Connecting in a Snap

Ryan Critch   

Connecting with 3,500 students at one time can be extremely difficult. And even though Mount Saint Vincent University thrives on its tight knit community, getting the student body involved in everything the university has to offer isn’t easy. But the student union realized that if a picture is really worth a thousand words, why not use that picture to reach a thousand people?

The MSVU student union discovered that digital social media would be a useful tactic for reaching the student population. Instagram is a photo and video-sharing platform where users can post, like and comment on others’ photos. Snapchat is also a photo and video-sharing platform, but the content more timely, as the photo or video is only visible for a short time.

“It removes a lot of the foot soldiering that used to happen with print media,” says Kenny Fitzpatrick, general manager of the Mount Saint Vincent University Student Union. “You had the hope that people would be picking up your paper, and it was all about eyes. But now with digital social media there’s an engagement piece.”

Since the start of the New Year, Fitzpatrick has been using Snapchat and Instagram to increase foot traffic to events taking place around campus. He also uses these social media platforms to advertise products at the university snack bar, and says it is an effective marketing strategy.

“I didn’t think Snapchat would work,” says Fitzpatrick. “Until one day, I was set up in the link trying to give free things to students, which is difficult because they think you’re trying to sell them something and they just walk past and ignore you. But on this day I sent a mass Snapchat photo and all of a sudden I had 10 students in front of me.”

Todd Hoffman is the Food and Beverage Manager at the Mount, and says digital social media is a trendy way to attract business to the university’s snack bar and pub.

“Digital social media is cost-efficient,” says Hoffman. “The Crown n’ Go Snack Bar is a small business, and we don’t have a lot of room in our budget for advertising.”

Kyle Mackay is a first-year student at the Mount, and says he is very price conscious when purchasing food at school. But because of the student union’s new marketing strategy, he knows where he can purchase quality food products at a reasonable price.

“Thanks to the digital advertising by the Crow n’ Go, I can see what’s being offered and I know where I can stretch my dollar the furthest,” says Mackay. “And actually receive quality product in return.”

Hoffman feels Snapchat and Instagram are the most effective ways to connect with the diverse student population at the university. He says the student union needs to be on the same level of communication as the students.

“This is the way that students stay in the loop,” says Hoffman. “And if we’re not part of it, then we’re not a part of our students.”

Fitzpatrick and Hoffman work closely together as members of the student union, and both feel that the use of digital social media is a step in the right direction when connecting with students.

“It has been working for us,” says Fitzpatrick. “However, it is important that we keep track of it and continue to be innovative.”

If you want to connect with the MSVU student union, follow them on Snapchat (msvusu) and Instagram (@msvusu).