The term “augmented reality” may sound very futuristic, but did you know that you’re already interacting with AR every day through Instagram Stories?
Instagram’s cute face filters, like puppy dog ears, are actually AR filters!
And with over 400 million people using Instagram Stories every day, brands are starting to cash in on the virality of face filters by creating their own custom AR filters for Instagram Stories.
Instagram Stories AR filters offer brands a fun and interactive away of reaching new users and building brand awareness, and we’re predicting this will be a hot new trend for 2019.
Keep reading to learn how brands are using Instagram Stories AR filters, and how you can use them for your business:
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What are Instagram Stories AR Filters?
One of Instagram’s biggest reveals at the F8 conference this year was that creators, influencers, and businesses would soon be able to create their own custom AR filters for Instagram Stories using Facebook’s Spark AR Studio!
But what exactly is an AR filter?
Despite its futuristic-sounding name, AR (short for “augmented reality”) is actually quite simple. It’s a technology that, essentially, superimposes virtual effects (aka computer-generated images and videos) onto the real world via a camera.
On Instagram, you likely know them as face filters — those sometimes cute, sometimes funny overlays that you can add to your photos and videos via Instagram Stories.
Prior to Instagram’s announcement, AR filters were created and controlled by Instagram. But now with the closed beta program, select brands can create their own custom AR filters for Instagram Stories!
Creating your own custom AR filter for Instagram Stories is a great growth hack because in order to access the filter you’ll need to either follow the brand on Instagram or visit their profile to try it out.
You can also try on the filters if you see one of your friends using the filter in Instagram Stories, which means the Instagram AR filters are basically designed to go viral and are a huge growth opportunity.
We’ll explain how to get started with using and creating your own Instagram Stories AR filters below, but for now, let’s take a look at 8 accounts that are creating awesome custom filters on Instagram:
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#1: Kylie Cosmetics’ Instagram Stories AR Filter
One of the first businesses to jump on the custom AR filters for Instagram Stories train was Kylie Cosmetics, and we’re so glad that she did!
When you select Kylie Cosmetic’s AR filter in Instagram Stories, you can “try on” different lipsticks from Kylie’s Lip Kits (like Candy K and Glitz) to see which shade best suits your skin tone before making a purchase.
This is a perfect example of how businesses could be using custom AR filters. Not only are Kylie’s filters fun to use, but they’re also low-key promotional and super helpful if you’re actually looking to purchase the product.
#2: Adidas Originals’ Retro AR Filter for Instagram Stories
Vintage filters and retro-looking photos have been seriously trending this year, and thanks to Adidas Originals’ custom AR filter, you can now get those retro vibes on your Instagram Stories as well!
Once selected, the filter adds a nostalgic VHS look to your video, and raising your eyebrows creates a “glitch” effect that also includes a pattern of Adidas logos.
While less promotional than Kylie Cosmetics’ filter, this custom AR filter from Adidas Originals is super shareable and very on-trend. So it’s perfect for building brand awareness.
#3: Rihanna’s Diamond Headpiece AR Filter
A few months ago, Rihanna created her own sparkly custom filter to help you shine bright like a diamond in your selfies!
Created to promote her annual Diamond Ball, which is used to raise awareness for the Clara Lionel Foundation, when selected, the filter adds a diamond headpiece to your selfie.
It’s a great example of how you don’t have to promote a physical product with an AR filter. Just like Rihanna, you can use AR face filters to promote an event or to share a brand message if you’re thinking of creating a filter for your business.
#4: Gucci Beauty’s Portrait Instagram Stories AR Filter
Gucci Beauty only recently launched their Instagram account, but that didn’t stop them from immediately jumping on the AR filters train with several intricate and gorgeous filters!
When you select Gucci Beauty’s filter, you can pick from three different looks, each reminiscent of the renaissance- and baroque-period portraits that Gucci often shares on their feed.
The filters were created by creative director Alessandro Michele and contain Gucci-themed details along with pearl earrings, lipstick, and more.
#5: Maddie Ziegler’s Kindness Face Filter for Instagram Stories
American dancer-turned-actress Maddie Ziegler has racked up a huge following on Instagram (over 12 million!), and she’s using it for good! In October, she teamed up with Instagram to create her very own custom Instagram Stories AR filter to promote kindness.
When selected in selfie mode, the filter causes hearts to fill the screen, and you’ll be prompted to tag a friend you want to support.
If you switch to the rear camera, you’ll see an overlay of kind comments in different languages.
