How AR Filters Drive Social Sharing for Young Adults

Augmented reality (AR) filters are transforming the way young adults interact on social media. For the past several years, face filters on platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok have become hugely popular among 18 to 25 year old users. Filters allow people to overlay digital imagery and effects onto their faces in real-time, allowing for both silly transformations and more subtle editing. But beyond individual self-expression, AR filters are also emerging as a powerful tool for social sharing.

New research reveals that AR filters satisfy a variety of motivations that drive young adults to actively engage with them. Filters provide opportunities for self-presentation in idealized, true, or transformed ways. They also allow for social interactions, creative expression, affiliation with causes or topics, enjoyment, and convenience. As filters meet these intrinsic needs, they are encouraging more sharing among social connections. Brands and organizations have taken notice, creating their own branded filters to boost promotional efforts.

This article will explore the motivations behind AR filter use among young adults and how they translate into increased sharing. It will also examine ways that filters are shaping social experiences and interactions. Frameworks from uses and gratifications theory will provide lenses for understanding what drives filter interactions and the effects on sharing behaviors. By gaining insights into how filters satisfy a variety of intrinsic and social needs, marketers can better leverage this technology to engage younger audiences.

Motivations for Using AR Filters

A multitude of internal and social factors drive young adults’ decisions to actively use AR filters on their mobile devices. Recent research applying uses and gratifications theory has uncovered several key motivations:


Filters allow for self-presentation in various ways. Individuals seek to represent their ideal selves by enhancing certain attributes, their true selves by openly expressing authentic qualities, or transformed selves by exploring new possible versions of themselves. Presenting different aspects of the self through virtual modification increases self-expression and sharing opportunities.


Users are motivated to visually affiliate with brands, communities, social causes or political topics by overlaying associated imagery onto faces. For instance, displaying flags or activist symbols satisfies the intrinsic need for belonging. Affiliation motivations increase sharing to spread related messaging.

Social Interactions

Filters serve to strengthen social bonds through interactions like initiating humoristic exchanges or attracting attention on profiles. Interactions provide opportunities to relate with others, satisfying relational needs and driving sharing behaviors.


Filters deliver an inherently playful and entertaining experience through amusing transformations. Humor, absurdity and levity gratify intrinsic needs for pleasure and fun, encouraging lighthearted sharing.

Creative Expression

Filters inspire creations by allowing experimentation with visual styles in new content. Individual creative efforts satisfy intrinsic needs while fostering sharing for esteem or feedback benefits.


Filters provide a streamlined, effortless approach for enhancing sharing content. Ease of use removes obstacles, lowering effort barriers that might hinder sharing activities.

All these motivations shape user experiences with filters in satisfying ways. By understanding how filters meet underlying intrinsic and social needs, marketers can better facilitate sharing amongst target demographics.

Effects on Social Sharing

Young adults’ usage of AR filters is closely linked to amplified social sharing behaviors across networks. Filters deliver benefits that make users more inclined to proactively spread content amongst connections. Research into how motivations translate into sharing provides insights:

Increased Sharing Frequency

Self-presentation motivations like idealized appearances drive both frequency of filter use and exploration of new filters on profiles. Enhanced self-images motivate sharing more frequently to achieve esteem and impression management benefits.

Boosted Content Engagement

Humorous or playful filters gratify intrinsic needs for enjoyment, lifting positive affect and promoting greater interactions on shared content through feedback tools like likes and comments. Fun experiences encourage more engaged audiences.

Enriched Social Experiences

Social motivations satisfy relational needs, increasing positive affect and driving both exploratory usage and overall sharing frequency on platforms. Filters enhance experiences in socially satisfying virtual spaces.

Expanded Creative Expression

The urge to creatively curate arises from intrinsic creative needs, spurring exploratory usage and sharing frequency as creations receive esteem benefits and feedback. Outlets stimulate content generation and spread.

Heightened Effortlessness

Convenience motivations gratify efficacy needs, boosting exploratory behaviors that spread word-of-mouth as path-of-least-resistance sharing faces few obstacles. Lowered effort barriers remove inhibitors.

Unified Alignment

Affiliating with causes fulfills belongingness needs and community-driven sharing, amplifying reach as messages resonate across networks populated by like-minded peers. Alignment motivates collective sharing.

