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Instagram AR filters

Instagram AR Filters. Using Spark AR Studio | The Definitive Guide

By | Augmented Reality, Digital | No Comments

A key element for sustaining Instagram’s future and securing a stronger competitive advantage over other platforms such as Snapchat is going to be through the release of their new Instagram AR filters, providing users with new filtered experiences. These Instagram AR filterss mix the real world with the virtual world through the combination of technology and visual art. Spark AR Studio is the open source tool that we use to create them.

Spark AR Studio by Facebook allows any user to create their very own augmented reality filters and effects which they can then distribute through the Instagram platform for their followers to use and share.

Maybe the term “augmented reality” (AR) seems like something from the future, something that you probably aren’t going to be using in your daily life anytime soon. However last year, around 1 billion people had some sort of experience using creations made using Spark AR. That’s quite an impressive number of people getting on board with augmented reality and these Facebook/Instagram filters.

The custom Instagram Stories are no longer limited to the really famous people and brands of the world like Travis Scott or Nike. Now every artist and brand of any size is able to create a viral moment on Instagram though their individual Stories.

In the following we will discuss the future of Instagram, the best practices for creating your own Spark AR effects and finally how you can use AR filters to get more follows.

Table of Contents:

  1. What is Spark AR Studio?
  2. How businesses can use Spark AR Studio
  3. How to access custom Instagram AR filters
  4. How to create your own Instagram AR filters
  5. Best practices for Instagram AR filters

What is Spark AR Studio?

Spark AR Studio is an open source augmented reality platform for Mac & Windows. It allows you to create AR effects for Instagram and Facebook. You can think of it like Photoshop or Sketch, but for AR.

 

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Augmented reality (AR) has been around since the 1960s – despite what you might think it really is not a new technology. However, over the last few years its growth has been exponential, and it has spread across dozens of industries. Today it can be found simply everywhere from Pokémon GO to Google Maps.

AR has blown up quite a lot because of social media too and a big part of this success is because of the recently released Instagram and Facebook camera effects.

Instagram and Facebook is the perfect medium to spread augmented reality to the masses. It has an extremely user-friendly UI and people are constantly searching for new ways to share their fun and increase their engagement. With over 500 million users active daily, we’re not surprised that their growth has been so rapid.

Previously these AR camera effect we’re only available on the SnapChat platform, but in 2017 Facebook decided to launch its own software that brands, and designers could use to create customized AR effects. This was a very key strategic decision as this was one functionality that SnapChat had held over the Instagram platform.

Upon initial release if you wanted your custom AR effects for Instagram you had to be accepted as part of their closed beta program. It just wasn’t open to everyone. Luckily for us and everyone involved it is now completely open and anyone or any brand can now create their own Spark AR effects and publish them to both Facebook and Instagram.

This is a fantastic opportunity for artists, brands, influencers and everyday people to get creative, learn how to bring their imagination into reality through AR and share it with the world. Despite its enormous potential and also its speedy growth, AR on Instagram is still massively underused as a marketing tool.

Because of this it’s a huge opportunity for businesses to get involved ahead of the curve and to find cool ways of using the technology to build and share their own branded AR experiences.

How businesses can use Spark AR Studio

There are many reasons why AR should be viewed as a genuinely powerful marketing tool and one of the biggest has to do with the freedom of creativity.

There are a lot of applications out there for this technology: cosmetics brand for example can use AR to let their followers and potential customers “try on” their products virtually. Furniture brands can use AR to show the followers how their products would look like at home. Fashion brands can create a virtual fitting room and let their followers try on shirts or sunglasses for example, to see how they fit.

There’s also an emotional value that comes with AR experiences. Businesses can build a personalized connection with their customers by creating different kinds of AR effects that give a firsthand experience of the brand or product. This helps to increase brand recall and loyalty, but it also is going to help drive more conversions!

instagram AR filter

Currently Instagram is baking this try on feature into the platform too. Instagram is beta testing a new feature right now that will allow brands to add AR effects to their product pages! Users will soon be able to virtually “try” products before making a purchase directly through the app.

Right now this feature has only been tested with a few brands like Ray-Bans, but this is certainly a feature that they will be opening up to more brands in the very near future.

