It's that time of year again! When the next year is finally in sight and the strategy sessions are (hopefully) in full effect. We saw major changes most notably in the way that Instagram is being used (think Reels over Posts) and with whom its being used by - shout out to all the 30-49'ers keeping up with the times 😉.
Between new features and new audiences, the way we use IG is changing. Here is a compiled list of trends to look out for in 2021 that we hope you, or your social media manager, finds helpful in your marketing strategies.
1. Instagram TV
Honestly, videos are one of the most interactive and effective ways to engage with your customers and generate new business- period. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video is worth two. So no matter how you prefer to make content- try to opt for videos at least 20% of the time.
IGTV allows you to post videos up to 10 minutes long and then share previews via a post. This preview allows your audience to select "keep watching" and then takes them to your IGTV "channel" to watch any other video content you may have. Another awesome feature of IGTV is the ability to link from your stories. Simply create an eye-catching story, link your IGTV video in the elements tab, and tell people to “swipe up” to gain access to the video. Pretty fancy, huh?
2. IG Reels
One Instagram feature that has totally taken off this year is IG Reels. This feature was released in August 2020 and is expected to be a close competitor to TikTok in 2021. It works similarly to TikTok where you upload a 15 sec high-impact video (found when creating a Story) and then add layers of music, stickers, texts, effects, and more.
The content and hashtags will determine if your video secures a spot on the "Explore" tab which is a great way to gain even more exposure. It is important to note if you share a Reel to your story, it will get deleted after 24 hours (as stories do) and not be featured in your Reels feed or get the chance to be on the Explore page. Audiences are craving this type of fast-paced entertainment, so it will only benefit your brand by being active on Reels.
3. The Explore Tab
Did you know that over HALF of Instagram users use this feature at least once a month? This corner of the app is deliberate in sharing fresh content (chosen by algorithms). This is where users often go to find new content or search hashtags. So, this can be a mega lead generator for your business. IG favors video, like Reels, and popular hashtags to be featured on this page. It is a good idea to see what other accounts are doing that are on the Explore tab, and seek to use similar hashtags or post strategies that are specific to your niche. Posting at optimal times for your ideal audience will also increase the chance of your videos showing up on this page.
Tip: be sure to create direct call-to-actions in your videos to take advantage of any new traffic you may receive from this!
The days of simply posting aesthetically appealing, highly edited, photos on Instagram is gone. While IG is still a very visual network, edited photos just don't make you stand out from the crowd anymore. With a smartphone in everybody’s hands, content is by the dozen and it may be hard to stand out on the feed. So how do we do it in 2021? Originality.
According to analysts, 86% of users want to see more "honesty" and "exclusive content" from brands on Instagram while only 27% say they want to see "interesting visuals". (Sprout Social). To do this, make sure to share things like original unedited pictures, behind the scene videos, exclusive follower deals, and direct communication (like polls) with your audience. This will help you curate the content your audience is looking for.
Pineapple Party by Pineapple Supply Co.
5. Stimulating Content
As mentioned as a sub-point above, it is best to create highly interactive content for IG users. This means that the user doesn't have to think much about the content, what it means, and what to do next. Always opt for a video whenever possible. When posting, tell stories, ask questions, and give clear call-to-actions in your captions. When posting stories, use features like polls, questions, and countdowns to encourage engagement. And if you haven't done so already, adding a link tool in your bio with free resources and your contact points is a GREAT way to keep your IG to sales funnel alive.
6. Stories, stories, stories!
Stories saw massive growth this year and will continue to be the best way to speak with your audience into 2021. This is because stories are more accessible to your audience (it takes less clicks to get there) and are more fast paced for our short-term attention spans.
Although stories do "delete" after 24 hours, every time you add another throughout the day, IG will push your stories to the front of the line. So people can "catching up" on what's new can potentially see your stories multiple times a day. Also be sure to use the interactive features (as mentioned above) like Boomerangs, Text, and Filters to create a more engaging experience.
7. In-App Shopping
According to research by Oberlo, 130 million users tap on shopping posts each and every month. That's a lot of interest. Integrate your web or Facebook products to your Insta offers users the opportunity to buy directly from the app. So your sales process looks something like Showcasing your product on the app -> Click to Sell. So simple, right? Leverage these shopping capabilities even further by adding product tags to your stories as well. Making the act of purchasing easier is always a win, win and Instagram has totally figured that out.
8. Carousel Posts
As mentioned, videos are the wave of the future. BUT if you are going to post photos, opt for the carousel option of uploading multiple shots in one. About 20% of posts are currently utilizing carousel post and we suspect this number to go up as more people see the simple marketing advantages. Carousel posts encourage users to scroll through, increasing time spent and hopefully engagement on your profile. But did you know, when a user sees your carousel post and does not like it right away (how dare they!) , Instagram will actually show the next photo of your carousel the next time the open the app? Pretty rad right? Built-in algorithm hacks make me us so happy!
So.... The Final Takeaway
Of course, marketing on Instagram all comes down to your specific brand, audience needs, and how you want to implement these strategies. But knowing where the trends are can help you utilize these pockets for growth.