As I mentioned in last week’s post about Social Media at the ELCA Youth Gathering, the popularity of Snapchat turned out to be the biggest surprise.  In 2012 it was Instagram, this year it was Snapchat.  Photos posted on Snapchat would get more than 2000 views.

Team member, Tracy Apps, became “Snapchat” at the Gathering and cared for an audience of almost exclusively young people for the entire event.

Before the gathering, she focused on gathering media from around Detroit, some in an informative way (like “Here is where you will be meeting for your Justice day.”) and others in more of an artistic or atmospheric way (like “Look at this cool pattern on a building wall in Detroit.”).

During the gathering, she continued capturing the informative and artistic shots, but also a cross-section of all the activities, lots of group shots, plenty of “high fives” and conga line videos, behind the scene shots and highlighted main messages of the nightly speakers.

“Sometimes folks would send us a chat message to the account saying “Come find us in __ section” at Ford Field, because they wanted to be in the official story,” Tracy remembers.

“My name became simply ‘Snapchat’ by the end of the gathering.  Before I signed off, I got many great messages of thanks from youth and adults alike.  Needless to say, Snapchat at the Gathering was a big hit.”


And now some of you may be asking some questions:


What is Snapchat?

Snapchat is another social media platform for sharing photos and videos.  You can add text or drawings to your photos.  It is different in that the photos and videos don’t last.  Snapchat is all about capturing a moment.

How does it work?

You can send a Snapchat to a friend or publish it as a story so all who follow you can see it.  It only lasts a few seconds.  But the advantage to that over other apps where people scroll past a lot of posts is that you actually have the attention of that person for that long.

Do I need to be on it?

Maybe. If you work with youth or young adults, definitely.

How can we use Snapchat in our congregation?

Use it in much the same way as Instagram. (see How Your Congregation can use Instagram)

Snapchat is for informal posts that capture the moment.   Because you do have their attention it can also be a good way to send out announcements.  Like “Here we are getting ready for the pizza party tonight at 8 pm.”

Some stats to convince you to pay attention to Snapchat:

  • 30% of millennials internet users access Snapchat regularly
  • 77% of college students use Snapchat daily
  • 32% of 18-34-year-olds in the US have a Snapchat account
  • 40% of High school students use Snapchat daily

Social media can be a quickly evolving media and you have to be pretty nimble to keep up.  Remember, you don’t have to be on every app.  Have a strategy, know your audience and figure out what will work best for you.

We are now on Snapchat as NEIowaSynod.  If you open your app and snap this image, you’ll be added!

Pastor Joelle Colville-Hanson
Director for Evangelical Mission, ELCA


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About The Rev. Dr. Joelle Colville-Hanson

The Rev. Dr. Joelle Colville-Hanson has been Director for Evangelical Mission, ELCA for the Northeastern Iowa Synod since late 2013. Part of her job description is to help leaders and congregations use social media and other digital means for outreach and mission. She writes and edits this blog as well as runs the social media accounts for the synod.


Digital Ministry


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