Earlier, Instagram marketing used to be limited to branded posts and content. Then came the era of influencer marketing. With the addition of Instagram Stories, brands found another format to market themselves. The most recent addition, IGTV, provided the option to post long-form vertical videos.
Due to the dynamic nature of Instagram marketing and the platform itself, it becomes difficult to gauge how it will evolve next. We have curated a list of ten key trends that will shape the future of Instagram marketing in 2021 and beyond.
Instagram Marketing Trends for 2021:
1. The Rise of Instagram Shopping
In recent years, Instagram has emerged as an important platform for online selling. And it’s not just limited to brands adding direct buy links to their product posts. There is an entire community of online sellers that sell exclusively through Instagram.
The platform’s visual style makes it easy for brands to display their products and the social network aspect of it makes it easy for sellers and buyers to connect. We all are aware of the shoppable posts, but Instagram selling has evolved beyond that now.
Following are some trends that will drive the Instagram shopping options in 2021:
Purchase Links in Instagram Stories
In 2017, Instagram launched a feature that allowed adding links to Stories. Since then, this feature has been extensively leveraged by brands to add direct product purchase links to their Stories. This trend will continue to grow as it allows brands to showcase their products and drive sales conversions.
In the below example, clothing brand, H&M, used this feature to provide a direct product-purchase option to their audience. They displayed a few products in their Story and then provided the “Swipe up to shop” option for easy product purchase.
With the option to save Stories as highlights, brands can use this to showcase their latest collections and drive conversions on a more permanent basis.
The Rise of Instagram Boutiques
A lot of Instagram boutiques have cropped up that are using Instagram as a virtual boutique to display their products and enable purchases. Instagram’s visual style allows for a virtual product display and the right hashtags to help the brands to reach the right audience.
Peppermayo is one such Instagram boutique, and below is a snapshot of their Instagram feed:
2. Vertical Videos
With the increasing use of mobiles to access social networks or just browsing, the emergence of vertical videos was inevitable. But Instagram has made this otherwise unpopular video format quite popular and trending.
Instagram Live, Stories, and IGTV, all support vertical video format and have made it a big Instagram trend. And since it is a mobile-friendly format, a lot of Instagram users are now driving this trend.
The launch of IGTV—Instagram’s feature for posting vertical, long-form videos—in June 2018, further drove this trend. And as the IGTV feature gains more traction, this trend will only grow further.
Brands are leveraging this format for a variety of purposes. Whether you want to showcase your products, run a contest/challenge, or show a tutorial, vertical videos can be used for everything.
In the example below, the Cosmopolitan magazine uses the IGTV’s vertical video format to feature a hairstyling tutorial.
And the best part is that creating a vertical video is as simple as holding your phone vertically and recording.
3. Instagram Stories Will Continue Gaining Traction
Ever since its launch in 2016, Instagram Stories has been an important part of Instagram marketing. Brands have leveraged the Stories feature in a myriad of creative ways and will continue doing so.
Due to the versatility of Instagram Stories, it has become an important aspect of any marketer’s Instagram marketing strategy. And with the addition of filters, stickers, and other visual effects, Stories are now more engaging than ever before.
Following are some of the numerous ways in which you can leverage Stories for your Instagram marketing:
For Ads and Promotions
A lot of brands use Instagram Stories to promote their deals, giveaways, contests or just to feature display or short-form video ads. The transient nature of Stories develops a sense of urgency, which is ideal for promoting deals and giveaways. Stories are short, engaging, and addictive, and hence, are an effective medium for brand ads and promotions.
In the example below, see how Starbucks have creatively used an Instagram Story to engage their audience and promote their holiday deals and products.
For Running a Poll or Contest
Running a poll or contest via your brand’s Instagram Stories is a good way to engage your audience.
You can use polls to gather consumer insights and understand consumer preferences for your brand or products. Polls can also be used to get ideas on what the customers would want next from your brand. Giving your customers a choice and making them involved in the process works wonders for any brand’s customer loyalty.
You can also use Stories to run a contest and reward the winning entries. This is another tried and tested way to get your customers to engage with your brand.
To Announce New Product Launches
You can also leverage Instagram Stories to announce new product launches or just showcase featured products.