Ar filters
Instagram AR filter

It’s not just about ecommerce and virtual try on functionalities, businesses also have a lot to gain from simply sharing these AR effects, as they are highly popular amongst users and have considerable viral potential themselves.

Adidas for example decided to create a custom AR effect that added a nostalgic VHS look to your IG stories, including a “glitch” effect. There was no real sell here, vintage filters and retro looking photos were trending on Instagram, so Adidas thought it would be a clever way to engage their audience with something that would be both appreciated and well received. All this sentiment just adds to the brand and the virality increases awareness.

AR filters are a clever tactic that can be deployed for building brand awareness and increasing social engagement. The effects Adidas created were super shareable and very on trend.

Instagram AR filter

Instagram has a system by which the filters and effects are locked unless the user is following the account. So as a result any creators of these AR effects have gained thousands of followers after sharing them on the Instagram platform.

This process of finding those exclusive filters on Instagram is slightly different now. Instagram has introduced their new gallery of effects, which makes it way easier to discover unique effects from the community! When you visit a creator’s profile, you can browse and access all of their custom effects by clicking the new effects tab over their feed. We’ll explain more about this later!

 

Here are some examples of how you can use Spar AR Studios to create branded experiences using Instagram camera effects:

#1: Instagram AR filters for online shopping

Instagram has created a new shopping environment which includes various new shopping features, pretty successfully. Some products just can’t be described that well with photos or video and now we have a new tool for allowing the consumer to experience a product online.

Kylie Cosmetics is a great example that most people have heard of to some capacity. When you select the AR effect by Kylie Cosmetics you can “try on” different lipsticks from the Lip Kits like Candy K or Glitz. This way you can see if the shade suits your skin tone before you buy it.

This is a perfect example of how you can use custom AR effects on Instagram. It’s not only fun to use these kinds of filters, but it helps potential customers to decide whether or not to purchase an item.

The streetwear label Off-White made a decent amount of noise using AR when they rolled out an effect that allowed users to “try on” sunglasses from their collection as well as adding other effects like their famous quotation marks. This all happened ahead of last year’s Paris Fashion Week

instagram filter

#2: Instagram AR filters for publishers

Publishers have a lot to gain from creating their own AR effects too and they are already doing it.

Buzzfeed Tasty is an ultra-popular food channel that jumped into the AR arena last year. When you select the effect the slogan “Oh Yes!” floats and twirls on the screen.

This effect can be used in so many different contexts. For example, when you are sharing pics or vids of the meal you just made you can make your friends think that you are an absolute culinary pro.

But the best thing is that you don’t have to use it for food only. It’s generic and fits many different usage cases. The only thing limiting the humor factor is your creativity.

Tasty Filter

#3: Instagram AR filters for causes

Rihanna took advantage of the AR effects last year and created her own effect to promote the Diamond Ball and Clara Lionel Foundation. The effect adds a diamond headpiece to your selfie. This way businesses can use AR effects to raise awareness for causes they and their audience care about.

An eco-friendly cleaning supply company for example could create an effect for Earth Day or any other environmental holiday. So different companies could use AR effects to raise awareness for various different issues.

So, are you ready to jump in and create your own AR camera effects for your brand using tSpark AR Studio? Go check out our guide to help you get started with Spark AR Studio!

AR camera effect

How to access custom AR filters on Instagram

There is a new way to find, try and explore new AR filters and effects on Instagram.

So, as we mentioned above you could only use the custom AR filters by following the creators on Instagram. Once you did that their filters would appear in your Instagram Stories camera.

But now the new profile layout simplifies the whole process a lot more! If you visit a creator’s profile, you will find a new effects tab above their feed. You can browse these effects and filters they created and use them by yourself.

When you tap on an effect, you can click on the option “Try It”.

This will open your Instagram Stories camera where you can try the effect right away.

By tapping the “save” icon in the lower right hand corner you can save the effect if you like it.

The effect will then appear in your own effects tray in the Instagram Stories camera. You can add it to any future stories from now on! By tapping the “Browse More Effects” button you can open the effects gallery and browse many different other effects created by the Instagram community.

You will find thousands of different AR effects and you can sort through them by category or topic! If you open the “Moods” channel for example, you can browse all the different effects that fall under that category. You can open the “Color & Lights” channel to browse effects that play with lighting. There is also a feed of selected effects from the creator community. It’s a bit like the explore page.

