Snapchat Geofilters: What Are They, and How Do I Use Them?

Introduction

Being a marketer (and, you know, a human being exposed to pop culture), you’ve probably heard of Snapchat before. For our rock-dwelling readers, Snapchat is a multimedia mobile application that was created in 2011 by a group of students from Stanford. It allows users to send Snaps: pictures, videos, or text messages that expire after a few seconds. Users can also upload these Snaps to their Story, a chronological collection of Snaps available to all of their friends.

More recently, the platform has featured public content from brands, publications, and live events (primarily sports and music). Snapchat offers a ton of photo customization options, including filters, text overlays, and drawings. The “Lens” feature, which was introduced late last year, allows users to incorporate real-time effects in their snaps.

A portion of Snapchat’s filters are Geofilters, which become available to users based on their location. These filters usually feature the area’s name in stylized text, sometimes accompanied by an illustration of a landmark. Geofilters are a great way for users to share their locations with their friends, but they can also be a great way to promote your business.

Interested? Keep reading.

Geofilters

Community

Snapchat designates two different types of Geofilters. The first is Community, which is a Geofilter corresponding to a public location, such as a city, university, or landmark. Snapchat encourages artists and designers to create and submit these Geofilters for free on the Snapchat website, with the caveat that they can’t include any brand logos. Here’s a couple great examples:

Community Geofilters are meant to be created for public places, neighborhoods, landmarks, or venues where “people are likely to gather and send Snaps”. Although these filters are wonderful, they’re not of much use to businesses due to Snapchat’s aforementioned restrictions on brand logos. In addition to this, Snapchat doesn’t allow photographs or hashtags in the filters.

What we’re really interested in is the second type of filter…

On-Demand

Snapchat designates On-Demand Geofilters as filters “for people and businesses”. These filters are commonly created for events (like the Grammys or the Super Bowl) or retail locations (McDonald's once purchased Geofilters for each of its American restaurants). Unlike Community filters, On-Demand Geofilters last for a predetermined length of time and can feature branding, including logos (still no hashtags, though!). Take a look:



What’s more important is that Snapchat has opened On-Demand Geofilters to anyone, meaning you or your business can feature your own Geofilter on the app (for a price, of course). Creating an On-Demand Geofilter for your business can be great if your customers are likely to send Snaps from your location. It’s a particularly terrific tool for businesses that can capitalize well on word-of-mouth marketing. On-Demand Geofilters are also effective in promoting any events your business may be present at or hosting.

Interested in getting your own Geofilter on Snapchat? Keep reading.

Creating Your Own Geofilter

If you’ve decided you want to create a Geofilter for your business or event, you’re in luck! I’m going to give you everything you need to be the next Snapchat success story. Though it’s great if your business is using Snapchat as part of its digital marketing strategy, it’s not necessary to be active on the platform to submit your own Geofilter. You do, however, need a Snapchat account.

Log into your account on the Snapchat website and click “Geofilters” at the bottom of the page, under the Community heading. This takes you to the Geofilter page; click into the On-Demand section and then “Create Now”. We’re in!

Geofilter Design

The first part of Geofilter creation is - go figure - creating the Geofilter. Snapchat requires Geofilters to be a 1080px wide and 1920px tall web-optimized PNG file. Snapchat’s actually pretty strict about what is and isn’t allowed in Geofilters - you can get the full details right here. Also keep in mind that Snapchat manually goes through each individual Geofilter submission, so you do need to submit your filter at minimum one day before you’d like it to be available.

As far as content goes, make it pretty! If you don’t have a graphic designer on your team (a real one, not “I have a good eye for it”), hire a freelancer or someone you know to create the filter for you. People won’t use a filter they don’t like, and the last thing you want to be known by is an ugly Snapchat filter. Make sure the text promoting your business or event is the centerpiece of the filter, and that the general design your filter fits thematically with what it’s promoting. Landmarks or logos are great to make your filters easily identifiable - for example, the trams in Melbourne or the bright buildings of Times Square in New York City.

Make sure the elements of your filter don’t cover the majority of the frame. In fact, I’d say a good rule is to have it take up less than about 30%. People aren’t using your filter to promote your business, they’re using it to show their friends where they are and what they’re doing. So leave space for their photos to show through beneath the parts of your filter.

If you really can’t get a designer, Snapchat offers templates (download link) for Photoshop and Illustrator for occasions like birthdays, weddings, and general events.

Date & Location

Once you’ve created your masterpiece, upload it to the Snapchat website. You’ll then need to choose the dates during which your filter will be available. Keep in mind that the cost of your Geofilter is determined by duration and location, so set the date and time of your Geofilter to precisely when you’ll need it.

The next step is choosing the area for your Geofilter. Snapchat makes it simple to do this by using a map interface on which you can click (think connect-the-dots) to create a geofence within which your filter will be available. Snapchat calculates location cost by area.

