Just like Twitter (now X) became famous for its 140 character restriction, Instagram filters allowed users to transform their photos into works of art, making the platform catch on like wildfire.

The good news for your business?

Instagram filters are not just for cool kids anymore. They’re for the cool brands too. 

From Starbucks to Sephora, from Nike to H&M, brands of all sizes and industries use Instagram filters to create visually appealing content, maintain brand consistency, fine-tune their visual messaging, and engage with their audience.

Want to know more about leveraging Instagram filters for your social media marketing efforts?

Keep reading – we’ve got you covered.

The role of Instagram filters in social media engagement

Many things made Instagram famous, propelling it to the social media giant it is today. It was a very simple app at the beginning: no poking, no farming games, no quizzes. Just pictures and text.

But what made Instagram stand out from other photo-sharing apps? One significant factor was the built-in filters. In a world that was just discovering how to take a selfie, and that had a slight obsession with vintage vibes, these filters came as a complete game changer. The simplest photo could become a work of art at the tap of a finger – revolutionary!

Small wonder that Instagram, a company of only 13 employees, was sold for $1 billion just two years after its inception.

Now, social media filters are ubiquitous. They make food photos more appealing, your skin a little more tan, and add an air of coolness to anything. In turn, this gets pictures more engagement – exactly what Instagram users are striving for.

So, how do Instagram filters play into social media engagement? Let’s explore their role in detail.

instagram filters for social media engagement

Enhancing photo aesthetics

One of the great things about modern technology is that you don’t have to carry around a DSLR camera all the time to shoot nice pictures. Whether you’re into nature photography, food photography, fashion photography, or just looking to capture little moments (like, for example, how Sandra from HR will always leave last to make sure the office is in order), you can use your phone to do it all. Filters add to this convenience: you can make a picture look professional with just a few taps.

Impact on viewer perceptions and interactions

Filters don’t just make your Instagram moments prettier – they alter viewer perceptions and how they interact with your content. Some of these can be to your advantage. Others, however, are matters you should tread carefully with:

  • Increased engagement rates
  • Highlighting key features
  • Establishing a personal or brand identity
  • Misrepresenting reality
  • Creating pressure for perfection

Instagram trends change quickly – sometimes in a matter of weeks or days. But some trends stick around for much longer and become popular worldwide. On top of that, what’s popular in Asia may not be as popular in the US or Europe, so you should be aware of the different preferences.

Top filters in the United States

According to Canva, the most popular filters in the US are as follows:

1. Clarendon

People like the Clarendon filter because it enhances highlights and adds subtle vividness, making photos appear more vibrant and eye-catching. With so much versatility, it is no wonder then that it ranked as the most popular Instagram filter in the USA.

2. Gingham

Gingham is popular because it adds a vintage, slightly faded look to photos, evoking nostalgia and a sense of timelessness. This filter softens the image while maintaining its warmth, making it ideal for creating a cozy and inviting atmosphere.

3. Juno

Juno is appreciated for its ability to enhance warm tones and make colors pop, creating vibrant and dynamic images. This filter is particularly favored for food photography and outdoor scenes, as it brings out rich details and lively atmospheres.

4. Lark

Lark is appreciated for its ability to brighten and intensify colors without oversaturation, making images look crisp and fresh. This filter’s subtle enhancement of blues and greens makes it particularly popular for nature and travel photography, capturing serene landscapes and vibrant urban scenes effectively.

5. Mayfair

People favor the Mayfair filter because it gives photos a warm, pink tint that creates a polished and slightly dreamy look. It enhances skin tones and adds a soft yet vibrant touch, making images feel more inviting and aesthetically pleasing.

Global favorites and regional differences

According to the same source, global Instagram filter favorites are a bit different from the US top. More specifically, the most common five filters are:

1. Clarendon

Interestingly, Clarendon ranks as the most popular filter worldwide too, appearing in the top five lists of 119 countries. This further highlights its versatility and widespread appeal.

2. Juno

Similar to the US, Juno ranks highly as a global favorite, appearing in the top five lists of 45 countries. Its ability to enhance vibrant colors makes it a popular choice for many users.

3. Sierra

Sierra is adored for its gentle fading effect, which gives photos a soft, nostalgic feel reminiscent of old film photography. This filter’s ability to subtly mute colors while preserving the image’s warmth makes it ideal for creating a serene and timeless look.

4. Valencia

Valencia is well-loved for its ability to add a slight orange hue and soften the photo, creating a warm, vintage effect that resonates with nostalgia. This filter is perfect for enhancing skin tones and giving images a harmonious, sunlit appearance, making them more visually appealing.

