#13 Instagram Aesthetic Trends for School Marketers – Using AR Filter Effects

This is the thirteenth installment of a series on Instagram aesthetic trends for 2020. Here are the links to the previous posts in this series:

The future of Instagram is a fun experience where real world photography is mixed with aesthetic art trends. Augmented reality filters used for Instagram Stories is one of those artistic trends gaining in popularity.

Brief History of AR Technology and Social Media

While “augmented reality” (AR) sounds futuristic, it’s now mainstream on Instagram. As a matter of fact, AR is not a new technology – it’s been around since the 1960s! However, the use of cameras integrated with smartphones has ushered in a new era, accelerating and spreading AR technology.

Today AR can be found everywhere from Google Maps to social media, allowing users to engage with the real world through a digital camera lens. Research conducted by the Boston Consulting Group estimates more than 120 million Americans are expected to engage with AR content on a monthly basis by 2021.

Snapchat was one of the earliest adopters of AR technology. Snapchat Lenses, augmented reality technology that integrated 3D elements into the camera picture, was introduced in 2015. Snapchat Lenses were instantly popular; by the year 2017 more than 3,000 AR lenses were available.

Spark AR Studio for Facebook and Instagram

Following Snapchat’s success with AR, Facebook introduced their AR tool called Camera Effects (later renamed Spark AR) in 2017. Spark AR was made available to Instagram users in August 2019.

Spark AR Studio allows anyone to create AR filters and effects for effects for social media. Custom filters are no longer limited to big brands; anyone can create a viral moment. It allows users to create AR filter effects for mobile cameras.

What’s more, while the Spark AR Studio platform has been accessible to everyone, their custom creator platform, previously only open to selected applicants, is now available to anyone. This is an exciting opportunity for artists and everyday people to get creative and learn how to make their imagination a reality using AR. (Unfortunately, at the time of the publication of this article, Facebook and Instagram are not accepting new AR filters for publication due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the Spark AR Hub is still available to creators.)

Instagram AR filters has enormous potential as for marketers, but it’s still tremendously underused. For this reason school marketers have a lot to gain by jumping in early and finding ways to stand out on Instagram Stories.

How School Marketers Can Use AR Filter Effects

There are lots of fun ways school marketers can use AR filter effects. Here are a few to consider.

  1. Add your school logo and adjust colors to match your school branding
  2. Add text to promote your school motto, slogan or hashtag
  3. Paint a user’s face with your school’s branded colors and selected pattern
  4. Add a banner and even some audio

There are way too many AR filter effects to review them all in this article. Click here for Spark AR tutorials and here for inspiration. Some of the most common filter effects include:

  • Creating a face tracking effect
  • Adding sound in response to an interaction
  • Place particles in an environment
  • Adding glasses or other objects to a face
  • Face distortion
  • Tracking an object to a hand
  • Color filters
  • Use facial movements to add effects or animations
  • Move lights to illuminate objects from different positions
  • And so much more!

AR Filter Best Practices for School Marketing

AR filters can be a powerful marketing tool when used properly – but using this technology can also require a lot of planning. Here are some best practices to consider when creating AR effects for Instagram.

  1. Help people express their creative side.

Instagram is a visual platform. Users want to engage with schools and share their own personal aesthetic. Use effects that help your audience elevate their photos and videos.

  1. Help people capture their thoughts, feelings and actions.

Sometimes photos and videos don’t quite encapsulate what people are trying to share. Effects can help amplify someone’s emotions and perspectives. Effects that facilitate expressions are especially popular!

  1. Help people have fun.

People just want to have fun! They want to share with their friends but don’t always know what to share. An effect can provide inspiration and help them create an interesting story.

  1. Help people express humor.

Effects can be a great way to inspire laughter and add humor to everyday settings, allowing schools to bridge a connection with their followers.

  1. Help people be a part of something bigger than themselves.

Build an engaged audience by supporting school activities, support for the school or community program or express admiration for a community hero.

  1. Make your audience the hero of their content.

The best Instagram AR filters will be used over and over again. Be sure to offer filters that highlights your users’ content, not make your filter the center of attention.

  1. Resist the urge to be spammy.

Don’t overdo the use of your school logo. Instead, use your mascot or branded colors or visual designs. Younger users especially aren’t fans of heavy branding. Think of your Instagram AR filters as gifts to your IG followers.

  1. Make them easy to use.

It only takes a few seconds for someone to decide whether to use a filter. So make sure you make them cool and easy to use!

  1. Think outside the box.

The best AR filters are innovative. Take the time to get creative and think outside the box.

How to Access Instagram Filters

Access Instagram AR filters through the Instagram app on your phone.

  1. Open your Instagram account and go to your Instagram Story
  2. At the bottom of the screen you will see your AR filters
  3. Click on one to try it out
  4. To find other filters, scroll all the way to the right until you find the blank filter with a search magnifying glass in it
  5. Click on the magnifying glass and more options will appear
  6. When you find one you like, click “Try It” at the bottom
  7. Click the large round button in the bottom center of your screen
  8. Then you can send it to your Story using the Send To button on the bottom right

AR Filter Design Inspiration

Want AR filter effect inspiration for your school marketing efforts? Check out these links:

AR filter effects can help you build connections with your audience and awareness for your school as well as grow your Instagram account. Instagram aesthetic trends will continue to evolve and change in the future; the key to success is being able to adapt new aesthetic trends to your school’s style and flair.

Have you tried Instagram AR filter effects? Have you created any for your school marketing efforts? Please share your experience with the rest of the school marketing community in the comments below.

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