How Your Parks and Rec Department Can Use Snapchat to Promote Community Events

Written by CivicPlus

Snapchat designed its platform with events in mind and is ideal for reaching Millennials and Gen Z with community event messaging.
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Perhaps you’ve heard of Snapchat, but don’t fully understand the benefits of this powerhouse social platform that is battling Facebook and Twitter for ultimate user supremacy. You know teens and tweens use it to stay in touch with one another, sharing the minutia of their lives while leaving no trace of past correspondence behind. Perhaps you’ve caught a look at its innovative interface over the shoulder of your son or daughter or heard about celebrities sharing news via “snaps” heard around the world. You must be thinking that any social platform with such a young audience could not possibly be relevant to the public sector.

Think again.

If millennials are the public sector workers of the immediate future that you need to be engaging, then Generation Z (individuals born from 2000 to the present) are the parks and recreation customers of the immediate future that you need to be engaging. While your marketing strategy likely targets a wide variety of citizens, from active seniors, to busy moms, to social twenty-somethings, without a strategy to reach Gen Z, you’re missing a critical opportunity to influence a generation of Americans who heavily influence their parents’ spending habits—and Snapchat is a way to reach them. It’s time you learned everything a local parks and reaction director needs to know about Snapchat, and how to leverage it to promote your community event offerings.

What is Snapchat?

Let’s start with the basics. Snapchat is a free mobile messaging application used to share photos, videos, drawings, and texts. If you’re thinking that Snapchat sounds similar to Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, know that it maintains one critical differentiator: its messages disappear from the recipient’s phone after only a few seconds. Originally intended to encourage a more natural flow of interaction, it is this disappearing act that gives Snapchat its now iconic ghost icon branding and that initially made the app so popular among young people. Also, Snapchat is entirely mobile, which means its users can only access the platform from a mobile device.

Snapchat Functionality

Snapchat was developed by a public entity and camera company called Snap. Its constantly evolving platform provides a wide range of functionality that includes:

  • Live one-to-one video chats
  • The ability to create personalized caricature-like avatars
  • Sharing chronological “stories” comprised of videos, photos, and captions with followers
  • Discovering custom content from major publishers, such as Buzzfeed
  • Private media storage
  • The ability to add augmented reality (AR) filters to photos and videos
  • The ability to showcase your live location on a world map

Snapchat’s User Base

According to Omnicore, Snapchat currently boasts over 300 million users (for comparison, LinkedIn only reports 260 million), 188 million of which use the app daily, contributing toward the three billion “snaps” (photos and videos) created every day. 78 percent of U.S. adults ages 18 to 24 use Snapchat. Also:

  • 70% of users are female
  • 45% of its users are between ages 18 and 24
  • Snapchat users spend an average of 30+ minutes a day with the platform and open the app 25 times per day

What these demographics mean is that a key sector of your parks and rec target audience are spending time on Snapchat where they are looking to connect, discover, and share in real time, making it a viable tool to promote your parks and rec activities

Why You Should be Using Snapchat to Promote Local Events

Gen Z and Millennial Snapchat users share a common personality trait: they regularly experience what experts refer to as FOMO (fear of missing out). It is a social perspective that motivates young social users to attend social events because they don’t want to be the only one from their network not in attendance (and not sharing snaps). By promoting your event to a network of FOMO-motivated young citizens, you have an ideal platform for an ideal target audience.

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How to Leverage Snapchat for Community Event Promotions

If you’re ready to start snapping and connecting with your newest generation of parks and rec goers, use our get started tips below.

  1. Start by Building Your Audience. If you snap, and no one sees it, did it really happen? Exactly. The first step toward leveraging Snapchat to promote your parks and rec offering is to build an audience. Once you create your Snapchat account, promote it everywhere, including on your other social channels, on your parks and recreation website, in your digital course catalog, on registration materials, and everywhere else Snapchat users are bound to see your message.
  1. Create Promotional Snaps to Send to Followers. Once you have a dedicated list of followers, reach out to them. Snapchat is an ideal social platform for creative social influencers. It allows you to capture your audience’s attention with photos, videos, drawings, and corresponding clever captions. Be as creative as possible and use Snapchat’s integrated tools and filters to spread the word about seasonal classes, local community events, and open sports league registrations.
  1. Cross-Promote Messages on All Your Social Channels. As any marketer would tell you, your efforts will be amplified when you disseminate your message across multiple channels. Any promotions, photos, or videos that you are sharing to your Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram feeds should also be sent to Snapchat to ensure you are capturing the attention of valuable Millennial and Gen Z citizens.
  1. Build Excitement for Your Event with the Story Feature. For once-a-year community events, update followers with a series of promotional snaps that showcase event details, photos from previous years, and other intriguing messages by creating and sending a series of Snapchat “stories.” Stories allows you to create a chronological series of images and videos that are perfect for showing progress toward the preparation of an event, the availability of attractions, and other attendee benefits.
  1. Create Stories During Your Event. Don’t let those who missed this year’s event make the same mistake next year. Use Snapchat throughout the event to broadcast images and videos of all the most fun and exciting moments to ensure your FOMO-influenced followers know what they are missing. By building engagement and a sense of excitement and community using Snapchat, you can start working on promotions for next year before this year’s event even ends.
  1. Encourage Attendees to Contribute to Your Story. Snapchat offers valuable social influencing functionality. Not only do followers benefit from hearing about your event from your parks and rec department, they benefit from hearing about it, and seeing images and videos from all its attendees. Snapchat’s “Our Story” functionality allows users at your event to contribute to an ongoing, shared, collaborative story. Snapchat leverages geofencing technology to ensure contributions are coming from users who are physically located at your event, adding an element of authenticity that is extremely important to the Snapchat community of users.
  1. Create a Contest. A smart strategy to generate awareness and interest about your community event is to build a contest to help promote attendance. Use Snapchat as a platform for your contest. Ask followers to contribute snaps for the chance to win a prize for the best snap, or, create a geocache or treasure hunt activity during your event and ask participants to submit snaps of their progress along the way for a chance to win the grand prize.
  1. Ask for Feedback. You already know that to improve your event year-over-year, you need the input of attendees. Ask your Snapchat followers to snap photos of their favorite moments or provide candid feedback and reviews of their experience. Active social users are among the most willing to share feedback, especially when the response mechanism is easy—like a platform they already spend over 30 minutes using every day.

Remember that Snapchat can be a critical component of your social strategy, but it shouldn’t be the only platform you leverage. For more information about how to use a variety of social platforms to promote your parks and rec offerings, click below to download our fact sheet, 19 Tips for Promoting Your Parks and Rec Activities Using Social Media.

Learn 19 Tips for Promoting Your Parks and Rec Activities Using Social Media