X-Pro II

X-Pro II is appreciated for its strong vignette effect and high contrast, which adds a dramatic and bold touch to photos. This filter’s capacity to intensify colors and create striking, memorable images makes it a favorite among users aiming for a more artistic and impactful aesthetic.

European preferences

Europe is not that different from the rest of the world insofar as Instagram filters go. Some of the most popular Instagram filters in Europe include:


Crema is favored in Europe for its subtle and elegant effect that slightly softens photos while maintaining clarity and warmth, creating a polished and refined look. This filter’s gentle enhancement of tones makes it ideal for lifestyle and travel photography, appealing to those seeking an understated yet sophisticated aesthetic.


Lo-Fi is popular for its ability to amplify colors and shadows, giving photos a bold and dramatic look that stands out. This filter’s intense saturation and contrast make it a favorite for showcasing vibrant scenes and creating striking visuals.


Lark’s popularity continues in Europe, similar to the United States, due to its ability to brighten and enhance photos without oversaturation, making it a preferred choice for capturing natural beauty. Additionally, the filter’s subtle touch on blues and greens makes it ideal for landscape and travel photography, ensuring a fresh and crisp appearance.


Ludwig is admired for its minimalistic yet impactful effect, subtly desaturating reds while enhancing light and dark areas to create a refined and artistic look. This filter’s ability to add depth and clarity without overwhelming the image makes it popular among users aiming for a classic and sophisticated style.

X-Pro II

European preferences for Instagram filters display subtle regional variations, with filters like Crema, Lo-Fi, Lark, Ludwig, and X-Pro II leading in popularity. These filters are favored for their ability to enhance photos in unique ways, from soft elegance to bold, dramatic effects, meeting the diverse aesthetic tastes of European users.

A lot of Asian Instagram (and TikTok) users are more keen on heavier filters and effects, but some of the more classic Instagram filters are definitely popular as well. Here are some of the most widespread ones:


Lo-Fi is renowned for its high saturation and strong shadows, which intensify colors and create a bold, dramatic effect. This filter is particularly popular for food and urban photography, where vibrant and striking visuals are highly appreciated.


Like in many parts of the world, Juno remains popular in Asia for its ability to enhance warm tones and make colors pop, creating vibrant and dynamic images. This filter is highly favored for food photography and capturing the lively essence of bustling cityscapes.


Crema is celebrated for its ability to soften an image’s colors, giving it a more pastel and muted appearance that evokes a tranquil and sophisticated vibe. It’s a favored choice for lifestyle and fashion photography, where subtle elegance is desired.

How to choose the right Instagram filter

Picking the right Instagram filter doesn’t seem difficult for an outsider. But when you have a lot of options and your choice can influence how (potential) customers see your business, the pressure can make it all quite confusing.

Here are some of the most important tips to keep in mind when choosing Instagram filters:

Matching filters with content

When selecting an Instagram filter, consider the type of content you are posting. Filters that enhance colors and contrast, like Lo-Fi or X-Pro II, are ideal for vibrant scenes such as urban landscapes or dynamic food photography.

Conversely, if your content is more relaxed and seeks to evoke a sense of nostalgia or elegance, filters like Valencia or Crema, which soften and mute tones, are more suitable.

Furthermore, Juno is perfect for enhancing warm tones in lively settings, while Ludwig’s minimalistic approach works well for sophisticated and artistic shots. By aligning your filter with your content, you ensure your images resonate more effectively with your audience.

Techniques for maximizing engagement enhance your visuals

Instagram is a pretty engaging platform in itself. But with the amount of content shared on Insta every day, you need to make your photos really stand out. Here are some tips on how to do this:

Experimental approaches

Experimentation is key to discovering the best filter choices for your content. When you try out various filters and analyze the engagement metrics using Instagram’s tools, you can identify which filters resonate most with your audience. Regularly experimenting and adapting based on feedback ensures your visuals remain fresh and appealing.

Analyzing engagement metrics

Understanding and analyzing engagement metrics on Instagram is crucial for optimizing your content strategy and ensuring your posts resonate with your audience.

