5 Ways to Build a Snapchat GeoFilter Strategy

Reach students. Reach students. Reach students. That was our original Snapchat goal when we launched Colorado State University’s Snapchat account back in 2014.

But our Snapchat goals have evolved. Today, our Snapchat goals have expanded to create strong campus and student partnerships to help tell CSU’s story in the most efficient, creative ways.

Snapchat’s popularity among youngsters is no secret. As you all know, Snapchat is the most-used social media platform among 12 to 24-years-olds. It is THE popular place to be. In fact, it’s nearly 9,000 snaps per second, popular. We do our best to connect with millennials in creative ways, showing them that their school is cool, socially-savvy, and worth following.

Instead of having several smaller Snapchat accounts on campus, CSU’s main Snapchat account acts as the flagship account for the entire University.  We partner with all eight colleges, Admissions, Alumni, student groups and other campus partners to share important messages and events. Working together to create Community GeoFilters and On-Demand GeoFilters is just one way CSU connects with our Snapchat audience. These fun, location-based, graphic overlays add pizazz to stories, help users share their collegiate experiences, and well, filters also serve as important branding that reaches thousands of people in our target audience. Oooooh so clever.

Here are five creative ways we are telling CSU’s story with Snapchat GeoFilters:

1. Creating a sense of place 🏠

Part of the Snapchat fun, well… the fun of social media in general actually, is to brag to friends about where you are and where you’ve been. Designing Community GeoFilters at key locations across campus is a great way to get college-bound kids and current students excited about being part of our university.  Creating these filters helps to personalize the on-campus adventure for current students, prospective students, and guests who visit Colorado State University.

2. Creating a sense of pride 🙌

You can hear it at any sporting event or rally on campus, “I said I’m proud, to be, a CSU Ram!” This mantra has echoed across campus and throughout Fort Collins for years. We have a lot of school spirit, so why not give our students and visitors an opportunity to show their Ram pride? Designing a series of pride Community GeoFilters is a great way to let people share their love for CSU.

3. Connecting with students through campus partners 📲

Working with campus partners is a great way to spread the word about special events and programs around campus. We work with several campus partners, including Admissions, to create filters for events like Ram Welcome, our annual new student program that helps kids adjust to college life by exploring academic programs, meeting faculty and staff, learning about the many services available to support their college experience, learning traditions and discovering what it means to be a CSU Ram.

CSU Social also creates On-Demand GeoFilters with other campus partners including our International Programs department to support their Education Abroad Fair. We work with CSU’s student government (the Associated Students of Colorado State University, ASCSU) to support their annual Grill the Buffs BBQ, a fun event where CSU students grill and serve up thousands of free buffalo burgers leading up to our biggest in-state rivalry football game vs. the CU Buffaloes. Buffalo is delicious, by the way. And we also work with the Alumni Association to create On-Demand GeoFilters for special football tailgates – just to name a few.

4. Graduation is a big deal 🎓

It’s where current students are headed, where past students have been, and where prospective students hope to be. Graduation is what college is all about. We want to be part of their memories on their big day. Last May, we designed three different On-Demand GeoFilters for three different locations on campus, and the art was part of a larger design campaign created for graduation. Consider giving your students a fun, interactive filter they can take their selfie in, like the middle example below. So go ahead, celebrate with your students and give your grads something fun to Snap about.

5. Athletics is on the ball 🏀

Besides CSU’s flagship Snapchat account, the only other main Snapchat account on campus belongs to Colorado State Athletics. Our talented partners in athletics create all kinds of fun and engaging filters for big games and events. They have recently been testing some creative filter ideas including large watermarks for special games like the Orange Out, duotone photo overlays for senior night and a fun filter where users could “try on” a CSU football jersey and shoulder pads for National Signing Day.

Making Snapchat’s cut

Will your GeoFilter be approved by Snapchat? Good question. Your guess is as good as ours. Snapchat’s selection process can feel incredibly frustrating at times. Some filters are approved quickly and with ease. Others are denied without much explanation. But don’t fret, there are things you can do to help your chances of getting approved:

  1. Size matters. Use the design templates provided by Snapchat to ensure your designs are sized correctly and are submitted as transparent .png files
  2. Submit your filter designs far enough in advance in case it takes longer than expected for Snapchat to approve them
  3. Be mindful of the area you cover. Snapchat suggests only covering 25-30% of the screen with your image, although the Athletics ‘Orange Out’ example above was approved (much to our surprise). Play around, press your luck, and see what is possible.
  4. Company logos can only be included in On-Demand GeoFilters, not Community GeoFilters (although we did get special permission to have the CSU in our FOREVER Community GeoFilter (example above). See? Their selection process can be totally weird.
  5. Guns and Roses said it best, “All you need is just a little patience.” Ok, ok… you need a LOT of patience! Design, submit, wait, repeat.

After It Goes Live

Snapchat is really good at emailing you. They will email you when your order has been placed, when it has been approved or denied, when it goes live and when it expires. We are all painfully aware of Snapchat’s lack of analytic tracking (as noted here), but they do provide some basic reporting on how your filter performed, showing you ‘Uses’ (how many people used your filter) and ‘Views’ (how many times people saw it). To view your metrics, login to Snapchat from a laptop or desktop, hover over your username in the top right-hand corner of the screen and select ‘My Orders.’  This data can sometimes take a day or two to appear. Your metrics will look like these examples (click each image to expand).

Over to you

I think Snapchat has a real winner here. Not only are On-Demand and Community Geofilters easy to create and fairly cost-effective (depending on the date and location), they’re also incredibly engaging and shareable for users. I’d love to hear your thoughts on Snapchat filters: Has your University or College created one yet? What has worked best? What didn’t work? Feel free to share your thoughts and any questions in the comments below.

Want to learn more about how CSU Social uses Snapchat? Here are some related blogs:

Secret Snapchat Trick: Post an Entire Story at Once

How to Add Music to Snapchat Stories

Two Ways to Make the Most of Snapchat: Takeover Tuesdays and Snapchat Squad

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