Mark Zuckerberg hopes that by changing Facebook’s name to Meta, he will have staked sole claim to the new metaverse. That concept, however, will take years and billions of dollars for him and his company to build out, and it’s only part of the much bigger augmented reality “pie.” In fact, augmented reality—one of five trends we focus on for 2022—has taken on new meaning during the pandemic and will continue to both enrich users’ experience and provide more Influencer Marketing opportunities. So what is augmented reality, really, and how does the metaverse play into it? More importantly, what does all of it actually mean for Influencer Marketing?

As we discussed in this post about 2022 social media trends that will impact Influencer Marketing, augmented reality is 

any technology that ‘augments’ the user’s visual (and in some case auditory) perception of their environment. Typically, digital information is superimposed over a natural existing environment. Information is tailored to the user’s physical position as well as the context of the task, thereby helping the user to solve the problem and complete the task. [source]

It isn’t artificial intelligence, nor is it a virtual reality in which users step into a different 3-D environment. Think looking at an image of yourself on your phone with that new lipstick color you’d like to try superimposed over your lips. Helps you see what it’d look like before you buy it, right?

a phone screen showing a woman "trying on" various lipstick colors, using an augmented reality app
Source: Istock

Mr. Zuckerberg’s metaverse ambitions revolve around something entirely different: “digital identities.” You might think of them as similar to the skins or other avatar-customization features in Fortnite, you know, that game your kids played endlessly back in 2019? Or, if you’re really imaginative, like similar features in the Ready Player One book and movie. While these features may sound nifty, you may not see how they could have anything to do with Influencer marketing. Let’s explore that, shall we?

How Will the Metaverse Impact Social Media?

More people spending more time in Facebook—or any other social media platform—in more immersive ways than ever before points toward a need for brands and marketers to keep a close eye on the platform and strategically invest more of their marketing budgets in it. While perhaps lofty, Mr. Zuckerberg’s dreams may be timely in the wake of multiple physical store closures and the move to more on-line shopping. Brands are pursuing AR as a way to bring the store to the user, in effect, and provide users with more connection opportunities. This means virtual try-ons of things like makeup, sunglasses, and shoes, primarily on Facebook and Instagram. Imagine, even, AR-driven conferences, where your avatar meets and interacts with colleagues in a virtual conference room. Or it could just include playing AR games on social media platforms.

A phone displaying the Facebook "F" logo, in front of a screen displaying their new "meta" logo, as part of their augmented reality aspirations
Source: iStock

Indeed, some brands, like L’Oreal, are connecting AR and ecommerce quite successfully by offering virtual makeup and hair colour try-ons and skin shade assessments. In 2020, this garnered them a 60% growth rate in their ecommerce arena.

Applications of Augmented Reality in Other Platforms

Not to be left out of the augmented reality arena, Snapchat already offers a “suite of Lens development, management, and analytic tools.” [source] These include:

  • Lens Studio, where creators can design their own augmented reality experiences
  • Lens Web Builder, which enables brands and agencies to create branded AR experiences through Snapchat’s templates, with no coding experience required.
  • My Lenses, which is a web management tool that organizes, searches and analyzes Lenses published in Lens Studio
  • Lens Analytics, which provides anonymous and aggregated data to provide detailed insights into Lens engagement, beyond view counts and shares

What Augmented Reality Means for Influencer Marketing

Obviously, by providing more immersive and holistic experiences, social media platforms give users more reasons to stay on their platforms longer. But the potential of augmented reality for brands reaches beyond that. Opportunities for deeper connections between brands, their influencers, and those influencers’ audience members abound. So do opportunities for more creative, fun, and multi-dimensional portrayals of those influencers using a brand’s products. Influencers in both Facebook and Snapchat learning and fine-tuning their augmented reality skills will become more valuable to you as a brand, particularly as they figure out what audiences respond to best.

Additional Resources

Looking for more marketing trends? We’ve got you covered with these hot topics:

Wrapping It Up

The potential of augmented reality, in reality, is limited not only by budgets and infrastructural details, but also by the imaginations of their developers and the influencers who use it. For brands, this means that it’s definitely something to keep an eye on, but it’s definitely not time yet to put all of their eggs into that one basket.

Sources

Trend Watch: Short-Form Video and Influencer Marketing
Trend Watch: In-Platform Social Media Ecommerce Trends for 2022

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