In terms of costs, it’s $60 USD for 24 hours in a 100,000 square foot area. It needs to be one area (meaning you can’t have one geofilter for two separate locations in town), but you can manipulate the shape of the geofence pretty well to cover everything you need, like this:

Using Geofilters for Marketing

Key Considerations

There’s a few things to keep in mind before investing in a Geofilter for your business. The first is demographics: Snapchat’s user base is young - younger than any other of the big social networks, including Vine, Tumblr, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Get this - a whopping 45% of Snapchat’s users are below the age of 24, and 71% are below 34, so make sure that demographic lines up with your target market, or you won’t see much of a return.

I’d also focus on using Snapchat Geofilters more for businesses that are “shareable” - think bakeries, clothing stores, furniture, things like that. Snapchat is a predominantly visual platform, so users are more likely to Snap things with some visual appeal.

In terms of getting people to use the Geofilter, it’s important to make sure they’re aware of it. A lot of people - even if they’re within the geofence of your filter - don’t use filters on all of their photos. There’s an even smaller chance that they’re swiping through all of them and they happen to use yours. If they don’t know what it is, they’re unlikely to use it.

My advice is to use Snapchat (and Geofilters) as an integrated part of your total social media marketing strategy. Not only is it important for informative purposes (there’s a pretty big chance that people who see your Geofilter will Google your brand), it’s the best way to inform your existing followers that your filter is available for use.

Promote your filter on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram and provide information on when it will be available. Make sure you’re constantly reminding followers of the filter as your campaign continues, and especially when it launches. If you have your own Snapchat business account (I suggest you do if you’re doing this), feature your filter in your Snap story. Do as much as you can to generate awareness for your filter.

Promote a new business

If you’ve ever started a new business in a new location, you know how hard difficult market penetration can be. If you’re starting a new venture in a new place, Geofilters can be a great way to spread the word over social media in a way that’s more organic than doing it yourself over Facebook or Instagram.

Though you could just passively have this Geofilter active during the first few days or weeks of your business, I’d suggest hosting some sort of grand opening event, or a promotion connected to the Geofilter.

Because a grand opening is an event, it presents an opportunity during which people would be more likely to send Snaps, and also has the added benefit of giving recipients of Snaps with your filter incentives to check out your business.

If you’re not planning to host an event, host some sort of Snapchat promotion! Give customers a discount or small gift if they, for example, use your Geofilter to promote your business to their Story and ten friends. If your business and your products are interesting, you’ll generate awareness through testimonials - always great for a new business.

Whatever you choose to do, a Snapchat Geofilter can be a huge part of a marketing campaign to help get your new venture off the ground.

New Product Launch

Similarly to the previous scenario, you can use a Snapchat Geofilter to promote a new product launch. In contrast to new business promotion, however, you’ll want to ensure you have an existing audience.

Launching a new product with a Geofilter can generate immediate awareness and interest from not just your customers, but your customers’ networks. This is particularly advantageous because, chances are, people connected to your customers are potential customers as well. Receiving a Snap from a friend, in addition to the brand legitimacy achieved through a Geofilter, can go a long way towards convincing someone to buy your product.

In addition to this, you can use the Geofilter on your own Snapchat account to share product shots, as well as insights into the product’s features. A great way to achieve this is through videos of employees; for example, you can have each employee share their favourite part of the new product. This leads into my next idea…

Showcase Company Culture

A lot of companies are already doing this with their Snapchat accounts, even without Geofilters. Much of the appeal of Snapchat business accounts comes from the “behind-the-scenes” look they provide followers with. Though sometimes company cultures are featured on other networks like Twitter and Instagram, businesses generally tend to do this more frequently on Snapchat.

Creating a Geofilter for a particular occasion (think employee appreciation day, or company picnic) is an awesome way to highlight the people behind your brand. Employees can share their favorite moments throughout the day with their Snapchat followers and Story (which generates brand awareness); and you can then share these moments on your company Snapchat, which will highlight the culture you’ve created within your company.

Like the New York Times in the example above, this tactic is better utilized by companies with a more significant brand following and a larger number of employees - it’s probably not worth spending hundreds on a Geofilter for your brand new business with 3 employees.

Events

I’d say this is one of the easier - and better - ways to use Snapchat Geofilters. Like I mentioned previously, even events as big as the Grammys and Oscars made Snapchat Geofilters available to attendees, who snapped and snapped away.

If you have a large gathering hosted or sponsored by your company, it might be worth it to invest in a unique Geofilter for your event that eventgoers can use. A Geofilter can also be very effective if your business is present at an event (think an expo or convention), as people attending the event could see your filter and seek out your business’ booth (or table, or whatever).

To put it simply, events present ideal Snapchat “conditions”; because there’s an occasion, people are likely a little more dressed up and willing to take pictures.
Strengthen Existing Brands
-User generated

Invite Interaction/Generate Buzz

For any of the prior scenarios, a great way to create a community through your Geofilter is to invite customers to share their Snaps featuring your Geofilter with you, through Snapchat or another platform like Twitter, Instagram or Facebook. You can do a couple things with these images, like share them on your social platforms, post them in your retail location, or reward your favorites (or even all of them) with discounts on future purchases.

Doing these things increases your interaction with the community around you.