Snap out of it! The key to engaging young people on social media

Thomas spent a week doing work experience with nfpSynergy and wrote this blog on his experience of social media and how charities could use it better.
Thomas Byrne
 

Thomas spent a week doing work experience with nfpSynergy. Seeing as he thought we were all old for using Twitter and Facebook, we decided to ask him to write a report and a blog on his experience of social media and how charities can use it to engaging with young people.

As a 15-year-old and a digital native I use social media every day. To be more precise, within the last week I have spent around 17.5 hours on social media (which is less than the average of 27 hours[1]). My time on social media is spent either on Snapchat or Instagram, two of the most popular and fastest growing platforms on smartphones today. With all the time my peers and I spend on social media, we are exposed to hundreds of advertisements for various companies and their products; however, from what I can remember, not once has one of these ads been from a charity. This raises the question - are charities making the most out of social media and its opportunities to reach out to younger audiences?

Charities are all over Facebook and Twitter, but I believe that these platforms are in decline. Facebook and Twitter are somewhat similar, and have both been around for over ten years. I can say from personal experience that neither are as widely used as Snapchat and Instagram within my age group. There are simply more modern and interesting ways to connect with your friends. Snapchat has over 300 million users and was growing at a ridiculous rate of around 15 million new users every day in 2016[2]. Ask any young person which platform they spend most time on, and I will put money on them saying Snapchat. I believe that charities are simply not doing enough to gain the awareness and support of the younger generation. We are the ones who will grow up and be relied upon to keep the charities afloat with our money, and in some cases, our work. Charities must make the most of their advertising opportunities, and grab the attention of the young early on; otherwise when the time comes, we simply will not have the knowledge, experience or awareness needed to keep the thousands of charities in the world running.

Snapchat holds many opportunities for a charity to get their point across. After having spent three years on Snapchat and having searched the internet for hours, I have only come across one charity that saw its potential and seemed to master it; the Danish branch of the WWF. Back in 2014, WWF Denmark launched their ‘#lastselfie’ campaign, aimed at raising awareness of the threat of extinction that many beloved animals are facing among teenagers. The campaign featured five different pictures of five different endangered animals, each captioned ‘don’t let this be my #lastselfie’. The picture encouraged you to share it with friends. These images went viral and within three days WWF had raised its target donations for the whole month. This perfectly showcases the massive potential snapchat has for charity advertisement; it just boils down to whether specific charities are able to adapt and consider the idea that their current social media campaigns may be perceived as dated by my age group.[3]

Teenagers are moving from platforms like Facebook to Snapchat, and have been doing so since Snapchat was launched in 2011. There is a great lack of charity awareness amongst youths; this is evident from a recent nfpSynergy research that revealed that 21% of those between 11 and 16 could not name a single charity[4]. This is not down to the young being less engaged and observant nowadays, as some many claim; I believe that it is more likely to be down to charities failing to wise up to modern social media trends quickly enough. Teenagers nowadays spend their time on Snapchat - if charities want to catch the attention and interest of the young, then they must first migrate to the relevant platforms.

To find out more on how you can take your campaign to snapchat go to: https://forbusiness.snapchat.com/

[4] nfpSynergy Charity Awareness Monitor, 2017
 

What are your thoughts on Thomas's blog? Are charities really failing to use social media effectively to raise awareness amongst young people? Share your thoughts in the comments below:

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