In the below example, Huda Beauty leveraged their Instagram Story to announce a new product launch. It has taken the story further by showcasing the various shades of the newly-launched range of lipsticks.
4. Influencer Marketing
This is not a new trend, but it’s one that is here to stay. Brand-influencer collaborations will continue to be the backbone of most marketers’ Instagram marketing strategies. And the fact that influencer content is considered more authentic than brand content, will be the key driving factor for this trend.
Brands are leveraging influencers for creating posts, generating backlinks for their websites, increasing consumer engagement, and even driving sales. Whether you want to promote a deal or product, or just generate good quality content, influencers can help you do so.
What’s more? Influencer marketing is much cheaper than running traditional ad campaigns. Instagram micro-influencers charge between $75 and $3,000 per post, depending on their level of engagement and follower count. This is still cheaper than the thousands of dollars that brands spend on traditional advertising.
Two of the trending ways in which brands are collaborating with influencers are:
To Promote Hashtag Campaigns Using a Network of Influencers
Gone are the days when brands used to pick one or two influencers and sent them free products to review. Now is the age of doing influencer marketing at scale.
Many brands are now leveraging a network of influencers to promote their Instagram marketing campaigns, using campaign-specific hashtags. This tactic combines two elements of Instagram marketing—influencers and hashtags. The idea is to create a campaign-specific hashtag and promote it through all forms like Stories, posts, Highlights, and influencer content.
For example, Marc Jacobs used this strategy to promote the launch of their new perfume, “Daisy.” The brand devised the hashtag “#mjdaisy” for the campaign and collaborated with several influencers to promote the hashtag.
Earn Influencer Content by Hosting Influencer Events
This is a more recent trend where several brands have invited a highly-curated set of influencers to their brand events. Some brands even take these influencers on all expenses paid trips. The influencers, in turn, post about the event, mention the brand and promote the brand.
Revolve is a clothing brand that often uses this strategy. The brand’s Instagram Highlights are filled with stories about influencer trips and events that they have hosted. The brand gets a lot of influencer content, from these events. For example, influencer Francis Lola posted this Story about a Revolve event, which reached her massive following of 331k people.
5. New Feature Additions
Instagram is a platform that has never failed to surprise when it comes to adding innovative and useful features. The platform has evolved from a chronological visual news feed to having live streaming and IGTV. Due to the sheer intensity of competition among social media platforms and the race to get more users, Instagram will continue to evolve.
Instagram is currently testing a new, better analytics platform which will help businesses grow when it is launched. There is also news about a new feature called Promoted Stories, which will help boost featured Stories for maximum reach.
So, watch out for these and, hopefully, many more such exciting features from Instagram in 2021.
6. Tweets and Memes
There has been a rise in the humorous content being posted on Instagram with several accounts posting such content exclusively. Tweets and memes have become the most popular type of humorous Instagram content and this trend will grow further in 2021.
People have started posting screenshots of funny tweets as posts and Stories on Instagram. This trend is fairly recent but has taken the platform by a storm. Memes, on the other hand, have been there for a while but are still very popular on Instagram. In fact, there are Instagram accounts dedicated just for that.
Marketers are leveraging this trend and using such content to their advantage. People are used to viewing humorous content on the platform and might just take branded content as native content.
Here’s an example of how a tweet can be posted on Instagram.
You can use your own tweets or someone else’s tweets. Instagram is all about sharing curated content, so you don’t really need to create fresh content every single time. This strategy saves you time and drives engagement as well.
7. Instagram Live Will Grow in Popularity
Ever since Instagram Live was launched in 2016, live videos have become very popular on the platform. Streaming videos in real-time has its set of advantages that no other form of content has.
For one, it lets you interact with your audience in real-time and allows for two-way communication, rather than just one-way sharing of content. They can comment and ask questions that you can answer instantly. Instagram Live also allows you to add another user to your live video feed and you can interact with them live.
This offers a lot of possibilities for your business to engage your audience. You can use live videos to host a Q&A session with your audience where you can answer their queries. This also provides an excellent opportunity to understand customer concerns and get valuable customer insights.
Another great way to use Instagram Live is to conduct an interview with an industry expert or influencer. You can cover trending topics from your niche that your audience might be interested in. This is a good way to engage your audience and provide value to them.
