Instagram trends can make or break your social marketing strategy. That’s why it’s important to stay on top of them.
Brands that keep up with the top trends on Instagram can take advantage of new features and beta tools ahead of their competitors. They also show their followers they know what’s up.
With added pressure from TikTok and a new head of company, Instagram is rolling out lots of new innovations, features, and tools.
These are the top trends on Instagram we’re watching right now.
Bonus: Download a free checklist that reveals the exact steps a lifestyle photographer used to grow from 0 to 600,000 followers on Instagram with no budget and no expensive gear.
15 top Instagram trends to watch for
1. More Instagram Stories, fewer posts
Instagram Stories have taken over, with more than 500 million viewers every day.
They have also become the place where people keep tabs on their friends and family, according to Instagram research.
On the other hand, the Instagram feed is primarily associated with polished content and discovery.
Getting rid of the chronological feed has only reinforced that perception. Posts now need to be slightly more evergreen. Stories seem more real-time by contrast.
The majority of users see the Instagram feed as a place to find information and discover products and brands.
While that’s good news for brands, regular users find it more difficult to imagine their content in the mix. Some have viewed Instagram’s decision to test hiding likes as an attempt to spur more sharing from those who feel intimidated by the feed.
2. Growth of the Explore tab
More than 200 million Instagrammers check the Explore grid every day and that number is expected to rise this year.
The feed’s new navigation bar now offers shortcuts to IGTV and Shop. From there, people can delve into their niche interests, like beauty, travel, food, or art.
Or, they can get lost in a selection of Stories that will now be algorithmically fed into the Explore feed.
3. Sound on for Instagram Stories
It’s still important to design for sound off environments. But a recent Facebook (and Instagram) study found that viewers like voiceover and music. 80% of Stories with voiceover or music performed better than ads without.
Currently 60% of Instagram Stories are viewed with sound on.
Maybe TikTok’s musical platform has helped turn up the volume across social media channels. Either way, expect TikTok to influence more Instagram trends to come.
4. Strategic stickers in Instagram Stories
Stickers are popular on Instagram Stories, but businesses have had mixed results with them. That’s going to change this year, though.
Expect to see fewer unnecessary and generic stickers, and more polished and original branded stickers over 2019.
5. More interactive Instagram Stories
While stickers have been a mixed bag for businesses, interactive stickers have been a hit.
Questions, poll, countdown, and emoji-slider stickers don’t just prompt more engagement, they make Instagram Stories more sticky. In other words, people stick around longer if there’s something for them to interact with.
For instance, Instagram internal data shows that nine times out of 10, the polling sticker increases video views.
Look for Instagram to unveil for interactive elements over the coming year.
6. Easier ways to shop on Instagram
With more than 70% of shopping enthusiasts using Instagram to explore brands, Instagram now rivals Pinterest as a platform for product discovery.
With more than 130 million taps on these tags each month, a direct buying option is the logical next step. In March 2019, Instagram rolled out a beta in-app Checkout feature that it’s testing with 20 brands, including Adidas, Burberry, Nike, and Revolve.
Instagram charges merchants a selling fee to use Checkout. But, if it spikes enough sales, the fee won’t stop more brands and influencers from getting in on the action.
Pick up tips on how to make your Instagram account more shoppable.
7. Shoppable influencers
Instagram influencers face a barrage of comments and DMs that often ask the same question: Where’d you get that?
To save influencers’ time, Instagram now lets creators tag products in their posts, which can be purchased directly with Instagram Checkout.
Only a select few currently have access to the feature, including Chiara Ferragni, Kylie Jenner, and Vogue.
Right now, they can only tag businesses participating in the beta Checkout program. But more will be available soon.
8. More realness and representation
Authenticity is so last year. 2019 is all about #nofilter.
Celebrity influencers like Jameela Jamil have waged a war on airbrushing, photoshopping, filtering, body shaming, and non-inclusive creative.
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Boob stretch marks are a normal, beautiful thing. I have stretch marks all over my body and I hereby rename them all Babe Marks. They are a sign my body dared to take up extra space in a society that demands our eternal thinness. They are my badge of honour for resisting society’s weaponizing of the female form. ❤️ ps. My face is white because I wear spf 100 sunscreen like a boss. ???? PS. LOVE YOUR BROWN SKIN. I tan responsibly but I love to tan! I love to embrace and celebrate my heritage. This skin bleaching and whitening should be banned. It’s inherently racist, classist and emotionally very damaging. #brownandproud
Expect to see stretch marks, zits, and more from brands, especially in Instagram Stories. And with it expect to see more real talk about mental health, body insecurities, and other important issues.
