by Alan Belniak, Alignable

You may have heard of Snapchat as a hip new photo-taking and photo-sharing app (if you missed out, here’s Alignable’s Snapchat 101). In short, Snapchat permits people to take and share photos that expire, and seemingly caters to a younger demographic.

How A Local Business Can Benefit

So what’s the appeal for local businesses on Main Street? A few things:
The speed of Snapchat’s growth is hard to ignore. In fact, you can’t ignore it, given all the media attention. In short, it’, likely not disappearing anytime soon.

The popular age demographics on the platform are shifting. Previously, it was rumored that ‘just millennials’ are on Snapchat. However, the 18-to-35 demographic is rising quickly.

These two alone should warrant further investigation. But if not, here’s the piece that specifically caters to a Local Business on Main Street, North America: the ability to get your business name inserted into Snapchat users’ photos within a certain geographic area for short money.

The Speed of Snapchat’s Growth is an Indicator of Its Popularity

Plain and simple, people seem to love photo sharing. Look at flickr, Instagram, photos on Facebook (hence why they purchased Instagram), and now Snapchat. Its rise has been characterized as meteoric.

Here are two shocking statistics that should make you sit up and pay attention:

*Snapchat grew as much in one year as Twitter has in 4 years combined.

*Snapchat is the country’s second-favorite social network.

Let that sink in for a second… A photo sharing app has grown as much in 12 months as another social network where people share news, links, videos, and yes – pictures, in four times that same time frame. And of all the digital social networks that we all know and love, Snapchat is the country’s second favorite (as of early 2016), despite it being around since September 2011.

The Demographic Shift Is Trending Older

Here are five more shocking statistics that should make you sit up and pay attention, lest you think Snapchat is “just for the kids”:

*Fifty-seven million Americans use Snapchat.

*In America, 60% of smartphone users, in general, are between 13 and 34 years old.

*Sixty percent of Americans between 13 and 38 years old are Snapchat users.

*The number of users aged 25 and older is growing at twice the rate than users under 25.

*Half of Snapchat users are on it every day.

If the numbers have you dizzy, here’s the take-away: Snapchat is no longer ‘just’ for millenials in America; more people in general are using Snapchat; and of the total user base, half use Snapchat every day.

And if you doubt those facts, know that parents tend flock to social networks as laggards, mostly because their kids are there. So, in time, you’d be able to reach a coveted demographic: those that have bank accounts.

Numbers Are Great. What’s It Mean for My Main Street Local Business

The magic of Snapchat is in their filters.

When a Snapchat user takes a photo, and before sending/sharing/posting, they have an option to add a filter. These filters are sometimes just color corrections, and sometimes they are silly faces and graphical overlays to the image to create pretty interesting views.

Another filter that’s popular is a geofilter – that is, a filter that only appears when in a certain defined geographic area. Snapchat calls it “Dynamic art for different places.” This gives a brand or a company an opportunity to brand a filter in a certain geographic region.

Submitting a filter is fairly straight-forward:

*Create and upload the graphical assets

*Choose the date and time ranges (duration) for the geofilter’s availability and use

*Choose/define the area for where it will be triggered and available

*Submit for review, checkout, and pay

Snapchat even provides pretty clear guidelines for geofilter creation. Examples include no using logos for which you don’t have permission, no hashtags, no drug use, don’t cover up too much of the image, etc.

For the asset creation, they even provide a stack of templates to start with, if you have access to Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator. And if you’re design skills are rusty, or you don’t have access to those applications, consider a gig site like Fiverr to get you started for as little as five dollars. Next, you define a duration for the filter, typically a few hours or days (if you’re just starting out, try a few hours to get a sense of use and viewership). After that, you apply a geofence (a defined area that will surface your filter to Snapchat users). Snapchat and others suggest being somewhat generous with the area, since location and proximity sensing varies device to device. Finally, you check out. The duration and area are what drives the price. It varies, but to give you a sense of that pricing, Snapchat is charging about five dollars for 20,000 a square-foot area.

It’s also worth noting that a geofilter area cannot exceed 5,000,000 square feet. After checking out and paying for your filter, it is submitted to Snaphchat for review (tip: submit it a few days in advance of your intended use, in case you need to make some edits).

Once the geofilter concludes its run, you’re given access to data and analytics from the filter, including the number of views of the filter (roughly equating to ‘advertising impressions’ as well as the number of uses).

So, Does It Work?

It depends on what you’re trying to do. Note that you can’t use hashtags or URLs in your filter. But you can use your brand or company name. You can pair the mention of a Snapchat filter for an in-store or on-site discount if a Snapchat user mentions the filter. You can leverage real-time events that are hyper-relevant to your area (Pokémon GO, anyone?)

One example I saw on Facebook in a private group was a Snapchat geofilter creator setting up a geofence around ‘the bean’, the popular Chicago urban art. The filter was live for four hours, resulting in 784 uses and more than 214,000 views, all for a cost of six dollars. The geofilter was tied to Pokemon, so that likely had some influence. But the larger lesson is that for the cost of a premium coffee, one can test the waters with targeted, location-based marketing.

The post Generating Local Business Awareness on Snapchat for Twenty Dollars or Less appeared first on Home Business Magazine.

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