Snap for Safety

Snapchat is the social media platform of the moment. It may seem like a silly app, but it’s a gathering point for all generations, brands, and movements. Personally, I love using it to share funny videos of my daughter with family – the videos are “live” for 24 hours and then disappear. For those of you with iPhones that seem to *never* have space for photos, the ability to host photos and videos for your friends and family to see without using up your phone’s memory is a plus.

I have used Snapchat for a few safety events and have some ideas for using it even more. I have to admit that I was introduced to Snapchat almost a year before I started using it. A few safety colleagues were using it during the National Safety Council conference in Atlanta in 2015 and I dismissed it as an app that would soon fall by the wayside like so many have.

Snapchat is fun as-is, but there’s a way to level up your use by creating custom geofilters. A geofilter is something that is displayed as an overlay option for Snapchat users in a specific area – it’s a way to make their photo or video more visual and often explains where they are. A custom geofilter is one that a person or entity can design and purchase ahead of time and have available for Snapchat users at a specific place and time.

I tried a custom geofilter for the first time at the Minnesota Safety Conference in May 2017.

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The Minnesota Safety Conference geofilter fun was a trial run for going all-in at ASSE’s Safety 2017 in Denver. The first geofilter of that event was the WISE Retreat where I ended up with some pretty good metrics for use! I also was able to pinpoint the location well, and notice how CHEAP it was to do so! Less than $6 to have potentially 100+ people use it at the event. Note that I had to start the geofilter at 11am and not 7am because I did not set it up far enough in advance. Through trial and error, it appears Snapchat needs about 24 hours for approval of your custom images.

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My big test of Snapchat’s reach and metrics came during the expo hall “preview,” the day before Safety 2017 kicked off. This is the day that attendees can walk the expo hall during a hosted happy hour. I figured it was the best time to get some Snapchat users swiping through the app and choosing my geofilter. I had a few companies at the expo hall ask me how I made the geofilter, but I didn’t want to let them know how cheap it was for such fun marketing – less than $16 for the 3 hours of the expo preview time! Check out the impressions and use rate data!!

The rest of Safety 2017, I used the custom geofilters to promote WISE-related events: WISE Networking Event, the WISE Lounge, and the WISE PPE Fashion Show.

Lessons Learned

Location is key! It was pretty easy to identify the locations of events for ASSE’s Safety 2017 by looking at the conference app, website, brochure, and the convention center’s map. That way I was able to keep costs down by pinpointing the specific ballrooms and halls that ASSE events were held at. I tried applying a custom geofilter to all of Lake Minnetonka for a local ASSE Chapter event and that would have been thousands of dollars! Instead, I targeted the area that our boat cruise was launching from since that is where we’d end up spending the most time, see below – less than $30 to target nearly 100 local safety pros! (Yes, I’m wearing the ASSE of Nigeria 10th Anniversary hat)

Do a trial run! Choose a smaller scale event to try out a few different custom geofilters. I messed up one of the more fun filters I designed for the Minnesota Safety Conference Governor’s Safety Awards Luncheon because I didn’t know which ballroom the event would be held in. I ended up unable to use the geofilter in the room the event was in – so I snuck into the hallway to filter some photos that day!

Consider color! I went with darker colors for the Safety Cruise 2017 event because I knew the lake and sky would provide light colors. For the Safety 2017 events, lighter colors were OK for the custom geofilter because of the darker expo halls and people’s darker clothing.

Download for later! Snapchat will make your images disappear after 24 hours! If you’ve captured some fun images, use Snapchat’s download feature to save the photos for later. I downloaded many of my custom geofilter images to share on other social media platforms for even greater reach. This works for still photos and quick videos – which are perfect for Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook sharing.

Snap for Safety

I have yet to use Snapchat in a setting other than a social event or conference. I do think there are some applications for using it in the classroom and workplace – some quick ideas for using Snapchat Custom Geofilters:

  1. In the safety training room during a class – you know workers are using social media anyway, so “meet” them where they are. They may be surprised to swipe and see your filter, and this could engage some students who may be detached.
  2. In common areas or break areas – sneak a safety message into your workers’ social media by creating a geofilter related to a current safety initiative or a safety month theme.
  3. In your “regular” life – try a custom geofilter in a place you frequent and get safety messaging out about water safety at the local pool, driver safety in the parking lot, or other location.

See you on Snapchat!


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