Even if you aren’t already familiar with the Snapchat app, you’ll probably recognise the cartoonised pictures of users donning a crown of flowers or being transformed into cute puppy-person hybrids. Should your charity invest valuable time on communicating through a new platform? Before you pick up your phone ask these questions.
Where is your audience?
Snapchat’s user base has grown by 56% in the last year, with over 400 million snaps sent every day. 45% of Snapchat’s adult users are between 18 and 24 and about a quarter of US users are teenagers.
Teens and young adults are wise to the need to be careful with their digital footprint. Everyone knows stories of people losing jobs or getting in trouble at school for offensive Tweets or Facebook posts. Recently, a mate rediscovered some offensive things she’d posted on Facebook as a 16 year old. Part of the appeal of Snapchat is its intransigence- Snaps last a max 10 seconds and most don’t bother to take a screenshot for posterity. You can send a silly thought, picture or moment to a mate for it to quickly disappear. This is probably due to an update last year, which sends a notification to users if anyone captures a Snap. Gone are the days when Snapchat was considered a ‘secure’ medium for teens sexting each other.
If you’re a non-profit looking to connect with teenagers and young people this is the social media platform you need to get your head around. Go to where your audience is and be ready to change channels again when your audience shifts.
What can your organisation bear witness to?
“Facebook is for major life updates. (Your friend from third grade just had her 10th baby!) Twitter is for keeping up with news and live events. (Taylor Swift released a new video…again.) Instagram is for jealousy-inducing photos. (Bora Bora is beautiful; your cubicle is not.) Snapchat is for bearing witness—telling stories in raw, often humorous, behind-the-scenes clips or messages.”
Wall Street Journal
What raw clips or footage do you have to share? Behind the scenes at a conference? Or sharing a day-in- the-life of a volunteer or service user? You have a golden opportunity to share more intimate, unpolished content with your audience. It helps build closer relationships with the people you’re connecting with.
Or go bigger – what can you bear witness to? Working with Pennyappeal, World Champion Boxer Amir Khan welcomed Syrian refugees as they landed on the Greek island of Lesbos. His Snapchat story that day featured raw video of refugees landing on the beach with their makeshift rafts. Amir spoke directly to some of the refugees about their experiences and their journey. Those videos struck a chord with the thousands of young people following Amir on Snapchat – helping them understand the reality refugees face and giving them an opportunity to help.
Are you happy to experiment?
Comfortable with alchemy? Got a CEO who’s creative and happy for you to try out new ideas? This attitude is useful if you’re able to be more adventurous with the channel. Part of pushing the boundaries and being on the leading edge of change is the willingness to take risks. Maybe your idea works, maybe it doesn’t- analyse and evaluate as you go to learn from your building experience.
Think about whether you can deliver a service through Snapchat. Young Scot and Young Enterprise Northern Ireland both provide great information to their audiences through this platform. You could go further – a sexual health charity could run an advice column through the My Story feature, or provide counselling directly with users. This approach would require a robust Child Protection Policy, but may be an alternative to online service delivery.
You could give donors instant gratification by instantly thanking them for their support via a snap or send motivational snaps to people signed up for your next half-marathon event. The potential for Snapchat as a fundraising tool is really only limited by your imagination.
Download the free 30-page Snapchat for Charities eBook
Carrie Webb is Copywriter at Be Good Be Social & Third Sector Lab.
Get free email updates
Keep up to date with fundraising news, ideas and inspiration with a weekly or daily email. [Privacy]