3 Snapchat Updates You Need to Know

Snapchat Ghost

By Honey Comer

So you’ve applied our litmus test and decided your brand should be on Snapchat. Great!

One of the first things to know is that, as it continues to search for the best ways to monetize, this remains a platform of frequent changes and updates. There have been several in the past month alone. These enhancements have historically provided exciting new opportunities for digital storytelling, but it can be a challenge to keep track of them all. 

To help you catch up, here’s a cheat-sheet of the latest Snapchat newsmakers, in order of priority for brands:

1. On-Demand Geofilters

Sponsored geo-filters debuted in summer 2015, with McDonald's as the first adopter. These filters come with notoriously high price tags and a rather short shelf life. Now the platform has taken a new approach, opening filters up to both businesses and average users. 

Anyone can design a filter by using Snapchat’s provided templates and following its guidelines. These guidelines are relatively simple, and reading them is an important step for gaining acceptance in the review process.

From there, you can designate whether your filter is for business or personal use, set an area from 20,000–5,000,000 square feet where you’d like it to show up and choose a time period up to 30 days. The filters start at $5 and go up from there depending on location, size and total duration. 

Although metrics are still a challenge (tracking usage of your geo-filter isn’t currently possible), this update should provide a more cost-effective alternative for brands looking to dip their toes in the Snapchat water.

2. Birthday Party

Just one day after announcing on-demand filters, Snapchat rolled out another, seemingly minor update they call “Birthday Party.”

When enabled through your in-app settings, this feature promises a special lens and other “surprises” to be unlocked on your special day. It also adds a birthday cake icon to your username in friends’ lists as a subtle reminder to snap their best wishes. 

Although on the surface this may seem like something that has minimal impact for brands, it could actually represent an early attempt by Snapchat to capture volunteered user data. By enabling Birthday Party, you are sharing a tidbit about yourself with the platform. It will be interesting to see if the company continues to move toward gathering more user data in exchange for more Easter eggs and personalized experiences.

3. Shoppable Snapchat

This one lands at the bottom of the list — but only because it's currently a rumor.

Snapchat board member Joanna Coles ignited an industry frenzy when she hinted that e-commerce capabilities may be in the platform’s future. A few brands like ShopStyle have been using work-arounds to provide Snapchat fans with a purchase path, but it requires a bit of proactive digging by the user.

Understandably, an in-app alternative is an exciting prospect for both sellers and users and is certainly something to keep an eye on in the coming year

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