Augmented reality (AR) filters have been introduced to Instagram since 2017, but more recently the feature has found new momentum through parent company Facebook’s Spark AR Studio, a platform launched in August 2019 that allows users to create customized AR filters for Instagram Stories, Facebook Stories, Messenger and Portal.
According to Instagram, one-third of the most viewed Stories on the platform come from businesses and more than 200 million users visit at least one business account each day. While that isn’t to say this tool may be right for every brand, these stats are reason enough to at least test the waters.
Here, we break down the steps for how you can get started, the key benefits it can offer your brand, and a few examples in action to help kick-start your inspiration:
Why create your own original filters?
A primary way creating your own filter can help leverage your brand is by more accurately depicting your brand’s style, flair, and tone of voice — especially if this falls into the fun and playful category. In a sea of information, these elements are critical for forging sustainable relationships and rising above the noise.
Per a Nielsen Catalina study, 56 percent of a brand’s sales lift from digital advertising can be attributed to the quality of the creative. This is largely due to the ability this offers to inform buying decisions. Using our AR filter example, potential customers can “try on” a product before making a purchase. Self-promotion aside, filters can also be used to show the human side to your brand by demonstrating your support for social causes.
Finally, a big draw of creating AR filters for your brand is increased awareness. Anyone visiting your brand’s Instagram profile can click the new face icon to see the AR filters you’ve created. When they share a selfie using one of your filters, their followers, both current and potential, will be exposed to your brand. There’s also an “upload” button that users can use to pocket their favorites for future photos.
For more general context on the growth and power behind the Stories platform, more than 500 million accounts use Stories every day and one-third of the most viewed Stories are from businesses.
Examples in action
Here are just a few samples of brands putting AR filters to use to drive brand awareness and have some fun:
Coca Cola Poland uses the Studio’s World Object Template in a filter that superimposes the brand’s polar bear on top of the real world.
Inès Longevial, a French painter and illustrator who boasts nearly 300k followers on the platform uses the ‘Save the Planet Mask’ to show her support for climate change and a ‘Flower Mask’ to highlight her creative passion and talent.
Ray-Ban launched a Reindeerized filter as a way for consumers to playfully interact with the brand and virtually try on a pair of sunglasses prior to buying.
Getting started: 5 simple steps
If seeing some examples and exploring value-adds for your brand was enough to convince you to get AR filters a try, it’s time to get creative!
Fortunately, getting started with Spark AR Studio is very simple, here are the five steps you’ll need to follow:
1. Download Spark AR Studio.
2. Get familiar.
Take a spin through the tutorials in the Learning Center to familiarize yourself with the platform and interface.
As part of the exercise, you’ll download a sample folder of content to use to follow along, which includes a 3D object (like the polar bear).
3. Start your first project.
You can create a project from scratch or by building off one of eight existing templates. A few important terms to keep in mind include the ‘Stimulator,’ where you’ll preview your work. The default is an iPhone 8 screen, but this can be changed to another device. The other is the ‘Scene panel.’ This is are where all your options live to edit your filter.
4. Test and publish.
Send a test file to Instagram or Facebook to see how your work looks like if it were live within Instagram or Facebook Stories. Alternatively, you can download the Spark AR Player app and preview there.
Once you’re set, press the “upload” button in the bottom left-hand corner directly below the “test on device” button. Note that your new effect won’t be published immediately. First, it will be reviewed to ensure it meets Spark AR’s policies and guidelines.
5. Continue learning!
There’s an endless supply of tutorials in the Learning Center. As you get more confident in your creations, experiment with ways to take your designs to new heights including
- Using face tracking effects to create a filter that responds to movement
- Adding hand trackers that make your filter responsive to someone’s touch
- Creating world effects
- Incorporating audio
As we encounter opportunities to embrace new forms of technology, it is important to remember that we can move forward innovating without losing what is core to us as people. Whether AR-driven or otherwise, we can highlight the elements of our business that are unique and that demonstrate a deeper level of understanding of consumers.
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