Snapchat boosts business appeal with new Context Cards for reviews and company info

Snapchat users will be able to view business maps, reviews, and contact info in the app with this new feature.

Video: Add snaps to your SnapChat Story

Snapchat users can now view business details within the app with a new Context Cards feature.

Working with a slew of partners like Tripadvisor, OpenTable, and Uber, users can do everything from accessing basic business information and reviews to reserving a restaurant table or booking a rideshare to the venue. Snapchat did not disclose the financial agreement between the company and the partners.

The feature launched on Oct. 10 for iOS and Android users in the US, Canada, the UK, Australia, and New Zealand, but you may need to manually update the Snapchat app to access it.

SEE: Best practices for using social media in business (Tech Pro Research)

To see a location's cards, swipe up on any snap that says "more" at the bottom. This includes snaps submitted to the public Our Story feature, or snaps that use the white, location-specific geofilters.

The first card that appears will show basic information, such as business name, Foursquare rating, and type of venue. After that, additional cards may show reviews, maps, and hours of operation. Cards to book a table or a ride could also appear. The information and order varies depending on what is relevant for the location or type of venue, according to a Snap Inc. spokesperson.

Many locations will also have public stories in their Context Cards, which users can view, along with the stories for other businesses in the area. Anyone's snap can make the public location story if it is submitted to the public Our Story while at or around the location. Snaps sent privately person-to-person or to someone's private story won't be publicly viewable.

The new feature could be big for businesses like restaurants, bars, stores, and public attractions, as it allows current and potential customers access to business information spontaneously when they are in the area. The option to reserve a table or book a ride can help push would-be customers to the venue more quickly.

"We know the simple act of swiping up on a snap to reserve a table will provide an experience that our diners and restaurants will love," Catherine Porter, OpenTable's senior vice president of strategy and business development, said in press release.

While Context Cards are a seemingly hands-off way to attract customers, companies don't have much direct control over the information shown in the cards. All information is pulled from the partners, such as Tripadvisor, and will be updated regularly, according to a company spokesperson. If an inaccurate review appears, a business will have to work through a partner's website and reporting procedures. Businesses will still have to monitor what shows up in their cards to ensure accuracy.

Snapchat plans to expand the feature to include new partners and additional business information as the company learns how users are using the cards, according to a Snap Inc. spokesperson.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. Snapchat's new Context Card feature allows users to review business information and even request ride shares from inside the app, appearing much like a Google sidebar of information.
  2. The information will come from third party partners, including Tripadvisor, OpenTable, and Foursquare. Incorrect business information or reviews will have to be reported via the partners' sites instead of directly to Snapchat or by a business.
  3. Customers will have a new way to spontaneously connect with restaurants, stores, and public attractions, but businesses will also have another platform to monitor.
Image: Snap Inc.

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