Alex Beall is a freelance writer based in California.
Associations know social media can provide a unique opportunity to personally communicate with members, but some are realizing the newer platform Snapchat can create an even closer, real-time connection. Here’s how two organizations leveraged the mobile app to engage their meeting attendees.
Pretty much every association leverages social media to engage and interact with members and the public, and each time a new platform emerges, it’s a question whether to sign up and try it out.
Right now, that platform happens to be Snapchat, a mobile app that allows users to send videos or photos that last from one to 10 seconds, text chat, make calls, and post “stories” that disappear after 24 hours.
In April, two associations—DECA and the American Occupational Therapy Association—experimented with the app as a way to connect with attendees at their conferences.
Giving them all the tools to share their story and share our brand on their own terms is really what we found the best way to increase that engagement and brand awareness.—Janelle Scudder, DECA
DECA, an association that encourages high school and college students to become entrepreneurs, hosted its 2016 conference in Nashville. Since attendees were both high school students and teachers, it presented DECA with an ideal demographic for testing out a social media platform that still skews younger. DECA staff designed and submitted Snapchat on-demand geofilters, a concept introduced in February that allows individuals to pay for geofilters unique to an event or private business.
In addition to a generic meeting filter, DECA created several others specific to scheduled events like the opening session, 5K, and planned outings to a baseball game and concert at the Grand Ole Opry. These filters were only available during the events and within the venue.
“I think it was really cool for kids to be able to go to these different parts of the conference and have this really tailored geofilter that they could then share with their friends,” DECA Communications Manager Janelle Scudder says. “It was a cool way for them to share their own views of the conference, and they’re sending it to their friends, which is really what we wanted.”
The filter effectively shared the DECA name and brand outside of its membership by allowing the students to talk about the conference without using DECA’s media channels, Scudder explains. The DECA filter even went beyond Snapchat when students would download and post their snaps on other social media platforms. “Giving them all the tools to share their story and share our brand on their own terms is really what we found the best way to increase that engagement and brand awareness,” she says.
According to analytics Snapchat provided to DECA, its filters had 3,000 total uses and 762,000 total views on the app. After looking closely at the numbers, Scudder concluded that creating different filters for each day or event worked best because a filter’s usage dropped after a day.
While DECA also posted 24-hour snap stories—which received 800 to 1,000 views each—the American Occupational Therapy Association focused on this Snapchat feature to personally connect with members during its Annual Conference & Expo in Chicago.
“It was definitely about engagement, and I think we definitely achieved that this year,” AOTA Digital Editor Stephanie Yamkovenko says. After signing up for Snapchat a month or so before the April conference, she was able to chat and share videos and photos in real time with AOTA members and meeting attendees through the app.
Before the conference, Yamkovenko heavily advertised the organization’s account on other social media sites to build up followers, and then she learned to follow members back in order to open up communication. During the meeting, she posted stories sharing conference setup and ongoing events and directly communicated with members, including one who couldn’t attend but could get glimpses of the meeting through AOTA’s snaps.
“One of our main goals of being on social media is engaging with members one on one, so it really allowed for us to do that because we were conversing with them, and it wasn’t just about broadcasting everything that’s going on at our event,” Yamkovenko says.
To deepen engagement, she sought member participation by posing questions or photo suggestions, such as asking people to snap her pictures of their name badges and ribbons, “to really get them involved in it too, not just watching and consuming the content.”
While Snapchat provides analytics for filters, app users need to check their own story views before the snaps disappear at the 24-hour mark. Yamkovenko set herself reminders to check and log story views each time she posted a story. Each AOTA story received about 500 to 600 views.
Looking ahead, both organizations say they plan to continue using Snapchat as part of their attendee engagement strategies. DECA plans to create more geofilters, a new one for each day and event, while AOTA hopes to introduce geofilters in addition to posting stories and sharing personal snaps.