The latest article in our series explores how charities can use Snapchat to support their work
Snapchat was founded in 2011 by Stanford University students Evan Spiegel, Reggie Brown, and Bobby Murphy. It was the first social media platform to focus on content that is only available to view for a short length of time. In fact, the first version of the app was called ‘Picaboo’.
At present, there are more than 280 million daily active Snapchat users and the number of users continues to grow. The platform is most popular with younger audiences – 69% of US teens use Snapchat.
It only ranks at number 12 in the world’s most used social media platforms, but has more daily active users than Twitter, for example.
Snapchat’s biggest contribution to the world of social media is the introduction of ephemeral content, now used in the form of ‘stories’ on most of the major platforms.
Your charity can use Snapchat to reach new audiences, create a community, get your message out there in creative ways using filters, and mix real-world and virtual activities using snap maps or groups.
If one of your target audiences are teenagers, there is a good chance you might find them on Snapchat. However, TikTok is also popular with this demographic so rather than assuming your teenage audience are on the platform, do some social listening to find out if there is a community of users on the platform talking about the issue you work on.
When you first set up an account on Snapchat, you will be prompted to create a personal profile. This profile can request individual ‘friendships’ with other Snapchatters and share content with individual contacts or to ‘story’ where it will be visible to all friends.
To convert this profile to a ‘public profile’, hit the profile icon on the camera screen and then ‘create public profile’. Public profiles are available for personal profiles where the user is 18 years or older.
Snapchat is known and loved for augmented reality filters. They are used to enhance images and videos of users – be warned they are a HUGE distraction! Charities can use filters to communicate a message in a way that will resonate with younger communities.
In 2019, The Brain Tumour Charity launched a series of filters highlighting the four key symptoms of a brain tumour in teenagers and children as part of their Headsmart initiative. Social media content continues to play an important role in communicating health information and other educational messages in formats relevant to the audience.
In 2020, Snapchat created its own filter as part of the COVID-19 response to highlight how donations would support the World Health Organisation to equip medical professionals worldwide. Users were also able to make donations in-app.
There are options for different types of filter, including Geo-filters, created with specific locations in mind. If your charity is doing work in a particular location and has created a relevant geo-filter, Snapchat users will be prompted to use it when they visit that location.
Snap Map offers some interesting features for charities as it ties in-app activity with real-world locations. When you click the ‘hot’ areas of the map (marked with heat-map markings) you can see individual snaps from that location.
Circles show stories from a location, like a city or landmark and, if they have location sharing turned on, you can also see friends in the area.
These features would lend themselves well to charities offering services in a particular location or to hybrid events happening in the physical and virtual world simultaneously.
The group feature on Snapchat allows you to set up a group of up to 63 friends and share snaps and messages within the group only. This more private way of communicating with a smaller group could be used to support young people to share their exoerience of an issue in a more focused environment, using all the fun and engaging features of Snapchat.
In 2019, Snapchat launched Spotlight, its TikTok-like feature that allows users to create short videos using soundtracks and some more Snapchatty features like filters.
The huge advantage of Spotlight for charities is that it offers you greater discoverability. By sharing video snaps to Spotlight and adding a relevant topical hashtag, you are increasing the chance of being discovered and growing your community.
You can create a video snap in the camera screen and then tap ‘send to’ and choose ‘spotlight.’
According to JustGiving in 2019 only 3% of charities actively posted on Snapchat. Establishing your charity on another social media platform is a big decision in terms of resourcing – but social media can be used as a tool to support a short-term or niche activity too.