Young People in the Lead

A youth-led social media strategy
a photo of a laptop with a slidedeck showing content about a social media strategy for young people

YPiL meet monthly with the Head of Youth Voice, Joanne Rich, and decide as a team what work to focus on and how to go about it. They also receive support and guidance from TNLCF staff as part of a tailored training package to develop their skills and experience.

Snook was commissioned by TNLCF to co-design and pilot a social media strategy with YPiL. Key deliverables were to include an Instagram strategy and content that is on-brand and reflects YPiL’s vision and voices. TNLCF was ultimately looking to:

  • Engage and reach more young people and youth-related organisations across Instagram 
  • Build trust with young people as an audience and test a new way of working  
  • Raise awareness of TNLCF with young people, and make youth voice an important part of it
  • Empower YPiL to work with a creative agency, co-designing and developing a strategy to engage with more young people  
  • Trial using the TNLCF Instagram channel as a youth-focused social media channel
  • Use youth events as pilots to test across Instagram


“Young people being involved will change the shape of projects. Affecting the lives of everyone.”

YPiL England Member, 2021

Our process

The project required a mixture of researching, teaching and co-designing. Over the course of 10 weeks, we hosted 7 remote workshops. 


Prior to each workshop, we prepared pre-work for the young people to complete. There were dual benefits of this:

1. getting young people in the zone before the workshop, and

2. giving the young people an alternative way to participate if they had other commitments and couldn’t make it on the day.

Ultimately, preparing pre-work makes sessions more accessible and provides a foreword. 

a screenshot of the work book pre-work task asking participants to bring examples of social media posts they've made recently and share where and why they posted


To kick off, we explored what the young people’s expectations were for the project, and how they wanted to see TNLCF develop afterwards. We also explored how YPiL would like to work with TNLCF staff and teams – specifically branding and digital – and how to make this a sustainable cycle that can be adopted by TNLCF with other groups of young people. 

We gathered data from participants about their social media behaviours, habits and usage. By using their own experience, they were able to critically analyse what timings and days they might like to post themselves, using a results-based approach. 


The project lead had a background in communications, social media and marketing, which was extremely useful for this project. Each week, they prepared materials to share knowledge and educate YPiL on digital marketing. 

Teaching topics included:

  • Understanding social media thought processes (idea, action, outcome, analysis)
  • Understanding social media intentions (to educate, inspire, motivate, provoke)
  • Knowledge of Instagram features (posts, grid layout, carousels, stories, highlights, IGTV, reels)
  • Knowledge of engagement methods and algorithms (explore, saved boards, liking, commenting, messaging, post times and insights, accessibility, brand and tone of voice)

At the end of the project, we delivered a Social Media Guide, designed as a reference guide and to be used by others as training material. 

Screenshot of a slide from the social media guide suggesting how to use Instagram insights and what times are best to post to the platform


We have lots of experience working with young people. But there was a learning curve that came with translating this to a remote context. 

We used tools like Jamboard and Miro to ideate and gain feedback from the YPiL team on their ideas for the social media strategy. 

A blended approach of individual and group reflection worked best for co-designing. We handed over lots of our methods to TNLCF to continue in our Tools and Methods deliverable.

Working with young people remotely

We were lucky to have regular time with YPiL, hosting 7 co-design workshops over 10 weeks. We had a 1-hour slot with them every Thursday so the routine was predictable and easy to maintain. Usually, YPiL would meet for one Saturday every month, so this was a new way of working with a larger time demand and greater commitment than the young people were used to. 

The workshops had a natural rhythm of going through the pre-work that had been set, reflecting on their response to it, moving into teaching some practical skills, and ending on a research activity to begin to co-design the strategy together. 

As YPiL were a previously formed youth panel, we had the advantage of the team being comfortable with one another and a general understanding across the group of how they like to work. Therefore, the challenge was Snook facilitating within this existing dynamic whilst introducing a new way of working to YPiL. 

Our key tips for working with young people are to:

  1. Host open discussions – sharing ideas and talking in groups with one person scribing. 
  2. Plan dates and times well in advance – be organised and give an overview of the schedule. 
  3. Make attendance optional – be considerate of people’s commitments and give participants the freedom and opportunity to join if and when they can.
  4. Use simple tech – Powerpoint slides are accessible and can be useful for sketching rough ideas and working collaboratively.
  5. Prepare pre-work – give young people pre-work to do in advance (and preferably over the weekend). This allows additional ways of participating, gets people into the right mindset, and maximises workshop time.

