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What Do Viral TikTok AR Effects Have in Common?

April 6, 2022 • Written by Catherine Kulke

As brands continue to compete for consumers’ attention on TikTok, more marketers are recognizing AR’s potential to ignite conversation on the short-form video platform. Not only are AR effects still relatively new to TikTok, rendering the environment less noisy to brands that adopt the technology, but the platform’s playful ethos and emphasis on co-creation mean TikTokers are primed to embrace AR campaigns. 

However, not all TikTok AR effects make the same impact. In order to help brands build effects that creators can’t get enough off, Camera IQ conducted an audit of 100 AR experiences that riveted the TikTok community. Of the effects we cataloged, 97% accrued over 100k views, and roughly two thirds were launched this year. Our research showed that TikTokers are eager to share AR effects—but tend to gravitate towards some types of experiences over others. 

Here are the biggest trends defining TikTok’s favorite AR experiences. 

1. Creators Use AR to Tell Stories, Boost Confidence, and Entertain

More so than on other social platforms, storytelling is at the heart of TikTok’s appeal, as creators take advantage of the channel’s short-form video format to share snappy quips and humorous, one-of-a-kind anecdotes with their audiences. It’s no surprise that TikTokers were especially likely to adopt AR effects that enhanced their storytelling, with 30% of the viral experiences we cataloged designed primarily for this objective. Beautifying lenses like makeup were equally popular, accounting for another 30%. Of the remaining 40 effects we audited, 20% were humorous and 20% comprised interactive games, reflecting creators’ eagerness to inspire laughter and entertain their fans. Because brands’ success on TikTok is largely predicated on how well they can help creators produce compelling content, marketers should strive to align their AR campaigns with one of these four themes. 

Storytelling, Beautifying Effects Account for Majority of Viral AR Experiences on TikTok

  • 30% of top TikTok effects enhanced storytelling
  • 30% of top TikTok effects enhanced beauty

Viral TikTok AR Effect

2. People, Not Products, Are Center Stage in Viral Effects

When many people first hear about AR marketing, they think immediately of product visualizations—that is, AR experiences that transpose a digital version of a product directly into an IRL space. While these types of effects are impactful ecommerce tools, and have proven wildly successful on other platforms like Instagram, TikTokers are far more interested in connecting with other people than with products. In the vast majority (80%) of the viral effects we cataloged, the camera focused on creators themselves, while just 20% highlighted objects. 

Importantly, the fact that people come first on TikTok doesn’t mean marketers can’t leverage TikTok AR effects to drive interest in specific offerings—but they need to get creative. Winning campaigns take a unique and memorable approach to capturing an individual’s experience of a brand or product, rather than simply dropping an object into their world. 

Virtual try-ons offer an easy way for brands to highlight their offerings’ efficacy while keeping creators in the camera. However, marketers can also use colorful filters, animations, and even games to bring conversation about a product into TikTokers’ own storytelling.

Top TikTok AR Effects Keep Creators in the Camera

  • 80% of top TikTok effects focused on people
  • 20% of top TikTok effects focused on objects

Viral TikTok AR Randomizer

3. Simple Effects Like Randomizers Rule

One of the biggest misconceptions about social AR is that AR experiences are complicated to create, and need to be elaborate in order to inspire widespread adoption. In fact, on TikTok, brands are more likely to see success with simple, open-ended effects that creators can easily incorporate into their own original storytelling. 

Randomizers—simple animations that display a prompt, like “What pasta am I?,” and flip through various results before landing on a random answer—proved wildly popular on TikTok, accounting for a significant 25% of the viral effects we cataloged. These experiences require minimal effort to create; in fact, randomizers can be designed in just a few steps via a customizable template in Camera IQ. 

To spark enthusiasm on TikTok, brands need to understand how creators think, and build AR effects that align with their priorities and preferences. By framing experiences around TikTokers’ own objectives, keeping creators themselves in the spotlight, and steering clear of overcomplicated, difficult-to-use designs, brands are sure to stand out on 2022’s buzziest platform. 

Download the Ultimate Guide to AR Marketing on TikTok for a complete roadmap to designing and promoting winning TikTok effects, and learn how Camera IQ can help your brand get started with TikTok AR here.

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