In fact, Jamil’s radically inclusive @i_weigh account continues to gain followers. And with a follow from @sussexroyal, the official account of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, I WEIGH’s profile will by royally amplified.
Expect brands to more frequently sub models for real people. You should also see more diverse creative.
Aerie has earned major social klout for its “Retouching free since 2014” aesthetic. This goes for influencer partnerships, too. See IKEA’s partnership with the rainbow Amina Mucciolo being @studiomucci.
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#tbt I can’t believe it’s already been a year since this happened! Caption from the original post: “Total full circle moment! @mrstudiomucci and I got married at @ikeausa 10 years ago and now our loft is featured in the @ikeafamilymag ???????????? and my mug is on the cover ????!” See link in my bio for the full #Ikea home tour.
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"Middle school and high school years were really hard for me. When it came to accepting my body it felt like a forever struggle that would never ease up. Now I know that my beauty is not determined by how skinny my waistline is or how perfect my skin is. The truth is I know I am beautiful, every day, outside and in. Every pimple, stretch mark, every roll and curve are real and unretouched. My beauty shines every day in every way. And yours does too." @daniebb3 Loves the swim she's in! Share your unretouched swim photos with #AerieREAL @Aerie & we’ll donate $1 (up to $50K) to @NEDA for every post.
9. Rise of relatable influencers
Users are looking for authenticity from their influencers, too. The unrealistic lifestyles and picture-perfect aesthetics of certain Instagram influencers has given rise to Instagram vs. Reality memes. Out of that has come a new breed of influencer: the relatable influencer.
For example, mommy blogger Laura Izumikawa shares the ups and the downs of parenting. Joana Ceddia channels her awkwardness into humour. Jen Gotch talks anxiety and bipolar disorder. These influencers attract followers who are going through similar experiences.
As Izumikawa shares, “People are on social media to connect—or at the very least—relate to others. Being open and transparent will go a long way to help you connect with your audience.”
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This is feels like my new normal. Swollen eyes, constant flow of tears and long, beautiful hair. It’s stress, and insecurity and sadness. it’s emotions – some of which I haven’t felt in a long time. And it’s not that my meds don’t work or that I’m having a depressive episode, and part of me wishes it was, because I know exactly what to do when that type of situation arises. Strangely they come with less pain than this. Less tears. Less rumination and obsessive thinking because the sensation is closer to no emotion than all emotion. Add in a little shame, because I thought I was stronger than this. And also I realized that I am not immune to vulnerability and vulnerability has kind of become my brand. And it feels scary to share and it feels oftentimes meaningless to share, because it is really personal and I don’t have a solution and I usually like to offer solutions along with problems. And I’m in this fucked place because I asked to be and I should be grateful. I’m here alone, in solitary confinement – a form of psychological torture, writing this book that I really want a lot of people to read, because although it is a memoir, the goal is not just to share funny stories from my past. The goal is to enlighten people about their own mental health, to deglamorize success, build emotional intelligence, help as many people as possible feel less alone and yes of course, make everyone laugh. And I feel that instagram was a big part of what brought me this opportunity so I feel accountable to the platform and more specifically to you. So yeah, no solution here. Just an update, because the lack of an update was making me feel worse than an actual update. I know there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I believe there is a light at the end of every tunnel. I just am not deep enough until the tunnel to see it and I want to go back, or lay down & cry or watch the entire first season of the Walking Dead while drunk. But I won’t because I know moving forward is the only way through. Don’t feel bad for me, I am just identifying what is happening and acknowledging that I hate it more than going to the dentist naked – which I never have done, but it sounds awful.
10. The influence of TikTok
The unstoppable growth of TikTok, a music-backed video-sharing app that’s popular with teens, may inspire copycat behaviour from Instagram—as we saw with Snapchat.
IGTV will probably see the most changes, since many think the channel is due for a revamp.
And there are already early signs. Instagram’s recent overhaul of the IGTV feed resembles a cross between TikTok and Snapchat’s Discover feeds. Horizontal scrolling has been replaced with vertical scrolling. And, an algorithm automatically queues up the next video for you to view.
TikTok’s popular challenges have already organically migrated into Instagram follower feeds. So it wouldn’t be surprising to see Instagram attempt to foster more of that, especially since these challenges inspire content creation.
Bonus: Download a free checklist that reveals the exact steps a lifestyle photographer used to grow from 0 to 600,000 followers on Instagram with no budget and no expensive gear.Get the free checklist right now!
