If you didn’t feel frustrated at least once with Instagram in 2018, you must be a Kardashian. Seriously though, the never-ending struggle to grow and the constant battle of how much to engage and when to do so is exhausting. You spent so much time creating the image, writing the caption… and then crickets.
The algorithm got the best of all of us.
You see, rockstar, that was part of the problem with your Insta-game. You spent too much time and energy being frustrated over the amount of likes you were getting that it sucked your social soul right out of your body. So this year, I challenge you to focus on the bigger picture. Today, I’m diving into the trends we will see on Instagram this year that will give you some insight on how to better use the platform to grow your following and engage with your tribe.
Top 5 Instagram Trends for Businesses
Friends, I don’t know how many times I need to tell you this for it to sink in. If you’re not utilizing stories, you are going to get left behind. Instagram will be making a big shift this year in terms of how we define engagement. Think stickers on stories versus likes on photos. From personal experience, I can tell you that my average stories views with 14K followers is around 1600, significantly higher than the number of “likes” my photos receive.
If you’re thinking “Steph, I do not like showing up on video,” I get it. There are other ways to utilize stories with content other than selfie videos. When you’re doing stories ask yourself: Who does this serve? What’s my message? Am I telling a captivating story my tribe needs to know? That series of questions will help you create content your audience can’t wait to absorb.
PS- If you’re a brand or business, Instagram story ads are where it’s at this year. You’re going to see huge success from carefully crafted, “sexy” ad spots.
Authenticity Becomes Crucial
I know you’re tired of the picture perfect lifestyle we’ve seen all over Instagram the last few years. You’re probably also tired of the over-edited photos in these lifestyles most of us will never live. Well I have news for you sister: you are NOT alone. This year more than ever we are going to see the "authenticity shift.” Consumers want to see raw moments, real people, and content they can relate to. We are going to see more “reality” and less “Instagram” if you get what I mean.
Sponsored Content with Influencers
The influencer marketing industry is going to continue to grow and if you’re a brand, you need to include this form of advertising in your budget for 2019. Influencers are a powerful way to connect with an audience that trusts the opinion of said influencer. Another shift we are going to see this year is long term partnerships. Instead of just one post and a few stories, influencers and brands are going to work together to build relationships that result in three, six, and twelve month partnerships to build credibility and recall.
Word of caution: You should be connecting with influencers that align with your brand and fit into your budget. I can tell you from experience that not every influencer out there has an authentic following and that can lead to a failed collaboration where you’ve shelled out hundreds or thousands of dollars with little return on investment. You can find influencers by doing your research. Check out their profile, their followers, ask for stats, gain any information possible so that you feel confident in securing a partnership.
PS- I will be doing a separate post on influencer marketing trends we will see this year so stay tuned for that.
You may or may not be familiar with this term so let me define it for you. Experiential marketing focuses on creating some type of experience for consumers that leaves a lasting impression because it made them feel a certain way and it was memorable. When consumers recall the experience, they relate that positive feeling to the brand and BOOM! You’re hooked.
When I went to Create & Cultivate last month, Brooklinen had a luxury bed with a camera and perfect lighting to capture the moment. While I laid on this bed where hundreds of other people had done the same, I couldn’t help but notice how much fun it was. I even shared the snapshots on one of my Instagram accounts. I’ll forever remember that brand because of that experience and maybe I’ll even buy sheets from them some day.
Brands across the board are going to be creating experiences for consumers and influencers this year. This relates to Instagram trends because these moments will be perfectly designed for capturing content with the hope that they will be shared. Like Brooklinen, brands will be creating spaces at conferences, in their stores, and on trips with influencers for a memorable experience that results in positive feelings toward said brand.
Which hashtags are best to use? How do you find them? How many do you include on each post? Well friends, everyone has a different opinion on this, but one thing is for sure: if you have a brand, you need a branded hashtag. For example, mine is #trendyinindy and #trendyintravel when I’m sharing a destination. Here are a few others:
Aerie - #AerieREAL
Coke - #ShareACoke
Domino’s - #LetsDoLunch
Oreo - #OreoHorrorStories
Disney and Make-a-Wish - #ShareYourEars
Red Dress Boutique - #RDBABE
The biggest tip I have for you with hashtags: avoid the most popular tags. When you hashtag #love, your content is going to get lost among millions. Do research on what top influencers and brands within your niche are using. It’s a game of trial and error to see what will really work best for you.
My relationship status with Instagram may be “complicated”, most of the time, but it’s a powerful and necessary tool to help you grow your brand. This is your year to rock it.
Cheers to crushing Instagram strategy this year,