The filter was launched in honor of anti-bullying efforts around the world, which has been a big focus on Instagram in 2018.
#6: Off-White’s Sunglasses & Quotes AR Filter
Streetwear label Off-White blew up in 2018, and a big part of that has to do with the brand’s strong visual identity and loyal following on Instagram. So you can imagine the excitement levels when they launched their own custom Instagram Stories AR filter.
The filter was strategically rolled out ahead of Off-White’s show at Paris Fashion Week, allowing users to “try on” sunglasses from the brand’s collection, as well as adding other effects, like Off-White’s famous branded quotation marks.
In this way, it’s a lot like Kylie Cosmetic’s filter in that it’s both fun to use and a great way to educate possible customers about Off-White’s products.
#7: NBA’s Dunk Cam Instagram Stories AR Filter
Another early adopter of Instagram Stories AR filters was the NBA. And although this one is definitely more fun than promotional, it’s perfect for the NBA’s basketball-loving followers!
When selected, the filter allows you to add a dunking basketball player to your videos, and it works on both front- and back-facing cameras.
#8: Disney’s Mickey and Minnie AR Filter
Disney has always been a heavy-hitter on Instagram, sharing beautiful and inspirational content that quickly takes you back to your childhood. And now you can join the Disney magic thanks to their new custom AR filter!
When selected, the AR filter lets you add Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse ears to your photo or video. Tapping the screen lets you switch between several different styles, including shiny sequin-studded ears!
While Disney’s AR filter is more playful than promotional, it’s super shareable and great for spreading brand awareness!
How to Access Custom Instagram Stories AR Filters
Now that we’ve looked at how some brands are creating their own custom filters for Instagram Stories, let’s go over how you can actually access these filters.
The first (and easiest) option is to simply view or follow the account that created the custom AR filter. This should bring up a small notification at the bottom of your screen letting you know that their filter has been added to your Instagram Stories.
To share a custom filter on Instagram Stories, simply swipe right from your homepage to open the Instagram Stories camera. And then tap the “face” icon in the bottom right corner.
Instagram has quite a few face filters available now, so you may need to do some searching to find the filter you just added.
Once you do, tap the filter, and go nuts!
Note: Some AR filters work on both the front- and back-facing cameras, while others only work in selfie mode!
You can also access custom AR filters directly from your friend’s stories!
If one of your friends follows an account with an AR filter and shares a story or DM using that filter, you should see the option to tap to “Try it” in the top left corner of their story
Instagram also recently added new functionalities to face filters on Instagram Stories! Previously you could only add face filters to photos and videos that were recorded using the stories camera. But now you can apply AR filters to photos and videos that you took beforehand.
Simply open the Instagram Stories camera and swipe up to access your camera roll. Once you find the right photo or video, tap the face filters button at the top of the screen.
Here you’ll be able to select from a list of face filters by Instagram (unfortunately, this doesn’t work for custom AR filters!).
Once you’re happy with the look, you can send it to a friend via Instagram Direct or share it as a story!
How to Create Your Own Instagram Stories AR Filters
As we mentioned above, creators, influencers, and brands can all create their own custom Instagram filters using Facebook’s Spark AR Studio.
However, you need to apply to Instagram’s closed beta program and be approved by Instagram before you can publish your own AR filter. Seeing as so many brands are starting to hop on the trend, we’re hopeful that Instagram will open the program up to all businesses like they’ve done with the camera effects for Facebook.
Luckily, you can download Spark AR Studio even before you’ve been accepted to the beta program. So if you’re planning to create a custom AR filter for Instagram in the future, you can practice building AR effects today!
According to Facebook, you don’t need to know how to code to get started with Spark AR Studio. It’s a super easy to navigate tool and is pretty intuitive when it comes to designing, so even for those of us with limited tech backgrounds, you can get creative with your AR filters!
Facebook also provides a ton of documentation and guides that covers not only how to build your own AR effects (including textures, objects, face filters, games, and more), but also explains the approval process and how to submit your effects to be published.
Ready to get started? Head over to the Spark AR Studio website to start building your own AR effects for Instagram!
You can expect to see plenty of brands and businesses getting creative with AR filters in the future.
Whether you’re thinking of creating an AR filter to promote your brand or products, share a message, or just design something that adds a little jazz to your selfies, it’s a fun feature that early adopters will love.
Learn how to grow your business and stay engaged with your followers using Instagram Stories with our free Instagram Stories Course!