Since announcing the launch of the new “Snap Maps” last Wednesday, fans of the popular social network have been hooked on the new feature. Borrowing popular concepts from the once-reigning Foursquare, Snapchat doubles down on FOMO-inducing photos and video clips to extend the ways in which users connect with friends.

Its functionality plugs into users’ desire to remain connected to their friends, anytime anywhere. Like last year’s Pokémon GO there is a similar excitement and eagerness to interact with local communities through the technology. And, similar to Foursquare, savvy businesses can harness the buzz of the update to drive more prospects to their physical locations. So for today’s post we’ll be reviewing what it is, and how your business can utilize this fad.

How does it work?

Users of the popular app, can now share videos and photos they take to “Our Story”. These “stories” are then plotted on a map at the location that they were taken, so their friends can tell where they are, and even easily meet up with them. The more stories being shared at a single location, the more discoverable it will be to users, since it’s seen as an indicator of a potentially newsworthy or buzzy event. It will even display a profile or bitmoji avatar for optimal scanning at-a-glance.

local business snap map

For businesses that are already using Snapchat as a way to connect with customers, you are already ready to leverage this trend. If you are new to Snapchat, you’ll need to create an account on the mobile app, and devote some time to creating a community of customers and prospects there. Include your handle on all your print and online assets (website, flyers, signs) and promote across your other social profiles. Once customers know that they can check in with your business on the app, then you’ll be in a prime position to utilize this latest feature.

Creative campaigns to convert users into customers

The goal of this newly released feature is to connect people to their communities so they can interact with them in new and exciting ways. Businesses and brand who are inventive in their outreach on this channel will be rewarded, so it’s time to get creative! Help facilitate the conversion of these digital connections into physical interactions. Industries that already foster a sense of community, such as gyms or fitness programs, as well as salons or beauty businesses are well positioned to take full advantage.

Test with events

With summer finally here, there’s no better time to test the waters. Don’t be afraid to get creative, as unique, authentic experiences are sure to win over customers and make a splash. If you’re a salon, try hosting a “girls night out” with free cocktails or wine, and offer a free or discounted service, or a free gift for customers who bring a friend or group. Or, bring makeup artists to complete the look, or lead a workshop on the latest beauty trends, like contouring.

If you run a gym or fitness boutique, sponsor a field trip or outing that will still lead to a good workout, such as kayaking or hiking, and host an in-house event or reception to drum up interest and get members to signup. You could also consider fun, interactive workshops or instructive sessions that will teach a new technique. In both these cases and more, make sure that it’s fun and compelling enough to compete for your customers’ interest, attention and participation. After all, the beach, and outdoor happy hours are hard to beat!

Popups, or special parties, events, or opportunities to meet influencers in the industry, are always great draws as well, albeit more difficult to arrange. Work on making it a destination, or a fun stop to get their day/evening started. Next, motivate their sharing on Snapchat by posting to their story on Snap Maps, and even tag your business. This could be a requirement for entry, exclusive promotions or gifts, or to be eligible for an outing or event. You could also do a giveaway or raffle, and accept posts as submissions. This will ensure that your business gets put on the map, help to spread word-of-mouth for your business, and ultimately attract even more new customers or prospects.

Incorporate into your current efforts

Events or one-off campaigns can give your business a great boost, but you can also leverage this network to extend your current reach, moving forward. If you’re a gym or salon, hop on the selfie train, by utilizing mirrors, or adding hashtags and unique locations for photo ops in order to show off their post-workout bliss, or soiree-ready blowout.

Create branded filters on Snapchat, to encourage instant sharing with friends, family, and the rest of their followers. Continue to promote, encourage, and reward customers who share posts at your location, by offering exclusive incentives.

Finally, and most importantly, have fun with it! If you approach such promotions as just another marketing task, chances are that will show and thwart efforts to engage successfully on the platform. Remember, it’s still very new, so don’t be afraid to keep testing and refining until you crack the right code for your business!