Augmented reality is an immersive experience through which we can place digital objects in a real-world setting. As augmented reality (AR) technologies become more prevalent, interest in the various divisions that encompass them is increasing. One such extension that is gaining popularity in recent times is socialAR.
The use of augmented reality technology to support, encourage, or mediate realistic virtual experiences on social media is known as socialAR. The potential of augmented reality to link our digital and physical worlds is transforming how people interact in their everyday lives.
Snapchat (then known as Picaboo) is believed to be the first platform to combine augmented reality with social media. Snapchat integrated augmented reality technology into their app in 2015 and released ‘Lenses,' which became an instant hit among users. ‘Lenses’ makes use of augmented reality technology to incorporate different elements (also known as "filters") into the original image.
In 2017, Facebook joined the game and introduced their AR tool called Camera Effects, which later got renamed to Spark AR and then expanded to Instagram as well. Brands can now use Spark AR to create immersive and interactive experiences for their followers. It also allows them to run effective socialAR campaigns using their creations made on Spark AR and monitor their ROI. As a result, we can see how socialAR has evolved over time. From being limited to just filters to optimizing data related to those filters today, socialAR has come a long way.
AR and social media are now inextricably linked. socialAR is a fun, memorable, and convenient way for users to connect and communicate with each other as users can now click AR selfies, add fun lenses to their photos, and even create their own socialAR filters!
The most challenging part of the global acceptance of augmented reality is that it requires a lot of habit building. This is where socialAR comes in. It facilitates faster adoption of technology by providing a fun and interactive way to billions of users who engage with social media.
In the US alone, there were 43.7 million people in 2020 who used socialAR at least once a month.
Thus, as a result of rapid consumer adoption of socialAR, a dynamic ecosystem is being formed which in turn is encouraging brands to hop on board and engage with their consumers through socialAR.
The popularity of Snapchat’s filters isn’t especially a secret. Facebook and Instagram adopted the AR social media technology quickly to offer similar features in their stories. Even the game Pokémon Go broke all download records because it smartly used augmented reality to keep its users hooked. Combine popularity with engagement and brands have the perfect recipe for effective marketing. This is primarily why companies are investing to offer better virtual experiences over social media. After all, social media is their major source of overwhelming online traffic.
The benefits of using SocialAR as a brand include:
Attention spans over the internet are diminishing fast and even micro-videos are not being able to keep up. Augmented Reality is the next step to creating engaging content and staying in the minds of the customers. Think about using brand-specific filters to enable followers to post better stories. Instead of just turning into tigers or penguins, brands can let people use many different types of filters. Something new always draws attention and people will think of those specific brands when they see their respective filters.
A 2018 poll conducted by CreditCards.com revealed that 80% of young shoppers are impulsive buyers. And this is good for business because it helps inflate revenue. When most of our shopping activity now starts on social media, it only makes sense to use AR in social media to give customers the final nudge to make that impulsive purchase. Just from a picture of a bean bag, the user has no way of knowing whether it will go with his/her room’s setting. But, if AR can place the bean bag right inside the room, using the phone’s camera, the customer will not think twice before buying the product.
Instagram is already testing the feature for businesses where a user can not only view the advertised product but also try it on using AR. This is another benefit that boosts conversion and drives sales. To date, try-before-you-buy has been limited to the brand’s dedicated applications but if social media embraces it soon, the feature will be available to a wider follower base and social media advertisements are bound to offer better returns on investments.
Since Facebook launched Spark AR, brands and individuals have been able to create their own socialAR filters, resulting in an explosion of brand-generated and user-generated AR filters on Instagram and Facebook. There are thousands of brands that are using socialAR to promote their business and are championing it as the cornerstone of their marketing strategy.
Brands like Starbucks, IKEA, Nike, Sephora to name a few have all successfully launched custom Instagram filters to promote their brand and have generated millions in engagement and revenue. Luxury brand Gucci, engaged with socialAR by incorporating its logo on a custom face filter that can be enjoyed by a wide range of users. This market will certainly continue to grow with brands all over the world releasing their own bespoke filters and engaging with socialAR.
Taco Bell experimented with Snapchat AR filters in 2016 and discovered that the time unique users spent engaging with the filter equaled 12.5 years of play – in one day. Also, the average user played with the filter for 24 seconds before sending it as a snap. The filter garnered over 224 million interactions in one day This shows that socialAR dramatically increases the visibility time of a brand without the need to spend thousands of dollars on the advertisements with equivalent time durations.
Another, great usage of socialAR was shown by Unilever’s Dove. They created an Instagram AR filter where customers could try new hairstyles. The campaign was an instant hit and accumulated over 22 million impressions, 800K captures, and 65k+ shares.
AR filters have taken off in India in a big way. From brands to content creators and regular social media users, Indians are engaging heavily with AR filters online. 2018 saw Parle’s AR-game filter reaching 1.9 million users. In 2019, Puma India launched the country’s first Sneaker branded socialAR Filter on Instagram that gained over 4 million impressions.
Given how well users are interacting with socialAR, it is clear that this extension of AR will play a significant role going forward, and no one will rejoice in this more than brands who will be able to market themselves, their products, and their services in unique, exciting and engaging ways!
Stay tuned for our next blog on how retail jewellery brands can benefit through socialAR