“I enjoyed working with everyone. The idea creation was great because it was nice to work together and bounce ideas off each other.”

YPiL England Member

Discoveries and deliverables


In terms of what YPiL hoped to learn and explore throughout the project with Snook, they highlighted content creation and idea generation as their core interests – followed by planning and strategy, copywriting and content scheduling. We tailored the workshop series to accommodate these needs. 

This is important for TNLCF to consider when collaborating with groups of young people in the future – allowing them to analyse at which stage of the social media marketing process the young people would like to be engaged with or lead on.

Pie charts showing the research results - which are listed in the paragraph text as well

Social media strategy

The social media strategy was co-designed with YPiL throughout the duration of the project. Research highlighted that the young people think that TNLCF should focus on Instagram, followed by Twitter and LinkedIn. 

For the purpose of the project we primarily focused on Instagram – exploring various features and building content suitable for the platform. 

YPiL were keen to create topical and meaningful content for other young people, as well as building more connections across Instagram. The purpose of this was to educate the audience about their personal passions and their role at YPiL, as they believed that it was important to highlight the individual as well as the wider organisation. 

Another aim was to inform other young people about youth and funding opportunities and to encourage them and/or their organisations to get involved. 

Tools and methods

The tools and methods deliverable contained a collection of service design and research tools, methods and activities that were used throughout the YPiL project. 

It includes things like quizzes, games, data collection activities and skills captures. We used a variety of different methods to maintain engagement. 

Social media guide

The social media guide consists of all the social media teaching and relevant activities conducted throughout the project. It has been designed in a format that should allow anyone to pick up and teach, or anyone interested in upskilling themselves in Instagram tools and features to train themselves.

Social media and content plan

When co-designing the social media and content plan, we used the formula of the 5 W’s: Why, Who, When, What and Where.  

We asked the young people to think about why TNLCF wants to be on social media, who their target audience is, when they should share content, what content they should share, and where they will share to (which social media platforms). 

The final deliverable was presented in a simple working spreadsheet that can be used as a working document and updated and adjusted when required.

Relationship blueprint

The relationship blueprint outlines and suggests the desired working relationship between the YPiL and TNLCF teams in regards to social media strategy, design and management. 

The young people’s needs and expectations for this working relationship included: 

  • To feel respected and heard
  • A blended approach to remote and in-person meetings
  • Attendance being optional 
  • Space to work on creative challenges and briefs together
  • Transparency at each stage of the process – especially regarding the fact that young people are leading on content
  • Opportunities to work directly with and learn from experts and professionals in TNLCF digital and branding teams
  • Training opportunities
  • Team building days
  • Space to exercise skills they’ve learnt
  • An event to celebrate and showcase what they have learnt and produced
  • Open discussions and creative collaborative sessions between teams
  • Informed about strategy results and impact and having the chance to analyse these insights and suggest changes for the future
  • Meaningful leadership opportunities
  • The opportunity to enhance the relationship blueprint for the next cohort

This will be regularly evaluated in order to keep their outcomes aligned. 

Our learnings

Temperature checks 

One of our biggest learnings from working regularly with a group of young people is to host temperature checks with young people about learning preferences, accessibility needs and any additional requests or requirements. 

An intermediary is invaluable

Having a youth worker as a point of contact between Snook and YPiL was useful as it enabled the young people to provide feedback to an adult they are comfortable with, who was then able to bring these to our attention – in turn letting us adjust and amend our ways of working and sessions to best accommodate the young people involved. 


The client highlighted that they were happy with and enjoyed:

  • Trialling teams working together and getting to work with YPiL on ideas for content.
  • Interactivity and inclusivity, especially being part of the workshops as it felt like everyone was welcome.
  • Consistent and efficient weekly communication and feedback from Snook – including weekly half-hour client check-ins, week notes, and status reports.
  • The outputs of the project and how much was achieved in the time. 

Next steps

We developed a high-level roadmap to facilitate thinking about how to finish the pilot, repeat the process and build upon the successes of the experience.

We broke this up into a simple timeline:

  • Now – Straightforward changes that can be actioned immediately
  • Next – Top priority for the next piece of work
  • Beyond – Aligns with the strategy – more than 6 months away
Screenshot of a social media post created by the YPiL panel

In the immediate term, the client went on to pilot some of the Instagram content that the young people designed @tnlcommunityfund. In the longer term, they plan to repeat this co-design process with the next YPiL group – creating a learning loop.

We encouraged the client to think about how they can take the learnings from the co-design process and embed them into their daily social media practice, always calling on the voices of young people and putting them front and centre.