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Simple augmented selfies and Snapchat Lenses – a more effective way to grow your brand?

This article was originally published on LinkedIn.

I was at a family dinner when I watched how my niece played with B612 app for well over an hour trying out different augmented selfie lenses (traditional AR lenses with characters walking around seemed much less interesting to her). Most of these were fairly simple 2D AR selfie lenses. The important part is that they enabled her to be in a different setting or become a different character for a short moment and make funny video clips with it.

That’s when it dawned on me. This is how AR should be for brands.

In fact, I’ve since seen this happen over and over again with different age groups. This explains why selfie lenses integrated apps (Snow, B612, Tik Tok, Snapchat lenses etc) are growing fast. Snapchat has the data to back it up. 70 million Snapchatters are using Snapchat lenses every day, spending on average 20-30 seconds on each lens before sharing it with their friends.

Even before Lens Studio was open to public, many well known brands from different industries have already been partnering with Snapchat to launch successful Snapchat lens campaigns. Granted that these are a little more complex than the typical Snow/TikTok lens, the principle is largely the same. Here are some examples:

AR and selfie lenses are no longer just a marketing gimmick, but are proving to be a significantly more effective way to grow brand awareness and engage the Gen Z and Millenials. Below are my thoughts on why this is:

1) Not ad like

Nobody really like being sold to, and Gen Z/Millenials of all people are most allergic to anything that seems too ad like. Snapchat lenses, even when created by brands, are more like fun micro experiences that people actually enjoy.

2) Built for organic and viral growth

Being integrated with social network and a camera based app means that augmented selfie lenses are inherently shareable, leading to creative user generated content that organically grows brand awareness. Going beyond just passive video content, this enables your community to also share the experience (using Snapcode or URL) with their own friends and cross promote on other social networks.

3) Brand engagement

Lens campaigns are a great opportunity to get your online community participating in a brand experience and crowdsourcing interesting original content created with your branded selfie lens through challenges and giveaway campaigns calling for best clips.

4) Cost effective

Whether you are looking to increase brand/cause awareness, drive app installation or increase traffic to retail and online stores, lenses distributed organically or through paid acquisition have proven to be more effective than passive ad content in achieving marketing goals. With the release of tools like Snapchat Lens Studio and Spark AR Studio, development is also now much more feasible for smaller brands.

5) Connecting offline and online communities

This applies to lenses with its own tracker code in particular (or in Snapchat Lenses case, Snapcode). The possibility of adding a tracker/Snapcode associated with your branded lens onto product packaging or other printed marketing material e.g. posters, adds the ability for brands to bring their offline customers or passerby to their online community.

6) Adds value to your brand’s product/retail shopper experience

An opportunity for brands to get creative and go beyond micro entertainment experience to add value to their product/retail shopper experience. Examples of this might include: product try on (e.g.makeup/beauty) and connecting it with tutorial and ecommerce, location based unlocking of special offers or limited edition products, or upselling complementary products

7) Brand differentiation

Nowadays with social media content and ads overload, it’s increasingly difficult for brands to stand out and make an impression on potential customers with traditional digital marketing. By contrary, augmented selfie lenses are micro experience that delights, and when done well adds magic to your brand experience that makes it something remarkable.

Have you considered creating your own branded lenses? If not, what’s stopping you? If you have run AR lens campaigns for your brand in the past, how did the results compare to traditional ads? What worked and what didn’t? Let me know in the comments.

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