Snapchat for Old People: Social Media Isn’t Always About You

    by Tim Cigelske
    June 5, 2017
    Photo by jarmoluk on Pixabay and used with Creative Commons license.

    I’ve spent a good chunk of my career explaining social media to people who find it mysterious and foreign.

    I’m used to negative reactions. I commonly hear phrases like “waste of time,” “it’s only for narcissists” and the catch-all “I just don’t get it.”

    Platforms are starting to splinter into different audiences and purposes, and each needs to be judged on its own merits and goals.

    People fear what they don’t know. We often assume the worst about out-groups. We hold stereotypes from fragments we pick up in the media — some of it true, some of it sensationalized.


    I learned early in my social media career that my job wasn’t to convince people who hold these negative beliefs that they need to use social media. The truth is, social media is not for everyone.

    And most people find evangelists annoying. Telling people what to do usually has the opposite effect.

    Instead, I make it my mission to educate people on the facts and let them make up their own minds. Even if they’re not using it themselves, at least they understand the potential of social media and why it may be useful for individuals, brands and businesses.


    Then it was my turn. I just didn’t get Snapchat.

    I held all the worst assumptions. It seemed to me a vapid waste of time for selfie-taking narcissists or sexting teenagers. I didn’t see an application for Marquette University, and worse, I thought just by being in the same space could get us into trouble.

    But there’s no denying that it was taking off. When Facebook offered Snapchat billions of dollars and brands started jumping on the bandwagon, it couldn’t be ignored.

    It was time to rethink some of my assumptions. I decided to move from disparagement to curiosity.

    There’s a good reason I didn’t get Snapchat. It wasn’t built for me.

    I’m 32. My lingua franca may be Twitter and Facebook, but I’m 15 years (!) removed from the average Snapchat user. Part of Snapchat’s appeal is old people like me aren’t on it — yet.

    Simply put, the social media universe doesn’t revolve around me. Platforms are starting to splinter into different audiences and purposes, and each needs to be judged on its own merits and goals.

    I may not be personally using Snapchat much, but if I’m practicing what I preach I should at least understand it. My job is to figure out Snapchat’s purpose and if it’s worthwhile for our target audience.

    So I turned to my intern, Cesar.

    I assigned Cesar, an avid Snapchat user, the task of creating a Snapchat research paper and strategy document.

    The result? I learned about Snapchat culture (yes, it’s a thing), and we decided to create an account for Father Marquette. Many of these snaps are taken by Cesar and show up as screenshots on Twitter and Facebook. And no, I haven’t received anything inappropriate.

    Read on for Cesar’s report below, and then you can snap the oldest person on Snapchat. If 376-year-old Father Marquette is on Snapchat, you have no excuse.


    Some Do’s:

    1. Be mindful of timing. Images with more type and markers should be set longer to give the receiver time to read and register message.

    2. Use text and the marker tool to showcase your skills of wit and brevity. Creative, unique snaps stand out more and are memorable. Going the extra mile goes a long way.

    3. Keep snaps tasteful and appealing. A friendly snap has a remarkable way of temporary brightening a friend’s mundane or hectic workday. Take advantage of its capability to brighten someone’s day.

    Some Don’ts

    1. Screenshot. Would you want your double chin to go viral? If you do screenshot, the sender will be notified.

    2. Send photos of landscapes, food, or multiple images of your pet. Images that look better polished and filtered should be kept on Instagram and Facebook. Snapchat was designed to share a more raw and vulnerable version of yourself.

    3. Continue to send Snapchats to people who don’t counter snap. Just like you would not continue to text someone who wasn’t reciprocating, you don’t want to keep sending snaps.

    4. Send inappropriate photos. Just as quickly as Snapchat was built, your reputation can be destroyed. The ambiguous nature of new technology does not give us any excuse to confuse self-expression with lack of self-respect.

    5. Take yourself too seriously. The more chins the better.


    At this point, the only way to send or receive snaps is to friend someone. Thus, promoting Father Marquette’s username on Marquette’s other social accounts will be our best bet.

    Finding students and their usernames is difficult, but the “my story” feature allows provides brand appropriate content in real-time that is relatable and engaging to its audience, all of which is virtually available to everyone.

    A new update now allows for Snapchats to be replayed, allowing for more views.

    Ideas and brainstorms of ways we could involve Father Marquette—

    1. Virtual campus tour guide. Have Father Marquette on select places on campus and send these snaps to incoming freshman. A Snapchat version of Marquette Explores, but for campus.

    2. Use some of the admissions student workers or Father Marquette to record quick “Come to Marquette!”/”Thanks for applying!”/”Congratulations!” Snapchats and send them to the students you have accepted your friend request or who have the same usernames on Twitter/Instagram/etc.

    3. Establish a way for incoming students to send in get quick questions about the school and get them answered.

    4. Create a “currently on campus” series where Snapchats of campus events are sent to students. This could also be used as an incentive for deciding high school seniors to come here or get them excited.

    5. A day in the life of a Marquette student. Using the “my story” feature, Father Marquette could follow a student and Snapchat their day. If you followed a freshman, for example, snaps would include going to class, being in class, visiting dining halls, hanging in the dorms, any campus events, etc.

    Want to snap Father Marquette? Add FatherMarquette.

    Get More Tips In My Online Training

    On Wednesday, June 7, I’ll be going over some more tips in an online training, Snapchat for Journalists and Storytellers with MediaShift. Sign up to learn more about how to master Snapchat. I’m looking forward to answering your questions.

    This article was originally posted on medium.com. View it here.


    Tim Cigelske (@cigelske) is the Associate Editor of MetricShift. He has reported and written for the Associated Press, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Budget Travel, Adventure Cyclist and more. Today, he is the Director of Social Media at Marquette University as well as an adjunct professor teaching media writing and social media analytics.

    Tagged: digitaled snapchat social media trainings

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