Have you set up marketing goals for this year? Ready to explore the biggest Instagram marketing trends that will shape your strategy for the coming year? In this post, we’ll go through eight of the biggest trends on Instagram right now. You’ll see what’s hot, and we’ll show you where to focus your attention in the coming months. But first, a super quick recap, because 2020 Was Quite a Blow for Us, Instagram Marketers, Wasn’t it? And that might even be a serious understatement… Luckily, Instagram has responded to many challenges with various amazing features. The social media platform launched Instagram Guides, for example. Although first limited to specific Instagram accounts, Guides eventually became available to everyone. There were also Instagram stickers aimed to promote accurate information. And then, there was Instagram’s campaign to keep people safe and informed about COVID-19. So, what about this year? Nobody can really predict what will happen over the next months and how COVID-19 will impact businesses. However, we still have a few ideas based on Instagram’s evolution and how it can be part of your marketing strategy. As we’re trying to leave the chaos behind, let’s look at the biggest Instagram marketing trends we need to know for the upcoming months. Reels (and Short Videos) Are Here to Stay Reels showed up on Instagram in August 2020, and they instantly looked familiar to many of us. The new feature allowed Instagram users to create short videos of up to 30 seconds with various effects, audio, and filters. Why did it look so familiar then? The concept is similar to TikTok, which was already rising in prominence as a very engaging social media platform. Pushing the similarities with TikTok aside, there are many reasons to believe that Reels will be big on Instagram in 2021. First of all, they are so addictive, aren’t’ they? Following successful recipes, there is a trend on social media over the last few years to focus on bite-sized video content. Right after the success of Instagram Stories, Reels are pushing us to be even more creative. Another reason – Short-form videos work much better at grabbing someone’s attention. As a result, in a world of constant distractions, short videos can help you communicate your message in just a few seconds. Image source: @redbull Moreover, you can find success with Instagram Reels by looking at TikTok and what’s working. The creative ideas are already out there. Not everything will work on both platforms, but at least you know how effects and audio clips can transform a short video. You can even be inspired for your next videos! Another reason to focus on Instagram Reels this year is that they are still in quite an early stage. This means that you get to be among the early adopters and content creators who can still experiment with it. Learn more: Check out these examples of brands killing it with Instagram Reels. In-app Shopping Will Grow More 2020 has been a great year for Instagram e-commerce. And we have every reason to believe that 2021 will be even better. The social platform has been consistently investing in e-commerce features. That, in turn, had led many brands to launch their Instagram shops and driving sales on Instagram. There’s a reason for making those changes – Leading the customers outside the app to complete a purchase isn’t a good enough user experience anymore when it comes to online shopping. As everyone gets busier, customers want to finalize the sale right there, in the app. The introduction of “shoppable posts” allows you to discover a post, click on the product, and shop it straight away. This is a great feature for e-commerce brands that want to keep their community on Instagram without losing them after following too many steps. Moreover, Instagram Stories stickers combine Stories’ engagement with the ease of completing a purchase with your smartphone. They are easy to add to any Story, and they can help you increase your sales. In 2021, more brands will experiment with Instagram Checkout to boost their business. During uncertain times, you want to make the most out of all your available channels. And having the opportunity to sell your products directly from one of the most engaging social platforms is an asset for every business. After all, Instagram is already committed to making a seamless and secure shopping experience for everyone, which means that we should expect more features coming up over the next months. Instagram SEO is Not Something to Overlook In 2020, Instagram announced the launch of its keyword search feature. English-speaking users from the US, UK, Ireland, and Canada were initially able to search the platform using keywords, much like they’d do in a search engine. Before this change, as a user, you could search for Instagram content using hashtags like #breakfastrecipes. The new option adds the option to conduct searches such as ‘breakfast recipes’ and discover relevant content. This is a big opportunity for anyone interested in SEO and brand discovery to focus on the key phrases that will bring new followers and customers to a business. For that reason, we believe SEO is going to be one of the top Instagram marketing trends for the coming year. Since this feature only showed up a few months ago, we expect to see it rolling out to more countries in 2021. After all, it can help businesses of all sizes to find new audiences. Moreover, it can help us learn more about SEO and how it goes along with social media marketing. If Instagram considers SEO as a serious way to improve the platform’s success beyond the app, then this means that marketers should start investing in their Instagram SEO strategy. Learn more: Here are quite a few ideas to help you get started with Instagram SEO. You Need to Humanize Your Brand How much are you highlighting the human aspect of your brand? Well, now might be the best time to do more of it. Now, not everyone is ready to humanize a brand, of course. But you may want to think of the benefits of doing so. Alisha from @thesocialimpact.au was featured on one of our recent giveaways with her 30-day program on how to be the face of your brand. As mentioned in her program, being the face of your brand can help you connect with your audience, grow your confidence, and boost your business. Image