Jul 28, 2017

While lots of not-for-profits are getting into Social Media with Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, not many of you are taking up Snapchat. Some people in the industry are even questioning if Snapchat is the right tool for the not-for-profit space, or if should be left to 14-year-olds taking silly pictures with their friends.

We spoke to Mimi Helm and Paris Burns earlier in the year, who run the Snapchat account for The Cat Haven about how the platform is working for them – and it seems to be working very well!

Mimi and Paris work behind the scenes at The Cat Haven in their roles as Cat Welfare Officer and Foster Care Team Leader. Their roles see them cleaning, feeding and medicating cats and kittens, getting them ready for adoption and doing health checks. Oh and most importantly, cuddling kitties!

Mimi loves running the account as it gives followers a behind the scenes look at what goes on.

“It’s a great way to show people the charming cats we have on site,” she says.“Snapchat is a really fun and easy-to-use app; it’s really good for sharing pictures and videos that would be a bit of an overload for a Facebook or Instagram page.”

You don’t need to be a social media expert to start up a Snapchat account; for more tips from Mimi and Paris, read our Q and A below.

Why did you want to start a Snapchat account for The Cat Haven?

Mimi: Paris and Lauren actually started the Snapchat but as I’m an avid snapper I was super keen to get involved. I think it’s a great way to show people the charming cats we have on site and maybe show them a bit of behind the scenes of what happens on grounds. Snapchat is a really fun and easy-to-use app, it’s really good for sharing pictures and videos that would be a bit of an overload for a Facebook or Instagram page.

Paris: Initially myself and other staff were discussing a way to show people the ‘behind the scenes’ of Cat Haven. We wanted a way to share raw footage so people could see how we truly function as a shelter and get to know Cat Haven on a more personal level. Snapchat is perfect for what we were trying to achieve. It relies on multiple, frequent updates and people know what they are seeing is in real time.

Do you have a content strategy in place?

Mimi: We want to show people a bit of fun behind the scenes, but also raise awareness to Cat Haven’s cause and what we actually do. We also want to use this platform to potentially increase our monthly donations, as that’s something Cat Haven is currently really in need of.

Paris: Myself and Mimi, who helps run the Snapchat, got together and had a meeting to make sure we were on the same page regarding the content we would be sharing. We agreed we wanted to try and use it as a tool to show people the day-to-day work at Cat Haven, rather than a way to promote cats for adoption. We knew that the type of followers we were going to get on Snapchat are already Cat Haven supporters, not people who are just casually looking to adopt from us.

What is your favourite part about running this Snapchat account?

Mimi: Capturing the cats doing hilarious and adorable things, getting to show people how amazing the cats we have are. We have so many cats that have had such a rough start in life and it’s really nice to be able to show people how incredible and affectionate they are in spite of that. I think people should be aware that these cats really are in need, and how much our staff really cares about every single cat.

Paris: I have really enjoyed running the Snapchat account because I am proud of what we do at Cat Haven.It has given us a platform to show our supporters our hard work and what we can achieve with their help. It has been lots of fun being able to post photos and videos that are a bit funnier and more light-hearted then what we normally would on other social media accounts.

What advice would you give to other not-for-profits who are thinking of starting a Snapchat account?

Mimi: I think keeping it entertaining and engaging is an obvious answer, because it can be a really valuable platform and you want people to keep following and stay involved. We’re getting more followers every day, which is fantastic because it will raise awareness for us as an organisation and hopefully result in people adopting more cats and donating!

Paris: We are very lucky at Cat Haven as people love to see photos of cats on the internet. We never run out of ideas to post and people are getting exactly the content they expect. In less than two weeks we gained approximately 300 Snapchat followers and we continue to receive at least five new followers a day. As we have only promoted the Snapchat once on our Facebook when we first started it, I strongly believe that all the followers we are currently receiving are hearing about us through word-of-mouth. Snapchat would be great for a wide range of not-for-profits. It’s free, simple, engaging, requires minimal monitoring and is a nice alternative to mix up your social media image.

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