Here are some other ideas of how you can leverage this trend and use Instagram live for your business.
- Launch a product live on Instagram and create buzz about it before you make it available on your website. This will help drive more sales.
- Go live during a brand event and make your Instagram followers a part of the experience, even if it is from a distance.
- Use a live video to demonstrate how to use your product in different ways. A live product tutorial is better than a regular video because it provides your audience with a chance to ask questions and seek clarification.
Live videos are engaging and interactive and you should start using these for your business, if you’re not already doing so. Use Instagram Live and connect with your followers in real-time.
8. Interactive Content
Just like live videos, other forms of interactive content are also trending on Instagram. A lot of brands and marketers are experimenting with interactive content to drive audience engagement.
Instagram provides a lot of options for making your content interactive and engaging. Instagram Stories is especially good for creating and sharing interactive content with your audience.
Here are some ways in which you can make your Instagram content interactive.
Ask a Question
This is a simple, yet effective, way to make your Instagram content interactive. Simply ask your audience a question and encourage them to respond. The more responses you get, the better it is for you.
For posts, you can add an image with a question and ask people to submit their answers in the comments. With Instagram Stories, it is much easier as it has an option for asking questions with a box to write answers. Here’s an example:
Create a Poll
Polls are another popular form of interactive content on Instagram that you can use. These are similar to questions but with two answer options that people can choose from.
It is very simple to create polls using Instagram Stories stickers, just like it is for questions. You can type in your poll question and the answer options and post it to your Story. Here’s an example:
Here are some other things that you can do to create interactive Instagram content.
- Create a quiz and give your audience a chance to test their knowledge.
- Start a countdown to an upcoming post, product launch, event, or anything else.
- Experiment with other interactive Instagram Stories stickers.
9. Instagram Stories Ads
Instagram Stories ads appear in between Stories on a user’s feed and can often be mistaken for native content. That is why these work much better than other types of ads that clearly stand out as sponsored or branded content.
Marketers have realised this opportunity and are now investing in Instagram Stories ads more than ever. This trend will grow stronger in 2021 and that is why you should invest in these if you’re not already doing so.
You can create three different types of Instagram Stories ads—images, videos, and carousels. In carousel ads, you can add 3 images or videos in one ad.
Here are some best practices for creating and running Instagram Stories ads that work.
- Always add calls-to-action in your Instagram Stories ads as they are what will direct the traffic to your website.
- Make sure that the ad is simple and easy-to-understand as it will be visible only for a few seconds, so people should know immediately what your ad is all about.
- Keep text content to a minimum and add visuals to immediately grab the audience’s attention.
- Be smart with your text placement and keep it in a place that draws attention away from the word “sponsored” at the top.
- You can reuse your influencer content and turn it into an ad.
- Clearly highlight any offers or discounts in your ad.
- If the ad features just one product, mention the price and add a high-quality picture to get more clicks.
Use these tips and create Instagram Stories ads to market your brand or products and get more conversions.
Here’s a good example of an Instagram Stories ad that follows the above-mentioned best practices.
10. The Explore Tab Content Has Grown Multifold
When you want to explore new content on Instagram and find more accounts to follow, you go to the explore tab. It provides you with content based on your past likes and view history.
Earlier, this used to be a bit generic with a series of post suggestions that you might like. However, now they have made it much easier to search for new content by adding categories. Instead of just a list of post suggestions, they now also let you search for content by category.
For example, if you like to watch cute animal pictures and videos then you might see a category called “animals” on your explore tab. Or, if you like posts with travel photography, you might find a category called “travel” in the explore tab.
As a marketer, you can utilise this by optimising your Instagram profile and content to rank higher in said categories. Just like SEO is for regular searches, soon there will be SEO for Instagram searches as well.
To leverage this trend, pick your niche and start optimising your profile and content by using keywords and hashtags from that niche. Using the right hashtags from your niche will help your content be displayed on the explore tab, under the relevant categories.
Instagram will continue to evolve, and these trends will shape the future of Instagram marketing. If you want to stay competitive and make your content stand out on Instagram, you need to stay updated on the current trends. These are ten of the biggest Instagram marketing trends for 2021 that you should leverage to ace your Instagram marketing game.
Use these trends to plan your 2021 Instagram marketing strategy and run a successful Instagram account.