11. More channel-to-channel sharing
With posts in Stories and IGTV videos in the feed, Instagram has been toying with increased linkage between its different formats. Expect to see more crossover from brands who are attempting to boost views in different streams.
For example, when Instagram changed its feed algorithm, we saw more people sharing “new post” alerts in their Stories. Also, one-minute IGTV teasers have been popping up in the feed to direct viewers to the main channel.
Stories are no longer contained to the top of the app either. Now, they’ll show up in the Explore grid too.
The grid will offer personalized Stories recommendations, reminiscent of TikTok.
Instagram is reportedly testing adding direct links for Instagram Stories, too.
12. Sharing Twitter takes on Instagram
Hot takes have taken over Twitter, and they’re showing up on Instagram more and more.
It’s true, @fuckjerry’s been stealing (ahem, now crediting) Tweet memes for years. But, accounts like @will_ent show that this Instagram trend is not letting up.
As The Verge author Megan Farokhmanesh notes, “For some meme creators, Twitter and Tumblr are a canvas, while Instagram is the wall where they display their work.”
Look for Tweets appearing in more Instagram-friendly templates, from branded backgrounds to cleaner, cropped screenshots.
Expect also to see more text-a-gramming, too, ranging from Rupi Kaur-esque poems to more type-moding in Instagram Stories.
Read more about what meme creators get right on Instagram.
13. Increased social activism
With heightened activism spurred by social unrest and the upcoming elections in Canada and the United States, people are sharing their opinions on social media more than ever.
Text-friendly platforms like Facebook and Twitter have traditionally been associated with social activism. But Instagrammers now have a stronger-than-ever grasp of how to use the platform to share and amplify their views.
From “I voted” stickers to climate change memes, it’s become increasingly common and sometimes inescapable for people and brands to take a stand on the platform.
Activism on all fronts often involves calls for donations to nonprofits.
In February, Instagram introduced a donation sticker that can be added to Stories. While the feature is not yet available to everyone, people will be able to select a nonprofit and even customize the name of their fundraiser.
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School strike Day 1… Now I’m not alone anymore! On Friday 24/5 we are striking in 1387 places in 111 countries. And counting! I Stockholm samlas vi i Humlegården kl 11:30 nu på fredag. Sen går vi till Kungsträdgården. Forskare och aktivister talar, inklusive jag. På scen: Astrid S, Molly Sandén, Jireel, Danny Saucedo, Lamix och Annika Norlin (Säkert!) Dela detta!! Sprid till alla!! #FridaysForFuture #schoolstrike4climate #climatestrike
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Saw this sign near my neighborhood coffee shop. It, like all of last night’s firsts, gives me so much hope. For the first time in HISTORY, there will be more than 100 women in Congress, speaking for us. Check out @glennondoyle’s latest post for a great list of where things stand. #midtermsmatter
14. Crackdown on Instagram bots
Facebook and Twitter have been under the microscope for their role in influencing elections and harbouring hate speech. And more recent reports are uncovering the role Instagram has played, too.
Over the coming year, we’ll likely see Instagram take steps to combat abuse on its platform. We’ve already seen a few, including increased access to verification and the addition of “About this Account” to profiles with large followings.
Bans on Facebook may start to apply to Instagram, too. For example, far-right figures Louis Farrakhan, Alex Jones, Milo Yiannopoulos, Paul Joseph Watson, and Laura Loomer were removed from both sites this month.
But before there were any headlines about Russian meddling, Instagram already had a bot problem. Fake engagement bots have long been the scourge of the app, and Facebook has already started the year off by slamming bot sellers with lawsuits.
More purges, enhanced security, and increased scrutiny will likely follow in 2019.
15. Changes to Instagram Direct
Rumours that Instagram would completely push direct messaging to its standalone Direct app can finally be put to rest, at least for now.
With Direct gone, it’s likely that Instagram users will see some changes or improvements to the in-app messaging feature instead.
GIFs were introduced last year, and the Quick Replies tool was added to help businesses quickly answer frequently asked questions. It’s possible that Instagram will offer more filtering options for business and regular accounts.
For example, the option to make a Close Friends list for Instagram Stories makes it easier to direct message a group of friends at once. There are also rumours that Instagram will make direct messaging available on desktop.
Instagram is testing option to share content to Close Friends each separately pic.twitter.com/p21B4oiPof
— Jane Manchun Wong (@wongmjane) May 15, 2019
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