How Augmented Reality Is Creating a New Target Market on Social Media

Opinion: AR works effectively in that it blurs the line between an imagined world and the reality

There are impulse shoppers who proceed to the cart because they bumped into an item they love
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In discussing the latest and future technologies, virtual reality and augmented reality are often mentioned in the same breath. And oftentimes, they’re used interchangeably, despite all of the differences between them.

VR uses 360-degree video to move you from your current environment and into a new digital (virtual) world. On the other hand, AR transforms your current environment by adding digital information to your line of sight. VR replaces your reality, while AR enhances it.

Of the two techs, AR is expected to record more spending by 2022, and it seems to be catching on at a higher speed. More brands (25 percent, compared with 21 percent) are showing interest in incorporating the technology, while others are already in the game. The most recent contribution is Apple’s new iOS 11 operating system and iPhone X announcement in September.

The new software brings AR to millions of iPhone and iPad customers around the world, affirming its expected growth in the near future.

What does this mean for social media and brands?

With 37 percent of the world’s population and 60 percent of Americans now active social media users, brands understand the need for social media presence. They rely on it to advertise products and services, as well as use it for daily interaction with consumers.

But as more brands use social media in the traditional form we are all accustomed to, the big giants are slowly incorporating AR to stay ahead.

And in the process, a completely new market is being created. Since people are always looking for fast and convenient processes—which has prompted the creation of custom devices, such as Modbook pen-enabled tablets—brands can use AR ads to bring the actual products to social media users.

This way, potential customers can try out different products before making a purchase—an act that will result in more informed decisions, loyal customers and increased sales.

How can brands leverage AR on social media?

Incorporate AR into social media ads and posts

Faincarter, a real estate mogul and emerging pop music icon under the Smith and Hay umbrella, says, “Imagine a consumer experience where shoppers are able to try your products and make a purchase without ever walking into your store. More people would proceed to cart as they’d be more decisive, leading to an increase in sales and growth in customer loyalty.”

This is the beauty of linking your business with technology. The perfect merging of the world of technology and business is what social media represents, and millennials like Faincarter are the people luxury brands are appealing to now.

“And it’s what brands like Estée Lauder are currently doing,” Faincarter said. “The brand invites users to try out different shades of lipstick from wherever they are, through LipArtist, a Facebook Messenger bot. If you like how you look, you can then proceed to the brand’s website to make a purchase.”

Based on the 1.3 billion daily Messenger users, you’d call this a smart marketing move for the brand. And with the number of AR users projected to hit 200 million by 2018 and AR advertising spending on the rise, businesses and marketers should bet big on using AR on social media.

Create opportunities that explain the unexplained

AR and technology entrepreneur and Fusionex-International founder Ivan Teh says, “It’s one thing to tell people where you’re located and another thing to actually show them your location. So is the case with telling users how a product they purchased online will be delivered or explaining how to use that product.”

By incorporating AR into these issues and making the videos available on social, the common phrase seeing is believingis brought to life.

“For instance, a car service company could create videos that use AR to demonstrate small fixes or crafts to its users,” Teh says. “A restaurant could do the same showing local customers how to access their store and what it’d feel like to dine at the establishment. This kind of social engagement is guaranteed to create a huge impact.”

After all, we’ve already seen the kind of transformation AR is capable of through the likes of Pokemon Go and, most recently, the Snapchat hot dog.

There is no doubt that people are fascinated by the appearance of unprecedented objects in their own reality. And it’s this kind of fascination that would drive brand sales if the tech was to reach a wider audience: Think social.

Increase sales through impulse buying

There are organized shoppers who go through all of the steps involved in making a purchase. And then there are impulse shoppers who proceed to the cart because they bumped into an item they love. They might not necessarily need it or it might not be for them, but they’ll buy it anyway. It’s a similar concept to how advertising works as it sparks a need at the moment of viewing.

AR works effectively in that it blurs the line between an imagined world and the reality. Unlike in VR, where you’re in a completely new environment, AR makes your surrounding better. Remember Lacoste’s AR app of 2014, which allowed users to try out looks and share them on Facebook and Twitter?

If brands could venture into offering consumers such experiences on social, purchases are guaranteed to increase—not only because someone was looking forward to buying, but because they stumbled upon it and had the money to spend.

AR incorporation by brands is still at ground level, with only the big names like Microsoft, Facebook and Apple in the playing field. More of what’s available today is through AR applications, and yet, only a paltry 7 percent of marketers are using the technology.

If more brands can go all in to implement AR in future solutions like Apple is doing, we can expect a huge market for businesses to leverage.

James Jorner is a content strategist and marketer at Effective Inbound Marketing. His company specializes in online branding and digital marketing for businesses.