Instagram may have started from humble beginnings as a mobile app that lets you post photos but it has rapidly evolved into a ubiquitous social network under the Facebook umbrella. Not only that, but it can also be an indispensable tool for small businesses to get your brand and products on the eyes of customers, and not just the website you've created and Facebook page.
Instagram has undergone significant changes since its original release, and if you want to keep on top of your Instagram game, you’ll need to stay up with the trends. Luckily for you, we’re going to help you do just that. Ready to get trendy? Read more as we break down the Instagram trends of 2018.
Take advantage of Instagram Stories now
In 2016, strongly inspired by the success of Snapchat, Instagram introduced Stories. The feature allows you to post photos and videos that disappear after 24 hours. The feature captured the attention of enough users that it didn’t take long before over 300 million of them were using the nifty feature daily. Given the popularity of Instagram itself, combined with the incredible amount of users with Stories, Snapchat Stories views saw a decline of 15%-40%.
Enough about the stats and competition. Let’s talk about why you should utilize this powerful feature for your brand – as it seems like it’s not slowing down anytime soon. As straightforward as the platform may be, the possibilities and flexibility of Instagram Stories are nearly endless. It’s the perfect opportunity to show your followers “a day in the life of” type of behind the scenes moments about your business and can be a great way to show off your products without spamming your followers with several posts in their feed.
Ultimately, that’s what Stories is all about: an imperfect and candid peek inside your (business) day. While the feature may have been designed for this intended purpose, it’s the user that will truly define what it is. Some Stories influencers produce daily, high-quality videos, only for them to vanish in a day. While the idea of putting so much effort into something that will no longer exist 24 hours later may seem trivial, it can result in a huge increase in engagement. It can also be just plain fun!
Wish Stories hung around for longer than 24 hours? You’re in luck! In late 2017, Instagram introduced Stories Highlights, which allows you to add expired Stories that you’ve shared to your profile so that you can keep all your favorites around. All Stories posts will now also be automatically saved in a private archive for your easy access.
The “self-destructing” videos will likely only increase in usage going forward, so make a point to do your research and implement Stories into your Instagram marketing strategy.
Put some “focus” on live video
If you’ve been paying attention to the past trends of many social networks, you’ll see that video has become quite popular, and that trend is only going to continue to soar in 2018. As if Instagram Stories wasn’t popular enough, now you have the ability to start a live video stream directly into your Stories post.
People seem to go crazy over live video. And it’s no secret why. Whether or not you’d ever pay attention to someone’s live stream, the fact of the matter is that many will, so it’s not to be ignored for your business. You can utilize live video in any way you see fit, but it can be very useful for more time-sensitive content, like introducing a brand new product, a glimpse of your launching day, or even announcing a winner to a contest you’ve held for your followers. Live video is also a great way to encourage engagement. People can comment while you’re live streaming, so this can also serve as a platform to host a live Q&A.
When your stream is done, you can share a video replay for others to see for the next 24 hours. If you don’t want to see that particular Story disappear, you can add it to your Stories highlights so it will still be accessible to any viewers who are slightly late to the party. Even if you’re just wingin’ it, that’s pretty much what Instagram Stories is all about, so have fun with live streaming.
Get on the UGC wagon
A simple and straightforward example of UGC would be if you happen to come across an Instagram post where someone took a photo or video with your product and captioned it with something to the effect of, “I love my new … I just got!” The post itself features a regular, everyday customer, giving an unbiased review of your product or business. By exploiting user-generated content (and doing it properly), you’ll not only have content for your brand by your own customers that have a great chance of getting a ton of engagement, but you’ll also need to spend less time creating content yourself.
Be flexible and adapt to algorithm changes
While the general idea of Instagram remains, it seems to be ever-changing in the background. Earlier this year, it adjusted its algorithm, which affects the order of which content you see first, among other things. If you’re not in with the lingo, it may sound like an algorithm change won’t affect much. Wrong. It most certainly can and likely will, possibly without you even noticing. Best practices can become irrelevant or even negative, which can hurt your account and result in you getting shadow banned (you're banned but don’t even know it). The solution? You’ve got to roll with the punches and adapt. All of the search results you’ll find on how to “beat the Instagram algorithm” aren’t completely baseless, but also aren’t something you couldn’t achieve with a bit of trial and error yourself. The Preview App’s blog said it best, in that “Everybody who is giving advice on the algorithm is making assumptions based on their experience.” Since Instagram isn’t going to divulge their algorithm secrets, you’ll need to adhere to the advice of others or see what works yourself.
Look to the tools available for you
Another way to see the effects of an algorithm change is to take a look at analytics tools. If you’re noticing a drop in engagement, you can go back to the post, look what was posted, and put it against what you’ve learned about the algorithm.
Luckily, there should be an increase of tools like this for Instagram thanks to last year’s introduction of the Instagram Graph API, which was later upgraded to the Facebook Graph API, allowing for third-party software to utilize the analytics. What does this actually mean for you and why should you care about it? If you use a third-party service to schedule or post on Instagram, it could offer it’s very own analytics platform utilizing Instagram’s Graph API. This will allow you to continue using the same service for both posting and analytics, without having to dive into Instagram’s analytics directly or another service altogether.
You should also look into Instagram templates to help you keep up with the aesthetic trends if you don't have a design background.
Take advantage of micro-influencers
An avenue that’s become increasingly more popular is utilizing micro-influencers. It’s okay If the term sounds unfamiliar to you, as it’s fairly easy to define. A micro-influencer is someone with a social following of around 1,000-100,000 followers and have a more “relatable” feel to them. They’re not a brand, but a user like yourself, and that’s felt in the way they post and the way in which they talk about the products they use. They’re also more likely to produce content that’s focused on a specific niche. An example that’s swarming the Instagram world – beauty bloggers who review, try and photograph new products and trends. Because of this and their following size, micro-influencers can be a great avenue for your business to partner up with.
When a micro-influencer reviews a product, whether it’s via a sponsorship or not, their following will more than likely take their word at face value. If you’re a small business without a marketing budget to get the attention of an incredibly popular influencer on Instagram, micro-influencers may be the path you want to look to. Some examples of popular micro-influencers include @_modernfit for fitness, @Jacobtrue for travel, and Candidlychan for fashion.
Instagram may become more “clickable”
Given a ‘regular’ user can only add links to their profile page, links won’t be found elsewhere. Sure, you can add a link to a caption, but it won’t be clickable. Currently, unless you meet a set of certain parameters or actually invest in Instagram ads, the only clickable link you have available to you is on your profile page. Business profiles with a following of 10,000 or more can add links to their Story posts. Unfortunately, this isn’t something you achieve in a day. Nonetheless, it shows that the feature could roll out to more users of the network at any given moment.
You know what does allow you to add links to Instagram posts and doesn’t require you to have 10,000 followers? The Wix Instagram Feed. You can easily add the feed to your website and connect it to your account. Add links to your products, your blog, or even your home page of your website to individual posts to direct your viewer exactly where you want them. This, in addition to the latest features from the social network, are sure to help gain awareness about your brand on the ‘Gram. Looking for more ways to drive traffic to your site? Like always, we’ve got you covered.
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