In the world of social media, it’s tough to keep up. It’s a somewhat fickle landscape — which means that, as soon as you have one thing figured out, a new trend, feature or tool swoops in and has you starting from square one all over again.
Instagram is no different. And, if you want to maintain a fresh and cutting-edge presence on the platform, it’s important that you’re aware of the different trends that are cropping up and gaining steam.
So, what’s new in the world of Instagram? What happenings should you be in the loop on—and perhaps be implementing for your own account?
We’ve pulled together seven different Instagram trends that should absolutely be on your brand’s radar, along with some tips on how you can use Sked (formerly Schedugram) to take advantage of them.
Become an Instagram Marketing Expert
Download our 100+ page ebook: Instagram for Business to learn how to level up your Instagram marketing game.
But First, an Important Note…
Staying on top of trends is important for ensuring that your social media presence doesn’t collect cobwebs (after all, you’re not still on Myspace, are you?).
However, don’t take that to mean that you need to implement each and every trend or bell and whistle you come across. Not everything will be suitable for your unique brand.
As with anything, it’s important to return to your own Instagram marketing strategy and your goals with the platform. That will help you determine which trends will actually help you move in the right direction—and which you’d be doing just for the sake of keeping up.
With that out of the way, let’s dig into the Instagram trends, shall we?
7 Instagram Trends That Should Be on Your Radar
1. The Timing of Your Posts is Important Again (Well, Sort of)
We know — the Instagram algorithm is enough to make you go cross-eyed. It’s one of those things that has a knack for changing just as soon as you get the hang of what to do.
Recently, Instagram announced another change to the way that users would see posts displayed in their own feeds.
We’ll spare you the detailed lesson filled with all of the technical jargon. Basically, what you need to be aware of is this: Instagram is switching things up so that newer posts are more likely to appear first in users’ feeds.
After being bombarded with feedback that users were sick of seeing the same posts in their feeds day after day, Instagram made some changes to the way they were ranking posts. Consider it an effort to strike a balance between the algorithm (which learns users’ behavior to figure out what content they like seeing) and the timeliness of posts (whether the content was recently posted or is days old).
“With these changes, your feed will feel more fresh, and you won’t miss the moments you care about,” Instagram said in a release about the algorithm update, “So if your best friend shares a selfie from her vacation in Australia, it will be waiting for you when you wake up.”
Does this mean that Instagram is returning to a totally chronological feed? Absolutely not. However, now that timing is coming into play a little more than it was previously, you’re going to need to pay attention to what time you’re posting content if you’re hoping to see maximum engagement.
Put This Trend to Work
Take a look at your Instagram analytics to figure out which days of the week and what times of day see the highest rates of engagement from your audience, and then form a plan to post new content around that time.
Once you have a publishing plan, the easiest way to ensure it is implemented is to use an app like Sked to schedule your content to post automatically. You can plan and schedule a whole day, week or month’s worth of content at a time that suits you and then forget about it. No more notifications reminding you to post at all hours of the day and night.
Scheduling Your Posts to Publish Automatically Using Sked
Sked gives you two ways to schedule your content to post automatically. The first of these is to set up a queue. All you have to do is enter the days and times you want your content to be published, and then start adding posts to your queue. When one of your pres-set publishing times comes around, we’ll grab the top post in your queue and publish it for you.
To start using queue for your account, open Sked and click Queue in the main navigation location on the left.
Next, turn on the ‘Enable queue’ switch (green arrow below), enter the timezone you want to use (red arrow), then click on the ‘Add’ button on the days you want to post and enter the time (blue arrow).
From then on, when you’re creating a new post, click on the ‘Add to Queue’ button (green arrow below) when you’re done and it will automatically be added to the bottom of your queue. Easy!
The second way to schedule your posts to publish automatically is to choose a particular time and date when you’re creating a post. To do that, click on the ‘Time/Date’ button, instead of ‘Add to Queue’. This will open a window where you can select the time/date you want to schedule it for (or you can post straight away if you prefer).
Once you’ve set the time/date, click ‘Ok’ and you’re done!
2. Instagram Stories Will Continue to Be Big Business
I have a confession about the first thing I do when I open Instagram. No, I don’t start scrolling to see what new photos have been posted. Instead, my eyes immediately dart to the top of the screen to see what Instagram stories have been added.
Here’s the thing, though: I’m not alone in doing this. Instagram stories are now a key component of Instagram’s success. With an estimated 300 million daily active users, stories have witnessed tremendous growth since they launched in 2016.
