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How This Nonprofit Uses Snapchat to Connect to Youths

DoSomething.org has unlocked the secret to engaging teens with their campaigns: Selfies.

Powerhouse nonprofit DoSomething.org has already mastered the art of engaging with young people. Through their national campaigns, which inspire youths to get involved with causes they care about (without requiring the assistance of parents or access to a car or money), the organization has grown to include more than 2.4 million members. Now, the organization is finding a new way to connect with this highly coveted (and often elusive) demographic on the social media platform du jour: Snapchat.

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Snapchat is a photo-sharing mobile app that acts like a text message — except the messages received will disappear in the time the sender allotted (one to 10 seconds). Users can add text or even draw silly pictures, which is something DoSomething.org’s resident Snapchatter, Bryce Mathias, often does. In fact, it’s the platform’s similarity to text messaging that led DoSomething to get involved, since texts have a 97 percent open rate and are one of the easiest ways to engage with teens. “We noticed that teenagers, our core demographic, were flocking away from Facebook,” DoSomething’s Colleen Wormsley told TechCrunch. “But they love Snapchat.”

DoSomething started its Snapchat account in November 2013, sending a note to its Twitter followers to add them. Requests started pouring in, and each new follower was greeted with a selfie from Mathias. Now, the team has an extensive following, which allows them to get creative with the snaps they send, and most importantly, tie them to their campaigns. “When we make interactive Snapchat stories, we ask ourselves, ‘How ridiculous can we be? How much fun can we have?’” Wormsley told Mashable.

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Recently, the team has been building Snapchat stories — a series of images that together tell a tale — using them to engage their followers in campaigns. For example, on Valentine’s Day, Mathias created a Snapchat story called Love Letters, which involved him running around New York City dressed as Cupid so he could deliver letters to homebound seniors. He asked followers to text to vote for how he should deliver them. Everyone who texted was then asked to create his or her own Love Letter for a homebound senior. The results were positive. Of the people who texted, 57 percent signed up to participate in the campaign. Needless to say, DoSomething will likely be using Snapchat — and selfies — for more campaign promotions in the future.

 ALSO: What Are All Those Teens Doing on Their Phones? Learning About Politics, Apparently

Source: TechCrunch

Erin Skarda is a freelance journalist and editor based in Denver, Colo. She is a former editor and writer for TIME.com.

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