One of the most popular forms of social media on college campuses is Snapchat. Worth approximately $20 billion, the simple image-sharing app has gained millions of users worldwide since its start in 2011.
In October of 2014, Snapchat launched a new feature called Our Campus Story. Similar to the personal snap-story, the new feature allows any student to submit an image or video to the Campus Story of their designated college. If selected, it can be viewed by the entire student body.
In the fall of 2015, Snapchat decided to introduce Our Campus Story to Boston College. It was an immediate success, with daily stories posted from all over the school. Posts aimed to capture the essence of college life at BC, whether it was a glimpse into the football pre-game rituals to a quick video of impromptu dance performances.
Students always had their phone ready at hand to capture any exciting moment that could be submitted to the Campus Story. The Campus Story strengthened the sense of community by allowing students to view what their peers were doing. Upper and underclassmen alike laughed at recordings of roommate pranks and sympathized with those struggling to study for midterms. Overall, this new feature brought relief from the everyday routine at BC and a chance to see both the simple and extraordinary things happening on campus.
So, what happened?
Much to the dismay of students, the Campus Story unexpectedly disappeared towards the end of the spring semester last year. Contrary to what many students presumed, the Campus Story was not run by BC students; it was controlled by someone from Snapchat. Snapchat oversaw Our Campus Story and chose which student submissions to post.
The Our Campus Story feature was unfortunately short-lived and it is unknown whether it will be coming back. Snapchat also revoked this feature from many other universities across the country such as Penn State and University of Texas at Austin, which were two of the four original campuses where they chose to initially launch the feature.
University Communications was not involved in overseeing the Our Campus Story. Instead, they control a separate account for the school called WeAreBC. This account was launched on October 3, 2014 and displays stories of interactions with students, prospective students, and alumni.
According to Melissa Beecher Lesica, the Social Media Manager for the Office of News & Public Affairs, their most successful stories have been Snap Study Breaks (where BC Social Fellows surprise students with gifts during finals study days), interviews with notable alum like Chris O’Donnell and Clinton Kelly, and a takeover by alumna Caila Quinn from The Bachelor.
Furthermore, Lesica stated that there was a bit of overlap between what the university was publishing and what Snapchat was publishing on the Campus Story. According to her, “we (Office of News & Public Affairs) reached out to Snapchat’s customer service for clarification on the purpose of Campus Story…but didn’t receive any helpful information.” Neither the students nor the staff clearly understood what the goal of Our Campus Story was, but it was fresh, interesting, and provided an opportunity for 15 seconds of fame.
Although the Our Campus Story was temporary and is no longer present, students can follow the WeAreBC Snapchat for a taste of more BC life and access to contests for t-shirts and tickets. With the rapid growth of social media, perhaps Snapchat will reinstate the live Our Campus Story.