Snapchat / AdamPrzezdziek

November 30, 2016; New York Times

Snapchat has rapidly become one of the most popular social media apps, surpassing Twitter’s daily users in 2016 and coming in third among millennials behind Instagram and Facebook. Since its launch in 2011, Snapchat has transformed from a simple way to share video clips and pictures with friends to an innovative news source for its mobile users. Stories have become a useful vehicle for relaying news, giving Snapchat users the ability to share their snaps and story posts and submit them into a compilation of breaking news or current events they may be located near. For example, Snapchat’s news team used their app to encourage Snapchatters to follow the stories of victims who were impacted by the devastating floods in Louisiana past this summer.

Spectacles is Snapchat’s first hardware product and latest innovation. They are large sunglasses with a camera embedded in the frame; you can tap a button on the frame to snap and upload a 10-second video of whatever you are seeing.

Although the notion of a social network that doesn’t record your actions to save and view at a later date seems backward to tech giants like Facebook and Google, which rely on collecting and retaining user data, disappearing messages have captivated younger users on Snapchat, who may have once been concerned that fleeting moments on social media could haunt them forever.

From a marketing perspective, it can be challenging to see the potential in a platform that focuses on images that delete themselves after 24 hours. Here are four ways nonprofits can take advantage of this trendy social app:

  1. Tapping into a Younger Audience: Looking to engage with a younger demographic? Snapchat is a perfect opportunity to reach teens and millennials. United Way traditionally has had an older base of donors, so by actively sharing messages and images on Snapchat, the organization is staying relevant and potentially engaging with younger supporters.
  2. Share Relatable Images That Speak to SnapChat’s Audience: As the New York Times states, “People aren’t fishing for likes and follows and reshares. For better or worse, they’re trying to be real.” Make sure your videos and pictures are fun; lighthearted content makes an organization seem approachable and relatable. Charity: Water isn’t just sharing their charitable work, which you can find on their other social channels, but using Snapchat to offer a glimpse of life in their office, incorporating some human interaction with the charity itself. For example, for Halloween, the organization shared silly photos of staff members in their costumes.
  3. Keep the Content Unique and Relevant: If you’re getting on the platform just to share images of your Instagram or Facebook and say, “Hey, follow us here!” you’re likely to find zero success on Snapchat. Your social users are taking time out of their day to look at your content, so make sure it’s worth their time. If you’re hosting an event or fundraiser, sharing a few small clips of how you are making a difference could be a great way to start generating original content. Just make sure you have permission from any donors or clients you feature in any of your videos before you share them on the Internet for all to see.
  4. Take Advantage of User Engagement: Snapchatters have the ability to send videos directly to anyone added to their contact list. This is a great opportunity for nonprofits to collect feedback from their social media audience. One example of using this tool for engagement came when org put together a Valentine’s Day campaign to “spread the love.” A male model took to the streets of New York City to deliver valentines to strangers and took a poll on how he should deliver the cards. According to the Snapchat votes collected by, dressing up as Cupid clearly won. Although this may not be specifically relevant to your organization’s cause, nonprofits could look to Snapchat to collect feedback on what kind of speakers people would like to see at an upcoming fundraiser or simply conduct polls about what younger audiences would like to see from them.

Although it may still be perplexing to envision what sort of impact your nonprofit can have from being active on Snapchat, trends from this social network truly reflect the future of social sharing. Instagram has already started adapting many of the tools Snapchat offers, and video technology has become a huge driver of social engagement in 2016. SnapCash, in partnership with Square, is now available to all users, allowing Snapchatters to exchange money with anyone in their contact list. Could fundraising through Snapchat be around the corner?—Aine Creedon