Reaching 500k+ book fans organically with a branded Instagram filter in 7 days

Instagram filters are on the rise. They are easy to make and can be very fun and engaging for your brand if you do it right. There is no coding knowledge required and is a great tool for brand awareness.

If you are on Instagram, you have probably tried one of these filters. The most popular examples being the “What Disney character are you?” or “Guess the gibberish”. They randomly give you an outcome, like an image or text prompt, for users to create videos or pictures with.

How to create your own Instagram filter

With the software Spark AR by Facebook, it’s easy for everyone to create these kinds of filters without programming knowledge. Using 3D models templates, and with some basic photoshop skills, you can pump out some amazing filters. Filter logic can be very crazy sometimes.

Don’t worry if you’re new to this. Filter templates can also be found like the Disney filter. People create amazing things. If you’re keen on some inspiration, join the Spark AR community on Facebook counting 70k creators. They create 3D augmented reality games, beautiful stunning filters, too ugly memes going viral. If you’re interested in creating your own filter, definitely join!

As for how to create filters, I’m not going to write a tutorial just yet. There are some great guides and youtube videos around to show you how it’s done. Here’s a great introduction by Black Mixture

Filter requirements

Instagram has quite a big policy on what goes and doesn’t go with their filters. I created a very innocent Kamasutra filter which got approved through their automated system. But as I was just gaining exposure with 142 shares it got taken down. So, no mature content, no pictures of real humans (always use animations or drawings), etc.

Filter requirements

I wanted to create a filter and to be fair, I choose a bit of a cheap way to go viral. My filter was about Dr. Jordan Peterson, author of “12 rules for life”. He is a debated figure on various topics and most of all a very interesting academic. He taught at Harvard and writes about one’s understanding of personality. With more than 1.3mil followers on Instagram, I had an audience. 

I created a filter with all kinds of popular quotes from his book and lectures. There are even memes about him talking about lobsters. I’m not getting into that now, but there was a lot of potential here. I showed a sketch of his face with an added quote giving advice. 

Now how did I get to more than 500 000 impressions? At the highest point, I had 195 970 impressions in one day. And 6273 profile visits with people visiting my personal profile to search for the filter. For the popularity of the filter I can take no credit. I created something people didn’t know they wanted at the time. It was also a fun gimmick for his content managers and peers.

Below are the stats of 1 year of organic growth. We clearly saw an explosion on the launch and 2 weeks after. Then we saw a low, but steady use of the filter.

I created the filter and waited for it to get approved. The average time now is 10 days, but the algorithm approved me in 3 hours.

  • First, I reached out to my own followers. Always have an active story with the filter just in case someone wants to try.
  • Second, I created a Reddit post in the /r/jordanpeterson subreddit. I also used a meme subreddit just about Dr. Peterson, but that was no success. The main subreddit was with 2200 upvotes
  • Third, I uploaded my filter on myfilterlist to share it with their community. It gives quite a few first shares and impressions when you are starting out.
  • Lastly, people started using it and tagging official Dr. Peterson channels with the filter. Trying to get attention and just showing their support. They did all the work for me. Before I know it, his daughter Mikhaila Peterson with 172 000 followers picked up on it and shared it on her story. Sharing people who tried the filter and tagged her, even creating an Instagram post tagging me. Without her enthusiasm this wouldn’t have nearly got close to the number of impressions I’ve got. Hers and the community.

To this day it is still getting shared and used on the daily averaging about 5k daily impressions organically.

Filters have a big impact on how people use their apps for their own content creation ⁣

Filter requirements

You’re allowed to create branded filters on Instagram. Mitsubishi created its own Valentine filter.

To create a filter that is actually going to work, it’s going to have to be funny, clever, and with a sharable feature. For example, the gibberish filter might have worked well to promote an alcoholic beverage. Make. It. Fun. Don’t commercialize it. People understand. That’s why brands on Twitter are mostly just posting memes and being ‘one of the guys’. It’s an odd trend, but you can really stand out with it. Even if you don’t have a big audience yet, you can give it a little paid boost to get the snowball rolling.


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