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Brands, influencers, and creators are finding new ways to engage fans using Instagram’s augmented reality (AR) features. Though Instagram AR filters are not new, Facebook (the tech mastermind) continues to offer new upgrades and customization for creators.
Instagram AR filters are virtual objects or animations that overlay video footage on Instagram Stories.
Some recreational video calling platforms (such as Facebook Messenger video chat) began adding these AR filters to enhance the video experience. Users could add objects to the screen, manipulate their faces, or change the background.
The most famous start to AR technology is Pokemon Go where fans could walk around their house and neighborhood catching virtual Pokemon characters. Since 2016 (when Pokemon Go launched), many other apps and social media channels have added AR features. Instagram launched their own AR technology in 2017.
Today, brands, influencers, and creators can add these AR filters to their Instagram Story content. Not only are there premade AR filters, but users can also download Spark AR and create filters of their own.
And because Facebook owns and manages Instagram, creators can do on Facebook what they do on Instagram. AR filters work on both platforms seamlessly. These filters are also available to add to Instagram/Facebook Live and Instagram Reels.
Instagram preset filters apply strictly to stills (i.e., photos). These preset filters allow creators to edit their photos without adjusting intricate settings. Preset filters only adjust lighting, vignetting, and color.
AR filters exist primarily for video content. They don’t merely change picture color – AR filters add animation, video effects, and more.
AR filters – more so than most other social media tools – has the potential to make activities, products, and promotions more memorable to consumers. Furthermore, these AR filters are now customizable (thanks to Spark AR), which means that users can brand their filters to drive awareness and sales.
Brands can let customers try on clothes or cosmetics; make the company logo bounce around the screen; challenge followers to use their filter in new, exciting ways; and so much more.
Influencers remain Instagram’s elite breed of social media creatives. As influencer marketing grows, brands lean on these influencers to use social features – such as AR filters – to draw interest among new audiences.
AR filters are the virtual counterpart of experiential marketing campaigns. Past experiential campaigns demonstrate that consumers love the submersive shopping experience.
Since the inception of AR as a recreational activity for mobile devices, consumers are thrilled to manipulate the world around them with virtual objects, backgrounds, disguises, and colors. Instagram AR filters are free and relatively simple for anyone to use.
Giving the gift of brand AR filters to consumers builds connections with them. These emotional connections result in brand loyalty and social media word-of-mouth. Partnering with AR-skilled influencers further enhances the experience for consumers.
To get the highest returns from your AR filter campaign, you should think carefully about how you want your audience to respond. If your filter is popular, then consumers will have fun with it. But if you want your audience to convert, you should consider how you want to incorporate your AR filter into a carefully-planned campaign.
Like most marketing techniques, AR filters can create user-generated content, boost sales, increase brand awareness, drive web traffic, and more. Identifying what you want your Instagram AR filter campaign to accomplish for your brand is the first step.
Different audiences will be more or less interested in certain AR filters. Consider the dominant age, gender, and demographics of the audience you wish to target. If you’re partnering with influencers, be sure to vet those influencers for audience alignment.
Building a narrative with your AR filters is critical. Doing so makes the experience even more memorable and encourages fans to extend that story to their Instagram followers.
The story you create – around a product, product line, limited-time promotion, event, etc. – will add personality to your brand. But to be truly authentic, that narrative needs to be consistent and relevant to your brand and audience.
There exist many Instagram AR filters already. But you will have even better results if you customize your own AR filter. For this reason, Instagram released their AR builder software, Spark AR, to the public.
Spark AR allows brands, influencers, and designers to create their own AR filters on Instagram. Creators can download the Spark AR app to their mobile device or computer.
For new users, the designer platform may be slightly overwhelming, at first. However, Instagram’s AR Learning Studio is full of detailed tutorials for new and advanced users. After downloading Spark AR, one can create a new filter from scratch or choose among scores of available templates.
If you’re creating an AR filter for your brand, you may use any PNG files (called “assets” within Spark) to construct the desired effect. On the center right, you always have a preview simulator to show you how your filter will look once you add it to Instagram.
Once you’ve built your AR filter, Spark allows you to test the filter on your Instagram account and/or upload the filter for anyone to use. Remember that you can choose to only add to Instagram, or you may add the AR filter to Instagram and Facebook.
After creating a custom filter, use your Instagram influencer team to promote that filter to consumers. Your filter can draw attention to your influencers’ affiliate links and coupon codes to drive sales. Or, you can have influencers publicize AR filter challenges, such as adding an AR object to amazing places around the world or a who-wore-it-best contest.
After creating a Story, you can tag a business partner (affiliate, influencer, brand ambassador, etc.) and allow that partner to promote your Story. If you’re working with influencers, you should encourage them to do the same.
This setting ensures that you can recycle Instagram Stories from you and your influencers into paid ads on Facebook and Instagram.
When you’re ready to launch your Instagram AR filter campaign, be sure to have performance tracking in place. If you custom-built an AR filter, you can add that filter to your company profile with a “Try It” CTA next to the filter.
Using the “Swipe Up + Camera Effect” feature, you can convert your custom filter into a link so that users can use it, too. Your Instagram analytics will track impressions, captures (how often users applied your filter in their Story), and shares associated with your AR filter.
The predominant reason why brands are adding AR filters to their marketing mix is because of AR filters’ ability to endear consumers to their brand. Custom filters bring joy to the lives of social media users, and those users are more than happy to create Instagram Stories using filters that they love.
With AR filters, brands achieve a deeper connection with audiences. It’s no longer about pushing products – it’s about creating an experience with which customers can connect for free. This kind of authenticity demonstrates to your audience that you care about their lives and are willing to deliver preliminary value to create anticipation for the greater value you deliver through your products and services.
On a more practical level, clothing and cosmetic brands can provide virtual reality services with AR filters. Customers can use AR filters to “wear” different colors and styles to help them make their purchasing decision. In light of the current global pandemic, these AR/VR features help consumers shop safely from the comfort of their homes.
With each new Instagram update, creators can do more within the Instagram app and deliver creative content to followers.
Instagram’s AR filters are among the most impressive video features in all of social media. As influencers take advantage of Instagram Stories, branded AR filters help brand-influencer partnerships gain more traction with audiences. And thanks to Instagram’s analytics tools, you can track just how successful your AR filter has become.
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