You guys. We got Spectacles.
Snapchat's hottest new gadget, Spectacles, is the most sought-after pair of sunglasses this side of social media. Mashable even named Spectacles the Best Tech of 2016. We know we are living in a video world, and Snapchat just made it really simple to produce real, unedited moments -- right from your perspective.
What are Snapchat Spectacles?
Snapchat Spectacles are a new product from Snapchat: sunglasses that connect right to your Snapchat account with the press of a button, allowing users to shoot up to 30 seconds of hands-free video. It connects seamlessly via Bluetooth and then uploads video in 10-second increments via the memories function. You can also shoot video in shorter increments. The circular glasses come in your choice of coral, black or teal. Its camera has a 115-degree lens, which is meant to more closely mimic the way in which people see.
How can I get my hands on a pair?
Well, this is tricky. You have to purchase a pair from a Snapbot, which is a vending machine that travels around the country dispensing these Spectacles at $130 a pop. You can see where a new vending machine is about to drop and track where the Snapbot is each day via the Spectacles website. They have dropped bots at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, at the Rose Bowl Stadium and at a pop-up store in New York City that drew crowds that waited in line for hours. Unfortunately, for us, most of the bots seem to make appearances on the West Coast. Anticipating a bot wouldn't be dropped anywhere near West Virginia any time soon, we headed to eBay to get our hands on a pair.
How do I get started?
Setting them up is fairly simple. Charge the case (which holds four full charges) via the USB cable, and then the glasses sit within the case and charge that way. That means that your glasses can die four times, and as long as your case is charged, you can power up four more times. You simply open your Snapchat profile screen, point your glasses at the screen about a foot away, press the button and the syncing begins. The videos will upload to your "Memories" section, but with the title of "Spectacles," and no white border. You can choose which videos from Memories go to your story. You can tilt your phone screen to see the full width of the video. The video production is quite smooth, but it tends to kill your battery so an external battery might be helpful. More good info about how they work can be found in this review.
Why does this matter?
Snapchat Spectacles offer users the ability to show a first-person perspective unlike ever before. You can engage in daily life without being tethered to your cell phone. No longer do you have to pause, hold up your phone and focus to capture a moment -- you simply press a button and continue your experience. Nothing lends itself to a more authentic sense of reality like Snapchat Spectacles. And, considering one of our main goals at West Virginia University is to show what campus is really like and to help prospective students feel as though they are here, Spectacles makes sense to showcase a real perspective.
How is WVU using them?
We ordered a pair and immediately put a plan in action. As soon as these arrived, we wanted to hit the ground running. First, we wanted to take a little time to revel in the beauty that is unboxing a perfectly packaged product. And, we thought you all might want to share in that with us. We filmed this unboxing video, edited and had it approved within an hour so we could start promoting our Spectacles plan: WVU Campus Tour -- Extended Cut. We promoted this via our Twitter and Snapchat accounts to tease the upcoming days.
And, once we actually started rolling, we promoted the campaign via Twitter -- making sure to add our "Add" link so that people could easily and quickly follow along. If you're not aware, you can use "snapchat.com/add/USERNAME," and when users click on that link, it will bring up your profile where they can easily add you. Pretty nice, right?
We chose to start off with the basics - showing campus from a first-person perspective. We made a Google Doc that our entire social media team contributed to in an effort to aggregate all of our fun campus features -- like the building that secretly has a swimming pool in its basement and where you can catch the best views on campus. From there, we broke it down into three different days to cover our three different campuses. We took inspiration from this video from Oregon State University in which two students show tips and tricks of their campus.
These sunglasses make it simple to share real moments, and the very nature of how they are constructed lends itself to sharing in that human experience. Our interns took turns wearing Spectacles to point out "insider" tips on how to navigate campus. Prospective students may have taken a campus tour to get the lay of the land, but this campaign sought to offer up general advice on how to be a Mountaineer.
Where do you buy scantrons? (bookstores)
Where can you get condoms? (WELLWVU)
How can you avoid the 1,000 stairs by the Life Sciences Building? (we have a lot of stairs on campus)
Where do you go if you get sick? (we have on-site medical facilities)
Why do people take so many pictures of Woodburn? (it's the prettiest building on campus)
How do we get from one campus to another? (the PRT is unique to our University)
You know those burning questions that students may not ask their tour guides? Well, our student interns offered up their opinions on how to best navigate campus and become a seasoned Mountaineer. It's coming directly from student voices, and it's coming directly from their eyes. Prospective students won't get a much more authentic experience than that. They're getting real tips from real students on how to be a real Mountaineer.
And, we had great feedback! Current students AND prospective students loved getting a "behind-the-scenes" look at campus and getting an idea of the best places to go, the coolest places to see and tips to avoid the many stairs around campus.
This campaign worked because it was hands-on. That is key to creating content for Spectacles. Dissecting a frog in class is going to do better than sitting in a lecture. Creating a piece of pottery is going to do better than reading a book about it. Playing a game of soccer is going to do better than watching a game happen.
If Snapchat is a tool that you find useful for your various audiences, I definitely think Spectacles is worth the investment. If you are active already on Snapchat, Spectacles can add a new dimension and open up new possibilities for you. We're excited to look into having some of our student athletes wear these while they are training (hands-free changes the game here!), as well as putting them on our Mountaineer Mascot as he's running into games. We're excited about the possibility of showing events from a first-person perspective or showing off more creative processes (because, again, hands-free!) like pottery, painting, and more at our Creative Arts Center. We definitely plan to produce more content that is interactive and can benefit from the ability to be hands-free.
It's the most seamless mode possible right now, and considering that Snapchat reaches about half of all 18- to 34-year-olds in the United States, it's difficult to deny the impact this could have on marketing toward prospective students. These real moments are immersive, they're engaging, and our audience is responding to them. The platforms -- and therefore the gadgets -- that help deliver this type of content are growing exponentially. And, we now have yet another way to create it.