As a small business owner that has more plates spinning than a circus performer, the ever changing world of Instagram can often feel confusing, and overwhelming. But now more than ever, Instagram is proving itself to be an extremely valuable asset to authentically connect businesses to their target markets and convert followers into paying customers… Plus, Instagram now has over 1 BILLION active users, which is a pretty incredible number of potential eyes to have on your brand, so this platform needs to be a priority for your business. Being on top of the changing trends and latest features is essential if you want to keep up with the algorithm, stay relevant to your audience and make the most of this platform’s potential. Keep on reading for my Instagram predictions for 2020, what these mean for small business owners and how to incorporate these trends and features into your own social media strategies.
Instagram Prediction #1: AUTHENTICITY IS EVERYTHING
A common theme across all of these predictions is the increase in authenticity across content, stories and captions. This movement will take us away from those over-posed and highly edited photos with impersonal captions and fake comments that we’ve seen in the past that depict a highly filtered version of reality. Instead of Instagram being a highlight reel, more and more accounts are using the platform to share snippets of real life, including personal struggles and genuine emotions on topics such as body image, family life, relationships and mental health. Users are craving to connect on a deeper level and feel part of a community, and are therefore searching for brands that they can personally identify with or relate to.
SBO tip: this prediction should evoke a sigh of relief, as I believe it truly takes the pressure off having to have that ‘perfect grid’. However, be conscious to keep a healthy balance here between the personal and professional so as not to ‘over-share’, while ensuring that your content and captions still remain high quality and on-brand.
Instagram Prediction #2: THE NON-EDIT EDIT
Aesthetically it looks as though natural, non edited images will be increasing in popularity and taking the focus away from those over edited, over saturated and highly filtered posts we’ve seen in the past – which is exactly what you’d expect from a pool of users that’s looking for more authentic content. If you’re struggling to grasp what the heck I’m talking about, check out the non-edit edit feed of influencers @matildadjerf and @emmahoareau below:
SBO tip: if you are going to go down the non-edit edit road, make sure that your content is consistent. Find a VSCO filter or Lightroom preset with the look that you’re after and use that same editing technique on all your posts so that your grid is still cohesive. Remember that ultimately your grid acts as another homepage to your website and will play a huge part in users deciding whether to hit that follow button or click through to the link in your bio.
Instagram Prediction #3: VIDEOS WILL BE EVERYWHERE
Whether it’s a boomerang, a moving background, a short video, an IGTV episode or a TikTok clip, it’s going to perform well. The Instagram algorithm massively favours video content at the moment, particularly on the explore page – which helps new users to discover you and boost your follower count. As Instagram features and updates revolve around videos more and more, it’s time to get your brand on board with it.
You’ll be pleased to know that IGTV is now way easier to use and an amazing opportunity to provide your followers with value, get more personal and share your brand in more depth. Instagram has also recently rolled out the launch of the IGTV “series”, allowing creators to group their videos into categories and encourage viewers to turn on notifications when a new episode in their favourite category is released. I recommend trying to release episodes consistently whether it’s weekly, fortnightly or monthly – so your followers have a reason to keep coming back.
SBO tip: the thought of creating videos can be intimidating, but apps like InShot make life a lot easier. Here are a few video content ideas to help you get the ball rolling with your IGTV – your favourite recipes, morning routines, office or home tours, meet the maker specials, Q&A sessions, product reveals, project of the week, outfit of the day, BTS, interviews, renovation updates or weekly workouts.
Instagram Prediction #4: AR, MEMES, STICKERS, ILLUSTRATIONS, DOODLES & COLLAGES ON THE UP
AR is a huge trend on Instagram stories at the moment as a result of Instagram introducing Spark AR last year, which allows anyone and everyone to create their own AR filters and effects. This is no bad thing as it increases the amount of visual effects and fancy filters you can use on your stories, making them more aesthetically pleasing and encouraging story engagement.
Accounts are also beginning to get pretty creative with the content that they’re curating and we’re seeing more and more homemade memes, hand drawn illustrations, sticker overlays, carousels of image collages and doodles incorporated into posts. It’s not for everyone but it’s a huge trend right now and for some it’s a great way of conveying your brand message and connecting with your audience in a relatable, funny and casual way. Here are a couple of my favourite business accounts that do this brilliantly:
SBO tip: remember that keeping your feed consistent is still super important so if you are going to create some DIY memes and doodles, make sure you are using your brand colour palette, fonts and voice to keep it cohesive – like the brand examples above have.
