A key differentiating feature between Facebook’s Instagram and popular photo-sharing app Snapchat was Snapchat’s inclusion of “lenses” — unique augmented reality camera overlays that transformed users’ faces into dogs, cats, llamas, Bob Marley, and everything in between.
This addition was a standout for Snapchat; a point of difference to the increasingly popular services offered through Instagram, Messenger, and Whatsapp.
Not satisfied with recently surpassing Snapchat’s 200 million daily active users, Instagram has now introduced its own take on lenses for its Stories function, called “face filters”. In an Instagram blog post, these filters act similarly to Snapchat’s offerings by modifying users’ faces to include koala ears, crowns, glasses, or headbands.
So far the platform has only unveiled eight different filters but it has plans to roll out more. Instagram has reportedly not yet announced any plans to monetise the filters through sponsorships a la Snapchat, with a spokesperson telling Business Insider “we have no plans to offer sponsored face filters at this time”.
However, Instagram Stories already includes in-app advertising, so it’s not much of a stretch to predict similar advertising could be integrated into “face filters”. With Instagram recently surpassing Twitter as an advertising platform and monthly active users exceeding 700 million, experts believe SMEs should be considering the platform as an advertising opportunity.
Lucio Ribeiro, head of strategy and delivery at Online Circle Digital, told SmartCompany last year that while the platform is “not for every business”, including it in your marketing efforts can be beneficial if you’re willing to invest time and money.
“If you can dedicate two or three hours a week, have a good eye for photos and videos, and can afford a few hundred [dollars] in advertising, Instagram can be a good support for your business,” Ribeiro said.
Ribeiro also believes influencer marketing is another solid way for businesses to use the platform, providing opportunities for massive amounts of exposure.
“Influencer marketing is one of the best ways to quickly build up your Instagram following, particularly when you’re starting from scratch,” he said.
“Through influencer marketing, you can connect with people with an established following and get exposed to their audience.”
Check out how the new “face filters” work below.