With over one billion users as of June 2018 (800 million active users as of December 2017),
Instagram has reached elite status in social media/tech history, joining house names like Facebook
and WhatsApp. And in a time when society urgently depends on social media, Instagram’s simple
UX framework makes it one of the best options for marketers.
A few recent trends in the app’s development have made marketing for businesses much easier:
1) Instagram shopping:
The increased ease of mobile purchasing via “Instagram shopping” is one of the major Instagram
marketing trends to be familiar with in 2018. This feature has transformed B2C marketing on the
app; it allows users to navigate seamlessly between their favorite brands’ Instagram page and their
website to complete a purchase. Even more simply, with new shopping features such as the “swipe
up” button, users can purchase individually tagged items directly in a photo or video.
This, by itself, makes shopping on Instagram not only that much easier for the consumer, but also
makes marketing efforts much more fruitful for the entrepreneur.
2) Instagram stories:
Instagram stories—photos or videos that become viewable for a 24 hour period — similar to those of
Snapchat, have also gained significant traction on the app, acting as a way to keep existing followers
engaged while also reaching out to new audiences. In such a way, Instagram stories constitute one of
the ways in which the app has prolonged the concept “organic” reach on the platform.
So why would businesses be interested in “storying” when a post will be deleted after the 24-hour
period? There are several reasons. According to Shopify Inc. Blogs marketers and
influencers find Instagram Stories attractive for a number of reasons.
Instagram stories are beneficial from a marketing standpoint due to availability of Instagram
story metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs). Despite the fact that stories are available for
only a brief period, business profiles are likely interested in gauging the efficacy of their stories.
Through the app (via Instagram Insights on a business account), one may gain insight into story
metrics including engagement rate, exit rate, and taps back and forward. These may be useful
statistics for brands who invest substantial time and money into producing daily stories in assessing
their reach and overall impressions of the targeted audiences.
Instagram Stories Appeal
- Large story user base: Over 300 million of its users access Instagram stories each day
- The amount of effort: While Instagram posts usually come off as “staged”, Instagram stories can
be quite the opposite. They can be spontaneous, in-the-moment photos or videos that emphasize
less about capturing the perfect aesthetic and more about engaging one’s audience. Similarly,
because stories do not have to present the most polished end product, a brand or business may
simply want to use them to test out new ideas
- The number of features: Similar to Snapchat, Instagram stories offer a number of playful
features that help keep the audience engaged and add a visual appeal to posts. Some of these
include drawing tools, alternating filters and gifs, location services, and many more.
- Swipe-up links: As outlined by the Shopify Inc. Blog article above, for those business accounts
with over 10,000 followers on the app, links can be added to stories that direct a user to the
product or service advertised in a story.
- Discoverability: By employing the hashtag and geotag features in stories, brands and businesses
may find their posts increasingly discoverable by a larger audience. Popular stories may also end
up in the “Recommended for you” feed.
Another marketing trend that has gained popularity in recent months is “Regramming”— or the
sharing of other user’s content, whether it be pictures, videos, etc. The prevalence of “Regramming”
has become a way to boost brand image through both customers and influencers. Unlike its other
social media counterparts, on Instagram there is no direct way to repost another user’s content
without taking a screenshot or using another form of downloading. However, the app recently
announced that it will be introducing a new “Regram” feature that will allow users to seamlessly
share or “Regram” others’ posts on the app. With the introduction of such a helpful feature,
“Regramming” is primed to evolve into an increasingly popular marketing trend.
So what will be the impact of regramming becoming so common-practice on the app? This is something to look out for
in the coming year.
4) Algorithms and Advertising:
In March of 2016, Instagram announced it would be shifting over to an algorithmic feed, marking a
move away from the idea of “organic” reach. However, with neither being perfect means of target
marketing, how do algorithms benefit entrepreneurs using the app and what are the long-term
With such rapid growth of the social network app, the shift to an algorithmic feed seemed like the
most logical phase in the app’s development. The change was a key aspect to “Instagram’s
monetization strategy.” 1 By consolidating its feed, Instagram holds more control of not only the posts
seen by its users, but what products and services are marketed to them. As an Adweek guest blogger
suggests, the change in strategy can allow Instagram to serve more relevant and engaging content to
increase time spent on the platform and, more importantly, create more space for ads.
5) Instagram Sponsored Ads:
Just like Facebook and a plethora of other apps, Instagram uses algorithms to determine what posts
each user views (apart from those of the users they follow)— including those on their stories feed
and the hashtag and explore pages. As a more recent development, Instagram has begun offering
sponsored posts to advertisers and marketers.
With over 1 billion users and around 173 million active users each day, these ads provide
entrepreneurs with a simple means of building their product or brand awareness. Advertisers may
choose between five different ad formats including photos, videos, carousels, canvas Story ads, and
Story ads, all of which are seamlessly integrated into a user’s regular feed or story.
6) Influencer marketing:
Finally, the rise of influencers has been something that continues to see considerable growth on the
social network platform. Influencer marketing, which places emphasis on working or branding
through individuals of influence rather than focusing on targeting a specific market, can be divided
into both macro and micro influencing. As seen in the Mediakix article entitled “Micro Influencers
vs. Macro Influencers: Which is Better?”, which studied over 700 posts of 16 brands working with
both macro and micro influencers simultaneously, yielded similar engagement rates for each post.
However, macro influencers—defined as those with over 100,000 followers— tend to produce better
results for brands when it comes to both reach and likes on the app.
Unfortunately, such a study might not provide the most comprehensive picture. Despite the fact that
there are benefits and drawbacks to both, it remains clear that influencer marketing is one of the most
efficient and effective means of campaign marketing. And as Generation Z continues to rely heavily
on social media, influencer marketing will remain a major Instagram trend in 2018 and many years to