Let me preface this article by saying if you're not at the very least paying attention to Snapchat as a marketing tool for your business, you're making a huge mistake. The social network that was once only for teenagers who wanted to send, ummm, "private" pictures to each other has grown up and evolved significantly, and is now a major force for brands in the social media landscape.

Snapchat offers huge potential for marketers that has gone largely untapped thus far. But like all the other social networks that came before it, at some point it's time to realize that a multi-billion dollar valuation only remains valid if you can find a way to monetize all of those users. And that means at some point you go from the cool, anti-establishment app to something that brands can take advantage of to market to the mass of users on the platform.

In this, I have to be honest that I didn't see a clear path to monetization for Snapchat. Ads don't really lend themselves to the platform as any implementation of them would likely frustrate users too much, and the minute they tried to charge for the service users would leave in droves. That being said, the path they're choosing to take at the moment is absolutely brilliant. Snapchat's most recent plan for monetization is what this article is all about: Custom geofilters.

If you're not familiar with Snapchat, a quick rundown is the platform allows you to send messages, both text and images, direct to other users. They also allow you to take pictures, add some text and a filter, and post it to your "story." In your story, messages you post live for 24 hours before they're removed permanently, and anybody you follow on the platform can view your story posts in sequence at any time before they disappear.

For a while, Snapchat has offered filters as an option to add to the photos you send in the service. These often change based on your location or when something big is happening. Today, for example, you could add a "Happy St. Patty's Day" message or something related to the NCAA tournament.

Custom geofilters, on the other hand, allow anybody to create a filter that can be applied to a Snapchat user's photos. When you create one, you specify the duration it will be available (up to 30 days but it can be as little as a few hours), and the geographic area in which it will be available. It takes about a day for Snapchat to approve your filter, but it's certainly better to give yourself a little more time if you have an event or something happening that you can plan ahead for. Snapchat does reject designs if they don't conform with their rules (for example, you can't include URL's or blatant usernames like @ChrisASearles), so give yourself some time to make changes if necessary.

Snapchat has (smartly) developed a scaled pricing structure based on the amount of people that are likely to be in your target area. The minimum area you can target is 20,000 square feet. Targeting the minimum area immediately around the Patchogue Theatre for example (where I'm a board member and where you'll be able to see our geofilters soon!), costs about $8 / day. The same space in Times Square costs about $46 / day.

The maximum area you can target is 5,000,000 square feet (the equivalent of about 33 NYC blocks or about the size of an average golf course). Targeting an area this size in the Upper East Side of Manhattan runs you about $14,000 / day, while my local golf course (Bellport Golf Club) would cost you about $1,500 / day.

So how can you take advantage of this for your business? That depends. The most obvious applications are for entertainment venues. Places where a lot of (generally younger) people congregate in a relatively small area and like to take and post pictures are a no-brainer. Nightclubs, bars, concert venues, sports teams, and festivals should all be utilizing this opportunity already.

If you run a business that doesn't fall into that category, you'll have to be more creative. If you're exhibiting at a trade show, think about creating a filter for the show and subtly branding it with your business. To cover the exhibition hall at the Javits Center for a full day (7 am - 5 pm) costs about $300 - that's a pretty tremendous amount of value if you design something that gets used. If you run a store that sells bathing suits, think about creating a branded filter that covers your local beach or community pool. The opportunities are there, it's your job to find them.

Feel free to reach out to me via Twitter, Instagram, my website, or Snapchat (scan the code in the image attached to this article to add me!) if you want some tips on how to use this feature for your business.

Original photo: Flickr | AdamPrzezdzlek

Chris Searles is President of Searles Media and specializes in helping small businesses maximize their available resources to market themselves effectively using a wide variety of media. Visit Website

Share on Twitter

Share on Facebook

Last updated on