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  • Writer's pictureRoundabout team

Instagram Filters vs. Snapchat lenses: which has the most viral organic marketing power?

Instagram filters and Snapchat lenses are now being used by the biggest brands around the world to drive brand awareness and better engage their audience with shareable, interactive experiences.

What many brand marketers don’t realize is that running a successful AR lens or filter campaign hinges on your audience’s ability to find it.

Snapchat lenses and Instagram filters are, at their core, very similar marketing tools. However, the way users engage with the two platforms are very different, as are the different ways users can find AR experiences that aren’t promoted in a Sponsored campaign.

Instagram Filters

First off, there’s currently no way to sponsor your AR filter on Instagram (though in mid-to-late 2020 this will most likely change with Instagram AR Ads). Instagram filters are published to your feed and are accessible via a dedicated filter tab, which in theory, should make your AR filter easy to find.

However, many Instagram users may not realize what this button is for (and for those of you that don’t know either, read more here). Furthermore, Instagram AR filters aren’t easily searchable in the Effects Library—you can scroll through categories like ‘Selfie’ or ‘Events’,  but not by hashtag or name (the Effects Library can be found by opening your Instagram Story Camera and scrolling to the far right and tapping the ‘Browse Effects’ button). 

The best way to spread the word that your filter experience exists is by posting Story content captured with your filter. Anyone that sees your filter Story content will be able tap a button at the top of their screen to open the filter and try it for themselves. This, of course, means that someone has to record and share this content, ideally not just on your brand’s profile, but on their own as well. 

Brands are therefore 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 Instagram users simply don’t know it’s there. The filters that see the most impressions, captures and shares are those that are highly visible because of an influencer’s reach on the platform. So, unless you have access to an influencer willing to promote your AR filter for free, organic marketing with AR filters on Instagram simply isn’t possible. 

Running a successful Instagram AR filter campaign is therefore totally dependent on your own distribution efforts, whether that be via an influencer campaign, or by embedding deep links to your filter experience into your paid campaigns on Facebook, Google, or other digital marketing channels, or even with on-site QR codes at experiential pop up spaces.

Snapchat Community Lenses

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. 

Within the Lens Library, if your lens has compelling creative brand marketers can achieve phenomenal results. For a recent branded lens and filter campaign, the AccessAR team recreated the same creative concept for Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook for our client.

Within the first week, the Snapchat lens had millions of views and captures, as well as six-figure 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 six figure impressions over the first five days, the organic Snapchat campaign produced much more compelling results. 

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.

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