If you want to get the most from your Instagram marketing strategy in 2021, you've come to the right place. In this article, we're going to share the top Instagram marketing trends to watch in 2021 so you can get more followers, increase engagement, and earn more revenue from the platform.
11 Instagram Marketing Trends for 2021 You Need to Watch:
11 Instagram Marketing Trends 2021
If you use Instagram for marketing, or you're considering it, it's important to stay on top of the latest Instagram marketing trends. Instagram has more than 1 billion monthly active users, 500+ million of which check the platform every single day (Statista). With such a large user base, it can be really easy to get lost in the noise. By focusing on the Instagram marketing trends we've included here, you'll be able to build an effective Instagram marketing strategy and create high-quality content that gets your followers excited. Let's take a look at 11 Instagram marketing trends you can adapt to meet your goals in 2021.
1. Content (Still) Reigns
It should come as no surprise that content is still the most important thing to consider when planning your Instagram marketing strategy. There are several content marketing tools that can help you create amazing Instagram content but don't stress too much over production value. Since 2019, we've seen a trend toward unfiltered and "authentic" content from Instagram influencers and brands and that trend will continue.
Of course, this doesn't mean that you can just capture and share any old thing.
While more candid content is on the rise, you still need to ensure that your content is eye-catching and tells a story. Instagram users have become increasingly better at determining if the content they're seeing is genuine and authentic, thanks in large part to accounts like Humans of New York and the influencers who are sharing their failures too, instead of curating their feeds to only show their successes. Just look at fitness influencer Hayley Madigan who makes it a point to regularly show herself posed and unposed in her Instagram posts:
You'll notice that the images are both high-quality, eye-catching images. This lends credibility to your brand. However, the fact that Madigan uses content that some would consider "unflattering," lets her followers know that they can expect more from this fitness influencer than rehashing society's perception of what "fit" looks like. Plus, it makes her a lot more relatable.
2. Even More Instagram Stories
Since its launch in August 2016, Instagram Stories has become incredibly popular with Instagram influencers. According to Meltwater, 86.6% of Instagram users post Stories, and nearly 80% of brands say that Instagram Stories has had a huge impact on influencer content about their brand (Tribe Dynamics). Not only that, but nearly 90% of influencers publish content using Stories with 63% of them saying they're going to use Stories "much more frequently" in the coming year.
Having an effective strategy for Instagram Stories is important to get the most from this feature. We recommend taking advantage of the functionality available to all users—polls, emoji sliders, stickers, and more—to encourage engagement. If you have more than 10,000 followers, you'll want to look into the Instagram Swipe Up feature. This lets you add links for specific stories instead of constantly changing the link in your bio to match your marketing campaigns.
When you have access to the Swipe Up feature it's a lot easier to promote content and special promotions as Torrid does here:
3. Reels Usage Will Rise
Instagram Reels, Instagram's response to TikTok, lets users create and edit short-form video content of 15-seconds each. Reels was launched in August 2020 and is currently available in more than 50 countries. While TikTok influencers who've built a following on the platform aren't likely to jump ship just because Instagram has a TikTok competitor, Reels is a great option to capitalize on TikTok-style content, trends, and challenges without having to move to another platform and build their audience again.
Brands can leverage Instagram Reels in their marketing strategy in several ways. For starters, even if you're not going to create content on TikTok, it can pay off big to stay up to date on what's happening on the platform. You can then be one of the first creators to launch those trends on Instagram Reels. It's also helpful to ease into Instagram Reels through informational content. Create content on things you're already knowledgeable about and share that with your audience.
4. Relatable Influencers
With the trend toward authentic and unfiltered content comes a need for brands to partner with relatable influencers. The average Instagram user is looking for a connection with real people whose lives look like their own—not celebrities. When looking for an Instagram influencer to represent your brand, consider all types of influencers. More and more nano and micro-influencers are being tapped for collaborations because of the connection they have with their audiences. While they might only have a couple thousand followers, these influencers tend to have better engagement simply because it's easier for them to stay in touch with a few thousand people than hundreds of thousands.
5. Cause Marketing
In July 2020, Instagram launched a social fundraising feature. Users can create fundraisers for personal causes, their business, or on behalf of a friend or cause that's important to them. Instagram released the feature in response to the effect of COVID-19 on the economy. At the time of the feature's release, users on Instagram and Facebook had crowdfunded more than $100 million for those impacted by the pandemic. Instagram has said they've also "seen a large wave of digital activism responding to the global conversation around racial justice."
In addition to the new feature from Instagram, cause marketing is a great way to let your followers know what's important to you. Gone are the days when it was sound business practice to keep quiet about social issues. These days, Instagram users are looking for brands that take a stand on the same causes and issues that matter to them. And don't think that you can just add a black box as your Instagram profile image in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and call it a day—consumers are becoming more and more comfortable calling out hypocrisy or lip service when they see it.
6. More Live Content
Instagram Live use has skyrocketed in 2020. According to Business Insider, Instagram Live usage increased 70% in a single month (April). This isn't surprising considering this was about a month into lockdowns to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Researchers believe that this increase is due to the fact that humans aren't built to stay isolated from others for extended periods of time. To feel more connected, then, people have turned to social media. As we head into 2021, it's clear that COVID-19 is still wreaking havoc on our social interactions. That makes it a pretty safe bet that Instagram Live content will continue to gain popularity.