Instagram Prediction #5: CAPTIONS ARE KEY
You have probably already noticed that captions have got significantly longer over the last year. ‘Micro-blogging’ is one of the biggest new trends on Instagram and it plays a big role in the movement towards more authenticity, as it allows the user to tell a story, share a brand voice, get more personal, build relationships and grow trust. Not only does this strengthen your connection with your followers, it helps with the ole’ algorithm too, as it encourages users to spend more time on your posts and profile. Need some inspiration? Check out Queen of captions @jennakutcher to see how she does it…
SBO tip: micro-blogging in your captions doesn’t have to be hard. If you are tight for time, try and repurpose some of your website copy as caption topics, it will help to share more information about your brand without you having to write it from scratch. For example – sharing your team member bios, business story, product reviews, client testimonials, product and service descriptions or your company ethos. You can also recycle snippets from blog posts or articles on your website… simples!
Instagram Prediction #6: INCREASE IN INCLUSIVITY
About bloody time I say! The demand to see inclusivity across gender, ethnicity, sexuality, age, body type and more is higher than ever and businesses and customers are responding to it positively. Once again this echoes the theme of authenticity and relatability, and for all the right reasons. Big brands such as @adidasau @brasnthings and @dove showing us how it’s done with these awesome campaigns:
SBO tip: give the people what they want! Celebrate humans in all shapes and sizes, from all walks of life.
Instagram Prediction #7: SUPPORTING CAUSES & SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
2019 saw a shift towards supporting causes through social media in a big way when Instagram introduced the ‘donate’ sticker in Instagram stories, allowing users to donate directly to a fundraiser or charity without leaving the app. It looks as though this will increase even further in 2020 as influencers and high profile brands are using their platform and audience for the greater good, helping to spread awareness to places, people and causes that need it most – an incredible example of the positive potential that social media has and without doubt my favourite instagram prediction for 2020.
Instagram influencer @elanaloo is an environmental advocate based in Hawaii and uses her platform creatively to inspire and motivate others to help with environmental causes and missions. Here is an example of how she spreads her messages:
SBO tip: followers and customers like to know that you stand for something, whether it’s creating a sustainably made product, donating some of your profits towards a charity, carrying out beach cleans, using recycled packaging, sharing your zero waste tips or volunteering at a local shelter, so it’s time to share that goodness loud and proud. Not only are you doing something wonderful, but it will also strengthen your relationship with your customers, as by purchasing a product through you – they are also contributing to your cause.
Instagram Prediction #8: INSTA-SHOPPING
Last year Instagram introduced ‘checkout’ to the app, which allows users to purchase products from businesses without leaving the app – officially making Instagram an e-commerce platform. The focus on e-commerce features will continue to grow more in 2020 with product tags for both businesses and creators readily available, as well as Instagram shops.
SBO tip: make sure your profile is geared up to make the most of these epic features and that you are adding product tags to all your relevant posts and stories to maximise sales from your followers.
Instagram Prediction #9: INFLUENCER PARTNERSHIPS CONTINUE TO RISE
Brands from all industries are predicted to spend a huge amount of their marketing budgets and efforts on influencer partnerships in 2020. The great news is the ROI of these influencer campaigns will become a lot easier to track, as Instagram has recently announced the launch of a new platform which connects influencers to brands. This platform will not only allow brands and creators to discover each other, but it will also manage these partnerships and automatically share insights at the end of campaigns. In line with the focus on authenticity, more brands will favour working with micro-influencers and nano-influencers that have a smaller but more engaged and genuine community of followers.
SBO tip: now that likes have been removed from feeds, it’s difficult to see which influencers have an engaged community of followers. Once the influencer marketing platform is available this will be much easier – but in the meantime the best thing to do is to look for accounts that have a high number of meaningful and authentic comments on their posts. It’s also a good idea to partner up with influencers that have the same target market and aesthetic style as you, so you can benefit from their audience and use their content on your own feed. If you don’t have the budget to collaborate with an influencer, try to collaborate with another brand instead. Check out this post for more info on the topic: “10 ways to collaborate with other businesses.”
Instagram Prediction #10: STORIES SOAR
I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, using Instagram stories is one of the best ways to authentically communicate with your audience. Over 500 million people use Instagram stories every single day, so what are you waiting for? They are a great tool to utilise nearly all of the tips in this post especially showing up authentically, incorporating videos, AR filters, special effects, donation stickers and product tags and so much more. For more tips on how to smash your stories, check out this blog post… “Instagram Stories: The latest tips and tricks.”
SBO tip: can’t think what to post? Get your followers to do the hard work for you and simply re-share their posts or stories that they’ve tagged you in. User generated content is an awesome way to stay active while subtly sharing customer reviews which helps to boost your credibility and increase trust.