my aunt's uncles can see for eternity. So it's really this you can think of snapchat is, even though it feels kind of like new and futuristic and different, it's really kind of going back to some of those core principles of communication. That's so awesome it. We've been doing our own research at Helix and realizing that both adult students and Gen Z are valuing authenticity more than anything, and I think that's just a great motivation to will embrace the channel that forces you to be at so great empowering lesson for all of us Tim thank you so much for joining us today. What's the best place for listeners to connect with you if they have any follow up questions? So they can follow me on snapchat if they want, though it's pretty much just pictures of my kids and that is my user name is t cycle Tim tee cyclee Tim and then, if they if they want a more traditional if you call it that, I'm at Segalski on twitter and it's at Cigel Skae.

Happy to talk more about snampchet or answer questions and I have a medium publication where I'm working through some of the kind of communication theories behind snapchat, and I post links to those medium posts on twitter so they can certainly follow along and happy answer questions. Awesome. He is a good follow of folks. Go ahead and do it, Tim thank you so much for joining us today. Anytime, Erica, you've been listening to enrollment growth university from Helix Education. To ensure that you never miss an episode, subscribe to the show on Itunes or your favorite podcast player. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time,.

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