  • Likes : This simple metric indicates how many users appreciate your post. A high number of likes signals content popularity and can boost your post’s visibility on Instagram’s algorithm.
  • Comments : Comments are a deeper form of engagement compared to likes. They reflect a higher level of interest and interaction from your audience. Engaging with comments also fosters a sense of community and encourages more dialogue.
  • Shares : When users share your content, it exposes your brand to a broader audience. Shares indicate that your content is valuable enough for users to spread to their own network, amplifying your reach.
  • Saves : This metric shows how many users found your content useful or inspiring enough to save for later. High saves often mean that your content has lasting value and relevance to your audience.
  • Profile visits : The number of visits to your profile from a particular post demonstrates your ability to pique viewers’ interest. It indicates how compelling your posts are at prompting further interest in your account.
  • Follower growth : Tracking your follower count over time provides insight into your Instagram presence’s overall health and growth. Spikes in follower growth can often be traced back to high-performing posts or successful campaigns.
  • Engagement rate : This metric calculates engagement (likes, comments, shares, saves) relative to your total number of followers. A high engagement rate indicates that a significant portion of your followers actively interact with your content.

How To Search Filters On Instagram – Full Guide

Video by GuideRealmVideos

Examples and case studies of filter usage

Most brands want to maintain consistency by using the same filters across all of their content. As a result, you will often see successful Instagram accounts adopting one or two filters for their accounts. For example:

  • Nike. The athletic brand uses bright and vibrant filters like Clarendon to showcase their energetic and bold products. This helps them create movement and excitement in their photos.
  • Starbucks often uses the Juno filter, which adds a cool, bluish tint and enhances color saturation. This filter makes their coffee drinks and food items pop on their Instagram feed.
  • Anthropologie tends to use the Valencia filter, which gives photos a slightly muted, vintage look while boosting contrast and brightness. This filter adds visual interest and a timeless aesthetic to their feed of home goods and fashion.

Successful brand campaigns using instagram filters

Sometimes, brands do more than just use Instagram filters – they also create their own. This drives a lot of engagement from their fan bases and even has the power to attract new followers (because who doesn’t love a new filter?). Here are some examples of successful brand campaigns using filters:

  • Gucci Flora Pets by Gucci Beauty . Gucci created an Instagram filter called Gucci Flora Pets, offering users an interactive and visually appealing experience related to their perfumes.
  • Star Guardian Cards by League of Legends. League of Legends developed an Instagram filter named Star Guardian Cards, providing users with an engaging digital experience likely related to their gaming content.
  • Virtual Road Trip by Meta . Meta (formerly Facebook) introduced an Instagram filter called Virtual Road Trip, offering users a unique and immersive experience likely related to travel or exploration themes.
  • #FlightForce by Disneyland Paris . Disneyland Paris launched an Instagram filter named #FlightForce, providing users with an interactive and fun experience likely related to their theme park attractions.

Influencer strategies and outcomes

Data makes the world go round, and influencers make Instagram scroll. There are two main ways you can leverage this as a brand:

  • Analyze what filters and effects your audience’s favorite influencers use (so you can “steal” them and create the same vibe for your photo grid on Instagram)
  • Work directly with influencers (especially if you want to create your own filter and if you want it to go viral.)
Both of these strategies can lead to:
  • Increased engagement. When you use filters and effects that resonate with your audience, you can increase likes, comments, shares, saves and follower growth. Partnering with influential users can also help boost engagement.
  • Greater brand awareness. Working with influencers exposes your brand to a larger audience and can attract new followers. Creating a unique filter or effect for them to use can also create

Tips for leveraging Instagram filters creatively

Filters are a powerful tool to enhance your Instagram presence and connect with your audience on a visual level. Leveraging filters creatively helps you make your content stand out, evoke specific emotions, and strengthen your brand identity.

Here are some essential tips to help you use Instagram filters to their full potential

  • Thematic consistency . Choose a filter that aligns with your brand’s aesthetic and apply it consistently across all your posts. This creates a unified look for your feed, making your brand easily recognizable and visually appealing.
  • Seasonal filters . Utilize different filters to reflect the seasons or specific events. For example, warmer filters in the summer and cooler tones in the winter can help make your content more relevant and engaging.
  • User-generated content . Encourage your followers to use a specific filter when creating content related to your brand. Share the best posts on your profile to build community and engagement.
  • Behind-the-scenes . Use filters to differentiate behind-the-scenes content from your regular posts. This can create a unique, authentic feel that gives followers a glimpse into your brand’s inner workings.
  • Instagram stories . Leverage filters in Instagram Stories to keep your content fresh and engaging. Since Stories are temporary, you can experiment with different looks without disrupting your main feed’s aesthetic.
  • Product launches . For new product launches, design a custom filter that highlights the key features or mood of the product. Encourage your followers to use the filter when showcasing their own experiences with the product.
  • Narrative series . Develop a series of posts or Stories using a particular filter to tell a cohesive story. This could be anything from a day-in-the-life series to documenting a significant event, creating a compelling narrative that draws followers in.
  • Interactive filters . Create interactive filters that your audience can engage with, such as quizzes, polls, or AR effects. This not only boosts engagement but also encourages users to share the interactive content, expanding your reach.
  • Collaborations . Partner with other brands or influencers to create co-branded filters. This can introduce your brand to new audiences and add a fresh perspective to your content.
  • Highlight events and milestones . Use special filters to highlight events, anniversaries, or milestones. This creates a distinctive look for celebratory posts and can make these moments more memorable for your audience.

