Using Instagram AR Filters

Experiencing business growth on Instagram is a massive benefit of undertaking Instagram marketing for your brand. One feature that stands out when it comes to engaging Instagram followers is Instagram Stories. As of 2019, 500 million accounts used Instagram Stories daily, with 67% of Instagram users being between the ages of 18 and 29. Instagram Stories allow for greater interaction through the use of polls, questions, filters, and a lot more. Instagram’s AR filters for Stories is an addition to the platform that businesses can make use of to gain more real Instagram followers and boost business growth. Here’s everything you need to know about creating and using Instagram AR filters for your business.

Instagram AR filters

AR (augmented reality) filters are effects generated by computers that are layered over the real-life image displayed by your camera. With Instagram Stories, AR filters alter the image displayed by a person’s front/back camera.

These AR filters for Instagram Stories differ from the pre-set filters on Instagram because they’re exclusively available on Stories while the pre-set filters help to enhance picture quality by making quick edits to pictures before they’re posted to Instagram.

Face filters were added to Instagram in 2017 and immediately became popular among Instagram users. At first, these were only made and controlled by Instagram, but in the month of May in 2018, Instagram created a closed beta of brands, celebrities, public figures, and popular creators to come up with face filters for their Instagram followers through the Spark AR Studio platform of Facebook.

Instagram followers of those who were part of Instagram’s closed beta program could easily make use of the filters created by visiting the business profile and selecting the new face icon. The introduction of the Effects Gallery also made it easy to discover and try out certain filters from the community of creators on Instagram.

As of May 2019, Facebook announced that custom building AR filters through the Spark AR Studio platform would be made possible for everyone. The platform made it possible for the public to come up with original AR effects for Instagram Stories, Portal, Facebook Stories, and Messenger.

How using AR filters for Instagram Stories can help your brand

If you’re a business that is specifically trying to grow by targeting younger people, using AR filters for Instagram is a great option. It’s trendy, interactive, and is a great way to capture and sustain the attention of your audience. It can even end up fetching you more Instagram likes for your feed posts by helping you build the number of real Instagram followers you have. Here are some ways that using AR filters for Instagram Stories can promote business growth.

Flaunt your brand’s personality

By creating the right AR filter for your brand, you can communicate your brand’s personality in a powerful way and draw in more Instagram followers, especially if it’s a fun or a playful AR filter. Such customization can help your audience get to know your brand’s personality more easily and set you apart from your competition.

Connect with your audience

Through customization of AR filters for use in Instagram Stories, you can help your Instagram followers feel more connected to your brand. Since over 500 million users engage with Stories on a daily basis, including an interactive feature in your Stories in the form of an AR filter can help to improve engagement of your audience with your brand.

Stay ahead of your competition

The use of custom AR filters in Instagram Stories is still in the nascent stage, which means that not a lot of brands are using them as yet. This gives you a massive opportunity to take advantage of the benefits the feature offers and stay ahead of your competition.

Promote awareness of your brand

Using custom AR filters, you can include the logo or mascot of your brand in the form of an AR filter. As long as it’s not a promotional AR filter, it’ll be displayed in the Effects Gallery of Instagram, which gives new users an opportunity to find it, thereby helping to grow the number of Instagram followers you have. When someone shares a selfie using your customized AR filter, you benefit from greater brand exposure through a wider reach with their Instagram followers. Users will be able to try out the AR filter by clicking the “try it” button on the bottom left of their screen.

Use it for online shopping

Using AR filters can be a great way to allow your Instagram followers to try on a product before deciding whether or not to buy it. While Instagram has made changes to the platform to give users smooth shopping experience, using AR filters helps to take it up a notch by allowing users to actually try on products and see whether or not they like how it looks. The possibilities with the use of AR filters for your brand are endless, and you have all the freedom to get creative with them.

If you’re a cosmetic brand, you can use AR filters to allow your Instagram followers to try on makeup. Virtual fitting rooms can be created with AR filters for fashion brands where people can try on outfits to determine how it will look and whether or not it compliments their shape and style. Even furniture businesses can make use of AR filters so that people can see what a particular piece of furniture would look like in their homes. The personalized experience made possible through the use of AR filters can help to establish stronger connections and boost engagement with your target audience. There’s also a new feature that’s currently being tested, which will enable brands to add AR filters to their product pages.

