New app makes name for itself through unconventional marketing efforts
THE SANTA CLARA
May 12, 2016
Unorthodox promotion efforts for a new social media app developed by undergraduate students have caught the university community’s attention.
Hey! SCU, which aggregates and filters social media feeds based on selected preferences, launched on April 29 and was promoted through various marketing efforts including an airplane waving a banner, a four person bicycle and a bagpipe player who was hired to play on campus.
According to Campus Safety reports, four male students were documented for riding the four person bicycle on campus without authorization. Sophomores John Peters and Jack Levitt confirmed that CSS documented them but did not wish to comment on it.
While the app’s marketing efforts were widely perceived as interesting and entertaining, not everyone was happy with the tactics employed.
On April 28, Hey! SCU posted a marketing video on Facebook which currently has over 5,000 views and features the two founders promoting and explaining the app on campus. But some members of the Jewish Student Union, including junior Kaitlin Finch, were not pleased.
Finch complained that the only two groups Hey! SCU chose to show as examples of ineffective marketing were both affiliated with the Jewish community. She also referenced the fact that part of the video features students standing at a table with an “ineffective club” sign hanging over it, yelling “free bagels” while wearing shirts with the letters “ZBT.” Zeta Beta Tau (ZBT) is an off-campus organization founded as the first Jewish fraternity at Santa Clara.
“JSU takes pride in the fact that we can offer free bagels to anyone who wants them and is very grateful to Hillel and Noah’s Bagels for helping us provide this treat for students,” Finch said. “Although a founder reached out and sincerely apologized, I hope others will think more cautiously about pushing minority groups down to promote their own groups.”
Peters and Levitt described Hey! SCU as a social media app specifically for Santa Clara students that filters your feed down to the content you actually want to see. The app allows users’ posts to reach only those on campus with the same interests they have selected within the app. It can be used as a way to ask questions, express opinions and get involved in various organizations.
Once downloaded from the App Store, users are prompted to select their school and graduation year and sign up using a Santa Clara email. They can then select from a long list of interests including sports, politics, campus events, music, community service and shopping. It is also possible to select various dorms on campus to see posts from their respective residents.
“Users see all posts about what they care about and no posts about what they don’t care about,” Peters said. “Its ultra-personalized social media that also builds campus community.”
Hey! SCU also includes in-app messaging and profiles. According to Peters, the app has several hundred active users.
“Many have yet to post but we are constantly making changes and adding interests in order to encourage posting,” Peters said.
Hey! SCU has been in the making for almost two years. Before coming to Santa Clara, Peters came up with the idea for an app that could help first-year students meet new friends on campus. During their first year at Santa Clara, Peters and Levitt began drafting business plans and meeting developers. At the beginning of the 2015 school year, the duo released a beta version of the app to incoming first-years that directly matched friends based on their interests and personality type. They spent the fall and winter quarters making adjustments and developing what has now become Hey! SCU.
The app currently has seven reviews in the App Store and an overall rating of four and a half stars. However, some users have expressed mixed reactions about Hey! SCU.
“I think the concept is interesting and I’d probably use it to see what others are saying about things I’m interested in, like travel,” said sophomore Sydney Munson.
Others, like junior Sarah Thomas, were not so impressed.
“I downloaded the app because I was interested in what it was and had seen all the advertisements around campus,” Thomas said. “I deleted it after a week though because they had implied it was like Facebook in their online video and it wasn’t like that. Only a few people post on it and the posts are not very interesting.”
Future plans for the app, according to the founders, will depend on its success at Santa Clara. Peters and Levitt hope to expand to other campuses and areas and eventually make an Android version.
“Our success at Santa Clara will determine how fast we’ll be able to do this. We need to give the app time to seep into the community here,” Peters said. “Then, we’ll get user feedback and move forward.”
Contact Krista Clawson at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (408) 554-4852.