Together, these effects illustrate how filters intrinsically and relationally satisfy young adults in ways that encourage amplified content distribution. By meeting an array of motivations, filters spur social sharing behaviors across channels frequented by target demographics.

Augmenting Social Experiences

While filters stimulate increased sharing overall, their application uniquely augments social experiences in immersive ways. Beyond standard posting of static updates, filters blur lines between virtual and reality, fundamentally transforming how connections interact.

Altering Self-Presentation Dynamics

Filters sculpt identities across constantly evolving timelines by allowing idealized crafting, true representations, or transformed depictions in real-time. Interactive makeovers shift customary self-presentation into dynamic virtual spaces.

Enhancing Social Bonds

Funny or playful filters facilitate lighthearted interactions through amusing transformations. Comments, likes and laughter forge stronger connections as tribally satisfying experiences transform ordinary shares into events.

Curating Creative Communities

Artistic filters inspire innovative content curation and affiliate users through commentary. Appreciation of clever creations cultivates inspired collaborative communities amongst peers.

Personalizing Messaging

Cause-related filters disseminate personally meaningful visual statements infused with emotional authenticity. Affiliating faces with passions stimulates communal action through empathetic yet individualized outreach.

Blurring Boundaries

Filters collapse divisions between imaginative digital worlds and reality by bringing effects into living contexts. Immersive virtualizations reinvent customary social experiences in compelling new formats.

These augmented attributes transform routine social habits into richly interactive events. By reconceptualizing dynamics, bonds, groups and communications, filters altogether upgrade social Immersive qualities strengthen experiences, relationships and networks in novel ways.

Applications for Marketers

Given motivations driving AR filter popularity and amplified sharing effects, marketers can apply strategic principles for influencing target demographics:

Create Branded Filters

Designed effects allow affiliating with brands through transformative self-brand connections. Prominently placed logos maximize visibility across networks as users generate organic promotion.

Partner on Platforms

Curated selection placements into apps fulfills intrinsic creative motivations. Co-creation stimulates innate behaviors while cementing authority as innovators adaptively participate where audiences naturally immerse themselves.

Sponsor Cause Campaigns

Aligning missions with important issues fuels community participation. Virtualized symbols stimulate attachment and distributed action through personally empowering yet socially conscious affiliation.

Produce Branded Content

User-generated works reflect authentic brand narratives reimagined through immersive mediums. Creative incentives inspire amateur activations crafting organic content atop foundations.

Embed Shoppable Links

Commerce-focused effects transactionalize interactions through seamless guided journeys. Virtualized simulations arouse impulse through intrinsically gratifying try-before-you-buy experiences.

Leverage Influencer Networks

Synergizing influencer reach with strategic effects scales visibility. Affiliating icons amplifies relatability by personalizing sponsored activations within trusted communities.

Monitor Trending Topics

Co-creating topic-specific filters fulfill timely communal needs. Hash tagged conversations populate platforms with organically optimized branded stories curated atop real-time interests.

These adaptive, participatory approaches empower intrinsic user behaviors while upholding authoritative guidance. By proactively partnering where audiences immerse themselves, marketers can authentically seed promotions optimized for maximum resonance and spread.


As AR filters continue proliferating across dominant youth channels, understanding their intrinsically motivating yet socially amplifying nature provides strategic advantage. Multiple gratifications propel individualized yet communally bonded interactions augmenting routines into richly engaging events. Filter-driven sharing reshapes customary bonds, identities and habits in elevating virtual experiences.

By appreciating innate psychological and social incentives, marketers can proactively seed promotions optimized for audiences. Participating authentically yet strategically where audiences immerse themselves, effects empower behaviors while cementing authority. Co-creating causes, curating partnerships and optimizing commerce stimulate organic activations at the intersection of purposes.

With intrinsic needs and social effects so tightly intertwined, influencers may emerge as lynchpins scaling localized immersions. Embedding strategies across micro-networks amplifies communal narratives into macro conversations. By viewing audiences not as isolated demographics but intersecting networks, optimized activations can resonate across platforms in synchronizing promotions with user proclivities.

Through intrinsic understandings and strategic applications, augmented realities promise amplifying social commerce into vibrant collectives. Marketers optimizing campaigns through emergent behavioral lenses stand poised optimizing engagements aligned with audience psychologies in immersive new virtual realms.

Similar Posts