Use it to support causes

You can create a customized AR filter to shed light on a cause that’s important to your brand and its audience. By doing this, not only will you be creating an opportunity to have an interactive experience with your audience, but you’ll also be promoting brand image and credibility by aligning your brand with a worthy cause it supports. This can help your Instagram followers connect with you at a personal level and build brand loyalty.

Creating AR filters using Spark AR Studios

Creating AR filters using Spark AR Studios

Download Spark AR Studio

This is currently available for Mac and Windows.

Make a decision about your effect

Once you’ve downloaded Spark AR Studio, you need to go through the tutorials of the interface of the program in the Learning Center and then make a decision about whether you want to choose from among eight templates or make a filter from scratch.

Starting off

A placeholder object will appear in the central panel (viewport) if you choose a template. The Simulator where you can preview your work is the iPhone 8 that’s in the corner, but this can be changed to another device. The Scene panel to the left is what you’ll use to make edits to your Instagram Stories AR filters.

Upload a 3D asset

You will then have to select a 3D asset for your AR filter, which you can either import on your own or select from the AR Library which has animations, free audio files, and a lot more.

Make edits to the uploaded graphic

With the help of the Scene panel, you can make edits to your uploaded graphic. You can give your 3D object more depth by changing the directional light as well as alter its animation. You can even add more animations, materials, and textures to your object and decide on whether the AR effect is available for use with the front camera, back camera, or both.

Test your effect

Download the Spark AR Player app to test your effect or send it to Instagram to see how it works in Stories.

Publish your effect

Click on the upload button in the bottom left corner just below the “test on device” button to do this, but bear in mind that the effect you create won’t be published right away. It’ll be reviewed to ensure that it meets the policies and guidelines of Spark AR Studio. The review process can take up to 1 week or may just be a few days, but you’ll have to wait it out.

Keep learning

With more experimentation, you’ll learn how to use this platform like a pro to create AR filters that are sure to capture the attention of your Instagram followers.

Best practices

Serve a need

Your filters are likely to be a lot more popular if they serve a need that people have, which may be to:

  • Express themselves aesthetically
  • Capture emotions/actions
  • Add humor/get inspired
  • Be part of a larger community

Let the person shine

If you want people to be using your AR filter often, you have to make it such that it adds an edge to people’s content without stealing the spotlight from their content.

Use minimal branding

Focus on aspects of your brand like color, design, mascots, or products and not on overt branding through logos because heavy branding won’t sit well even with your real Instagram followers.

Conclusion

There’s so much you can do with AR filters on Instagram that can promote business growth. Whether you create your own effects or incorporate existing ones, planning it well in your Instagram marketing strategy can yield several benefits for your business, so get started already with this cool new feature and see what’s in store for you.

Using Instagram During the COVID-19 Crisis: How Does It Look Like?

Instagramming and the COVID-19 crisis

The outbreak of COVID-19 has been a life-changing event. It has completely changed the way businesses and societies operate. While every individual is taking all measures possible to protect themselves from the virus, businesses are pushed to run remotely and virtually. Social distancing and work-from-home are the new normal, and everyone is trying to embrace it.

Let’s talk about social media marketing, particularly Instagram marketing, and how the crisis is likely to affect the realm. Believe it or not, Instagramming won’t be the same for businesses. The platform has always been about having social interactions and creating virtual, visually rich experiences. But as the crisis engulfs the world, the informational quotient of the social network has increased to a new level.

Fake news and misinformation are becoming rampant during this time of crisis. Hence, Instagram is now beefing up its potential as a powerful news aggregator to prevent the circulation of malicious and fake rumors about the outbreak. It has decided to remove all misinformation about the crisis and provide valuable information from health authorities through hashtags. Now, it also prevents its users from looking for augmented reality effects related to the virus.

Industries across the globe are now grappling with these times. They lack liquidity and growth prospects and are seeking the government’s assistance to stay afloat. Supply chains for Chinese items, events and conferences, travel influencers, restaurants, bars, and hotels are facing the brunt of lockdowns to prevent the spread of the virus.

How are users using Instagram now?

With many nations around the globe issuing stay-at-home orders, users are killing time by using social media more than ever. Instagram and its parent social giant Facebook has seen a 40-percent hike in their usage during the pandemic. Most of these users fall in the age bracket of 18 to 34 years. They still aim at gaining Instagram followers and Instagram likes, but the way they are using the platform is certainly very different now.

