Next Trends: Snapchat Geofilters

Pssst, there’s this little application called SnapChat that a lot of people are starting to use.

While it’s still dominated by millennials — 45% of their users are between the ages of 18 and 24 — older cohorts are beginning to gravitate towards the interactive messaging platform. But we’re not here to talk about Snapchat’s adoption trends, increasing monthly active users, or how creepy face-swap is.

If you’re a B2C business with a large customer base that is between the ages of 18 and 34, you should be on Snapchat. It’s that simple.

Instead of explaining to you why you should be using Snapchat — seriously, just Google “Snapchat Statistics” and you’ll become a believer — we’re here to talk about Snapchat Geofilters and how they fit into your social media content strategy.


Confession time: Saltwater’s Junior Designer, Harrison, created this Geofilter. You’re Snapchat famous Harrison, congrats man. Don’t forget about us when you blow up.

We asked Harrison to design this Geofilter for two reasons.

+ Portsmouth had a lack of great options

+ To show how easy it is to submit your own designs

Now in this instance you can only submit unbranded Geofilters for a location where there is an actual need — so don’t try to make one for Time Square. For this reason, these types of free, location based Geofilters are really only relevant for enthusiast designers and destination marketing organizations.

DMO’s should be finding gaps in Snapchat’s Geofilter reach in their city, state, or region and then developing relevant filters to submit. And why not? It’s free, “brands” points of interest, and helps Snapchat expand their influence with high quality filter options.

However, if you’re like the rest of us, you’re trying to find out how you can earn exposure by using Snapchat. In this case, your best bet is On Demand Geofilters. All you have to do is select the geographical boundary of your filter, set the date and time range it will run, upload your PNG file, and boom. There is an approval process, so be sure to get into the queue well-in advance.

For our experiment, we chose to run a Geofilter over a section of the Portland Art Museum where the Digital Summit Portland was being held.


The filter was relatively successful (3.3% engagement rate) and cheap for an event that included a lot of senior level employees that aren’t snap-happy millennials. We also had an inadvertent trickle down effect where some users saved their snaps and then upload them to Twitter.


  • Avoid the sales pitch. Millennials know an advertisement when they see one, and if your logo dominates the frame, they’ll be less likely to use it. In our experiment, I think we should have adjusted the hierarchy to place more emphasis on “Digital Summit Portland.”
  • Don’t overdo it, and stay on brand. It can be easy to get carried away while trying to be unique. If you cram too much information and graphical elements on a user’s screen, your message will be lost, damaging brand recall.
  • Add buffer room to your geographical area. Geolocating can be thrown off by spotty cell service or being inside a large building, so make your boundary a little larger than the geographical area you want to target.
  • It’s only one piece of the puzzle. Make sure you’re coupling your On-Demand Geofilter with a robust digital and social strategy. Snapchat is one tactic, but utilizing other mediums makes your approach strategic. We paired our event Geofilter with Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook best practices for events. We also made sure our Saltwater Pacific micrositeindicated we were in town for the conference and available to meet up.
  • Have a specific goal in mind. Having potential customers use your Geofilter is a good start, but set loftier goals. Do you want them to visit your booth or business? Maybe your website? Or possibly add you as a friend on Snapchat? Since Digital Portland was a small conference with limited vendor booths, live tweeting and a “general awareness” Geofilter worked well for us. If it was a larger conference, say CES or Outdoor Retailer, you might want to add an incentive or CTA that encourages Snapchat users to visit your booth.

If you thought Snapchat was a fad, you need to move on from that mindset. It’s big, it’s being used a lot, and it’s here to stay. And while we’re certainly interested in developing the pricier albeit more effective sponsored lens (a blog post for another time), On-Demand Geofilters are still extremely effective and attainable when strategically integrated into your digital strategy.

Picking up what we’re putting down? Digging what we’re burying? Snacking what we’re packing? Check the blog for more insights!

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