It makes sense — in the world of marketing, video reigns supreme. There’s a huge audience for it. In fact, one-third of total online activity is spent viewing video. Plus, it’s highly effective. Social video generates a whopping 1,200% more shares than text and images combined.
So, as this demand for video content continues to increase, so will Instagram’s features related to stories. Just look at a few of the things that have been added to the story functionality since its launch just a few short years ago:
Selfie filters: In a seeming effort to rival Snapchat, Instagram introduced selfie filters for Instagram stories in 2017.
Stories archive: Instagram stories used to completely disappear after 24 hours. Also in 2017, Instagram introduced the personal archive so that users could see their past stories.
Stories highlights: In terms of other users who want to see stories after that 24-hour time period, there’s now the “highlights” feature—which was added at the same time as the archives. Users can create categories that appear at the top of their profile and then save specific stories within those groupings for their followers to refer back to.
Desktop Usage: Also in 2017, Instagram provided the opportunity to view stories on desktops—and not just on mobile. Yet another example that stories and video content in general are at the forefront of where social media is heading.
Put This Trend to Work
If Instagram stories were previously something that you had written off as a passing fad, it’s probably time to dig in and start using this feature for your brand’s own account.
Your stories don’t need to be anything complicated. From a behind-the-scenes peek at your office to a poll to ask for an opinion on a product, there are plenty of straightforward ways you can begin leveraging this feature.
And if you haven’t tried it yet, you can use Sked to publish your image and video stories automatically, just like you would for posts for your normal feed.
3. Shoppable Posts Will Rise
If there’s one thing that tends to annoy most Instagram users, it’s the lack of linking capabilities. Instagram still doesn’t allow for clickable links within captions of photos, which means individuals and brands are pretty limited in terms of how they can direct followers to specific destinations outside of the app.
The ability to add links to Instagram stories (and then instructing followers to swipe up on that story to be brought to the page) helped address some of these woes.
But, for users who are trying to promote specific products within their Instagram posts (and not just stories), it still doesn’t quite remedy the crux of the issue. Several third-party apps have stepped in to help fill that void. However, it won’t be long before Instagram takes matters into their own hands.
Instagram has already rolled out shoppable posts, but only for a very specific segment of users (U.S.-based business accounts who utilize a Shopify integration). With that feature, users can click on an image in a photo, see information (like the item name and price), and then click to be brought directly to a purchase page.
With that program already underway, we’re willing to bet that Instagram will monitor the results of that closely and then decide how to move forward in making similar features accessible for other brands and businesses.
When social media has become such a huge source of traffic and sales for e-commerce businesses, Instagram won’t stay out of the game for too long.
Put This Trend to Work
In all honesty, there isn’t much you can do with this one until the capabilities are rolled out for more Instagram users. But, it doesn’t hurt to have this in the back of your brain so that you can think of some ways that you could more directly sell products through Instagram when the time comes.
4. High Engagement is Going to Require Some Money
Chances are, you’ve heard the phrase “pay to play” uttered in the social media space before. It became a concern for brands on Facebook—who felt that the platform was limiting their organic reach in an effort to push them toward buying advertisements.
But, here’s the thing: Facebook owns Instagram (and has since 2012). Which means that—for all intents and purposes—you can expect a similar approach to shake out there.
A 2015 study conducted by social analytics and reporting firm, Locowise, stated that the “pay to play” phenomenon is already here. The study found that both follower growth and engagement on Instagram steadily declined throughout the year of 2015—indicating that the platform is leading people toward purchasing ads in order to reach their audience.
Further proof of the trend toward advertisements? Instagram rolled out Instagram story ads in early 2017, which have proven to be highly effective for brands. Instagram also now offers the option to pay to boost posts—meaning you can spend some money in order to get one of your existing Instagram posts in front of more eyeballs.
Is it impossible to achieve organic growth and a decent reach on Instagram without opening your wallet? No. But, it’s evident that throwing some money at the platform makes a difference—and that trend will likely only continue moving forward.
Put This Trend to Work
Have you previously been resistant to spending any money on Instagram? It might be time to change things up.
Dedicate a small budget to boosting a specific post or running an ad (whether it’s in the actual Instagram feed or an Instagram story). Measure your efforts carefully to see if you’re getting a decent enough return. You might just want to continue running some Instagram ads moving forward!
