It’s a Snap: Adding Snapchat to Your Event’s Engagement Strategy

NBC Sports is making Snapchat a central part of its coverage of this weekend’s Kentucky Derby. Here's why it's time for your association to consider doing the same at its events.

Last year 16 million viewers tuned in to watch the 141st Kentucky Derby. And as the 20 horses competing in this weekend’s race, including favorite Nyquist, take their positions just before the 6:34 p.m. post time, millions of people will once again be glued to their TV.

Fans may not be able to see our broadcast on TV, so we want to use Snapchat and other social media platforms to drive buzz around our sporting events, reach new people, and give our existing fans more content.

But, this year, NBC Sports is also betting on people turning to image- and video-sharing app Snapchat to not only watch the race but share their Derby experiences. Because of this, the broadcast network is making Snapchat an integral part of its exclusive coverage.

Earlier this week, Lyndsay Signor, senior director of social media for NBC Sports, told Digiday that her 15-person team was onsite beginning on Wednesday “snapping” everything from the barns to fashion events to the actual horse racing.

“Fans may not be able to see our broadcast on TV, so we want to use Snapchat and other social media platforms to drive buzz around our sporting events, reach new people, and give our existing fans more content,” said Signor.

She added that the network will be experimenting with Live Stories in collaboration with racecourse Churchill Downs to mesh branded content with user-generated content on Derby day. [Live Stories allow Snapchatters who are at the same event or location to contribute Snaps to the same community narrative.]

“Since every event is different and it’s the first time that we will produce content around horse racing on Snapchat, we are not sure how our fans will react. But I think Live Stories can help us reach more viewers nationally,” Signor added.

In other words, NBC Sports is using Snapchat to extend the life of the “most exciting two minutes in sports” to a multiday event.

Now consider the benefits of adding Snapchat to your association’s overall event engagement strategy.

It’s where a lot of your attendees are. Especially your younger ones. Recent statistics show that more than 60 percent of 13-to-34-year-old smartphone users in the U.S. are Snapchatters and that there are 8 billion-plus video views on Snapchat daily. Metrics company comScore says Snapchat reaches 11 percent of the entire U.S. digital population, while Business Insider reports that Snapchat users send 700 million photos and videos each day. Incorporating Snapchat into your social strategy will not only show your attendees that you’re where they are, but also that you’re willing to be in a space where a lot of organizations and brands aren’t at the moment. According to research from event software company Bizzabo, just 3 percent of organizations are using Snapchat to promote events.

It gives users a behind-the-scenes look at your events. Take a cue from NBC Sports, and consider using Snapchat to build engagement leading up to your event. For instance, your association could post videos of its logistics team during a site visit or show exhibitors as they set up their booths. Or maybe encourage attendees to post pics and videos as they pack for your events. You could even have a long-time attendee take over your Snapchat account for a day and let her share her wisdom, while also being an ambassador for your brand. Another example to take a look at is the Department of the Interior, which used its rangers and park employees to give viewers a virtual tour of their facilities. Perhaps your association could ask the city or venue where you’re holding your meeting to do the same.

It creates a sense of urgency and exclusivity. Since Snaps can only be viewed once and disappear automatically after one to 10 seconds—and Stories are only available for 24 hours—it creates must-watch content that attendees won’t want to ignore. Alex Plaxen, founder of Little Bird Told Media, told my colleague Ernie Smith in a blog post earlier this week that Snapchat is ideal for this type of ephemeral content. Your organization can also use the platform to deliver content to your audience that you may not post on Facebook or Twitter. For example, fashion brand Michael Kors used Snapchat to debut its collection to followers prior to the runway show at Fashion Week.

How has your organization incorporated Snapchat into its events? Or are you in the process of considering it? Please share in the comments.

(Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

Samantha Whitehorne

By Samantha Whitehorne

Samantha Whitehorne is editor-in-chief of Associations Now. MORE

Got an article tip for us? Contact us and let us know!