DIY Instagram AR Filters


Instagram released Spark AR effects yesterday allowing anyone to create and publish their own AR lens. They also introduced the new Effect Gallery, which includes specialized AR effects from rising artists to discover unique effects from the creator community.

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As published by Facebook for Developers:

“More than 1 billion people have already used AR effects and filters powered by Spark AR on Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and Portal, and we can’t wait for even more people to experience all that AR has to offer on Instagram. 

Stories to tell

Instagram Stories let you express yourself in the moment and connect with friends, and AR adds rich, interactive, and dynamic layers to those experiences. AR lets artists, creators, and designers make custom effects to share with their communities and enable more vibrant forms of digital expression — and we’re happy to help bring the Spark AR community’s creative visions to life.

The creator community

A graphic design and advertising student, Aliya Ataulova (@whiteabysses) has published seven Spark AR effects to Instagram so far. She sees AR as fundamental to the future of art creation, though getting started at first appeared daunting. 

“I had never worked with 3D before Spark AR, so all of these portals and hole effects were difficult to understand at first,” Ataulova explains. And then, she discovered Spark AR Studio.

“When you spend time trying and trying, you eventually get what you want — and it all starts to make sense,” she says. 

Luke Hurd (@lukehurd) has created 30 Spark AR effects to date to reach his community on their social platform of choice. “What drew me to Spark AR was this great feature set,” he explains. “It’s on devices that everyone can use, doesn’t require headsets, and it has built-in shareability. Really, everything connected to the point where I thought, ‘I really need to be involved in this and figure out how people use this.’” 

With a career that spans three decades, Hurd definitely knows his way around emerging technologies and their ability to change the ways we see and live in the world — and he understands that along with that opportunity comes the obligation to build with people in mind. As Hurd notes, “My advice to augmented reality developers: Be a good steward to the technology and understand that you’re carrying this thing to the future of society.”

A full-time video editor and television director, Chris Higa (@chriseditingofficial) draws his inspiration from trending cultural moments — like the recent Area 51 meme, which fueled the creation of his collaboration with Sallia Goldstein (@salliasnap), Alien Effect

Since joining the Spark AR creator community, Higa has found the people to be positive and supportive. And in the future, he sees a huge opportunity for AR at large-scale events, particularly for brands looking to stand out. “My goal is to give companies an advantage by allowing their users to engage with their products in new and interesting ways,” he says. “I want to work with companies at events to provide those unique experiences.”

Whether you want to add a new layer of fun to an event like a wedding, birthday party, or graduation with a custom filter or you’re a professional who wants to continue to hone their craft, Spark AR Studio has everything you need to get started. And with Instagram Stories being used by over 500 million users daily, there’s no better place to express yourself with your own AR effects — or simply share the ways you’re using them with your community. Visit to get started or join the Spark AR Community Facebook Group to learn more.”

Women On Boards: more specifically, this woman on a board, Sipra Thakur.


Corporate boards. It was something I thought was reserved for “old, pale, males” (as I learned the saying goes amongst the circle). With California’s mandate to include women on corporate boards by the end of the year, it suddenly became more of a possibility for me. Traditional limitations on gender and/or race have not stopped me in the past, so what this law opens up for me is the possibility of getting on a corporate board sooner than I thought.

I was recently accepted into (and now completed) an inaugural program for Women In Corporate Governance at my alma mater UCLA Anderson School of Management. This program offered insight from women currently active on large corporate boards as to how they earned those positions and issues faced when on the board of a public or private corporation. What I also gained was what financial acumen was needed to contribute effectively as a board member from top financial experts who regularly conduct audits for and with the SEC and are active on boards. Having completed an MBA and having run P&L, forecasting, budgeting, and interpreting financial statements for global corporations and my own company, it was not something I was traditionally highlighting in the workforce as a digital marketing expert. I know now these skills are crucial to contribute meaningfully to a board, and I’ll be able to continually use these skills. Also, as a digital marketer, being excited about financial statements was never something I thought I would happen! So I guess pigs can learn to fly.

I was also able to meet other strong women with varied backgrounds with high positions at Apple and CEOs and entrepreneurs of globally focused companies who I know will continue to support one another long after the close of the program. It felt good to be amongst such well-respected company.

So, here goes with my ask: if you know of a corporate board position, it would be great to learn more. I am currently on two non-profit boards and an advisor for start-ups, and I am actively searching for a corporate board position. As an overview of my experience, I help companies with marketing in the digital age with my consulting firm, One Thousand Suns. I have a track record of success for building marketing of B2B and B2C companies from start-ups to established corporations by using data-driven analysis to empower marketing decisions. Also as a start-up advisor and consultant, I’ve been intimately involved in strategy decks for investment, advising on product functionality/improvement, and have a good understanding (well, as much as anyone can!) and actionability of what start-ups need for profitability. As a result of my 15+ years of experience, I have also been named as a 40-Under-40 and Women to Watch in marketing.

Thank you.