AR effects are still a really great way to gain more followers and advertise your brand even if you don’t necessarily need to follow a creator to get access to their effects anymore. Every time someone uses one of your AR camera effects, they are ultimately promoting it to all of their followers. So, it’s possible to create a snowball effect and go viral.

How to create your own Instagram Stories filters with Spark AR Studio

Spark AR Studio is now in open to everyone, so really anyone (e.g. brand, creator, influencers) can start creating their own AR effects for their Instagram Stories. It’s designed for anyone of any skill level regardless of your technical background or existing knowledge.

All you have to do is download the Spark AR Studio program and you can start building your own AR effects immediately. You don’t even really need any knowledge of coding to get started. Although some previous experience with unity or C# is definitely going to speed up the process, as well as providing more scope for more complex AR effects.

Spark AR Studio

There are quite a few tutorials on the Spark AR resources page if you are completely new to the design process. You can start to learn the program from there and get creative with trial and error! Facebook also provides documentation and guides that explain the approval process and how to get your effects published.

If you’re interested in producing one of these effects but don’t have the time to learn how to create your own effect, we would be more than happy to assist you. We have created a number of AR effects for various different brands and have developed a deep understanding of how to push this new technology to achieve something truly immersive for your user.

After creating an AR effect, you can then publish it to your Instagram profile or share it on an Instagram Story. Followers who see it can select it and use it for themselves too. The effect always credits the uploader as the creator, we always supply the project files so that you can upload the effect yourself. We can also take care of this for you. It’s a very simple process and the approval is a lot quicker than it was originally.

If you want to learn some more about creating your own Instagram Stories filter or effect with Spark AR Studio you can check out some more of our blog posts!

Best practices for Instagram AR Filters

As powerful as AR effects can be, they do also require a fair bit of thought and planning.

We are showing you some of the very best practices to follow when creating these effects, according to the product manager of Instagram’s camera team, Cemre Gungor:

#1: Serve a real need

AR effects can be used to serve a variety of different needs. They can be designed to help people with a specific problem or to make a decision, and other times they are just for a bit of fun. Here are a few key ones:

Help people to express their aesthetic: Instagram is all about visuals and people want to share their personal aesthetic. Many effects help people to improve their photos or videos with elements of color, light or visual design.

Help people to capture what they are feeling, thinking or doing: Effects can often help to amplify someone’s emotions and perspectives. People on Instagram love to share what they are into and express themselves. Effects that “facilitate expressions” tend to do really well.

Help people to get inspired or to have a bit of fun: Sometimes people don’t really know what to share. In this case these effects can assist with this. People get a bit of inspiration and are given an easy way to create something interesting that they can share, even when nothing particularly interesting is happening.

Help people to make their friends laugh: Effects can help to add humor to completely everyday situations. Humorous content has a much greater chance of being shared.

Help people to be part of something bigger: Many people celebrate cultural movements or support different causes on Instagram. Creating effects that are fitting for those movements or causes, is a great way to build a larger more engaged audience!

#2: Get out of the way

AR effects that are re-usable are often the most successful camera effects on Instagram. People can continue to use them over and over again. An AR effect is meant to complement the users creativity and helps to make that the center of attention. When you do this well, people will use your effect over and over again and create something entirely new every single time!

#3: Keep branding to a minimum

Branded effects feel more like a “gift” if they resonate with the community. It’s really important to pick and choose which brand elements you want to include in your AR effects. You shouldn’t really include your logo as this may prevent approval, but you can definitley use branded colors or a visual design instead for example.

Facebook research has shown that users are not big fans of heavily branded elements in these effects, so that’s the main reason why it’s best to think of your effect as more of a gift.

#5: Think outside the box

There are some effects out there which are extremely shareable even though they haven’t really been made with repeat use in mind. They are usually very novel and fun.

 

 

Using Spark AR Studio for business communication purposes can be a really effective way of connecting with your audience and followers, building awareness and even going viral!

It’s also a great way to grow your account whether you decide to create some of your own effects or you use already existing AR effects in your Instagram Stories.

Now is the time to jump on board the AR train!

