Five Snapchat Campaigns for Social Change

Is your organization dramatically underutilizing this crucial platform?

Imagine your message reaching 100 million people. Sure there’s Facebook, Twitter and email, but competition for eyeballs and attention is fierce. Did you know that Snapchat and Tumblr are the least utilized social media platforms for nonprofits and charities in the United States? Snapchat is used by only 9% of these organizations, so it must be that it doesn’t have content, correct? Wrong. According to Adweek, there are almost 9000 images shared per second, so the content is there.

There are many potential reasons that organizations are slow to adopt Snapchat as a portal, but it boasts the youngest audience of all social networks with at least 45% of its users being under the age of 24.

Figuring out and adopting the channel is one of the best ways to reach young users, so get your Snapping fingers primed and start picking out geotags because we’ve prepared this list of Snapchat campaigns that have made change and what they tell us about successful Snapchat marketing.


@Unicef and Missing Childhoods Raise Awareness of Boko Haram


UNICEF partnered with Snapchat to share images drawn by children in West and Central Africa. The pictures were about lives, fears and losses because of the rise of Boko Haram. The disappearance of the images after a few seconds emphasized a sense of loss that set a perfect tone for this powerful campaign. UNICEF also asked viewers to participate by sharing their own images of what they would be afraid to lose, which is a perfect form of engagement for Snapchat’s 13-25 demographic.


The World Wildlife Fund of Denmark Shares The #LastSelfie of a Species


The WWF in Denmark thought that Snapchat would be perfect to capture the “transient, instant, unique, yet [temporary]” nature of endangered species. Temporary images created a sense of loss and urgency, but unlike the UNICEF campaign, the WWF didn’t have a clear call-to-action, only asking Snapchatters to take pictures of the campaign to snap to friends. Despite this omission, this campaign is still a powerful example of the impact a temporary image can have, and reinforces the need for a concrete call to action.


Amir Khan and the BBC Share the Stories of Refugees

The civil war in Syria has produced no shortage of campaigns that seek to humanize victims’ stories, but two campaigns in particular used Snapchat’s unique ability to convey a more complete context in real time to offer users a window into the lives of Syrian refugees. Amir Khan, a boxer, shared images and videos he took while working at a refugee camp in Lesbos, which underscores how Snapchat enables anyone to share complete stories from the front lines of any situation.


The BBC Panorama reporter John Sweeney used his experience to offer a uniquely intimate and relatable look into the process that many refugees go through. Afterward, the BBC shared the footage on its YouTube account as a mini documentary – pointing to the ease with which saved Snapchat content can be shared across media platforms after a campaign.


A Cancer Charity Seeks #Selflessies and Generates Media Buzz


Tenovus, a Welsh Cancer Charity, asked its dedicated followers to submit #selfessies or photos of themselves doing something selfless. In addition to being a campaign that demanded participation and engagement, the novel approach itself became worthy of media coverage in outlets including The Guardian, speaking to how under-utilized the Snapchat space is and the ability for a small campaign to establish a precedent in an emerging medium.

A key caveat to remember — just asking for Snaps is rarely enough because your organization must already have the followers; therefore, you must actively share your Snapchat handle and engage with your followers in between campaigns.


DoSomething.Org Models Every Day Engagement, in a Diaper

CupidSnapchat is a nonprofit that seeks to mobilize young people to make change, meaning that its target audience almost perfectly overlaps with Snapchat’s. To promote its upcoming “Love Letter” campaign, DoSomething had digital associate and male model Byrce Mathias hand out love letters in Manhattan dressed as Cupid. Before Byrce could hit the streets, he had to ask DoSomething’s Snapchat followers where he should go. In a series of Snaps, he offered users a number of options for a text poll that would guide his snowy fate. This campaign highlights a lot about Snapchat’s potential, including offering a behind-the-scenes look at your organization, encouraging participation and input from those interested in the brand and adding a more interactive component to existing campaigns.


What Lies Ahead:

The Snapchat community is engaged, young and intimate, which can add another dimension to any campaign. And many of its new tools and features remain unused. Will your campaign be the first to integrate Snapcash next #GivingTuesday? Could your design team create the next viral Geotag? As Snapchat continues to grow with both more users and features, the space will surely become more crowded, so the time to make the most of this medium is now.

Will your organization be the next one on this list? Curious about how to build your Snapchat campaign and audience? Get in touch with us today.