Sipra Thakur Named Mentor of the Month at Stubbs Alderton & Markiles Preccelerator



Founder & CEO
One Thousand Suns

View Profile 

Sipra Thakur runs the digital marketing consulting firm, One Thousand Suns, where she helps B2C and B2B start-ups and traditional companies with digital marketing transformations. Prior to this, Sipra was Head of Digital Marketing at IMAX, which included social, website redesign (Webby award nominated), email, paid media, and analytics. Based on her work there and from several other start-up roles within companies like Universal Music and The Wonderful Company, Sipra has also been named as a 40-Under-40 and Women to Watch in marketing.
What are you passionate about? 

  • I’m passionate about creating influence and ideas and bringing them to life with a strong strategic focus.  I enjoy creating unique marketing initiatives tailored for companies while using supporting data to ensure the initiatives will have an impact for them.  Creativity coupled with strategy best help ensure maximizing reach, impressions, and ultimately sales/revenue for companies.  

What one piece of advice would you give an easy stage startup regarding your area of expertise?

  • Get marketing help! It’s easy to think marketing comes easy because it’s accessible-- most everyone uses social media and is exposed to ads, branding, etc.  Just because someone uses Facebook doesn’t mean s/he necessarily knows how to market on it though.  Good marketers use data alongside experience to best lay out plans for growth and engagement for companies.  Use any marketing resources you can while at the Preccelerator.

What do you like best about mentoring at the Preccelerator? 

  • What I like best about mentoring at the Preccelerator is the breadth of companies in the program and seeing the innovation come forth across a variety of industries. Within corporate roles, we are often exposed to a limited area of practice (one of the reasons I started my own consulting firm, to help a wider scope of companies).  Working with the Preccelerator keeps me apprised of happenings outside of my normal walk of life and walk a little further. 

Marketing in the Digital Age: News Round-Up (week ending May 31, 2019)


Is the influencer bubble busting, Twitter allows guests to join live video, and an app that received 5 million downloads in less than a month in this week’s Marketing in the Digital Age.

Influencer with 2M Followers Couldn’t Sell 36 T-Shirts

Summary: An influencer with 2 million followers on Twitter couldn’t sell 36 t-shirts of her own product line. Her post expressing the disappointment, which has since been taken down on her Instagram account, got over 35,000 likes even.

Opinion: Influencer marketing is tricky and often overrated. As a brand or someone who promoting products with them, it’s important to to provide ways to measure a lift of sales, impressions, something so you know this is a line of marketing working for you. (Enter, Sipra Thakur with One Thousand Suns to help :))

Twitter Lets Guests Join Your Live Video

Summary: Twitter rolled out a new function which allows allow audio only addition of up to three guests to your live video stream. Video streamers can take questions, interact with the audio callers, or more.

Opinion: This could be great, like the equivalent of live calls on the air. It’s a cool marketing tool for brands to use for product rollouts, Q&A, album releases, and more. Since it’s also new, there is a lot of space to explore and make a statement. It’s also finally a way Twitter has moved ahead of Instagram and Facebook when it comes to live video. I won’t be surprised when Instagram/Facebook roll this functionality out soon as well.

Yolo: A New Social Media App Built on Snapchat

Summary: Yolo is an anonymous Q&A app that asks followers for feedback. It’s currently at 5 million downloads from its release on May 2. The creator attributes the surprise success to the app’s name (side opinion: branding, it’s a thing!). It’s built around Snapchat. Once you download the app, it redirects you to Snapchat where you can post your question (with or without your Bitmoji avatar) and your followers can answer. Friends/followers can see the question on Yolo but have to go to Snapchat to answer. Though it’s anonymous, if the person is found to be harassing, Yolo will reveal the person’s name.

Opinion: The concept has potential. If this were my app, I would start off the examples that are truly based on positive feedback as it states. The example shots in the Apple App Store center around looks, which is not a jump start off for positive feedback when comments can be posted anonymously. And if I were Snap, I would actively be working with this company to either acquire it or develop it more so that it makes Snapchat more relevant again.


Marketing in the Digital Age: News Round-Up (week ending May 3, 2019)


Can you tell me how to get to Sesame Street? No, but Waze can! Plus exciting Instagram changes rolling out this year, and voice enabled ads that could revolutionize an industry in this week’s Marketing in the Digital Age.

Instagram Changes Coming in 2019


  1. Launching a new camera for Stories: now users can easily scroll through a camera wheel to find features like boomerang, stickers, and zoom. This also includes a “create mode” which allows users to create Stories without having to upload a pic or video first.

  2. Donation sticker for Stories: 100% of the proceeds go to the nonprofit.

  3. Instagram will roll our Creator profiles: this has influencers wondering what the best fit if for them. The Creator profile status will be limited to those with a certain follower count and will allow for added access to data, like who followed and unfollowed you. But, scheduling tools won’t available to Creator profiles.

  4. Buy products from influencers: this feature was previously in beta for some brands. Now, according to Instagram, “public figures, creators, athletes, publishers, and artists”  will have access to sell directly on the platform.

  5. Starting this summer, anyone can create their own filters: Facebook’s Spark AR Studio (the software that brands and designers use to create Instagram Stories filters) will be available to everyone this summer.

  6. Hiding likes is an official test: this unofficially already started (see last week’s recap). Now, Instagram will be rolling this out in Canada to test starting next week.

