How to run a successful Instagram AR filter campaign: 3 ideas

By Anna Maria Turowska

The popularity of augmented reality (AR) on social media is growing. In 2020, more than 40 million people in the US alone interacted with AR filters on social media platforms at least once a month. For brands looking to market their products on Instagram, an AR filter campaign can be an easy way to both attract new customers and inspire loyalty in existing ones. 

However, while social media users are undoubtedly interested in AR, if they don’t know that an AR effect exists, they won’t use it. As a result, understanding how to share an AR effect on Instagram and attract people’s attention to it is almost as important as producing it in the first place. 

One great way to highlight your Instagram AR filter campaigns is by running Instagram contests. 

Research has shown that brands that hold Instagram competitions grow their follower count 70% faster compared to brands that don’t run contests. The reason for that is that, like TikTok’s Hashtag Campaigns, Instagram competitions featuring a brand’s AR filter can encourage people to share user-generated content—something that creates a snowball effect leading to more engagement and higher numbers of followers. In fact, one study found that Instagram contests see 3.5 times as many likes and 64(!) times more comments than standard posts. 

Here are three Instagram AR filter campaign ideas and examples for brands looking to get creative on Instagram. 

Instagram AR filter campaign ideas

1. Selfie contests

There are 500 million photos on Instagram tagged as “selfies” (as of this writing). In contrast, there are less than 200 million images tagged as “landscape” on the platform. 

There’s a reason people post so many selfies on Instagram. According to scientists at MIT, who created an algorithm that can predict how memorable or forgettable an image is, photos with faces are easier to remember than wide shots and landscapes. 

Brands can take advantage of this fact by running selfie contests.

A selfie contest is as simple as it sounds. It involves users submitting selfies for a chance to win a prize. Brands can ask users to snap a selfie with the brand’s AR filter and then tag the brand to enter the contest. They can also give participants other instructions, such as:

  • Liking the brand’s Instagram page.
  • Liking the post announcing the content.
  • Tagging a friend in the comments of the post about the competition.
  • Adding a specific hashtag to the selfie.

While brands will undoubtedly want to create a branded contest hashtag so that they can easily see all the submitted selfies, they should ask users to share selfies with more generic hashtags as well. Using hashtags such as “selfie” or “augmentedreality” can help brands expose their contest to a broader audience. 

Once the contest ends, the brand can choose its favourite selfie. Alternatively, brands can involve their audience further by asking them to ‘vote’ by liking their favourite image tagged with the hashtag.  

For inspiration, look no further than the AR filter we produced for Aladdin the Musical in London that was used as part of a competition. The social media filter allowed users to explore the “Cave of Wonders” and take a selfie with the Genie. The user who took the most creative photo with the Genie was given a pair of free tickets to the musical event. 

2. Augmented world effects

Instagram AR filter campaign
Purina’s AR filter superimposed the beloved Felix the Cat into users’ homes

For companies that sell physical products, competitions that take advantage of an augmented world effect may be more suitable than selfie contests. The reason for that is that with an augmented world effect, users can interact with products and see how they would look in their own space. 

So, whereas selfie contests ask users to take a picture of themselves with an AR filter, world effect competitions involve participants placing an AR object in their real-world surroundings and then taking a photo of it. 

For instance, a productivity journaling company may decide to run a contest asking people to share their “mindfulness” space. However, to make the competition more interesting, the company could create a 3D asset of their most popular journal and then ask users to place the AR journal in the place they typically journal in. The participant with the most creative journaling space could win the journal as a prize. 

A real-world example of a brand that has used this type of Instagram AR filter campaign to engage with its customers is the pet food company Purina.

In 2020, we collaborated with Purina to create an effect that allowed Instagram users to place the brand’s mascot Felix the Cat in their own homes. The campaign reached six million UK-based cat lovers, who, on average, spent between 20 and 30 seconds playing with the AR cat in their space. 

While this particular effect was not part of any social media competition, Purina could have easily turned it into one. For example, Purina could have asked users to record their interactions with the AR cat and then chosen winners based on how endearing or funny the submitted experiences were.

3. Mini-games

Instagram AR filter campaign
The “Farm Heroes Saga – Tractor Trouble” mini-game created for Candy Crush has players competing based on how many points they collect

For a more interactive Instagram AR filter campaign, brands could run mini-game contests on Instagram. 

Mini-games are short games that users can control with their head movements, face gestures, and screen taps. However, rather than just a fun way to fill users’ free time, mini-games can be a unique way to increase brand awareness and delight customers, especially if prizes are involved! 

The best thing about mini-games is that they can be as simple or complex as a brand wants them to be. For example, the popular “Guess the Gibberish” game on Instagram involves an AR filter displaying jumbled-up words on the player’s forehead. Users then have to guess what the incoherent words say in 10 seconds or less. 

On the other hand, the “Farm Heroes Saga – Tractor Trouble” effect we created for Candy Crush Saga is a mini-game that requires users to move their heads to collect vegetables that double as points. The goal here is to get as high a score as possible. With a mini-game contest like that, brands can play on people’s competitiveness by asking users to take a photo of their score and share it with the brand. The user with the highest score could then win a prize. 

Choose your Instagram AR filter campaign 

Done right, Instagram campaigns can help attract customer attention or, in some cases, even make a brand go viral—especially if they include an AR component. 

If you’d like to run an Instagram AR filter campaign but need help creating AR filters, 3D assets of your products, or amusing AR mini-games, get in touch with the expert team at Poplar Studio today. Together, we’ll make sure that your Instagram AR campaign gets your brand noticed online. 

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