Snapchat Geofilters 101

Whether you’ve dived head first into the world of Snapchat or are just testing out the waters, chances are you’ve heard of Snapchat’s “geofilters.” These geofilters are used, like on Instagram or Facebook, to add some additional visual interest to your photograph or video. Geofilters on Snapchat, however, can do more than just boost the color contrast or make things black and white. Geofilters range from colorful frames for a photo to enabling you to turn your video selfie into your face virtually augmented to look like a bee (complete with high pitched voice modification).

To see the filters available to you take a Snap, then swipe left or right on the preview screen and you’ll see everything available in your area. (Note: you can add multiple filters to one Snap by applying your first filter then pressing, holding and swiping to add another.)

Snapchat creates many of the geofilters in-house, however, as a user of Snapchat you also have the option to submit your own filters. All geofilters are geographically based, so after determining where you want the filter to be available, you have two options of filters to submit: Community filters and On-Demand filters.

Community Geofilters

A Community geofilter is available at all times and is free to submit. Due to this “timeless” nature, Community geofilters are much harder to get approved and cannot be associated with a single event. They are generally used to promote a small geographic area (such as a town or neighborhood) and are often found around college campuses.

On-Demand Geofilters

An On-Demand geofilter is a paid filter that’s set up to run during a particular time frame. The amount you pay is dependent on both the length of time the geofilter will be available and the area where you want it to appear. On-Demand filters are often purchased for a special occasion like a birthday or wedding for guests to use and share.

On-Demand geofilter prices can range anywhere from $5 to thousands of dollars depending on the length of time and area you want the filter to be available (and whether Snapchat has determined it is a popular area or time frame). The area for the geofilter must be less than 5,000,000 square feet so they are often located around specific buildings (like a football stadium or museum) rather than an entire city.

Recently Snapchat released an easier way to create an On-Demand filter by letting you create the design via their website rather than needing to create an image via Photoshop or a similar software program. These web-based filters come pre-designed for a birthday, music festival, wedding and other common On-Demand geofilter uses and allow you to customize the text.

Submission Guidelines

In general, you aren’t allowed to use copyrighted material like logos in the design of your geofilter (for either Community filters or On-Demand filters). However, if you submit the On-Demand filter as a “business” (rather than a “person”) you’re given more flexibility on logo use.

The submission process is notoriously obtuse. Sometimes a filter will pass on the first try, other times it will take multiple revisions to get through the review process, and there is little detailed feedback as to why something was approved or denied. The full list of submission guidelines is available, so that’s a great place to start as you begin creating your filter, along with checking out lists of existing geofilters for inspiration and guidance on what has been accepted in the past.


So how can you gauge whether putting up an On-Demand filter has helped with your social media goals (and if it is worth the money)? Snapchat offers limited analytics for On-Demand geofilters, namely “Uses” (how many people chose your geofilter for their photo or video and posted it to their account) and “Views” (how many people saw your geofilter on a Snap by a person they are friends with). These give an indication of the popularity of your filter as well as the reach your filter has and how much your brand was seen by Snapchat users.

Geofilters at W&M

As part of the W&M community you are welcome to submit an On-Demand geofilter for any events you may have coming up. If you opt to create your own filter, don’t forget to follow all of our Visual Identity guidelines. Also, avoid using any W&M logo (current or retired) as that will likely get your filter rejected.  If you are working with our office on event collateral and think a geofilter may be appropriate for your event, be sure to include that in your request so we can allocate appropriate time and resources for that filter design (as well as allow appropriate time to submit the geofilter).

Do you plan to integrate geofilters into your social media marketing strategy? Do you think it can provide more than just brand visibility?

~Tiffany Broadbent Beker (@tb623)

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