I gotta say, I’m fully hooked on Snapchat.
Like a lot of people, when I first tried Snapchat, I didn’t quite get it. I wrote it off as something that I must just be too old for (oh God no, it’s finally happening!) and didn’t open it for months after that.
But a few months back, I decided to give it another shake.
Now I can’t put it down.
Naturally, I wanted to see how nonprofits were using it, so I started following every single org I could possibly find.
And after a few months of watching their snaps, I’ve come up with what I think are the absolute best nonprofits on Snapchat.
It’s clear these orgs have a well-defined strategy and goals (as you should before diverting resources to a new social media channel). They’re not just snapping just to snap: they’re really delivering value to their audience.
I didn’t throw anyone on this list willy-nilly. In fact, the list was 8 at first, but then I took a hard look at a few and thought “Are they doing something truly creative?”
Simply put: these are the best of the best. At least that I’ve seen.
Here are my 5 favorites, in no particular order:
By the way, to follow any of these orgs, just open Snapchat, point your camera at the snapcodes below, and hold your finger on the screen to scan it (provided your app is up to date).
AND if you'd like 55 more to follow, here's my list of 60 great orgs on Snapchat!
What they do well: Consistency, programmatic material
It’s not surprising, but WNYC has done a fabulous job of creating regularly occurring “bits” on their Snapchat account that they consistently deliver.
Through daily segments like weather updates, podcast recommendations, “meme of the week,” and short interviews with radio personalities, WNYC engages their audience in a humorous and creative way. They’re able to use their Snap stories to recommend new content to their followers, all while putting a face behind the voices they love.
What they do well: Practical content
As you might imagine, someone who is interested in the work P.E.T.A. is doing is very concerned with animal welfare and likely also interested in learning more about a vegan diet.
So P.E.T.A. uses their Snapchat to feed that need (HAH! Get it?!). They offer regular “kitchen segments” where they walk you through tasty vegan recipes. In addition to that, they bring their Snapchat audience along to animal rescue projects and shelters. Who doesn’t love a video of a rescued pup playing fetch?
What they do well: Relevant/pop culture snaps tied to their core mission
When one thinks of art museums, they don’t typically think of teenagers (Snapchat’s core audience for most of its history). But the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (L.A.C.M.A.) was one of the earliest “viral” stars of snappin’.
How’d they do it? They just let their personality shine through.
L.A.C.M.A. publishes memes and captions over images of art in their collection that play right into the humor, culture, and dialect of digital natives.
They’ll also frequently create stories using song lyrics and works of art that represent the lyrics in a humorous way. Definitely worth a follow.
4. Compassion International
What they do well: Updates from the field
It can be difficult to get people passionate and connected with a cause that seems very far away. Compassion International’s field work reaches far and wide all over the planet.
So what better way to bring the mission right into people’s home than by using a platform like Snapchat? Snapchat is instant, visual, mobile-only, unfiltered platform. Compassion International uses this brilliantly to place their audience in the middle of the work they’re doing.
What they do well: Creating a path for action
I almost left DoSomething off this list, not because they are fantastic at Snapchat (they are), but because I feel like I mention them in almost every blog post I do.
But I just can’t help it! DoSomething really is one of the best examples of a nonprofit that is laser-focused on their audience and totally dialed into what makes them tick.
When it comes to Snapchat, they’re particularly good at creating a path for engagement and action. An oft cited (and fair) criticism of social media for nonprofits is that people who follow, like, or share a cause-related post don’t do much more beyond that.
DoSomething’s entire mission relies on engaging young people in acts that improve the world around them. So they use Snapchat to introduce a cause or mission, then the story ends by instructing viewers to text a certain number to learn more about that mission. By utilizing a text-message based sign up system, users can immediately get involved. Snapchat is mobile-only, so they already have everything they need to get started right in their hands.
It’s Okay to Just Watch and Learn
You’re resourced strapped, I know it. Most nonprofits are. You can’t jump into every social network that comes along.
But it’s okay to just watch, learn, and ideate on Snapchat for now. Make a personal account, follow those five orgs, and see how they do it. That's exactly how Beth Kanter got started when she saw some "Snapcodes" (those yellow boxes above you use to follow people) appear from nonprofits in her Instagram feed. Take note of what you like, what you don’t, and think about how your org would adopt these techniques should you decide to move forward.
And that’s really the best way to learn and get good at new platforms like Snapchat. Simply filming around your office is unlikely to engage people in a meaningful way. But with some creativity and inspiration, you can pull off a strategy that makes your memorable.