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June 13, 2016

With more than 10 billion daily video views, according to Bloomberg—compared to the 8 billion daily views Facebook reported in late 2015—Snapchat has officially entered the ranks of the world's most formidable social networks. Image- and video-based content has proven its popularity across different demographics, and the company's expanding marketing opportunities are building a solid base for revenue growth.
Location-based services are a critical part of Snapchat's value as a marketing platform, and they're starting to leverage location to champion precise targeting and high audience engagement. Many brands are finding that the platform's offerings fit well into their larger digital strategy, but the network has its limitations as well. Here's a rundown on what Snapchat has to offer local marketers.

What Snapchat Does Differently
What makes Snapchat unique is its use of geofilters to differentiate content: Snapchat users can add geofilters to the photos and videos they share. These filters are images—sometimes phrases, logos, or other designs—that are location specific and provide context to the photo.

Snapchat is opening up those geofilters to brands seeking increased content branding, social marketing, and a unique means of communicating with their consumer base. The Coachella music festival is a perfect example—as Tech Crunch reports, the festival used unique branded geofilters for the different stages set up at the event. Each stage-specific tag was only available to Snapchat users who were at that stage, so they could add the filters to their content to show they were there and share which performer they saw.

Customizing the User Experience
Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks all use location to target consumers with ads and other content. As CIO notes, Snapchat's most significant difference is that location is given utmost importance and that brands can sponsor unique geofilters. The degree of customization is also greater on Snapchat, where content isn't just restricted to highly specific locations, it's also temporary in many cases. There's a particular geofilter in Hollywood that's only available for 24 hours—sometimes even less. The decision to build in content and sharing features only available on a limited basis is a significant step, and it's something Facebook and other social networks haven't attempted. By allowing for such a high degree of location-based customization, Snapchat is using its platform to create unique, organic, and intensely local experiences that brands can sponsor to cultivate engagement.

How to Take Advantage

Brands eager to try Snapchat should consider how a branded geofilter can be part of an engaging social media campaign. Think about local markets you want to target, and consider how geofilters can build branded experiences. A swimsuit designer, for example, could build a geofilter for the beach and ask users in Santa Monica, CA, to share photos of their day along the coast. A professional sports team, meanwhile, could design unique geofilters only available to users inside the stadium, which would encourage branded content and increased social engagement.

Not an All-Encompassing Solution

Snapchat's location-based services aren't an end-all, be-all social marketing tool. Seventy percent of its user base is millennials, according to Mediakix, and 60 percent of them are under 25. For brands targeting a more diverse audience, these participation figures may be too narrow to be a comprehensive solution. Snapchat's casual, spur-of-the-moment style also can lend itself very well to B2C marketing, but it probably wouldn't be as effective in the B2B world. And, as social media expert Joel Comm notes in Fanatics Media, a big feature missing from Snapchat is clickable links within snaps—without this, marketers can't include and track calls-to-action.

But there's no one right way to tackle location-based marketing, and Snapchat can have a role alongside local-focused platforms like Yelp, Groupon, and Waze, all of which provide services based on the consumer's location, and which offer their own means of local marketing. Snapchat can be worth including because of its unique storytelling solutions and its potential for future growth as an advertising platform, but it shouldn't be your only solution.

Don't put all your eggs in one basket, but try out Snapchat and see how its platform can help build your brand at the local level.

≥≥ Need a Shortcut?

1. Through branded geofilters, companies can create unique experiences and content unavailable through other social networks.
2. Brands are best off using Snapchat to target hyperlocal audiences that can relate to the company through a physical experience.
3. Snapchat can be a useful part of your local campaign, but it shouldn't be your entire strategy.
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