Ellie Burke
Ellie Burke
6 min
Image of woman using her phone

Snapchat Marketing: How and Why to Tell Your Organization’s Story

Forty-one percent of U.S. citizens aged 18 to 34 interact with Snapchat on any given day. Snapchat is an entirely mobile-based app that allows users to share images and videos and chat with their friends. The twist? Recipients can only view the content for 1 to 10 seconds.

With over 100 million people using Snapchat daily, the app’s impressive reach has caused organizations to take notice and question if, and how, they should become involved.

To address these questions, we’ve gathered information on key product features and examples of how your organization can use Snapchat to further your cause.

Why Should We Be on Snapchat?

Given that Snapchat reaches a considerable portion of 18 to 34-year-olds, your presence on this messaging app can grow and strengthen your organization’s community of younger constituents. But the platform’s reach doesn’t end there. In 2015, its use by individuals over the age of 35 grew by 84 percent.

As it’s usage continues to grow, Snapchat can become a strong marketing channel to reach people of all ages.

Even if you haven’t yet crafted a strategy for the platform, your organization should create a username on Snapchat to reserve an account in case you do decide to grow your presence on this channel in the future.

Snapchat’s continued growth makes it well poised to involve marketers and develop ways to encourage the exchange of not only messages, but dollars. Develop a community on the channel now and you’ll ensure you’re ready to leverage the app for donations later should that become an avenue to explore.

Key Features on Snapchat

Send a Snap

A “snap” is a photo or video that is sent to another friend on Snapchat that is only viewable for a few seconds. The sender determines how long the message can be viewed before they send it.

Images and videos can be edited with text overlay and the app is also well-known for their face recognition software and filters.

The only way for a recipient to re-watch or save your message is to screenshot it (you will receive a notification when this occurs) or to replay the message. Snapchat users may only replay each snap once, and the decision to replay must be made immediately after the first viewing or the opportunity will pass.

Image of a snapchat snap

Send a Chat

To send a chat, open the app and swipe left. Or, select the message icon at the bottom left-hand side of the screen. This will show you your recent exchanges. To send a chat message, simply swipe right on the name of the recipient you’d like to message, or select the icon at the upper left-hand side of the screen and search the name of your intended recipient.

Image of a chat screen in Snapchat

Snapchat Stories

When you add images or videos to your “story,” your Snapchat friends are able to view anything added to this string of media posted within the last 24 hours for the next 24 hours.

Stories allow you to get creative. They can be a slew of unrelated pieces of content, but ideally, the images and videos you include in your story will build upon each other and communicate a message to your viewers. When you select “Stories,” like in the image below, you can follow events around the world live, as well as the stories of your friends.


Snapchat stories screenshot


Snapchat Memories

A more recent feature, Snapchat memories allow users to store their snaps in an in-app library. Media stored in this library can then be sent as messages at a later time. You can also export snaps to your phone’s photo library or to other apps, such as Instagram.

Image of a Snapchat snap

2 Key Tips to Grow Your Snapchat Community

Here are a few tips that will help your organization get the most out of this platform.

Make it Easy to Follow Your Organization

It can take a few steps for a user to locate your organization’s account on Snapchat. In order to add you as a friend, a user needs to tap the Snapchat icon at the top of the screen, select “add friends,” and then search your username.

When you create your username, make it as straightforward as possible for anyone who searches your account. This will make it easier for users to locate your account should they seek you out.

However, clear user name aside, the search functionality isn’t predominately featured in the app. The main way to add friends is through the existing contacts stored in your mobile device. To combat these shortcomings, it can be very helpful to build your community through the promotion of your Snapcode on your other social media channels.

Use Your Snapcode to Grow Your Community

People can easily scan your Snapcode to add you to their Snapchat contacts. After they add you, they can immediately interact with your account and view your story.

charity:water's snapcode

Try it out right now! If you’re reading this on your desktop, take a picture of charity: water’s Snapcode in your Snapchat app to add them as a friend.

Tie Snapchat into your other channels and invite people who follow you to engage with you on Snapchat. In order to compel others to add you on Snapchat, clearly differentiate the content you create on that account. An Instagram user, for example, is more likely to add you on Snapchat if you explain how the content on Snapchat will differ from what you share on Instagram.

Pro Tip
Consider what you could produce exclusively on Snapchat. Some for-profit accounts run weekly contests on Snapchat, or promote certain products. This prompts their community members from other channels to join their community on Snapchat to avoid missing out.

Nonprofit Snapchat Use Case

Barbells for Boobs

Barbells for Boobs is one example of a nonprofit organization that uses Snapchat to engage with their supporters. Primarily at events, they use Snapchat to provide timely insights and share their fundraisers’ achievements. They even allow their advocates to host Snapchat “takeovers,” where the individual gets to run the organization’s account for a limited timeframe. This gives various supporting gyms across the country a chance to show a day in their life to the larger Barbells for Boobs’ community.

Here is a Story that Barbells posted for their followers to view. Check out how they snap a representative completing a swag drop to a gym that fundraises on behalf of the organization. A video like this can boost excitement and incentivize other supporters to up their fundraising game.


Interested in seeing what other nonprofits are doing on Snapchat?

Follow These Users to Find Out

The Future of Snapchat and Nonprofits

In 2014, Snapchat added a new feature called Snapcash, powered by Square Cash. After a user adds debit card information, they may process payments through the app. Be on the watch for Snapcash fundraising as a possible new revenue stream for your organization.


Whether you use the app to give your supporters an insider scoop on life around the office, or run a contest to grow your following, an active presence on Snapchat is a simple way to develop your bonds with younger supporters, humanize your staff, and speak to what your cause is all about.

How does your organization use Snapchat to support your cause? Let us know in the comments below.


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