#4: Make it easy and fun

It only takes a couple of seconds for someone to decide if they are going to use your effect. So you have to get to the point right away!

Make the effects work with the front-facing and back-facing camera.

You can also make the effect work when there’s more than one person on the screen! SnapChat even have animal face recognition so we can imagine this will be part of Instagram’s next update.

Instagram Stories Ideas For Marketers

5 Instagram Stories ideas for marketers

By | Digital, Online Marketing | No Comments

Unless you have been hiding under an enormous rock you’ve obviously heard about Instagram stories. In fact if you are a fan of Instagram you probably spend at leats 20 minutes a day mindlessly clicking through peopels stories. This is exactly why Instagram stories are a great way to reach your audience. Not only that but due to the nature of an Instagram story, the expectations on production are very low, and if anything this adds to the authenticity of it all anyway. So now that you are sold on Instagram Stories here is 5 instagram stories ideas for marketers.

 

“All the experts from around the world are here and they’re telling you what’s going on and where you need to be,” said Drew Taddia.

 

Here are five Instagram Stories Ideas For Marketers, from Alex Beadon:

#1: Post content consistently. Post regularly and at a pace that works for you. Stick with a set schedule that your audience can depend on. The frequency is up to you, but it is important for people to expect regular content from you.

#2: Create a weekly series. A series gives your audience something to look forward to. Examine what could be relatable and relevant, then create your own series. For example, each Thursday share relevant news. Mix different kinds of content from photo and video to screenshots from your phone or computer in your series. Experiment and have fun!

#3: Share your expert advice. Add value with Instagram Stories by sharing advice. Keep a running list of common customer questions and answer them through a Story.

#4: Run promos. Share fun promotions on Stories that go beyond a discount. Find creative new ways customers can buy from you. Highlight customers and celebrate their wins. Share testimonials or product launches. Use Stories to create social proof or promote a hashtag.

#5: Go behind the scenes of your life and business. Pull people into your life and your brand through Instagram Stories. Behind-the-scenes Stories can be about anything, from what goes into making your product to getting to know your team. Let people peek at how your products are made or share fun facts about yourself or business.

BONUS: What might seem “boring” or “mundane” to you could be fascinating to your fans. Show some of the crazy or ridiculous stuff that your customers would never see anywhere else.  .

Tourism Technology Trends

Emerging Tourism Technology Trends You Should Know About

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Emerging Tourism Technology Trends You Should Know About

There have been so many different advancements in technology and new tourism technology trends, that have all impacted the way we travel. Ultimately all these new developments result in a more exciting, engaging and interactive experience. Want to know what the future has in store for us? Well give that magic 8 ball a shake, hopefully the out look is good.

I don’t think there is any dispute over the importance of technology’s role in the tourism industry. It strongly influences and continues to shape the manner in which we all travel. Whether it’s the destination where we are going or the different activities we’ll do once we get there and even afterwards, once we are back form exploring. According to Google, 74% of people plan their trips through the internet. With only 13% holding steady and still using travel agents. This alone gives you a good feel for the impact of technology on the travel industry.

I mean let’s face it, I’ve gone to cities before for the sole reason that Ryanair were giving me a €48 return. If you just feel like going anywhere, its never been easier to hop online and see what deals the budget airlines have to offer. See what is the cheapest and most interesting and it’s time to start getting those bags packed. For 3 months’ time, if like me you’re booking discount Ryannair flights. It’s rather funny how taken for granted this is these days.

In this piece I’ll be really looking into this with regards to mobile devices. As let’s face it, mobile has taken over. I often used to say I wouldn’t buy on mobile, I would browse and buy later on a computer. But with the advancements in mobile design and the simplification of ecommerce on mobile even I have noticed a shift in my online consumption habits.

Tourism Technology Trends

Tourism specialist and travel industry expert Xavier Cubeles pointed out at a conference in Barcelona how the travel industry is in the midst of a very big transformation. The internet and the advancements and spread of mobile has completely disrupted the way that the majority of people plan, book and ultimately experience their trips. This has had a huge impact on the way destinations must promote themselves going forward.