7. In-App Shopping
More and more consumers are turning to the internet for their shopping needs for everything from clothing to food to cars. Since 70% of shoppers already use Instagram to find new products (Facebook), it just makes sense that Instagram is making it easier and easier for users to shop without even leaving the platform. As the pandemic derails plans into 2021, consumers are likely to increase their online shopping activity. In the Instagram mobile app, Shoppable Posts show up in your feed with a little shopping bag in the lower-left corner and you can tap the products to see more information about them. Here's what a shoppable Instagram post looks like:
Instagram now also has a shopping section so if you're interested in selling on Instagram, now's the time to get started.
8. Focus on IGTV
Along with the increase in Instagram Live and Instagram Reels content, keep your eyes on IGTV going into 2021. IGTV is Instagram's long-form video platform. To make IGTV even more attractive to creators, Instagram has announced that they'll be allowing ads on the platform. And, since IGTV content creators will be getting the same ad revenue percentage as YouTube creators, Instagram could find itself in a position to compete against the video content giant. Instagram has also expressed plans for more IGTV functionality to be released over time.
With IGTV, creators have the option to use video editing software tools to make their video content pop. Though, as we mentioned earlier in this article, users are seeking a more authentic view of influencers and brands so you'll probably want to opt for a mix of "candid" videos and those that have a more polished and produced look.
9. The Explore Tab
All social media platforms have the same goal: to keep users of the platform on the platform for as long as possible. To that end, Instagram has created the Explore tab. Here, Instagram pushes interesting, not yet well-known content. And it works! More than 200 million Instagram users access the Explore tab every day to find new ways to entertain themselves (Instagram). Through continued refinement of the tab, making it easier to use and navigate, it's more than likely that time on the Explore tab will increase into 2021.
The Explore tab offers shortcuts to users so they can quickly find content that interests them from IGTV, travel, architecture, decor, style, food, and more. This makes it more important than ever before for brands and influencers to make it to the Explore tab so they can gain access to users who are interested in their content but don't already follow their accounts. Of course, there's no set way to get there. But there are some things you can do to increase your chances:
- Use the right Instagram hashtags
- Find the best time to post on Instagram
- Add your location to reach local followers
- Include a call to action to get more engagement
- Engage with your commenters
Expect to see competition among brands and influencers throughout 2021 as they vie for a coveted spot on Instagram's Explore tab.
10. Trending Cross-Platform Content
While social media platforms tend to favor native content, a quick scroll through the feeds on any platform now show a mixture of native and cross-platform content like memes, TikTok challenges, GIFs, special effects, and more (Hootsuite). Of all social media platforms, Instagram has been particularly adept at introducing new features that let their users create the same type of content that they've been cross-posting. Now that Facebook has purchased GIPHY and plans to integrate it into Instagram, you can expect to see a lot more GIF marketing on the platform, too, in addition to the TikTok-style content Instagram offers with Reels and long-form video content it provides through IGTV.
11. Branded AR Effects
While branded effects were ridiculously popular at the height of Snapchat's popularity, Facebook has taken the idea and turned it into an entire platform. Facebook's Spark AR Studio went public in mid-2019 and since then more than 1 billion people around the world have used it to create their own AR effect filters. Branded AR effects have been used by brands across industries, from cosmetic companies letting users see how different makeup shades look on them to clothing and home decor brands letting users virtually try on outfits or see how a specific decor piece would look in their space. This is a brilliant way for brands to market their products to shoppers who are increasingly turning to the internet for their shopping needs.
Grow Your Brand in 2021 With These Instagram Marketing Trends
Creating a strong brand presence on Instagram is a big part of any successful social media marketing strategy. It's continually proving to be the platform for influencers, providing tools and even education that helps brands reach and engage with followers. As Instagram continues to evolve, adding functionality and features that make it easier to keep users on the platform, influencers and brands that have already built a following on the platform will find it more and more important to focus their efforts here. With the 11 Instagram marketing trends for 2021 we've shared here, you have more than enough to help you create a brilliant, engaging, and effective Instagram marketing strategy that will help you outperform your competitors every step of the way.
Frequently Asked Questions
What type of content works well on Instagram?
Content remains the most important thing to give thought to when you are planning your Instagram marketing strategy. Since 2019, there has been a trend toward unfiltered and “authentic” content from Instagram influencers and brands. Candid content that is eye-catching and tells a story works well. So, it can be a good idea actually to share your failures as well and not just your success stories. This type of content will make you a lot more relatable to your audience.
How can I make my Instagram Stories more successful?
It is important to have an effective strategy for Instagram Stories so that you can get the most from this feature. For starters, it is a good idea to take advantage of polls, emoji sliders, and stickers that are available to all users. For those who have over 10,000 followers, the Instagram Swipe Up feature that lets you add links for specific stories can work well. This way you don’t have to change the link in your bio constantly to match your marketing campaign.
How can I use Instagram Reels?
You can take advantage of Instagram Reels in various ways. Firstly, you should stay up to date with what is happening on TikTok (even if you do not use TikTok to create content) and then make sure that you are one of the first to launch those trends on Instagram Reels. Another way is to create content on subject matter that you already know a lot about and then you can share that with your audience.
Should I work with a micro-influencer?
Yes! Increasingly more nano and micro-influencers are being used for collaborations because of the connection they have with their audiences. They tend to have better engagement with their users as it is not as hard for them to stay in touch with a few thousand followers as opposed to hundreds of thousands. Considering that authentic and unfiltered content is trending, it makes sense rather to work with a relatable influencer who can connect with real people.
Should I use Cause Marketing?
In July 2020, Instagram launched a very successful social fundraising feature in response to the effect of the COVID-10 pandemic on the global economy. This feature lets users create fundraisers for personal causes, their business, or on behalf of a friend or cause that is important to them. It is a great way to let your followers know what is important to you as Instagram users are looking for brands that are willing to take a stand on the same issues that are important to them.