Set the stage at your event with Snapchat


I’m still figuring out how to use Snapchat in my personal life (other than entertaining my daughter with the fun filters). I’m far from being the most advanced Snapchatter at the Martin Waymire office, but recently I had the opportunity to work with Snapchat behind the scenes for a big event in New York City.

Outside of Martin Waymire, I work for Varsity Vocals, an organization that provides programming for high school and college a cappella groups. Our flagship tournament, the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella (ICCA), is the same tournament featured in the movie Pitch Perfect. The ICCA functions like the NCAA bracket: groups throughout the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom compete in quarterfinals, then semifinals, with the top group from each semifinal earning a coveted spot at the finals at the historic Beacon Theatre in New York City.

Event photos by Joe Martinez, courtesy of Varsity Vocals

Varsity Vocals already had a solid social media presence, but we wanted to experiment with using Snapchat more at our events. Why? Well, the numbers speak for themselves. According to data from Snapchat:

  • More than 60 percent of U.S. 13- to 34-year-old smartphone users are Snapchatters
  • More than 10 billion videos are viewed on Snapchat every day
  • There are over 100 million daily active Snapchatters, and the number is growing
On-Demand Geofilters

The Varsity Vocals team first started experimenting with Snapchat leading up to the finals, using on-demand geofilters for semifinal events throughout the country. The process to create a geofilter is fairly easy:

  1. Go to Snapchat’s Geofilters setup page and log in.
  2. Create a fun filter with the event name (Snapchat provides templates or you can create your own) and upload the template.
  3. Choose the dates and times you want the geofilter to appear (the longer the timeframe, the more it will cost).
  4. Select the area you want the geofilter to appear (the larger the area, the more it will cost).

Snapchat requires a day or two to approve the filter, and then you’re good to go! Your filter will appear at the location and time you set.

The Results

We saw great results without having to spend much. Over the course of two weeks, we set up geofilters for five semifinal events throughout the country and spent a total of $284. Not only did we receive great feedback from competitors and fans, we had huge engagement with the geofilters:

  • The geofilters were used more than 2,600 times, meaning people actively created photos and videos at our events.
  • Photos and videos featuring the geofilters were viewed more than 126,000 times.

Talk about bang for your buck! We spent far less than $0.01 per view, which is considered a great deal on YouTube or Facebook.

Global Live Story

After we saw the success the geofilters had at our semifinal events, we decided to reach out to Snapchat to learn more about its Live Stories option. Live Stories are events or topics selected by Snapchat, and people at a given event (say, the Grammys, the Oscars or a major sporting event) can submit content that Snapchat curates into one long running stream of videos and images to help capture the energy of the event. Snapchat features only a few Live Stories each day, so we knew it was a shot in the dark.

We were thrilled when a representative from Snapchat reached out letting us know that they wanted to cover the ICCA Finals. After a couple phone calls, we were able to spread the word to our competitors that Snapchat would be covering the ICCA Finals with a global Live Story, meaning millions of Snapchat users around the world would see clips from our event.

The day of the event, when we were at the Beacon, we saw the option in Snapchat to submit photos and videos to the “A Cappella Showdown” Live Story. Throughout the day and leading up to the event, staff, competitors and Snapchat representatives who were in attendance took photos and videos. Shortly after 7:30 p.m., when the sold-out show began, Snapchat pushed the Live Story out to its 100+ million users. Seeing it made the night so special for the competitors and the a cappella community in general.

Lessons Learned

While Varsity Vocals’ Snapchat experience was an outstanding success (and one that we’ll definitely try to repeat in future years), it might not be the right platform for every organization. It’s important to consider your target demographic and what type of content users can share with you or about your organization.

The pros? For a relatively small budget, you can engage attendees at an event or conference in a creative way. The cons? It’s not easy to save the content. Snapchat allows for 15 second videos and, in some cases, you can view the video only once. Most Snapchat content expires after 24 hours or less.

But the numbers don’t lie. Snapchat is growing and growing fast, especially with the coveted 18- to 34-year-old demographic. It’s worth setting up a personal account to get familiar with the platform. It may help you think creatively about how to better engage attendees at your next event.