Social Media Mania

Social Media Mania

Students at Presentation are always keeping an eye out for the next big thing. From Twitter to Instagram, the world of social media is constantly evolving. But this evolution can cause headaches for schools, who see the value in communication but have difficulty creating policies for every new app that hits the scene.

Such is the case for Snapchat.

Snapchat allows users to add captions, drawings and filters to their photos and videos (also known as “snaps”). Unlike other messaging apps, you can view snaps for a maximum of 10 seconds, and then it’s–theoretically–gone for good.

Students love Snapchat, but school administrations often have concerns about it. “There’s a big difference between what you would want to use social media for, personally, as an individual, and what you would want to use it for as an organization that’s affiliated and attached to a school,” said Vice Principal of Student Activities Tim Case. “I think the school’s biggest challenge and the school’s biggest concern is who manages the use of those tools and ultimately what impact does that have upon the Presentation community as a whole.”

This is not to say that Pres is averse to using social media. In fact, Presentation currently uses Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for the school, all of which are run by the Public Relations Department. The Athletics Department and Alumni also use social media to communicate with their audiences, as do various student groups, including ASB, Bella Voce, Dance Team, and the Voice.

According to CBS News, over 90% of teens use social media. Caitlin Matalone, Presentation’s Director of Public Relations, said social media is a great way to get students involved in activities they may not be a part of.  “Social media amps up student spirit in a lot of ways,” she said. “It’s a way for you to re-engage with your school. So even when you leave Presentation, you don’t have to leave all the memories behind.”

However, Matalone acknowledged that one of the challenges that Presentation has faced with student involvement in social media is “the way that people behave online.” The challenge in allowing students to use social media on behalf of Pres is teaching them to use social media as “a tool for positivity.” It is this concern over potential negative behavior that is the primary driver behind the school’s decision to ban students from using Snapchat for any official Pres business.

Because Snapchat posts disappear immediately after they are sent, the school has no way to approve posts, which could reflect negatively on Presentation. The administration’s concerns extend to Snapchat’s new geofilter feature.

With this feature, individuals are able to put a graphic onto a picture and send it to their friends or upload it to their 24-hour Snapchat Story. The filter usually highlights an event, holiday or location.

Because the filter feature is so benign, students have questioned why they are not allowed to use it, particularly because other high schools in the area, such as Valley Christian and Bellarmine, have created them. Students say that they simply want to put the word Presentation on photos related to school events.

However, Case pointed out that those filters were created by students, not the schools themselves, and that they were most likely not approved by the schools.  In fact, Snapchat rules prevent all schools from creating an official logo filter. Neither Valley Christian nor Bellarmine were available for comment.

“Currently, if you are a business you cannot create your own geofilter,” Case said, “Beyond that, even if you were trying to do it as an individual and not officially as a business, if you were to try to use any sort of trademark or logo, which is what we would want to use if we were to create one as a school, that is something that only universities and colleges have the ability to authorize right now.”

Matalone said that students producing their own geofilter without the approval of the school would be a problem with the administration due to the consistency of our school’s marketing materials. Pres wants everything from admissions brochures to the bulletin boards in the hallways to have a consistent look and feel, so student-produced geofilters would not fit under that umbrella.

Some students, who were unaware of the school’s policy on Snapchat, spent time creating geofilters. To them, Matalone advised, “When we’re talking about internal communication, there’s a little more opportunity for different logos and different student produced pieces.”

There is a possibility that Pres’ social media platform will expand into Snapchat in the future, especially if Snapchat’s policy is changed. Case has spoken with Snapchat support to see if Snapchat is right for the school. The company has stated that they are still finding ways for businesses and organizations to use their app.

Matalone said, “I love social media and I think it’s a really effective tool. I just don’t think that now is the right time for us to engage with Snapchat. It’s something that I would like to continue to take a look at. But now is just not the time for us to be involved.”