Should your nonprofit dance with the ghost?

By Kelly Boudwin, Minerva Strategies –

#SMM – social media marketing – is always evolving. More every day the conversation in the global development industry references the latest tweets, hashtags, and Instagram pictures. It’s not just the trendy “thing to do;” with the right strategy nonprofits, foundations, and world leaders can capitalize on social media platforms to reach their priority audiences and move them to take action.

The most recent social media infatuation is the storytelling app, Snapchat, a platform that allows users to snap a picture or record a short video – annotate the content with a filter or funny image – and post it to a newsfeed until it to disappears after 24 hours. These ‘snaps’ give a live, unscripted element to storytelling unlike any other social platform.

The platform is not new to everyday smart phone users, but it is slowly being introduced as the next big marketing tool. Is Snapchat a trend for nonprofits to pursue or forgo? Should organizations try to “dance with the ghost” (Snapchat’s famous white ghost icon) or focus efforts elsewhere?

Audience and returns

When considering adopting Snapchat, it’s important to think about the audience you want to engage with and how they can help achieve your nonprofit’s goals. Are millennial viewers your target audience? If so, Snapchat may be for you.

The app attracts 150 million daily users with more than half of 13 to 34 year olds on Snapchat. If you’re outside this demographic, don’t let your first impressions of the app linger – Snapchat brings a unique and playful turn on traditional marketing.

Snapchat is an effective tool for organizations looking to show their supporters and partners the inside scoop on critical campaigns– like Michelle Obama snapping on her ‘Let Girls Learn’ trip to Liberia, Morocco and Spain so young people everywhere can follow her trip. This keeps followers happy, and more likely to share with their friends, leaving your nonprofit with more supporters and exposure.

Tips and tricks to the game

The ‘Snapchat Generation’ is the most marketed to generation, which means they have high expectations of organizations’ interactions on Snapchat according to Nonprofit Tech for Good. Nonprofits signing up for the fierce competition must be creative and embrace the Snapchat style and aesthetics. Get to know the lenses, filters, stickers, tips, and hacks. If your organization is daunted by Snapchat’s interface and doesn’t have any immediate plan to use the platform–download the app and play around. Learn the platform so that you can capitalize on it if / when your organization is ready.

Be sure to note your organization’s capacity. For small organizations, tackling Snapchat is a huge lift in comparison to the First Lady and others that jumped on the trend. The UN, the White House, and State Department are all big organizations that have the bandwidth to effectively use the platform.

It’s all about strategy

When considering Snapchat or any social media platform, the most important thing is to think hard about the audiences that you want to reach, what you want those audiences to do, and the time you have to invest in content development, curation, and engagement.

It may be that the best option for a small nonprofit to invest time and resources into mastering one social media platform and signing up to new platforms if or when capacity expands or new audiences need to be reached. Smart nonprofits make a plan and stick to it, while keeping an eye on trends to take advantage of the most appropriate social media platforms when the organization is ready. While Snapchat may sound cool, it might not be the right fit if you’re trying to talk to and influence middle age moms. On the other hand, if you’re trying to reach and energize millennials, dancing with the ghost may be everything you need.