Mobile Technology Advancements

This is unquestionably the latest leading role in the evolution of travel. The mobile has ultimately become the travel agency, the tour guide, the restaurant critic, our navigator, the list goes on and on. It never leaves our side these days and a holiday is no exception. Everyone is leading with a mobile first design for bookings, reservations and absolutely everything else. TripAdvisor reckon 45% of people use their mobiles for everything to do with their trips.

This is essentially why all travel related businesses need to tweak their methods of communication to prioritise these mobile devices. KLM for instance already uses Facebook Messenger as an passenger information system. The way it works is once a person makes their reservation, it send the person all their information about their ticket through the messenger. It even sends their boarding pass and flight updates too. This just makes the whole travel process, something that is known to be highly stressful so much easier for about 90% of travellers. It puts all the necessary information in one place, literally right in the palm of your hand. There is no need to download anything or get new apps. It’s all just there.

Augmented Reality

Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual reality (VR) have really made their debut over the last few years in the travel world. The truth is that when the technology first launched it was more gimmicky and really wasn’t providing much value to the user. These days more and more companies are using it to promote their offerings, to allow users to virtually try out the experience in an attempt to sway them over the edge into a booking. Others are using it to simplify the whol travel experience like Gatwick airport AR which directed you to your gate etc with overlaid arrows to point you in the right direction. Having ran full pace through Barcelona airport once only to end up at the wrong gate trying to board a flight to Portugal I for one can see the value of this AR application.

Thanks to these new technologies we can literally transport ourselves virtually to the remotest of areas of the world without ever leaving our own living room. Ever wondered what it would be like to climb Everest and not have to queue to get to the summit. Not any more with the EVEREST VR app, that lets you climb to the top of the world without ever even standing up. Wow!

tourism technology trends

Internet of Things (IoT)

There is huge talk around the internet of things. Whenever I hear this, I can’t help but think of that Simpsons Treehouse of Horror where all the signs come alive and start attacking Springfield. Why does automation always have to go so Skynet? Anyway, it’s going to be big and not just because you can text your toaster and tell it to order you some pat the baker. It’s going to bring advancements to the tourist industry too. It’s all around integrating sensors into things like cars and suitcases and building and connecting them to the internet so we can get more data than is humanly possible to process. But hey it definitely allows for a potentially more personalised customer experience, even if that comes with a hint of robot uprising. Apparently some Virgin hotels provide an app that allows their guests to control elements of the room from their mobile device. You don’t even have to get up to change the temperature or to look for the remote . To be fair there is a suitcase with a built in tracker so that your device will track your bag at all times. Being stranded in hungry with no bag for 4 days I can safely say I want one.

Virtual Assistants

We all have heard of Alexa and Siri at this stage. Unless you have literally been under that rock for so long that you have begun the carbonification process. If that’s you well they do just about everything these days, just get an Alexa and you’ll never be alone again. Well now hotels are starting to introduce virtual assistants into their environments. IBM launched their more sophisticated AI assistant Watson. Where he differs is that he create a much more personalised customer experience. These will be open source eventually for hotels to white label and make their own. And in theory teach them things that other AI assistants may not know. Particular policies or ways to interact with guests. It’s really rather limitless.

Voice search travel industry

Big Data

There is just always so much talk about big data, but lets face it right now it’s just too big. We need proper AI systems to be able to deal with it effectively. As such we are yet to see many of the opportunities it offers being showcased for the travel industry. Despite this there are a few guys using it already.  The Melia hotel chain does this to some extent. They use information on their different guests to work out the best target for marketing purposes. By looking at their database and the amount spent, the reason for travel, country of origin and then cross checking this with public data what you are left with is the best group of customers that you are likely to have the highest success rate with. Better segmentation ultimately increases the efficacy and increases the ROI.

tourism technology trends

Blockchain

Anyone who knows me will know how much I love blockchain and not just because I got in crazy early on XRP. Its because this technology is going to change the world as we know it. The market will take back control from the banks, and we will no longer be tied to inadequate and incumbent services from which we have no alternative. Whilst this is mainly for the world of finance its surely going to impact on travel too. Although there have been no good examples yet, through single identifiers and smart contracts I can see how it could be used to track passengers or luggage more technically.

Well there you have it. Some of the new technology advancements to hit the travel industry. If you are looking at ways that you can implement some of these new technologies into your travel business strategy, then give us a call and let’s see how we can help bring your business into the forefront of this new space.