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WVU has taken on recipe video craze with new Snapchat campaign

S'mores Brownies

If you look through a college student’s phone, you’ll likely see selfies, cute puppies and photos of food. Always food.

With the rise of “foodies,” new short videos that instruct viewers on how to make a meal have consumed Facebook. Think Buzzfeed’s “Tasty” or videos from Delish, Spoon University and Cooking Panda. These new visual recipes tap into the need for simple, quick, beautiful videos that are almost mesmerizing. 

And, here at West Virginia University, we saw this as an opportunity to partner with our friends at Dining Services to fine tune this idea toward college students. Fun, easy, delicious recipes they can get right where they are consuming information: Snapchat.

These videos are a dime a dozen on Facebook, but we know that our younger audiences are living on Snapchat and Instagram - not necessarily Facebook - so putting out content they want, where they want it has been an extremely successful endeavor. 

Our focus for our “Dishes with Dining” videos is to create a classic college student meal - but kicked up a few notches. Our first one center around how to make Ramen … well, tasty. It included three different recipes: Ramen, Chicken and Goat Cheese Salad; Ramen Chicken Alfredo; and Breakfast Ramen Casserole.


We saw our number of views and screenshots spike. We received a couple thousand more views than typical for our stories - which is a lot on this platform. Also of note is we received a lot more engagement. A lot of the time, brands or universities use social media as a one-way street to communicate a message. But, the truth is, for it to be actually successful and create a long-term relationship, there needs to be two-way communication, so that engagement is crucial. 

We excitedly responded to people when they tried the recipes, and it was clear they were hungry for more. So, more we did:

Pizza Cupcakes

Sweet ’n Spicy Mac & Cheese

S’more Brownies

Behind the Scenes

This campaign requires a lot of prep. First of all, we have to find a recipe that not only sounds - and looks - delicious, but it has to be doable in the kitchen of the typical college student. That’s no easy task. Then, the proper setup is key. Lots of natural light, bendable and sturdy equipment, and the proper servingware.

We also enlist our full staff, which is Tony and myself, as well as our two interns. It’s usually an all-hands-on-deck day, as there are a lot of moving pieces.

While these videos look deceptively simple, we spend a few hours crafting them. That’s a lot of work for something that only lives for 24 hours, but when it’s seen by 7,000 eyes, it makes it worth it. Especially when we know those 7,000 people are actively engaging with our content. 

What have we learned?

We know that Snapchat and Instagram - our two most visual platforms - are growing the most quickly. We know that this is continually the place that our prospective students and current students go to for content. That means, for us, that we need to have a solid, consistent presence on both. 

This campaign is just one of many that helps show off what life is like at WVU. In this case, it appeals to the foodies amongst us who are interested in knowing what food options exist at WVU and what types of items they could make in their own kitchen - with the recommendations of our Dining Services folks.

This is just one way we continue to be on the cutting edge of new trends. And, that's just one of the reasons that "social" is more than just social. It's any new media that pops up that we can strategically make work for our various audiences.