How to Create a Custom Snapchat Geo-Filter for Your School Event

By AJ Juliani, 3 comments

Ok, this is my third article in a series of posts on Snapchat. If you don’t know much about Snapchat, you can learn more by reading “The Complete Guide to Snapchat for Teachers and Parents”; and, if you want to know how I use Snapchat with my own kids, check out this post.

Why Snapchat?

The most recent data on Snapchat says that over 70% of our students ages 13 and up are using it.1 Most on a daily basis. That same data says that most of our teachers ages 22-35 are also using it (on a daily basis). If the trends that we saw with Facebook and Instagram hold true, it will be no time before parents and grandparents are using Snapchat on a daily basis just like their kids (my parents use it because all of my siblings and me are on it sharing pictures of our lives and they don’t want to miss it).

The question I’m constantly asking is, “How are we using the platforms that have all the attention – Snapchat and Instagram – for teaching and learning purposes?”

Well, here is one great feature of Snapchat that we can use in education at our events, to share school spirit, and to connect with a generation already using the platform multiple times a day.

It’s Snapchat’s new custom Geo-Filters. And we can use it right now.

What is a Geo-Filter and Why Is It Important?

On February 22nd, Snapchat opened up the ability for anyone to create custom geo-filters. If you are not familiar with Snapchat, filters are a big part of the platform. When you take a photo, you are able to swipe and choose between a number of filters. Some are funny, some are based on the weather or time, and some are based on location. Here is a good overview from Gary Vaynerchuk:

In case you’re just getting into Snapchat, a geofilter is like a normal Snapchat filter: a design you can overlay onto a photo you take in the app. But geofilters are different because they are only available when you are in a certain location. For example, when you are standing near the Flatiron building in New York, you can get this Flatiron filter. Geofilters first started appearing a little less than a year ago, and they’ve taken off from there. This website has a stunning amount of geofilters archived and listed; super fun to browse around on it and check them out.

The ability to make custom geo-filters changes the game. Now, anyone can create an image overlay (filter), choose a specific location, and pick a time-frame–then their filter will be active for anyone on Snapchat to use in that location during the time-window. Here are some examples of custom Geo-filters that Gary Vaynerchuk has been making and using:

Custom Snapchat Filters

If you think of it, the possibilities are endless. You can create and use custom Snapchat geo-filters for:

  • Sporting events
  • Musicals, plays, concerts etc
  • Back-to-school night
  • Fundraisers
  • Conferences (and Edcamps)
  • And much more (please leave ideas in the comments)

Cool, how can I make a geo-filter and use one at my school?

I just created my first ever Snapchat Geo-filter for a school based event: The Global Day of Design. 

We have over 200 schools and 15,000 students signed up forThe Global Day of Design on April 26th, 2016 (some are doing it on April 27th because of schools being closed).

I created the filter for the Global Day of Design, uploaded it to Snapchat using their dimensions, chose the date April 26th, and time from 7am-4pm, then fenced out a location (our high school), and it will be a live filter!

I’ll walk you through the steps below so you can get started!

#1: First, I created the filter. To do this I used the free photo editor online Pixlr.com. Snapchat says that it needs to filter to be transparent (PNG file) and 1080x1920px dimensions. This is easy to do in Photoshop or a free online editor like Pixlr.com. Make sure to save your file as a PNG.

Creating a Snapchat Filter to Specifications
#2. Then I went to the Snapchat On Demand site that lets you upload filters. The picture below shows step one. I had to make sure the picture I wanted to upload was transparent (PNG file) and the correct dimensions (1080 x 1920px). Once I uploaded the file it gave me a preview of what the filter would look like on a phone screen (below).

Creating a custom snapchat filter via @ajjuliani
Uploading my Global Day of Design logo to Snapchat

#3. The next step is choosing the date(s). Choose the date and specific times (EDT) that you want your custom filter to be active in Snapchat. I chose April 26th (the date of the Global Day of Design) and 7am-4pm because that is when students are at school.

Create custom snapchat filter via @ajjuliani
Choosing time and date. Be precise!

#4. Next you have to set your location that the filter will be available. This part was a bit tricky. I first typed in the zipcode.

Create custom snapchat filter via ajjuliani.com
Had to type more than just the zipcode…
Create custom snapchat filter via ajjuliani.com
There it is- Upper Perkiomen High School.

Then realized I’d have to get more specific and typed in the actual address to our High School.

Create custom snapchat filter via ajjuliani.com
My first attempt at ‘Geo-fencing’

Next, I clicked on the “Draw Fence” button and started to mark off the area. You’ll notice the price in the top left corner. I realized I didn’t need all that area.

Create custom snapchat filter via ajjuliani.com
My second and more accurate attempt.

So I began to make the area smaller, and the price came down along with it. 

At this point in time, I had finished all of the steps necessary, and only had to pay to finish.

The pricing is simple. Currently, Snapchat is offering these filters at $5 per 20k square feet, per hour.

I paid using a Credit Card and was notified that my Geo-filter was in the process of being approved. An hour later I received an email that the filter had been approved, and we were all ready to go for The Global Day of Design on April 26th!!!

A final thought…

Right now filters are vastly under-utilized. But soon, lots of people will be competing for filter space in certain locations. We have a few choices:

  1. Sit back and watch what happens with filters from afar.
  2. Try it out and see what happens.

I’m much more likely to try it out and see what happens. What about you?

If you want to get started, but don’t want to create a filter, you can use my filter for The Global Day of Design and have your school/classroom join the fun on April 26th! Sign-up for the Global Day of Design below and I’ll send you the PNG file of the filter that you can edit (and add your school’s information/name) in an email response. 

How will you use filters in your school?

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  1. This number could be much higher, but I haven’t found it reported recently. Here is a great list of stats from 2015.