Usage time has increased

Social isolation and staying at home have become the new norm, and this has resulted in a tremendous increase in the consumption of digital media by people. They are spending copious amounts of hours on Instagram to connect with their family and friends, as well as to stay informed about everything that’s happening around the world.

More posting and engagement

An increase in the number of posting and engagement is surely obvious. Instagram followers of brands are staying longer on the network to engage with content and people. As such, there are high chances of getting more Instagram likes, comments, views, and other metrics. Influencer marketers on Instagram are also witnessing a sharp rise in the number of sponsored posts, and the likes, views and comments garnered by these posts.

Direct shopping on the rise

Real Instagram followers are now connecting and interacting directly with brands. They have all the time to hunt for their essentials and needed products on the platform. Since most countries have asked people to step out only when needed, people are using Instagram to buy products through e-commerce and direct messaging.

Co-watching

Instagram, as a photo and video-sharing platform, has gained immense traction among business users during the pandemic. That’s because they want to share messages expressing their support and update their Instagram followers about their operations. Thanks to a new Instagram feature called Co-watching, which allows users to connect with others through video chat. They can also explore story filters, add donation stickers, and up their profiles.

How businesses can use Instagram during the pandemic?

The global war against the pandemic has also led many profiteering advertisers to capitalize on the pressing concerns. Facebook was quick to respond to malicious intents of people by banning advertisements on Instagram that claim to prevent or cure a COVID-19 infection. Even some organic posts that intend to sell disinfecting wipes, hand sanitizers, and testing kits will be out of the platform. Any content that makes false claims and tries to promote conspiracy theories will be removed from both Facebook and Instagram.

As such, what businesses post and what strategies they adopt to get Instagram followers, Instagram likes, and achieve growth will change to a great degree. Instagram marketers and brands have to adopt the following steps while using the platform:

Pausing all promotions

Most brands and marketers often have a content plan ready. They usually prepare their promotions, posts, and other content in advance. But the outbreak of COVID-19 requires them to reevaluate their Instagram posts. They might have to rethink what they had scheduled or maybe cancel their posts altogether. This is certainly not the time to push offers that are focused on marketers’ and brands’ self-interest.

The pandemic has pushed many brands and businesses to pause their new campaigns. Any brand promotions and initiatives that they have planned are put on hold for now. That’s because people don’t really want to see them now, especially when they are stressed about survival after getting a pay cut or losing their job (even a loved one). People are now more concerned about the safety of their family, friends, and themselves.

COVID-19

Spreading awareness

Real Instagram followers of brands and businesses want to know more about the COVID-19 pandemic. This is also the time when misinformation about the virus is spreading as fast the virus itself. This is the reason why Facebook and Instagram are resorting to strict measures to place bans on certain ads and content. In March, Facebook decided to send home their content review team—something that’s going to have some effect on advertisers. Marketers are likely to face some delay in ad reviews. Also, there will be an increase in the incorrect disapproval of ads and limited delivery of in-stream ads.

As such, this is the time for marketers and brands to acknowledge the pandemic. Nothing really is normal, and they have to emphasize in spreading awareness about the crisis in order to remain authentic in the eyes of their Instagram followers.

Real Instagram followers look for honesty, and the platform is simply perfect for brands to share everything that’s going on with their business. It’s time for them to show their caring side by spreading authentic information through some popular hashtags, such as #covid_19, #corona, #highriskcovid19, #stayathome, and #remotework. Sharing credible information from sources like the WHO and local government can really help businesses in keeping their customers and Instagram followers informed.

Engaging with customers through online events

With stay-at-home orders pushing people indoors, it’s natural for brands and businesses to cancel their planned events and conferences. It won’t be possible for them to host these events until the curve of the outbreak flattens, and governments issue notices to reopen venues. But that shouldn’t stop brands from connecting with their Instagram followers and engaging them. Thanks to live sessions and webinars, they can continue to remain socially present, despite social isolation becoming an in-trend.

Instagram Live, Instagram Stories, and carousel posts are great tools that can help brands and businesses engage their audience on the platform during the crisis. They can use Instagram Stories to receive instant feedback from their Instagram followers. The questions and poll features of Instagram Stories can establish an immediate connection with Instagram followers and help brands listen to them.