Need help? Check out our post: How to Get Started With Instagram Ads
5. Influencer Marketing is Shifting
Using influencers on Instagram is nothing new. But, the landscape seems to be shifting a bit.
Gone are the days when you had to have millions of followers in order to be considered an “influencer.” Today, brands are seeing more and more value in micro-influencers—individuals with smaller, yet more engaged and perhaps even more niche, audiences.
Why? Well, those people might just have more influence—despite their smaller following.
“Marketers have noticed that once an account is over a certain size, however, fewer people bother to engage, questioning the value of a multimillion army of fans,” explains Sidney Pierucci in an article for The Startup.
“The ratio of likes and comments to followers peaks when an account has around 1,000 followers,” Pierucci continues, “Get more than 100,000 followers, and engagement starts to flatten out; users just aren’t as keen to interact with a celebrity as with someone they can relate to more closely.”
Not only do these micro-influencers often deliver higher engagement for brands, they’re also far more cost-effective. When an account with over a million followers can earn upwards of $50,000 for just one sponsored Instagram post, working with influencers on a smaller scale can stretch a dollar a little bit.
With that in mind, we’re sure to see more and more brands making use of micro-influencers on Instagram.
Put This Trend to Work
If you don’t have the budget to give piles of money to one Instagram celebrity, that doesn’t mean you can’t do influencer marketing.
Begin to make a list of some micro-influencers within your specific industry that you could reach out to about sponsored posts. You won’t need a giant budget, and you’ll likely see some awesome results.
Where do you start with influencer marketing? Check out our guide on how to do influencer marketing right.
6. Instagram Will Crack Down on Bots
Instagram is a social network, which means a mission of connection and community-building is at its core. Tons of bots and spam accounts? They only get in the way and clutter that message.
That’s exactly why many experts hypothesize that we’ll see Instagram become a little more firm about cracking down on these junk accounts.
There’s been more and more attention around those false accounts—as well as the celebrities and influencers who use bots to artificially inflate their audience size (seriously, just check out this article from The New York Times).
“With negative press surrounding the issue, it’s likely that Instagram may look to do something about the problem,” explains a post for Mediakix, “In 2014, the social media platform purged many bot profiles from their network, resulting in a loss of millions of accounts that affected celebrities and influencers alike.”
Put This Trend to Work
Fortunately, this one is pretty easy for you to implement: Simply don’t use any shady or unethical methods for gaining Instagram followers (such as buying followers, for example).
Instead, focus on putting in the work to grow your Instagram following the right way.
7. Analytics Are Worth Your Attention
Today, very few business decisions are made without data behind them, and Instagram is no exception.
When the algorithm is constantly changing and the social media landscape is always evolving, it’s increasingly important that marketers keep an eye on their analytics to see how their content is resonating—as well as how they can optimize it for maximum results.
In 2017, Instagram announced that business users could now see analytics and insights via Instagram’s own API. We can imagine that these analytic capabilities will only become more robust as the platform continues to grow.
Put This Trend to Work
If you have an Instagram business account, take a peek at your analytics to get an understanding of how your content is performing.
Don’t have a business account and not interested in making the switch? There are numerous different third-party apps you can use for Instagram analytics.
For example, if you’ve got a Sked account, you can take advantage of our click-tracking analytics. Anytime you use our app to add a link to an Instagram Stories post, or if you’re using our link-in-bio feature, you’ll be able to see exactly how many people clicked on it. It’s a great way to measure what type of content gets the most engagement from your audience.
Either way, find a method that works for keeping an eye on your own metrics. Doing so will help you truly leverage Instagram to your advantage.
Make the Most of Instagram
Don’t forget to grab our ebook: Instagram for Business to turn yourself into an Instagram marketing expert.
Over to You
Much like any other social media platform, Instagram has a way of making it feel like the earth is shifting under your feet. As soon as you get things figured out, something new crops up and knocks you off your game.
Trends will continue to pop up, while other ones fall by the wayside. And, rest assured, not every single bandwagon is worthy of jumping on—it all depends on your brand and unique goals.
But, as the old saying goes, knowledge is power. So, one of the best things you can do is stay in the loop on the different trends and happenings. That way, you’ll have all of the information you need to determine which trends are worth implementing—and which ones you can just wait out.
To carve out hours in your social media workflow, start by signing up for Sked’s 7-day trial. As an all-in-one social media platform that allows its users to post directly to Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and more, Sked is the first step in engaging authentically with your followers.