The Fight Over Small Businesses and Augmented Reality

This week Snapchat announced it was rolling out a new feature on its platform called World Lenses. World Lenses is basically a filter, but live Augmented Reality (AR). With World Lenses, anyone with a smartphone camera can add 3D elements to any scene they want to snap a picture of. Not to be outdone, later in the day Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg took the stage at the F8 conference and announced that the social media platform was going to be adding AR capabilities to Facebook’s camera feature on mobile devices. Facebook is also adding a studio, AR Studio, that allows users — including brands — to create their own filters. Snapchat, on the other hand, is building its own filters.

How are SnapChat and Facebook planning to get small businesses to buy into their new feature? In the Local Commerce Monitor™ survey of small businesses every year we carefully look at new and existing media channels. In recent waves, we’ve added newer social media platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, and in Wave 20 we added Snapchat.  While a Facebook page is the overwhelming favorite social media channel, as I mentioned last month Snapchat isn’t even in the top 10 social media channels that small businesses use, with 4.1% of small businesses in the survey saying they use the platform for advertising or promotion.

One thing is clear from LCM… most small businesses are slow to adopt new technologies overall. They want to make sure that the next new technology will be worth the investment. With most new technology small businesses in our survey say they need it to be easy to use and cost effective. Facebook and Snapchat will need to prove the value of these new features to get small businesses to start using them as a marketing channel.

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