How to stop the scroll (and why AR has finally come into its own)
Getting audiences to take note of content is a continuing battle, especially for brands. Laura Lane, Chief Marketing Officer at Studio BLUP, looks at how to stop people scrolling past your posts, and examines why augmented reality is finally finding a place on social.
It’s no secret that we all find ourselves on social media daily, aimlessly scrolling through what seems like endless information, a loop of constant content being generated.
Nothing is really sinking in, meaning so much of it is a passive experience, which is not ideal for brands who spend a lot of money to be ‘noticed’ on social. So, how do you ‘stop the scroll’ on platforms like TikTok and Instagram, which encourage this almost subconscious behaviour from audiences?
Above: Platforms like TikTok and Instagram encourage endless scrolling and, therefore, shorter attention spans.
Capturing viewers’ attention
To capture viewers’ attention, brands need to consider and understand what keeps audiences not only coming back, but why they get sucked into an endless wormhole of content scrolling. Two words: Escapism and entertainment. Escapism is a human impulse; entertainment is a form of escapism. The two are intrinsically linked and therefore a great place to start when designing and developing creative content ideas for brands on social. The very behaviour of aimlessly scrolling through social media is, in itself, a form of escapism.
Brands must think about the role of escapism in their creative design.
Brands must think about the role of escapism in their creative design, as well as defining the purpose of their content. Does it offer the viewer a mental vacation in which they can switch off from the everyday? Does the content offer a form of escapism where the viewer can set foot into a whole new world? Is it stimulating through imagination or entertainment? These are just some of the questions brands should be asking themselves when developing content ideas for social.
Above: The beauty industry, such as Sephora’s Virtual Artist make-up app, has harnessed the power of AR to drive sales.
Tapping tech for better greater experiences
Brands have been talking about ‘instant gratification’ since the early noughties, and while this is still key today, audience expectations are now much higher. Brands have a very small window to win their attention. Augmented reality (AR) is fast becoming a basic expectation from audiences as its use continues to skyrocket. Rather than wait for AR to fully saturate the mobile web and risk being old school, now is the time for brands to integrate AR experiences into their marketing, e-commerce and social activities.
Now is the time for brands to integrate AR experiences into their marketing, e-commerce and social activities.
Augmented reality (AR) is fast becoming a basic expectation from audiences, as its use continues to skyrocket. Rather than wait for AR to fully saturate the mobile web, and risk being old school, now is the time for brands to integrate AR experiences into their marketing, e-commerce and social activities. The beauty industry is one that has adopted the power and benefit of using AR to drive online sales. Sephora’s Virtual Artist app saw 200 million shades tried on through its AR feature, while L’Oreal also reported huge success with its own AR feature, doubling website engagement time and tripling conversions. Can you even imagine buying a new foundation or lip colour on social without trying it on virtually?
Above: The NHS's Track & Trace app gave the QR code a new purpose.
AR has been a buzzword for far too long and, year-after-year, the tech has been tipped as the hot trend that was never quite realised. Until 2020. Who could have guessed that QR codes would get a real revival and that last year would be the year that AR finally got taken seriously? The pandemic gave the humble QR code a new purpose. The NHS’s Track & Trace protocol made scanning QR codes and checking into places almost compulsory overnight, whilst the hospitality sector has adopted them to make the entire experience contactless. Quite simply, the QR code has opened the world back up!
Who could have guessed that QR codes would get a real revival and that last year would be the year that AR finally got taken seriously?
Parallel to this is the role of lockdown in the recent adoption of AR. Bound by the walls of our homes, and with the temporary closing of stores, it meant that consumers had no physical contact with products. Past studies had proven that being able to touch or pick a product up increases sales. With this physical act taken away, AR offers a new way to empower customers.
Looking at it as a service, AR is the only tool that enables customers to visualise and customise products in 3D; anytime, anywhere and at the press of a button on their phone. It gives people a better understanding of what a product looks like, not just in terms of size, but also texture and craftsmanship in finer detail. Not only does this level of pre-purchase interactivity drive positive customer expectations but it also leads to greater trust and buying confidence.
When it comes to social, in capturing and engaging audience attention, AR should form a major part of a brand’s strategy.
Web AR is by far the most effective route to engaging with customers on social and provides the best environment for creativity, interaction and, most importantly, shareability. If we stress test augmented reality against the themes of escapism and entertainment, it clearly ticks both boxes. When it comes to social, in capturing and engaging audience attention, AR should form a major part of a brand’s strategy.
Above: People are tired to expertly crafted online content and what things that are rawer, and 'in the moment'.
Rough but ready
Audiences are tired of seeing expertly polished and perfectly staged content that floods the likes of Instagram. Although, in the past, many would have argued that this type of content offers people escapism, my belief is that it has been overdone to such a degree that it is no longer entertaining. People want to watch something that has been captured ‘in the moment’. This is precisely why technology such as AR is key, because it offers real-time testing of a product.
People want to watch something that has been captured ‘in the moment’.
Tied to this is also the move away from influencers and towards content creators. You only have to look at TikTok to see that if you have a little bit of time and heaps of creativity, you can become a creator overnight: No frills, no gloss, just fun content that taps into our desire for escapism and need for entertainment.
Brands that want to win over people’s attention should operate with these two principles in mind.