This is also the best time to use Instagram Live to creatively show their expertise. Take, for example, a restaurant owner on Instagram. He or she can use Instagram Live to hold online cooking classes. A salon owner can share home manicure tips, and a fitness trainer can hold live workout classes—all using Instagram Live.

Offering online shopping options

It’s true that people are forced to stay indoors. But that doesn’t mean that they can’t relish online shopping experiences. They are allowed to step outside for essentials, but they might have other demands too. Brands and businesses that have relied on in-store shopping experiences have to now switched to online selling. And Instagram certainly provides a great platform to do so.

Brands can create a landing page that sells their products and share the URL with their Instagram followers. They can add the URL to their bio on Instagram so that it’s easier for people to find it. This works great for brands that have closed their stores or opened them for limited hours. For example, if they provide gift cards, they should let their Instagram followers know that they can support the business now and enjoy the experience later.

Also, brands can use Shopping Tags to sell their products directly from their Instagram feed and Instagram Stories. Doing so allows brands to populate their Profile Shop with their products. This would make it easier for their Instagram followers to browse through products that really matter to them. Selling through direct messaging or phone is also a great way to keep sales going and achieve revenue growth.

The COVID-19 outbreak has brought about a great deal of uncertainty and stress for both individuals and businesses. While lay individuals can’t do much other than staying at home and sticking to social distancing norms, businesses certainly need to keep their game going in order to stay afloat. They need to leverage the best practices when it comes to Instagram marketing and stay connected with their Instagram followers.

Stay at home and stay protected!

Apps You Need to Start Using to Take Your Instagram Stories Up a Notch

As a brand, you need to do a lot more than post a quality picture or video on your Instagram Stories to keep your Instagram followers engaged. With the platform seeing high growth with more and more businesses using it for their marketing efforts, it’s important to make sure you’re creating great content that draws in real Instagram followers and generates more Instagram likes for your profile.

Instagram Stories are a fun way of engaging with your audience, and with the popularity of Stories increasing 15 times faster than other content, it’s important to put your time, creativity, and energy into creating stories that can draw in your Instagram followers.

Today, this process has been made a lot easier with numerous apps making it easier for you to create engaging stories. Here’s a list of some of the best apps that you should get your hands on to set your Instagram Stories apart from that of your competitors.

InShot

InShot is one of the best apps that you can use to edit photos and videos for your stories, offering numerous design elements that your Instagram followers can’t get enough of. Using InShot, you can trim, crop, merge, or cut videos while adding backgrounds, special effects and filters to your videos. You can even experiment with music and other audio on your videos while fading the music in and out. A speed controller allows you to make videos in slow motion or speed up your videos. You can even adjust the aspect ratio of your video to make it suitable for various platforms. There’s a collage maker and photo editor that you can use and various enhancements through filters, text, emojis, stickers, and other icons can give your videos/photos an edge. Available on iOS and Android, InShot can be used by novices and professionals alike.

Canva

With Canva, you can benefit from more than 60,000 templates that you can use for the photos you want to post to your Instagram Stories. You can even make use of its stock images and get access to more than 1 million background images that you can use for your stories. The number of design grids, photo enhancers, vignettes, blurs, badges, stickers, icons, textures, and frames that you can choose from are sure to amaze you when you want to create a story that stuns your Instagram followers. Available on iOS and Android, Canva can also be used from your desktop.

Adobe Spark

The Adobe Spark is an app family with post and video apps that can take your Instagram Stories to the next level. Adobe Spark Post is supported on iOS, Android, and desktop systems while Adobe Spark Video is supported on iOS and desktop. Using it, you can add quality video clips or put pictures together to create a video story. There are many typography options, text cut-outs, effects, layouts and animations that you can add to your photos and videos. You can add audio from your phone or from Adobe’s collection and choose millions of stock photo options. Easy syncing also allows for cloud backup of your content and the best part is that you don’t have to be a professional designer to understand how to use the app.

Unfold

Available on iOS and Android, Unfold allows you to create quality images and videos for your Instagram Stories with the help of elegant yet minimalistic templates. There are 25 free templates and 90 premium templates that you can choose from with more than 5 types of font and advanced text features. You can give your stories a branded feel by using this app to edit your photos and videos.

