Snapchat Lenses Vs. Instagram Filters Which AR Platform is Best for Your Organic Marketing Strategy?
When Instagram Branded Effects came out of beta last August, I had high hopes that AR filters would help democratize product and brand promotion on this platform. My assumption was that by allowing your audience to insert themselves into your brand’s narrative and share branded AR content in their Stories, filters would help mitigate the power of the paid influencer as your audience could become brand influencers in their own right.
However, I underestimated the grip that what The New Yorker calls Instagram Face has over any marketing campaign on this platform. Instagram Face, says Journalist Jia Tolentino, is “the gradual emergence, among professionally beautiful women, of a single, cyborgian face….as if the algorithmic tendency to flatten everything into a composite of greatest hits had resulted in a beauty ideal that favored white women capable of manufacturing a look of rootless exoticism.”
And while Instagram may have banned all plastic surgery filters, successfully using AR filters for brand marketing has proved to be just as dependent on the same paradigm of beauty as any other marketing tactic on this platform. Instagram AR filters aren’t easily searchable—you can scroll through categories like ‘Selfie’ or ‘Events’, but not by hashtag or name. This means brands are left little choice but to use paid influencers to launch their filter campaigns, or risk having them languish in the filter tab on their feed because Instagrammers simply don’t know it’s there.
I’ve heard more than one AR filter agency explain that they’ll hire female models to help increase the visibility of their demo filters as—let’s face
it—nothing makes someone want to look at visual content more than a woman that fits the prevelant heteronormative standard of beauty. But whether or not visibility leads to more than impressions (versus captures and shares, meaning Instagrammers that see your filter actually use it and share their content) is a metric many choose to gloss over. But isn’t the point of an AR campaign, after all, for your audience to actually stop and engage with your brand message for themselves?
As for those who do stop scrolling and play with a branded filter experience, how do they avoid focusing on how they measure up against the influencer who introduced it to them in the first place? Interactive AR may have the power to enact positive change on this platform, but when tied to paid influencers, it could instead perpetuate damaging comparison culture.
Snapchat’s Community Lens Library, on the other hand, offers a huge opportunity for marketers who are looking to run an organic marketing campaign without paid influencer promotion. The Lens Library is easily searchable, so if your lens name has trending keywords, Snapchatters can easily find it when they are looking for lenses to play with. The founder of a well-known AR creative agency in LA told me that while the Lens Library is also susceptible to the power of Instagram Face (via preview videos attached to lenses in the library), his team hacked the search algorithm and simply renamed lenses in their portfolio to increase visibility without having to hire a model to help.
Within the Lens Library, compelling creative alone has phenomenal viral marketing power. For a recent branded lens & filter campaign, the AccessAR team recreated the same creative concept for Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook for our client. Within the first week, the lens had 7M views, 5M plays and 250K shares—all with no influencer involvement. The same experience on Instagram was published to the brand’s feed but not promoted with influencer Story content, and while it racked up respectable mid-six figure impressions over the first five days, the stats paled in comparison to the organic Snapchat campaign.
As Snapchat’s Gen Z user base continues to gain purchasing power, the Community Lens Library offers brand marketers a huge opportunity to run a truly viral organic marketing campaign featuring the most awesome influencers of all—users that actually have fun engaging with and sharing your social media AR experience.
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