Author: Will Barker

Snapchat and the NHS

What is it

Snapchat. A platform no doubt that you’re either using, your kids are using, or have heard of and wondered what it was. Founded in 2011, it’s the mobile app that has taken the younger generation by storm. It allows users to share pictures, videos and chat messages – ‘Snaps’ – to users’ friends and followers. We’ll let Snapchat tell you more…

It’s an ephemeral platform, meaning those Snaps disappear after a short period of time – either after 10 seconds if sent directly to someone, or after 24 hours if they are uploaded to their Snapchat story. It’s also ‘Dark Social’ – a term that describes social media platforms that aren’t open and public and where sharing of content occurs outside of what can be measured by open analytics platforms.

All of this sounding like jargon to you? Don’t worry, you’re not alone, many people who aren’t millennials have been baffled by the interface of the app, which some argue adds another element to its appeal to the younger demographic. It’s cool.

If you’re looking for a step by step guide on all features and how they work, now is the time to head here, but read on if you’re interested in how some within the NHS have taken to using Snapchat.

So, why is it important?

It’s growth and popularity is huge. It has over 150 million active daily users, overtaking Twitter earlier this year. It also reaches that typically hard to engage millennial audience, who advertisers, brands and organisations are keen to get involved with. The platform reaches 41% of all 18-34 year olds in the US, with definitive UK stats still to emerge, but thinking is that this isn’t far off.

At the #NHS15Expo last year, Drew Benvie of Battenhall said this about the likes of Snapchat, Instagram and WhatsApp.

So, how are people using it in the NHS?

Unsurprisingly, use of Snapchat has been limited and in pockets. While organisations, rightly so, are still trying to embed best practice (and even establish) openness to traditional social media like Facebook and Twitter, Snapchat is being used more for specific pieces of work, projects or campaigns.

Public Health Wales

When I was working as a Social Media Officer for Public Health Wales, we used Snapchat to engage 12-13 year olds to engage with smoke-free health messages and share it with their mates.

The smoke-free project enlists young ambassadors from across Wales to learn about the benefits of staying smoke-free and encourages them to share that information. Having surveyed year groups, the team identified Snapchat as being the most popular platform for them to talk to their friends on. We developed a series of Snapchat Geofilters, targeted to the training day locations, and integrated the use of Snapchat into the sessions.

We saw some huge interaction with the filters from the kids within the sessions. Each session had around 30 pupils. Across 6 sessions, over 140 people used the smoke-free Geofilters (over 75% uptake) and over 8,000 people viewed these messages on Snapchat, that’s more than the project would see throughout a whole term.



Give Blood NHS and Give Blood Wales

During this year’s #MissingType campaign, I spotted Give Blood NHS encouraging #donorselfies via their Snapchat account which they used to share different images throughout the campaign.

Give Blood Wales have also established a Snapchat account and using it for similar purposes

They have also begun targeting GeoFilters around specific donation areas, with filters giving locations and times to go to a walk in donation session, as well as filters that encourage people to badge and share a picture that shows they have donated. It’s early days, but I’m told that use across different locations in Wales has exceeded their initial expectations, particularly in colleges and universities where they hold sessions and this is something they will be considering for future donation pushes.


So, there’s a few examples of Snapchat use in the NHS. Who have we missed? Send us your thoughts @nhssm and use #nhssm in your tweets.


The next #nhssm chat is on Snapchat! (What a coincidence!)

Join our chat on Wed 2 November 8-9pm where we’ll be talking all things Snapchat; what are the potential benefits and pitfalls, as well as answering any questions on how to use it and make the most out of it. Get involved using #nhssm and @nhssm.

(Go on, the Bake Off has finished, what else is there to do?)


Oh, also…

Curate the nhssm Snapchat account 

Looking to get to grips with Snapchat, or want to help others learn from your Snapchat-mastery? Head here for more information.

We’re looking for comms professionals to take control of the nhssm Snapchat account and Snap their day-to-day activities, getting to grips with how Snapchat works, what tools are at your disposal to tell stories, and having some fun along the way!

Why video is not important for you on social media

That’s right, video isn’t important, it’s vital.

OK, so apologies for the clickbait title, but did you really think we were actually going to say video isn’t important? If there’s something you need to be thinking about and investing in right now, it’s video.


Over the next 5 years:

  • Video will account for 80 percent of global internet traffic1;
  • Nearly a million minutes of video will be shared every second1;
  • The number of hours that people spend watching videos on YouTube will increase 60 percent year on year2.

That’s the next 5 years, but if you look at your social media feeds right now, what do you see? Video. Brands, organisations, trusts and individuals are creating and publishing more video than ever before, because they know it’s a key way to grab the attention of their audience and increase engagement.

Here are two ways video is being used on social media to benefit organisations…

1. Using video for recruitment

It’s no secret that social media can have a positive impact on recruiting candidates for posts, but it’s often underused. By creating video content, you’re able to bring that post to life, and give more information to the potential candidate, as well as showing some of the personality of your organisation.

This is a nice example of a recruitment video from Cambridge University Hospitals, who created this video after a job advert for Paediatric Recovery Nurses had been live on three separate occasions with no applicants. This simple, short social video was put together, posted on their Facebook and resulted in six applicants applying for the position.

This #betterwithyou video looking to recruit Radiographers from Morecambe Bay NHS Trust looks at life beyond the working environment, and why Morecambe is a great place to live, too.

They are also doing short videos with new starters from within the Trust to reinforce their messaging, very clever!

2. Making health messages more engaging

We all know social media is a great platform to engage people around important health messages, but they’re not always easy to get across and make engaging. Using video can, if done well, make this easier. Here are a few examples.

Public Health Wales used some time-lapse footage to link in with #WalkingWednesday on Twitter. They used simple messaging over this video content to make their information more shareable. It achieved much higher engagement across Facebook and Twitter than other plain text content.

Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust used animations to communicate some important messages around recognising sepsis in children. A complex and difficult subject to cover, this animation made that information easier to digest and more engaging.

So what’s stopping you?

So why aren’t more of us creating video content for social media? I think there are a couple of reasons:

  • Too expensive
  • Not enough time
  • No idea how to do it

That’s where we can help. Video doesn’t have to be expensive, and it’s easier than you might think to create engaging content. We’re running training sessions on how to create great video content, all on your smartphone, come and take a look:

Have you seen any great examples of video use in the NHS? Why not tweets us your links @nhssm and tell us why you love them.