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How to create standout AR effects on Instagram (5 tips & tricks)

Thanks to our friends at Facebook for writing and sponsoring this blog post!

Augmented reality is an exciting new medium. But when you take AR and combine it with Instagram and its growing community of artists and creators, the breadth of what you can make and the potential for who you can reach quickly expands.

We’ve learned a lot about what makes an AR effect resonate with Instagram’s community based on our own in-house work and observations from the most successful effects to date. If you want to make standout AR effects on Instagram, here are five tips to consider:


Tip #1: Serve a real need

Successful AR effects serve specific needs, try to help people better express themselves, and feel more comfortable sharing.

Instagram’s mission is to bring you closer to the people and things you love. Targeting one or more of the following needs in your effect will ensure it delivers clear value:

👉 Express My Aesthetic

Augmented reality allows people to express themselves visually. In this way, it sits in the same category as fashion, tattoos and makeup. AR effects that help users to express themselves and their aesthetic typically do well.


👉 Capture What I’m Thinking, Feeling or Doing

Moving beyond simply taking a selfie, an AR effect can enable users to capture an actual experience or share how they’re feeling with their friends.


👉 Get Inspired and Have Fun

Sometimes users want to reach out to their friends but don’t have anything specific they want to talk about. In these instances, AR effects that are visually interesting or thematically stimulating are popular to share.


👉 Make My Friends Laugh

One thing we often hear from users is that they want to lighten the mood and not always be so serious when sharing. AR effects can be a great way to add a little humor to your day.


👉 Be Part of Something Bigger Than Myself

Users love sharing on Instagram during culturally significant days. Whether that’s a festival, holiday or a day celebrating a cause.


Tip #2: Get out of the way

Most of the successful Instagram AR effects make a star of the user, not the effect. In order for this to happen, the effect needs to get out of the way.

It’s a very counterintuitive thing, as most people’s instinct will be to make the effect the centerpiece, but ultimately, this will limit the creativity of the user. If an effect is very prescriptive about how it works and what it looks like, it becomes a one-use effect. If it’s flexible enough to accommodate the creativity of the user, it’s more likely to be used repeatedly.


Tip #3: Gifts, not ads

Try to make your effect feel like a cool gift for the user. As long as the brand is recognizable from the effect, it doesn’t need to look like an ad to be good marketing.

When making branded content, it’s vital that the effect feels valuable to the user. Everyone wants to be transported into the world of their favorite shows; no one wants to share a picture of themselves with a logo floating above their head.

Tip #4: Make it easy & fun

One of the great things about AR effects on Instagram is how easy it is to scroll through hundreds of options to find the one you like. Consider this behavior, and make something that’s fun and attention-worthy.

This doesn’t mean you can only make simple effects, but think about how to integrate a simple element that grabs a user instantly.


Tip #5: Think outside the box

Occasionally we see effects that go viral simply because they’re fresh and novel. Many of these effects target the use case of having fun and being entertained.

This one’s a bit of a curveball in that it’s basically a tip that says it’s OK to create outside these guidelines. Augmented reality is an entirely new creative medium that will inspire new forms of creative expression on Instagram. Don’t hesitate to test and try new ideas!

Get started

If this has inspired you to start creating your own AR effects, head over to the Spark AR Learning Center for our latest tutorials and guides. Or join the Spark AR Community where you can listen and talk to creators who are already making effects for Instagram and Facebook.

Finally, Facebook recently launched their Spark AR Labs project to help new creators along in their Spark journey. However, to qualify, new creators need to register and publish at least 1 effect before June 20. Register now!

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