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!