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Experiment with Snapchat to reach a new audience

Even nonprofits well-versed in social media might be skeptical that Snapchat is a worthy endeavor — but some organizations are successfully using the tool for outreach to a whole new audience. Here's what you need to know about Snapchat and how it might work for your nonprofit.

What is Snapchat and how does it work?

Snapchat is an image and video messaging app, identifiable by its white ghost icon within a yellow square. The app allows you to send 10 seconds of videos or pictures to your Snapchat friends. Individual "snaps" can be viewed only by the people to whom you send them. Somewhat uniquely, photos and videos disappear after one viewing, although it's possible to replay them once or take a screenshot.

On the other hand, all of your Snapchat friends will be able to see snaps you post to your "story." Stories have a lifespan of 24 hours and there are no limits on how many times they can be viewed in that period.

The draw of Snapchat is the short lifespan of its content. This allows people to post snaps and stories without worry of the content being scrutinized in the future.

What's the hook for nonprofits?

Snapchat isn't likely to become your organization's main method of communicating with supporters. There are possible benefits, though, including:

  • Reaching a new audience. Snapchat is particularly popular with 13- to 30-year-olds. In fact, a report from Be Good Be Social reported that 46 percent of U.K. teens used Snapchat weekly in 2015. Even if you don't interact directly with followers younger than 18 due to child protection or safeguarding policies, you can make use of the "My Story" function to increase outreach.
  • Connecting with supporters in a new way. The intimate and visual nature of the app might give your organization the freedom to experiment with more compelling content. Given the short lifespan of your content, the risk of failure is low. Use Snapchat to show what your organization is really about, what you do and how you do it. Or take a moment to be silly and show your nonprofit's sense of humor.
  • Capturing users' attention. Because content disappears in a short period, Snapchat users tend to pay more attention than the average viewer. People also can't tell what snaps are about until they open them, so you might be more likely to reach some audience members through a snap than an email.

How do we get started on Snapchat?

Even if you don't plan to use Snapchat for your nonprofit now, consider downloading the app and signing up to claim your username. To access certain features of the app, you'll need to enable filters and turn on location services.

Next, you'll create a custom "snapcode" for your organization. This will allow your supporters to add your nonprofit as a Snapchat friend by taking a screenshot of your code and following a few steps within the app. Your snapcode is based on the order of the black dots in the yellow area of your snapcode image. While you can't manipulate the dots, to better represent your organization you can add a picture inside the ghost, change the ghost's color or add decorations, such as sunglasses, to the ghost within its borders.

Then, to begin using Snapchat for your nonprofit's outreach efforts:

  • Announce that you're on Snapchat. Write a blog post on your website and promote the post on your social media outlets and other methods of communication with supporters. Add a Snapchat icon next to the other social media icons on your website and have the Snapchat icon link to your username. This will send people to an in-app page where they can add your nonprofit as a friend. You can also use your snapcode as an avatar on your social networks.
  • Add friends. As supporters begin adding your nonprofit as a Snapchat friend, interact and consider adding some of them as friends. Keep in mind that you'll likely be sharing most of your posts to your story, and mutual friendship isn't necessary for people to view your story.
  • Get sharing. Share your first snap to your story. Take a picture that introduces your nonprofit to the Snapchat world. You can add text explaining that this is your first snap. Then, ask others to share. For example, if you have a new intern or volunteer, ask him or her to share the experience using the "My Story" feature.
  • Experiment. As you continue sharing, keep your content fresh. Alternate between photos and video snippets of your organization in action. (You can also ask users to send snaps of themselves supporting your mission.) Use snaps to thank donors or consider providing unique or exclusive content, such as a campaign teaser or an early bird price offer on tickets to your next event. Play around and add emoji and illustrated stickers to some of your snaps. Fun content can inspire calls to action, too.
  • Analyzing response. You can get an idea of how well your snaps are doing by looking at story replies from friends and monitoring who has viewed your story. Snapchat support can also help you understand how you're doing and what's happening.

It might take your organization some time to get a handle on how best to use Snapchat. But experimenting with this tool could help your nonprofit reach a new audience —and have a little fun in the process.

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Disclaimer

MissionBox editorial content is offered as guidance only, and is not meant, nor should it be construed as, a replacement for certified, professional expertise.

Disclaimer

References

Nonprofit Tech for Good: How to: Get your nonprofit started on snapchat (2016)

The Guardian: How charities can use Snapchat by Will Barker (2013)

Nonprofit Hub: How to (or not to) use Snapchat for your nonprofit by Nick Small

CauseVox: What's the deal with Snapchat for nonprofits? by Tina Jepson (2016)

WiredImpact: The benefits of Snapchat for nonprofits by Christine Soucy (2016)

SocialMediaToday: 6 ways nonprofits can use Snapchat by Mordecai Holtz (2014)

Envisage Consulting: How do Snapchat's snapcodes work? By Brandon Mack (2015)

Be Good Be Social: Isn't it all just nudes? by Ross McCulloch and Carrie Webb (2016)

References

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