2020 has been a bit of a roller coaster ride…the year everything changed, including digital media as we know it. The pandemic has accelerated the shift to everything online, so much so that experts say COVID-19 has forever changed online shopping behaviors in both the emerging and developed economies.
For digital marketers, this highlights a unique opportunity to market successfully in a post-pandemic world and this starts with understanding the tools you have at your disposal to increase your efficiency. Today, we look at how the Instagram landscape changed the past year and some of the trends you can expect in 2021.
1. Instagram Stories
Instagram Stories has been around for a few years, but in 2020, the feature really picked up, becoming an integral part of the app with over 500 million daily active users. In fact, in a recent survey conducted by Facebook, 62% of respondents said they became more interested in a brand or product after seeing it in Stories.
Translation? If you aren’t using Stories yet, in 2021, you want to make that a priority. Instagram Stories tend to be more intimate and spontaneous than feed posts and they are great to showcase your products front and center.
2. Instagram Reels
In contrast to Stories, Instagram Reels is the new kid on the block, and in 2021, we can see Instagram doing everything it can to make sure the feature becomes a direct competitor to TikTok. For marketers, this means a unique opportunity to get creative and put your IG Reels out there before the masses catch on.
The best way to go about it is to see what’s working and going viral on TikTok, and put your own spin on it. At our level, we’ve found that 15-second videos work best because Instagram allows reel previews that are limited to 15 seconds, and if your Reels are all but 15 seconds long, the full video plays in preview mode and encourages users to take action.
3. Instagram Live & IGTV
Earlier this year, Instagram Live saw a 70% increase in use in the US and psychologists say it’s because people are not meant to be isolated. We seek human connection, and in 2021, that’s not about to change.
Additionally, the platform introduced the ability to watch live videos on desktop, making it even easier for people to tune in to live broadcasts of everything from cooking videos to comedy hours, virtual protests and even yoga classes.
And closely related to that is the popularity of IGTV for longer forms of content with branded partnership tools to give it more marketing power.
4. In-app shopping
In May 2020, Instagram announced Shops, a new shopping feature that uses a storefront created in the app itself so you can tell your brand story and drive product discovery.
This has great significance for marketers because it removes the friction of users having to leave the app to go to a different website to make purchases, driving more conversions and sales. Instagram also introduced Live Shopping, which lets creators tag products in live videos.
Speaking of shopping, did you know that you can actually buy Instagram comments?
The Explore tab on Instagram is not something many marketers give a lot of thought to but you should. In the world of Instagram marketing, landing on the Explore page is nothing short of getting a spot on prime-time TV or the best billboard in town. It puts you right in front of your target audience and can earn you a lot of organic followers and engagement.
According to Instagram, more than half of its users go on the Explore page every month, and we only see this number going up in 2021.
In 2020, we saw people come together on many issues, be it climate, systemic racism, violence against Black Americans or even the Black Friday protests by a coalition of Amazon warehouse workers and climate activists. And what people are looking for on social media is direct conversations. They crave for a more personal interaction with the brands they associate with and you need to put your values center stage.
You need to take a stand and support the causes you believe in. And if you need convincing, just consider the fact that Instagram added several fundraising tools to its design, including live fundraisers and donation stickers. This is a clear indication of the direction the platform is going.
7. The rise of TikTok, Twitter and Giphy
And finally, cross-posting is a social media trend on the rise, and Instagram is no different. Like TikTok videos are very popular on the platform for their snappy, short format that makes them easy to share.
Other platforms invading Instagram include Twitter and Giphy with their memes and special effects, and gamified content meant to encourage interaction. We hope this was a fun and useful read for you. In our next post, we talk about the new video best practices Facebook shared recently, and that you should absolutely know about going into 2021; Stay tuned!