Creative and unconventional uses

While Instagram filters are primarily used for editing and enhancing photos, there are some creative and unconventional ways that brands have utilized them.

Event highlighting

For special occasions like product launches, anniversaries, or collaborations, brands can develop filters that reflect the event’s theme. This makes the event more engaging and memorable for the audience. Special event filters can add an exclusive touch to the shared moments, making them feel unique.

Campaign promotion

Brands can create filters specifically for marketing campaigns. These filters can align with the campaign’s aesthetics and theme, making promotional posts more compelling. By encouraging users to apply these filters to their own content, brands can increase the campaign’s reach and engagement.

Maintaining brand coherence through filters

Some brands have created their own filter as part of their brand identity. And some use specific filters to convey a unique message. For example, a food brand may use warm and vibrant filters to showcase their products’ freshness and vibrancy.

Creative uses of branded filters

Brands can design filters that incorporate their logos, colors, or other brand-specific elements. Using branded filters can create a cohesive visual experience that ties into the brand’s overall identity. This helps in making the brand easily recognizable and can enhance brand loyalty among followers.

Seasonal themes

Employing different filters for seasonal content can make posts more relevant and timely. For example, using warm tones during summer or cool tones in winter can make the content resonate more with the audience’s current experiences. Seasonal filters can keep content fresh and engaging throughout the year.

Exclusive filters for followers

Brands can offer exclusive filters to their followers as a part of loyalty programs or special promotions. This creates a sense of exclusivity and rewards loyal followers with unique, branded content that they can use and share. Exclusive filters can increase brand affinity and engagement among fans.

Monitoring and adapting your instagram filters strategy

You can’t really measure how someone feels when they see a particular filter, but you can monitor and track the success of your filter strategy by looking at metrics such as:

  • Number of times your filter has been used
  • Reach and impressions of posts featuring the filter
  • Engagement rate on posts featuring the filter
  • User-generated content using the filter
  • Brand mentions or tags in posts featuring the filter

Based on these metrics, you can adapt and refine your filter strategy to make it more effective in achieving your goals. You may want to try out different types of filters, collaborate with other brands or influencers, or promote your filters through targeted campaigns.

Remember social media strategy is a continuous process and it’s essential to regularly review and adapt your approach to stay relevant and engaging to your audience. Filters are no exception – monitoring how people react to your filters, or, if they’re custom filters, how your audience uses them, can give you a better idea of what to do in the future.

Tracking tools and techniques for instagram filters

Fortunately, you are not alone. A variety of tracking tools and techniques are available to help you monitor and optimize your filter strategy. These include:

  • Instagram Insights: Use the built-in analytics tool on Instagram to track metrics such as reach, impressions, and engagement for posts featuring your filter.
  • Third-party analytics tools: Platforms like HootSuite, Sprout Social, or Buffer offer advanced social media analytics to track your filter’s performance across different platforms.
  • Hashtags: Encourage users to use a specific hashtag when sharing content featuring your filter. This makes it easier for you to track user-generated content and measure the reach and engagement of your filter.
  • Collaborations: Partner with other brands or influencers who have a similar target audience as yours. By combining efforts, you can reach

Just because Juno is massively popular on Instagram now, it doesn’t mean that it will remain so in the future. As social media trends are constantly shifting, your filter strategy should also adapt to these changes. Keep an eye on new filters and features released by Instagram and other platforms and stay open to experimenting with different styles and techniques.

Instagram filters, whether branded or not, can be a tool for presenting your business to the world. They can make an event picture look dreamy or ethereal, they can make your products look more appealing, or they can enhance the overall visual aesthetic of your brand. And if you manage to create your own filters too, they can become a powerful branding tool that sets you apart from your competitors.

At the end of the day, filters are not just about making your posts look pretty. They are about connecting with your audience, creating a unique brand experience, and ultimately building a loyal community of followers who will continue to engage with your content.

Have fun, get creative, and measure your efforts — your Instagram filter strategy will make a difference in the success of your brand on social media.