You’re likely to catch a glimpse of the life of your classmate, your professor or an alumnus on Binghamton University’s social media through the Snapchat Takeover program.
Through the initiative, individuals and organizations can request to be featured on BingBearcats, the University’s popular Snapchat account. For 24 hours, highlighted individuals will take viewers through a variety of moments, ranging from campus events and extracurriculars, to courses and office hours. According to John Brhel, media and public relations coordinator for the University, the intent is to showcase a day in the life of those within the BU community.
“We look at this as the campus’ account, something we can share with the entire community which distinguishes it from other accounts we maintain,” Brhel wrote in an email.
While the account, first launched in spring 2015, had relatively few views at first, it gained traction with the addition of the Snapchat Takeover program in summer 2016. Since then, the University communications team has achieved recognition from the SUNY Council for University Advancement, winning the award for best use of the social media.
Prior to the academic year, the program was partially managed by the Student Association Programming Board (SAPB), headed by Max Maurice, former vice president for programming.
According to Maurice, now a first-year graduate student studying electrical engineering, his team acted as a middleman between the student groups requesting a takeover and the communications department, creating a form that was available on the SAPB B-Engaged website. This, he said, was especially helpful once the volume of requests spiked after the fall takeovers led by Maurice — specifically, Fetty Wap’s performance.
While a takeover may help boost an event’s attendance, Maurice said that the program primarily helps to spread awareness of activities to campus community members.
“I wanted to make Binghamton [University] seem as ‘lit’ as possible,” Maurice said.
The account typically receives 2,000 to 3,000 views per post. There has been a steady rise in followers over the last two years, with current and prospective students, as well as alumni and community members, as the main viewers.
While the program proves to be an effective marketing strategy, it also gives viewers a near-authentic look at the varied experiences one can have at BU, according to Brhel.
“Our audience has benefitted by seeing the diversity of experiences that our students have, whether it’s leading a dance team, engaging in summer research or – no joke – being a dog,” Brhel wrote.
In order to take over the account, individuals will meet with Brhel to discuss what their takeovers might look like. If the takeover sounds engaging and they agree to abide by the Responsible Use Agreement, linked on the program’s website, they will then be scheduled for a takeover and granted access to the account.
Samantha Wieder, ’16, who majored in English and now works as a junior staff writer at BuzzFeed, requested to showcase her office life in a takeover this summer. According to Wieder, this elicited an enthusiastic response from viewers.
“I put my e-mail address at the end of the takeover and was surprised but glad to see so many students reach out with questions and enthusiasm about internship and career opportunities at the company,” Wieder wrote in an email. “I think it’s important, as an alumni to stay in the loop and be a resource to students in any way you can.”
Ethan Feuer, an undeclared sophomore, took over the Snapchat account last year to promote the Public Speaking Lab on campus. He said that many of his clients in the following days had found the lab through the takeover.
“I think it was really cool to have such visibility,” Feuer said. “It got a lot of really cool feedback too.”
Tamar Ashdot-Bari, a senior majoring in English, said that the marketing for the University is headed in a good direction.
“I like the idea that I get to be seeing what people do that I normally wouldn’t get to see,” Ashdot-Bari said.
The University continues to invest in Snapchat as a marketing strategy, designing geofilters and purchasing a pair of Snapchat Spectacles for the takeovers. This, Brhel wrote, will continue to give viewers a taste of life at and after BU that is a little out of the norm.
Conner Torpey and Simra Aziz contributed reporting to this story.