In less than a decade since its launch in 2010, Instagram has enjoyed exponential growth, with the platform recently reaching 1bn active monthly users.
In doing so, it has become an attractive platform for brands eager to learn if Instagram marketing can help them forge a closer connection with their consumers.
Here a four of the latest trends in Instagram marketing that brands should be aware of when devising their social strategy for 2019.
1. Micro influencers
Influencers dominate Instagram, but scandals around purchased or fake followers has brought into question the viability of influencer marketing on the platform.
Despite these concerns, research has shown that the popularity of influencer marketing has not been negatively impacted. Rather, the direction has simply changed, with brands increasingly turning to networks of micro-influencers.
Their belief is that influencers with a smaller, yet more niche following and can better forge engagement than celebrities with a massive following but a hollow connection.
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Snapchat must be feeling pretty flattered by the resounding success of Instagram’s 2016 launch of Stories, signalling the platform’s foray into video territory.
After a slow start, it is now of the most popular aspects of the platform and recently hit the 400 million daily users mark.
Stories’ accessible interface exposes viewers to a wide range of content before they choose to settle on one that catches their eye.
This is prime digital real estate for brands to insert ads between stories and snare viewer attention. Moreover, with specialised features like polls and contests and the ability to see the number of views your story has received, Stories are an excellent means of measuring community engagement and gaining consumer insight.
Instagram allows third parties to create branded stickers which can be attached to consumer Stories. This tactic was used most effectively by Aperol to complement its most famous, Instagrammable drink – the Aperol Spritz.
As the summer months rolled in, so did the images of people enjoying their Aperol Spritz al fresco, and the alcohol brand jumped at the chance to create its own digital stickers.
Brands are discovering a new lease of life by moving their content onto social media and have found the Stories function particularly helpful through this transition.
One such brand is Glamour UK: once a monthly glossy magazine, in 2017 the publication decided to decrease its physical output to just two issues a year and reinvent itself as a fully digitised online beauty and fashion platform. A radical change, but she who dares wins in this case: the magazine’s following has grown steadily since this shift.
3. Augmented reality
Another way in which brands are able to benefit from the Instagram social network is through the use of filters. Instagram comes complete with its own inbuilt camera and filter selection, which similarly to stickers, can be purchased and created by brands.
We’ve seen these filters be used by celebrities to promote their work including Arianna Grande for her 2018 ‘Sweetener’ album, Rihanna for her Clara Lionel Foundation and Kylie Jenner for her Kylie Cosmetics line.
Seeing the success of these filters has prompted brands like Adidas and Gucci to take notice, and for them to follow suit in launching their own.
These are accessed in the camera function of Instagram, are free to use and innately promote both your brand and your work in a non-ostentatious way.
4. Instagram shopping
Against other platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, Instagram’s visual edge lends itself readily to the world of online shopping. With high street brands like Weekday and Asos seeing their engagement on Instagram steadily increase, it was only a matter of time before they started actively advertising their products via the platform.
This is currently achieved by promoting products on the brand’s feed, as well as across Stories. These stories showcase the products and include the call to action, ‘Swipe up’, which then redirects the viewer to the product for sale on their online shop.