StoryArt

This simple app, available on iOS and Android, gives you access to over 200 free templates and more than 20 themes with new templates being added on a weekly basis. Apart from this, you can also use its variety of fonts, design effects, themes, and filters for your Stories that can fetch you more real Instagram followers.

CutStory

CutStory is available on iOS only and allows you to cut longer videos so that you can create 15 second videos to meet the Instagram Stories requirement. It supports all formats of videos and can produce a stream of 15 second videos for you to be able to post to your Instagram Stories directly. With CutStory, you can also export your videos without having to compress them. This app overcomes the limits imposed by Instagram’s 15 second story requirement by making the task of cutting a longer video easy for you.

Lifelapse

With Lifelapse, you can experiment with stop motion animation and create animations that look professional just using your phone. It’s available on iOS and Android systems and also gives you the opportunity to add filters, stock music, and make changes to the play speed. You can also get your video timing right with the help of its interval timer to create videos that have high production value and can fetch you more Instagram likes for other posts on your profile.

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PhotoGrid

PhotoGrid offers you the opportunity to create photo or video collages for your stories and is available on iOS and Android. There are over 300 photo collage templates, 60+ filters, and more than 90 backgrounds that you can choose from. You can make customised photos using its stickers, effects, filters, and fonts while choosing to clip an object from a photo or remove the photo background. You can even touch up profiles and selfies with its beautifying features or use its selfie camera and automatically have it touch up the image. PhotoGrid can help you level up on your Stories with the help of its meme and GIF generator, smart face filter, and scrapbook. It’s also compatible with several aspect ratios and can be used to create slideshows for your Instagram followers.

Hype-Type

Hype-Type is an app supported on iOS and Android devices and is one of the best Instagram Story apps for using text, offering numerous fonts, styles, and animations. You can use it with the photos or videos that you want to post to Insatgram Stories.

8mm

If you want to show your Instagram followers stories that have a retro touch, 8mm is the app that you need to use. It’s available only on iOS devices and can be used to add special effects even to already existing videos in your gallery. There are 8 different types of lenses, and 13 different types of aged and retro film styles. 2 free themes and 3 premium themes are available with a jitter button to mimic the frame shakes of 8mm cameras. The app supports HD recording up to 4K and allows you to live edit your footage while you’re recording.

Jumprope

Jumprope is the perfect app available on iOS if you want to create “how to” style content for your Instagram Stories like sharing recipes, fitness routines, make-up tutorials. You get personalised templates, and can make use of its filters, time-lapse, text overlays, colours, animations, and voiceover. You can also make use of a shoppable format to highlight your products for your Instagram followers.

Typorama

If you want to grab the attention of your Instagram followers with exciting text, iOS supported Typorama is the app you need to use. Using it, you will get access to more than 50 typographic styles and 100 fonts/typefaces. Choose a background that you like and start typing with its text styling tools. It also gives you access to several quotes that you can add to your Instagram Stories with numerous stock image options that you can choose from. You can even enhance your text using shadows, distortions, and gradients.

A Design Kit

A Design Kit is available on iOS devices only and can help you give your Instagram Stories an artistic touch. There are more than 120 designs and template options for you along with over 30 font choices. You can add stickers and backgrounds to your stories while using the brushes available to draw textures and colours.

Clipomatic

Clipomatic is an app available for iOS devices and is a great way for you to reach out to those with hearing impairment or just those who view Instagram Stories with the sound turned off. With Clipomatic, works spoken in your videos can be converted into captions live just by pressing a button thanks to its Smart Video Editor. It also offers several visual filters and typography options and can be used in 40 languages which can help you reach out to a larger audience and gain more real Instagram followers.

Microsoft Hyperlapse

Microsoft Hyperlapse is supported on Android and desktop systems and allows you to create time-lapse videos for your stories. You can also use it to adjust the speed of your current videos and increase the speed up to 32 times the normal video speed. The time limit for recording time-lapse videos using Microsoft Hyperlapse is 20 minutes. The app supports high resolution videos (720 and 1080 px).

Conclusion

Incorporating Instagram Stories into your Instagram marketing strategy can boost your business growth tremendously if done right. To take full advantage of the feature, you need to make sure you’re putting out excellent content and these apps can help to make that happen. Make sure you choose an app based on the features you’re looking to benefit from and one that you know how to use easily so that you start seeing the benefits of it through your Instagram Stories.

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