On-demand geo-filters have to be one of the coolest features on Snapchat.
However, until very recently, geo-filters were preset and un-customisable, and they would only unlock depending on your location.
If you were in Melbourne, for instance, you’d get a preset geo-filter associated with the city. Once you moved away from the city, this geo-filter would no longer be available.
Then, out of the blue, the good guys at Snapchat decided to loosen the reins, and give guys like me and you a go at the creation process!
Every Snapchatter can now:
- Create their own geo-filters;
- Set availability in terms of ‘time’ and ‘location’; and
- Submit it to the Snapchat team for review
The review period takes about 24 hours; while the pricing starts at only $5.00, depending on the length of time you want the geo-filter to be available.
Generally, Snapchat allows your geo-filter to be available for only 30 days.
What this means for Digital Marketers
Snapchat allows for 2 types of on-demand geo-filters; one type for ‘individuals’ and the other type for ‘businesses’.
Geo-filters for ‘Individuals’ cannot contain any information that can be misconstrued for business promotion. They may not contain business names, logos, product images or any other form of branding.
As a marketer, you’ll most likely be more interested in the business on-demand geo-filters.
These give you the freedom to splash your business branding all over.
In an age where consumers will do anything to avoid being advertised to, branded geo-filters are a great way to get your brand in the eyes of consumers via user-generated content.
Tactful webpreneurs will find a thousand unique ways to get their brand in the eyes of consumers using the customisable geo-filters feature.
But, before you get there, you must, of course know how to create a geo-filter in Snapchat.
Here’s your guide:
1. Start with the right-sized concept
If you want your geo-filter to be granted acceptance to the hall of fame, you shouldn’t think ‘too big’ or ‘too small’.
What do I mean?
Avoid creating geo-filters that cover a whole state or territory. Don’t be tempted to create a geo-filter that covers the whole of Queensland.
Chances are that it will not be accepted.
Snapchat advises that you keep your concepts local.
Target public places, landmarks, and other venues where other people are likely to take snaps.
The coverage for your on-demand geo-filters should be between 20,000 and 5 million square feet.
So, in the same vein, unless you are President of the United States of America, your living room is unlikely to qualify as a Snapchat geo-filter.
2. Right-sized parameters
Now, you have the concept nailed down.
Make sure your geo-filter is not rejected for not having the right parameters.
This outline on Snapchat’s geo-filters submission page tells it all:
Your artwork must be a transparent PNG file that is 1080 by 1920 pixels and not weigh more than 300 kb. Those are the single most straight-forward parameter instructions you’ll ever need. Memorise them if need be.
3. Getting Down to the Actual Designing
Once you have worked around what your geo-filters should and should not contain, it is time to get down to the design.
I recommend you start on the Snapchat’s community geo-filters page.
They have Photoshop and Illustrator templates you can download.
If you don’t have Photoshop or Illustrator, don’t feel the pressure to buy either now. You can create on-demand geo-filters using a set of other free or cheaper tools.
My personal favourite geo-filter creation tool is Canva.
Using Canva to Create Custom Snapchat Geo-filters
This is how you do it:
1. Head over to the application on https://www.canva.com/ and sign in with your Facebook or Google account. You can also create a new account with your email address.
2. Once you are logged in, click on the link to “Use custom dimensions” on the top-left hand corner. Enter the width as 1080px and height as 1920px and click on Design.
3. Snapchat advises that you keep your designs interesting and compelling, and avoid taking too much screen real estate. NOTE: A geo-filter should only be subtle enough to enhance the photo without obstructing it.
4. To achieve a simple non-obstructive image, you probably need to add a simple banner at the bottom of your image. Click on shapes and drag one of the rectangular shapes on your image.
5. Add text on the shape you just created. Make sure that the colour of text contrasts well with the shape’s colour. This is what I ended up with: A white image with a blue banner at the bottom.
You can also substitute the banner and text with a custom logo.
6. Download the image you just created and save it as PNG on your hard disk.
7. Next, we will need to make the white background transparent. Open the image in Gimp, a free photo editing software, and select the white colour on the image using the ‘Select by Colour’ option.
8. Use the ‘Colour to Alpha’ option to make the white selection transparent.
At this point, you have a nice transparent image ready to upload on Snapchat.
Uploading your Custom Geo-filter on Snapchat
When you are ready to submit your geo-filter, navigate to Snapchat’s submissions page using your computer’s internet browser.
Snapchat allows you to preview the way your image will look. Use the preview to spot areas that you might want to adjust on your image.
Once you are satisfied that the image looks exactly the way you would like it to appear, click on the map to create a ‘geofence’ of the area where you’d like your geo-filter to cover.
Once you have selected the ‘geofence’ and uploaded your PNG image, you’ll need to provide some basic information including your name and email address.
You’ll also need to describe why the chosen ‘geofence’ is important to you.
After filling this information, you’ll be ready to hit ‘Submit’.
If Snapchat accepts your submission, they’ll send you a confirmation email.
Snapchat has very strict regulations on the geo-filters that they accept.
Snapchat does not accept geo-filters for certain businesses (drug-related) and geo-filters that block too much of the screen.
If you don’t get your first geo-filter accepted, don’t give up. You are not alone. A lot of users get their geo-filters rejected all the time.
While Snapchat does not detail why your geo-filter gets rejected, there are a few tweaks that can enhance your acceptability rate:
- Try changing your geofence to an area where people are most likely to send snaps. More importantly, stay small. Do not create a geofence that covers the whole city.
- Write a better description on why your chosen geofence is important.
- Get a little more creative. Use your own custom images. Do not use stock images.
- Don’t use borders with your custom geo-filters. For some reason, borders do not translate well with the app.
- Change fonts and test your geo-filter on different pictures to check for transparency levels.
With a little bit of practise and patience, you’ll be a custom geo-filters rockstar in no time at all.