Towards the tail-end of 2019, Instagram’s quietly rolled out a feature began hitting people’s radar. Face filters, but not just any face filters. Interactive, custom filters which brands could take advantage of. This is how Instagram is taking audience engagement to the next level.
Brands often scramble to hop on the bandwagon of the latest social media trends. The logic behind this is that those social media platforms favour users who use their features to the full extent.
If you pay attention, features will be rolled out for a particular group of users, followed by a larger group and finally the entire platform. Is this just for testing purposes? Probably. However, simply being in that target group already puts you ahead of the entire pack.
AR Taking Over
Remember when we said AR would be a rising trend in 2020 for social media marketing? Instagram realized the same and took the first step by giving brands the ability to create custom filters which can be used by any user.
The new face filters have been given their own tab on the profile pages of businesses and users. The base concept stays the same, but thanks to Spark AR Studio now being open-sourced, filters can integrate customizable interactions.
So How Does It Work?
Let’s get down to the crux of it. Thanks to how easy it is for developers and brands to create this next generation of face filters, users can initiate functions with their faces. That means certain actions with your face such as blinking or facial cues can trigger custom action for the filter in use.
There are more competitive filters, such as the one we’re about to get into, such as the 6-second blink filter. These filters have been dubbed as challenges because that’s all the craze is about these days.
Let’s take an example made by user @yana.mishkinis. Amongst the many AR filter challenges, this may have been the first of which hit your radar. The concept is simple. Blink when the timer hits 6 seconds. And I don’t mean in the approximation of 6 seconds. I mean exactly 6.000 seconds.
So with how these filters are structured, you may find yourself sinking hours upon hours trying to hit the mark, while others would drop it after 4 attempts.
How Brands Took Advantage
When a trend of this magnitude takes the platform by storm, you’ll get to see brands bend over backwards to be a part of the trend. And they did, spectacularly.
When you think of which big-name brands won Instagram over with their filters, 3 come to mind: Swiggy, Calvin Klien and the late UberEats.
Swiggy’s AR filter was a simple 2020 prediction picker. The filter essentially has the same concept of a slot machine, where it lands on a predetermined option which would act as the type of foodie they’d be in 2020. This is the embodiment of how keeping it simple works so well.
Calvin Klien took a more aesthetical approach with their filter. The fashion giant decided to create an AR filter with trippy luminous effects to add a uniqueness to your selfie. This filter dubbed as MyCalvin Mood does its job to convey how you’re currently feeling with its dazzling effects.
Saving the best for last, UberEats took a completely different direction for their AR filter. After placing your order, what do you usually do? Sit around? Look for something entertaining to do? UberEats has the perfect for impatient customers.
Their interactive AR game functioned by blinking at particular moments, notably during milestones. But wait, it goes one step further. The leaders on the scoreboard had a chance of winning meals for 3 months. Ordered or not, this prize alone is enough for millions to hop on Instagram and spend hours upon hours playing it.
How You Can Get These Filters
The process is both difficult and easy at the same time. I say this because there is an entire exploration library where you can find face filters, but this hasn’t done the best job at categorizing ever filter.
With how unique most filters are, certain search terms result in an unorganized mess. So the best and recommended way is directly following AR content creators for their latest face filters.
Why This Changes The Game
The reach and engagement from a viral AR filter campaign will bear invaluable results. Even though Instagram filters have been around since 2017, once Spark AR Studio went open-sourced, we really got to see how creative creators and brands are.
Filters seemed to be a one-off trend that would get attention for a short period of time and inevitably fade out of memory. But with the interactive aspect introduced, it seemed like a wave of refreshment hit Instagram’s audience.
Why Aren’t More Brands Hopping Onto This Trend?
Although it isn’t that easy to execute (no surprise there), which can be one of the main reasons as to why we haven’t seen every brand post their take.
Firstly, the time and skills it takes to develop a brand new concept for a filter and successfully launch it with no flaws are simply too much. Not to mention that a lot of hard and technical work doesn’t always necessarily mean a successful organic campaign.
Secondly, executing a successful campaign which runs 100% off organic engagement is a feat only a few brands have been able to achieve. So with these two glaring issues, brands are sceptical about investing so many resources.
So with that said and done, what does the future of engaging with your customers look like? In my opinion, it isn’t coming up with some brand new revolutionary feature, but instead building upon already existing ones. AR face filters are a feature to marvel at, and as time goes on, more innovations will help brands connect better with their audience.