In June 2018, Instagram reached a huge milestone, hitting 1 billion monthly users. According to Sprout Social, 80% of Instagram users follow a business, and of those, 30% have purchased a product they discovered on Instagram. That’s 300 million people, or 90% of the entire population of the US. With numbers like this, businesses large and small cannot afford to ignore Instagram as a part of marketing strategy. So what are the big Instagram trends for 2019 that will take us by storm? Let’s take a look.
Aimed entirely at mobile users, IGTV is Instagram’s new vertical video platform. It’s common knowledge most mobile users prefer to watch video content in the vertical position, something YouTube and other video streaming platforms are not doing. Predictions abound that IGTV will overtake YouTube within 3-5 years. Brands signing up now will be in a prime position to ride the rising swell of users on the platform.
IGTV also gives IG users more room for long-form content. Short content has always been available, but in encouraging long-form content, the platform is catering to the teen and young adult crowd, who love watching vloggers on their smartphones and mobile devices.
Instagram Stories and Ads
The stats surrounding Instagram Stories don’t lie.
IG Stories reach 400 million people around the world on any given day.
A big chunk of the issue with other social platforms’ feeds is that they become cluttered with advertising and updates, to the point where users have to weed through to find the most recent content. The beauty of IG Stories is that the posts are gone after 24 hours. Instagram has made room for the new by removing the old, making users’ browsing easier, more relevant, and fresher.
Because IG Stories have become so popular, there’s a natural segue into placing advertising on this valuable digital real estate. Inserting ad banners between the slides of other people’s stories will become an effective advertising option for many brands, and for users, they’ll seamlessly integrate without disrupting the user experience, or being as easily ignored as the sidebar ad. The key will be in professional design quality and the targeting of the market to ensure the ads are what the user wants to see, hear, or buy.
Instagram has a unique social structure that favors small brands and companies. Some of these successes have come to act just like media companies on the platform, having curated large communities of followers who enjoy their successes and news. These microbrands are the new mom-and-pop Main Street, and because the platform favors interaction and storytelling, Instagram is the ideal location for these stories to be told. There’s a greater depth of authenticity here than on any other social media platform today. With the hyper-targeted market and more immediate feel to the updates, followers are engaging with these brands in higher numbers than anywhere else.
While IG users cannot yet purchase straight from the platform itself, there are already shopping features in place that could grow in the future. The site is already e-commerce friendly, with shoppable posts for static images and IG Stories. A little shopping bag icon appears in the corner of the screen, and tapping the icon brings up information about the product being shown. The Shop Now button will then take the buyer straight to that product’s purchase page on the seller’s website. It’s not perfect, allowing the sale without leaving Instagram in the first place, but it’s a definite start, and there’s some benefit to the user being directed to the brand’s website, where perhaps a recommendation or also-bought section could alert them to similar products of interest.
Enhanced Engagement Features
Instagram knows the longer users spend on their site, the more engagement happens. So they make brands’ and businesses’ lives easier by creating features users interact with, such as emoji sliders, survey questions, and polls. Because of this, brands are able to find out what users like by simply asking them. Users also have the opportunity to share quotes, stories, and insights, and these conversations have the potential to create a diverse brand experience for other users as well as increase brand loyalty and engagement.
Creating separate categories as Instagram Stories Highlights invites followers to engage more with specific aspects of your brand. You can then drive existing followers to your story from your regular IG posts using highlights pinned to your profile. This gives users a reason to visit your profile when they might not have otherwise, and from there, they’ll see your other highlights and be exposed to the range of your content. Take advantage of the analytics Instagram offers for their Business Profiles to learn who exactly your audience is and what interests them the most. There’s also the Instagram feed algorithm to consider. The optimal time to post definitely plays a factor in your visibility, with the most popular times to post falling outside regular business hours—before work, during the lunch break, and in the evenings.
Instagram is the one social media platform defying the regular stats most other platforms are subject to. The threshold for content consumption is higher, and particularly with Instagram Stories, audiences are watching for longer than ever before. With the potential for e-commerce integration with your business, and the authentic feel of the interaction with your target market, this platform is going to become the heavy hitter of business social media strategy in the coming months. Take our word for it, Instagram is the place for brands to be in 2019.