20 June 2021

How AR and VR Are Shaping the Future of Marketing

Augmented reality and virtual reality in social media have been around for a little while. It all started with the Google Glass project a few years ago, but we all remember the Pokemon Go craze of 2016 the best. While AR games are quite addictive, the crossover into social media has meant that advertising and social communication have gained significant new outlets for engaging consumers. Augmented reality on social media can allow brands to interact with consumers in a fun, new way, while virtual reality is creating a whole new world for those who want to spend the money on the necessary kit.

How can augmented reality and virtual reality benefit your business or social media channel? Let's have a look at the key characteristics of both of these trends, their benefits and how to use them in social media.

Augmented reality vs. Virtual reality

What is the difference between AR and VR?

They might be used interchangeably when it comes to digital marketing, but these are two distinct technologies. They will likely become "two sides of the same coin" as the technology develops and allows us to use them both, but for now, here are the key differences.

Key differences between AR and VR

Augmented reality lets the user experience the real world, which has been digitally augmented or enhanced in some way. Augmented reality on social media could literally mean something as well-known as Instagram filters or funny add-ons such as cat's ears. It's not quite the same as high-tech AR, but similar.

Virtual reality actually removes the user from the real-world experience and places them in a completely simulated environment. This cannot be achieved easily. In fact, virtual reality Instagram accounts can be considered a sort of AR experiment in reality. "True" VR requires complete immersion into its environment.

When can augmented reality and virtual reality be used?

AR is used quite widely thanks to its availability, from AR filters on Instagram to TikTok add-ons. In a professional setting, users can employ AR for training purposes, recording and narrating their tasks in order to pass on their knowledge to new staff members, for example.

Virtual reality can be used more for a complete immersion or simulation, such as simulating medical procedures for training purposes or creating an immersive experience of travelling abroad for a bed-bound individual. It requires a more specialized kit to allow the user the full immersive experience. 

Augmented reality and social media marketing

Thanks to ever more accessible sophisticated features on our mobile phones, AR can be used to incorporate maps, icons, emoticons, filters, and more into most activities. When it comes to augmented reality integrated through social media, this opens the door to endless marketing opportunities for brands to stand out and make an impact on their market segment.

Interactive marketing

Brands like make-up giant Sephora can now use augmented reality in Instagram or Facebook to allow customers to try on products without going to their stores. This makes online shopping a lot easier, but also offers a value-added service that sets this retailer aside: no more crowding in a shop to try on lipsticks, no more hygiene concerns around samples and re-used brushes etc., and no more need to travel for a personalized shopping experience!

Immersive user experience

Similarly, brands can use TikTok augmented reality to let you try on their clothes or see how you'd look in your dream home or car. In a travel-restricted world during the Covid-19 pandemic, this means being closer to your customers and offering them almost the same experience as in-person interaction. The benefits? Quicker purchasing decisions, enhancing the return on investment in digital marketing for retailers. 

Using TikTok augmented reality for added engagement

TikTok has been leading the way in the AR use on social media. Thanks to its creative augmented reality filters and add-ons, users can manipulate its features to make their content more fun and engaging. Here are some ways in which TikTok users can level up their social media with AR.

Gamifying fitness

Thanks to interactive, game-like filters, fitness influencers can use TikTok to boost the effectiveness of their workout videos. Making a game out of push-ups has never been easier, as you try to get this ball to follow the correct path, for example.

Supercharge music videos

TikTok became huge thanks to music and dancing videos. Their domination in this area is set to continue as artists can record music videos enhanced with AR filters and features, creating eye-catching videos that will be shared again and again.

There are additional fun filters like an interactive drum kit, making it possible to follow along with your favorite artists and learn new musical skills, too.

Product interaction on TikTok

Another great effect offered by TikTok is the Branded Scan, giving users the opportunity to scan different visuals and trigger an AR effect which either overlays information on top of it or augments the product to make it more interactive. Options include:

  • A flat image, like a poster or a photo
  • The logo from a product 
  • The actual product

Using this augmented reality integrated through social media, brands can interact with their customers in an engaging way on the longer term, after purchase, increasing loyalty. 

Instagram augmented reality filters: a trend to master

On Instagram, you can take your posts to the next level thanks to AR filters. Augmented reality in Instagram has enhanced the interactive nature of stories and is bringing a playful, unique flavor to brand messaging as well as personal communication.

Although augmented reality may seem quite advanced technology, if you consider face filters launched in 2017, you'll realize we've been using AR for some time already. Moreover, users can now create their own AR filters through a number of video editing apps and other software. From overlaying a color scheme to your story, to cute dog and cat ears, to messages, the AR filters are a large part of what makes Instagram a great platform for producing interactive content that delights followers.

The benefits of using AR filters in Instagram are multiple:

  • Highlight your brand's personality by consistently using a type of filter that connects to your brand identity (playful, dreamy, romantic etc.)
  • Improve connection with your audience
  • Stand out from your competitors
  • Increase brand awareness by adding your logo or a brand mascot into your filter - if it's a hit, many others will be using it and replicating your brand across social media, thereby amplifying your message

Using augmented reality and virtual reality in social media is a trend that is due to stay with us for a long time. From adding playful touches to your Instagram, to creating product and service experiences, it is only to be expected that virtual reality will also take center stage in the years to come, as more people purchase immersive headsets and gain access to this level of content. Enjoy exploring it all, and don't forget to share

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