Source Your tone of voice and your content can convince a follower to become a paid customer. Maybe a funny Instagram Story can make the difference between a dormant follower and a loyal fan. Humanizing your brand can make you navigate the uncertainties of 2021. As we discussed with Tim Campbell, a tourism traveler photographer, getting your personality out can be necessary when you can’t physically travel. Similarly, a business can explore multiple benefits of humanizing their brand and get closer to their followers. It allows you to build trust, to make the engagement feel more natural, and of course, to make the sales easier. Your followers will certainly appreciate the new side of you! More Focus on Instagram Stories and IGTV There are 500 million daily active users on Instagram Stories. As one of the most engaging features on Instagram, it’s unlikely that Stories will be disappearing anytime soon. That’s why it’s important to stay up-to-date with what’s going on with Stories, and how you can keep your brand relevant. That’s also why we think Stories and IGTV will be one of the top Instagram marketing trends in 2021. There are many ways to make the most out of Instagram Stories, from filters to stickers and shoppable products. In 2021, it’s the perfect time to think outside the box. Explore new ways to use Stories to boost your engagement but also increase your sales. What if you focus more on the live streaming? How about adding influencer marketing to the mix? You can even create more interactive content to learn more about your target audience. Except for Instagram Stories, another feature that will be used more is long-form videos. Image Source IGTV can help you expand in longer content to appeal to your followers. When creating longer videos, it’s important to stay interesting for more than a minute. You want to create a story that will convince your followers to keep on watching. Think how you can use short videos to grab someone’s attention until they are ready to convert to longer content. As more brands are investing in long-form videos, 2021 brings you an opportunity to improve your storytelling skills and boost your brand’s image. Learn More: Here are more details on how to improve your IGTV strategy. 2021 May Be the Best Time to Create More Carousel Posts Image Source Who doesn’t love a carousel post? The option to add multiple images in one post allows you to communicate your message more effectively. There’s no need to limit yourself to one image. You can even tell a story that continues from one image to the other. Carousel posts can be very engaging. That’s why more brands are using them to: Promote a product Communicate a message Share a story Showcase their mission As the new year starts, it’s the perfect time to review your creative strategy as part of social media marketing. Look at the content that worked well in 2020. Explore new ways to tell your story. How can you be more creative to maintain your relevance in 2021? Are there new trends you want to explore this year? For example, how about encouraging your followers to ‘swipe left’ to check all your photos in a carousel post? If you’re ready to plan your content, you can even start scheduling your carousel posts with Sked. Image Source Saveable and Shareable Content Will Rock Engagement is always the end goal for a successful Instagram marketing strategy. As the competition increases, though, it’s not always easy to achieve it. That’s why you need to follow the latest Instagram marketing trends. Gone are the days when likes and comments were the only engagement metrics. Nowadays, they are being replaced by Instagram saves. As an engagement metric, saves can help you understand what types of Instagram posts your followers enjoy the most. Image Source If someone is willing to save a post for later, they like it enough to reaccess it. Or they may like your content enough to share it with their friends. This is another indication that your content is relevant to your target audience. In 2021, we need to focus more on content that our followers want to save and share. People have more chances to share content that is of high quality but also relevant to their interests. Look at Instagram’s insights to discover the posts that got the highest number of saves and shares and adjust your strategy accordingly. Remember, Instagram engagement can help you meet all your objectives in the platform. The more your followers enjoy your content, the higher the chances to convert later on. Longer Captions Image Source Social media platforms are all about the speed of scrolling. It’s easy to be distracted while our attention span is getting shorter. These are true. But you can’t ignore the cases when longer captions can convince your followers to trust your brand. Not all captions have to be short and witty. How about telling a story to make your content more powerful? National Geographic is one of the best storytellers on Instagram. Many of their posts have longer captions to add more details about each photo. You don’t need to be a travel photographer to embrace longer captions, though. As we were mentioning earlier, authenticity becomes more important than ever. It’s your opportunity in 2021 to highlight your unique tone of voice through your content. Use your photos and videos to capture your followers’ attention but keep them engaged through your captions. Start using longer captions to: Talk about your brand. Present your mission Explain the thought process behind your latest launch Provide DIY details Interview an influencer Educate your audience There are many ways to use your captions to improve your content. You need to justify the times you need to add a longer caption than the moments that a short caption can do the trick. Find the sweet spot between the two and use them accordingly. Conclusion It’s not easy to predict what’s happening in 2021. But we can still focus on the latest Instagram marketing trends that will probably use a lot of our time when planning our strategies. Dedicate some time to read the trends and check with your team on your strengths and weaknesses. Explore the areas that can be improved and keep doing what works well. Don’t be afraid to take calculated risks if they bring you closer to new creative ideas. Good luck!