What is the use of Instagram filters

How a German influencer generated over 3 billion views on her Instagram filter

Are there still tricks, tricks, clever strategies to grow organically on platforms like Instagram? This is not only a question for brands, but also for influencers. Apparently the German influencer Carmen Kroll ("Carmushka") has found a current growth hack. She built augmented reality filters and made them available to her fans on Instagram. Within a few weeks, they recorded over three billion views on the platform. She told us how she was able to achieve such a range so quickly, why the filter topic is so hot right now and what the range will bring her in the long term.

Face filters and augmented reality effects have long been popular tools for users to make their Instagram stories or Snapchat posts a little funnier - many probably have dog ears and a tongue that rolls out in their head when they open their mouths. Snap is betting its future on augmented reality and Facebook is also betting fully on the topic. Since Facebook has been offering free software with Spark AR Studio and allowing third-party filters on its own platform, the topic has exploded again. Everyone can now create their own filters and make them available on the platform. A few months ago we wrote about teenagers and influencers from around the world who had billions of views on their filters. Now the German influencer Carmen Kroll has followed suit and achieved similar reach in a short time. She told us exactly what was true of the AR filter phenomenon.

From photo to video filters

A Carmushka story with a suitable filter. Users can try it out directly. (Click to enlarge)

Carmen Kroll is one of the most famous influencers in Germany. The Cologne-based woman mainly shows fashion on her Instagram channel and, as co-founder of Oh April, is also an entrepreneur in the fashion world. Apparently, Kroll, who is known on Instagram as Carmushka and currently has more than 756,000 fans, is always looking for further opportunities - apart from the classic influencer business. At the beginning of the year we had already reported how Kroll earns good money with his own photo presets (individual photo filters). She has now expanded this formula for success to include filters for Instagram Stories.

“The hashtag #carmushkapresets now has over 195,000 posts. I only use the presets myself, ”Kroll told OMR. “However, I have repeatedly noticed the need for a filter for videos myself. To do this, I always laboriously switched to other apps. And if I feel like that, why should others feel differently? So the idea arose to make the look of my presets for photo editing also available for Instagram Stories. ”So she started developing the filters herself. “My secret recipe since university: a bag of chips, a long night and YouTube tutorials. Since the Spark AR program is freely accessible and can be used by everyone and, incidentally, should also be used by everyone, I was sure that I would be able to do it, ”says Kroll.

Billions of views for nine filters

On Carmushka's Insta profile, users can find all filters in a separate menu. (Click to enlarge)

On Kroll's Instagram page, every user can now find nine filters from her. For this purpose Instagram has introduced its own menu item in addition to shopping, IGTV and mentions. Here fans can see filters with names like “Moody Up”, “Breeze”, “Rosewood” or “Love” in action (in a story created by Kroll) and try them out for themselves. After a tip on "Try it out", users land in their own Instagram camera with the Carmushka filter activated.

In our test, Instagram also automatically displayed all Kroll filters in the camera's filter selection after we had followed your account. “It has spread exponentially. Anyone who became aware of my filter and used it themselves immediately inspired their followers, who in turn inspired theirs and so on, ”says Kroll. If a user uses a filter, it will be displayed in the stories. If other users tap on the info, they can also try it out directly.

In the end, such network effects mean that your filters have a huge range within a short period of time. “I was completely blown away by looking at the statistics: In total, I achieved more than three billion impressions with my filter. Over 20 million story sequences were produced and published with my filter, ”says Kroll. On screenshots from Facebook's analysis tool, she shows that in seven days the filters had almost 500 million views. There is one main reason for the reach success: “To be honest, one thing naturally benefited me: I was very fast. I recognized the need, developed a solution and brought it out - pretty much one of the first, ”she says. "They also filled a gap, there were tons of face filters, but I missed filters for the environment myself."

Kroll has probably hit a nerve with its video filters for the environment - in the style of photo presets. So far, filters have been more of a gimmick for many, Kroll's designs create more of a mood in the story. That is why the “Moody up” filter works particularly well: “It is the all-rounder among image processing filters and is by far the most widely used. As the name suggests, it gives everything a 'moody' look. Very suitable for autumn. The atmosphere in pictures is simply more harmonious and atmospheric, ”says Kroll.

Long-term follower success through filters?

In her story, Carmen Kroll shows the range of her filters (as of October 25, 2019) - (click to enlarge)

But what does the whole range bring in the end? According to Carmen Kroll, the popularity of the filters helps her on several levels. “In fact, I saw a significant increase in followers thanks to the AR filters. Since the first filter was launched, around 140,000 new followers have noticed my profile - and have stayed there, ”she explains. Figures from the analysis tool InfluencerDB prove the leap in followers. "The sales of my photo presets could also be increased significantly thanks to the AR filters."

On Instagram, Kroll recently shared a multitude of stories from fans who are very enthusiastic about their mood filters. This shows how she can use the follower retention feature. If you always want to see the latest filters from her, it is best to follow her - and watch her stories in which she introduces new filters. This could increase the level of engagement with Kroll's Stories. At the same time, the viral functions such as the display of who the filters come from should ensure more and more followers. As she says herself, she also boosts sales of her own photo presets. However, Instagram is making a change to ensure that the follower growth through AR filters decreases again: Until a few days ago, users still had to follow the influencers to use the filters, now you can simply go to the influencer's profile and Try out the function - without a follow.

Filter sales in your own influencer app

Carmen Kroll has recently teamed up with eight other international influencers and is now offering her video filters for 6.99 euros in the “Creator HUB” app (just like the other influencers sell their filters in the app). This allows users to add a Carmushka mood filter to their recordings even after the video has been recorded, and not just directly in the Instagram app. Creator HUB has only been on the market for a week and Kroll's Filter won't be available in the app until November 13th. It is currently in first place among free apps in Germany (as of November 15; the filters are activated via in-app purchases). In addition to photo presets, Kroll also turns your video filters into real business.

The users are hot for filters

Instagrammer holymariia has written a slightly different success story. No more is known about her than what she reveals herself on her Instagram account (Jerusalem, aesthetics hunter). In any case, the young woman's followers exploded from under 300,000 to more than 1.2 million in October - just because of her filters. They have names like "Holy Bucks", "Holy Natural", "Holy Dragon" or "Holy Snake". What they all have in common: They conjure up freckles, narrow noses and full lips on users' faces - at least digitally. Mega influencers like Bella Hadid, Kendall Jenner, Ariana Grande, Kylie Jenner or Hailey Bieber have already shown themselves with the Holy filters in their stories - in October 2019 alone. Hundreds of millions of followers wanted to imitate their idols and followed the Instagram Account holymariia (according to the analysis tool Ninjalitics, there were over 100,000 new fans on October 12th alone).

Subsequently, in Germany, for example, the Bildzeitung reported on the hype surrounding Holy Filters. And just as the attention peaked, the punch came from Instagram. On November 4th, the platform completely banned the Holy filters. You would have violated Instagram's health guidelines. In the meantime, holymariia has three filters in its range again, but they no longer change the face as much. And exactly since November 4th, the account has been losing followers again - over 10,000 in the past few days.

The fact remains: Instagram hypes come and go. Those who know how to use them quickly for themselves can create long-term growth. Just as quickly, however, the platform and users can have enough of the respective hype again. Then it's time to discover the next one.