Three Tips for Snapchat Geofilter Submissions

Recently I had the opportunity to work with the Grand Haven Area Convention and Visitors Bureau in the recent addition to their social branding strategy: Snapchat. With a dedicated effort from tourism based businesses to adapt to emerging technologies, Snapchat has become the newest platform to promote and share their destinations. As a creative and social strategist I love seeing Visit Grand Haven and Pure Michigan quick to utilize the up and coming social platforms.

#RealTalk: Once considered a platform for teenagers to share nudies, Snapchat has really stepped up it’s game with brands from ESPN to Cosmo posting daily stories to Discover, with Live Stories of events taking place around the world!

In addition to it's branded stories, Snapchat has created the ability for users to submit Geofilters - location-based overlays accessible to users in a specific geographic area. Not only was I excited to bring my designs to the Snapchat community, I was honored to be amongst the first to introduce them to the Grand Haven area!  

The designs were center around three suggestions by Visit Grand Haven: 1) Greetings from Grand Haven, 2) Coast Guard City, USA  and 3) the Grand Haven Lighthouse. Creating designs to represent these three concepts had my stomach in knots. Not only did I want to produce work that was going to represent Grand Haven to the utmost, I wanted the designs to be well accepted by the local community. I could talk all day about my design concepts and how I came to them, but to avoid geeking out – lets save that discussion for a time over afternoon coffee..

So how do you even begin the Snapchat Geofilter Submission process?

Well, Snapchat has made it relatively easy with their Community Geofilter tool found here. It allows you to upload your image, address why this location is meaningful to you and draw your geofence around the location for which your filter will be available to users. They also provided some basic submission guidelines, but outside of those guidelines I’ve created three additional tips to help get your filters activated!


1: Size Matters

The recommended size is 1080px wide and under 300 kb for PNG files. Also, be sure you are submitting a web-optimized transparent PNG when exporting from your preferred software. I had originally just “saved as” making sure to stay under my 300kb size, but your designs save (while proportionate) in a larger pixel ratio. Make sure to export your designs by clicking “save for web” something only mentioned on their template which can be found here in Adobe Illustrator and here in Adobe Photoshop.

It’s a small step that might be overlooked, but can result in a failed submission.

2: Know the Platform

 Declined Grand Haven Geofilter

Declined Grand Haven Geofilter

 Activated Grand Haven Geofilter

Activated Grand Haven Geofilter

I’m thankful of my young age and millennial stereotype when it came to this project! I was already familiar with Snapchat having an account myself. If you don’t, I highly suggest creating one to at least familiarize yourself. Don’t be ashamed to Google questions and do your research to better understand filters, the differences between their Discover and Live Story products and overall platform functionality.

When submitting we struggled with our “Greetings from Grand Haven Filter”. If your Snapchat Geofilter submission fails you get a generic list of reasons (not original, not interesting, too broad, etc.) for why it may have failed. It’s up to you to go back to the drawing board and try to decipher the exact reason.  We submitted our "Greetings From" filter a handful of frustrating times only to come to the conclusion that our design was not approved because it could easily be confused with the Greetings Geofilters used in their Live Stories product.  How we came to this conclusion is another discussion we can save for that coffee date, but is reason enough to push your creative bounds from simple typographic elements.

3: Patience

You may be thinking this is a weak tip, but it’s here to serve more as a reminder. Designing isn’t all frills. Sometimes you have to dig deep, become a mediator, problem solver, explorer of sorts. While the submission process itself is easy, Snapchat is serious about the content of the designs being submitted. Take the time to develop a solid concept behind even stronger visual elements. When we initially clicked submit, an email saying it was received was sent the same day. An email notifying us the design had been activated or failed came within about two weeks. However, this will fluctuate depending on the volume of submissions. Once activated, it took up to 24 hours for the filter to go live to Snapchat users. Luckily I was able to collaborate with a few amazing ladies who were all hands on deck, making it easy to keep my patience when things got frustrating, and sweetened the celebration of a success x 3!

If you’re ever in the Grand Haven area, be sure to send your Grand Haven Geofilter snaps to Visit Grand Haven (Snapchat: visitgrandhaven) and Pure Michigan (Snapchat: pure-michigan)! If you’re struggling yourself with designs or submission don’t hesitate to reach out, I’d love to offer help and encourage you along the way.

Have you submitted a Geofilter? Share your experience in the comments below!