  7. “Away Mode”: In an attempt to combat bullying and notifications during sensitive periods of one’s life, this mode gives users a chance to step away from Instagram activity and notifications without having to delete their account.

Opinion: These announcements came during Facebook’s annual F8 conference and are significant enhancements to the platform. As a company, it’s pretty smart given the recent turmoil it has faced and a way to continue to evolve with user needs to stay relevant.

Spotify to Enable Voice Enabled Ads

Summary: Spotify announced it will test out voice enabled ads within its free version that will allow a user to use verbal commands to interact with the ad. Initially, the ads will be for playlists within Spotify to “play now” or just continue by listening to the ad.

Opinion: This could be a revolution within the ad industry and could open the doors to a new form of advertising for apps and other voice enabled products (Alexa, etc.). Instead of having to recall an ad for a product, a person could interact instantly with the brand or product.

How Do You Get To Sesame Street? Waze Can Help

Summary: To celebrate Sesame Street’s 50th anniversary, 63rd Street street in between Broadway and Central Park West in New York City is officially being named “Sesame Street.” And Waze will help navigate you there. On Wednesday afternoon, Waze will start in-app messaging for people using the app in the area to get to Sesame Street.

Opinion: I love this brand integration! It’s a fun and relevant way to celebrate a brand milestone while also a boost to Waze over competitors like Google Maps. I hope the Street is filled with children and their parents/guardians who found Sesame Street next week. :)

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Marketing in the Digital Age: News Round-Up (week ending 4.26.19)


Instagram tests out hiding likes, Chipotle drove 100%+ in digital sales, and Dixie reaches a seemingly impossible 99% video ad completion rate.

Are Instagram Likes Going Away?

Summary: Instagram is testing hiding likes on posts to reduce a focus on vanity metrics. Only the posting individual or company would be able to see the likes. The focus would turn to what is shared, not the likes.

Opinion: And somewhere, an influencer just sobbed uncontrollably. I, for one, would welcome this shift as a betterment on what younger individuals are exposed to in their everyday lives. As print magazines of the like went through a similar “correction” in focusing on more “realistic” bodies, Instagram would contribute towards that change as well. As a brand, one could still see what is resonating with consumers through their on profile.

Chipotle Uses Digital to Drive Sales

Summary: Chipotle grew its digital sales by 100.7% in its first quarter? How? Loyalty programs were a key driver to this success as well as self-service pick-up shelves in restaurants and a relaunch of their website in February. They also added ready made bowls to order online to save people from having to customize orders.

Opinion: If there is any doubt, investment in digital is worth it for companies! Simple techniques that cater to customers wants translate into sales.

Dixie Ad Experienced a 99% Video Completion Rate

Summary: Dixie, a paper plates company, drove a video ad completion rate of 99% for one of its products with its ad on Shopkick, a shopping rewards app. “Shopkick incentivized consumers with ‘kicks’ — the app's rewards currency — to seek out the plates in stores and interact with the products. The tech company's 2D image recognition and post-scan video features let the CPG brand highlight product details and activate the branded video when shoppers were most ready to buy.” More than 1.7 million people engaged with the product in Wal-Mart stores and drove 16 million impressions overall.

Opinion: Reminder, Dixie is a PAPER PLATE company! It’s a great reminder that ordinary products can be exciting with the right creative and distribution points. Impressive.

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Onto the next: Marketing to Gen Z

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Guide to Gen Z

Summary: A new thing for your C-suite to randomly throw at you: we need Gen Z consumers. Pivot immediately.

Gen Z (ages 7-22) is set to become the biggest consumer group this year. With this stat, brands and investors are salivating at reaching these consumers. Growing up in the age of instant anything and social media, there are broad trends to consider when creating for this generation. Although this article was focused more on investors, these principles are largely applicable to brand marketing planning.

1. Gen Z can be influenced.

Unlike their predecessors, Gen Z grew up in the boom of the internet and social media. In fact, 52% of them say they discover products on social media (compare to 42% for millennials and 25% for Gen X). Because of this, influencers can have a greater impact on this group.

2. Alcohol is not their vice. But, they have others.

This group is wary of alcohol because of next day hangovers which interfere with their mornings and selfies. Beer stocks have taken a hit because of this. Marijuana on the other hand, well, it’s higher (pun intended).

3. What are stores?

With the oldest of the group being barely out of college, grocery shopping isn’t their primary shopping. The trends are going towards online habits for it: 17% of them primarily purchase groceries online (compared to 5% baby boomers and 13% of millennials).

4. Loyalty must be earned

Gen Z want corporations to take a stand on issues with 40% of them saying they would pay more for a product if the company promoted gender quality and even more of them at 42% said they would pay more for a company that took a stance on racial justice initiatives. They are also buying more second-hand clothing than preceding generations (1 in 3 buy used clothing compared to only 1 in 5 millennials or Gen x).

5. Meatless Mondays

They are less likely to eat meat than older generations.

Opinion: Although there is still a growing ways to go for this generation, these are some trends that may come to solid as this group ages. From a marketing standpoint, it’s worth testing out and keeping these habits of their in mind as part of an overall strategy.