Nonprofit “Be the Match” Uses Snapchat to Recruit Young Male Marrow Donors

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July 14, 2016; Adweek

Remember, “The medium is the message”? Marshall McLuhan coined the well-known phrase in the ’60s to remind us of the symbiotic relationship between the two that affects the way we receive the message. Social media certainly proves this adage true, and some nonprofits are considering this factor in their communications.

Adweek reported Thursday that Be the Match, a national bone marrow registry operated by the National Marrow Donor Program, is among the latest nonprofits to use Snapchat as a part of its outreach program.

Be the Match is in the business of matching bone marrow donors to patients and accepts registration from donors ages 18 to 44. However, the organization is currently focused on increasing recruitment among 18- to 24-year-old men, according to Regan Hall Reinerth, director of marketing and communications.

While Snapchat began as a tool to send private, self-destructing photos and videos to other users, it now features “Stories,” an area of the app in which users can place and watch short public videos (somewhat similar to Vine). Be the Match will be running video ads within the Live Stories and Discover sections of the Snapchat app, two spaces within the app’s Stories sections that allow advertiser content. Advertisers can also pay to create filters for users to add to their photos.

The Be the Match campaign, created in part by agency Space150 and dubbed “Be the Guy,” shows goofy-guy types (one video features a hot-dog-costumed tap dancer) with a reminder that any guy between the ages of 18 and 24 could save a life by serving as a marrow donor. Users are encouraged to swipe from the video to a donor signup web page.

While Snapchat hasn’t truly taken off with nonprofit advertisers, it can provide good ROI for orgs with a highly social cause and a creative campaign. The World Wildlife Fund ran a notable campaign using wildlife “selfie” images in 2014, each tagged with the message, “Don’t let this be my #lastselfie.” DoSomething.org, a nonprofit promoting a variety of causes to teens and young adults, has also seen success in raising clicks through funny and inventive Snapchat stories.

The trend of using short videos in advertising is picking up—and nonprofits even have their own category in the Shorty Awards for social media marketers. Snapchat will likely become an increasingly popular tool for businesses and nonprofits alike.—Lauren Karch