As a social media marketing strategist with over 5 years exclusively focused on Instagram, I‘ve witnessed the platform‘s rapid evolution from fun photo filters to a powerhouse poised to transform ecommerce and marketing.
Instagram now boasts over 2 billion monthly active users according to internal data from parent company Meta. It‘s the second most engaged social platform and continues innovating with video, shopping and community features.
But how will Instagram marketing look in 2023 and beyond? As consumer behavior and preferences change alongside new platform capabilities, these 10 rising trends provide a snapshot into Instagram‘s future.
The Instagram Shopping Boom is Just Getting Started
Instagram is determined to become a seamless, end-to-end shopping destination rivaling dedicated commerce channels. They’ve made huge strides by launching shoppable posts, Instagram checkout, live shopping and more features to achieve this vision.
Shoppable posts allow you to tag products so that users can tap to view and buy items without leaving Instagram.
Instagram checkout enables secure in-app purchasing and payment information storage for frictionless transactions.
Live shopping brings the engaging demonstrate-and-sell dynamic of TV shopping networks to real-time video.
These features helped Instagram shopping facilitate over $10 billion in sales in 2021. Projections estimate this figure will triple within two years, reaching nearly $30 billion by 2025 according to Business of Apps.
Clearly, mastering Instagram commerce tools should be an essential focus area for brands looking to connect with younger audiences and drive sales through social channels.
Short Video Content Takes Over
The rise of TikTok kicked off an irreversible shift towards short-form vertical video optimized for mobile screens. Instagram responded swiftly by launching Reels – a TikTok replica for 15 to 60 second video clips with all kinds of fun, expressive editing tools.
Within less than two years, Reels makes up an astonishing 20% of the time young users spend on Instagram according to internal data.
Short video clearly packs visual punch to grab attention in crowded feeds. Brands incorporating Reels alongside Instagram‘s existing Stories and feed video capabilities create more engaging content. Playful videos also tend to fare better with notoriously picky algorithms.
As Gen Z’s reliance on visual communication increases across platforms, short video will only become more central to marketing strategies industry-wide.
Diversity, Inclusion and Accessibility Take Center Stage
Younger generations expect brands to get with the times and reflect diverse customer demographics in campaigns and collaborations.
Consider that 41% of Instagram’s user base falls under age 25 according to Statista, representing Generation Z. This cohort cares deeply about diversity and inclusion encompassing gender, race, age, ability, size and more. They expect content and advertising to feature underrepresented groups in empowering ways.
Brands have taken note, launching refreshingly inclusive campaigns showcasing real people. Sephora’s community-sourced influencer search celebrates creators of all sizes and backgrounds. Aerie uses models of all shapes, sizes and abilities to promote body acceptance.
Content embracing diversity helps brands build affinity and trust with youth audiences. Accessible design in alt text, subtitles and screen reader compatibility also improves inclusiveness.
Authenticity Emerges As The Antidote to Perfection
For ages, Instagram has cultivated an environment celebrating unattainable lifestyle perfection. Heavily curated feeds of globetrotting and #fitspo posts tied self-worth to unrealistic standards for many users.
But the tides are finally shifting as mental health and self-care claims more focus. Followers now respond better to honesty, vulnerability and humor that helps alleviate pressures of comparison.
Over 53% of young Instagram users have felt bad about themselves after seeing influencers’ attractive yet distorted lives according to child safety groups. More creators are speaking out about mental health and bringing their true identities to platforms. Brands must similarly avoid promoting unrealistic, exclusionary standards in messaging and campaigns.
Authentic content that resonates with lived experiences fosters genuine engagement and care for audiences. As ethics catch up to aesthetics, transparency will become the leading principle behind aspirational storytelling.
Educational Long-form Content Finds Its Place
Though short video rises in popularity, there’s also a growing place for long-form educational content on Instagram now.
Platform additions over the years like IGTV and Guides increasingly support creators sharing more in-depth content beyond captions and ephemeral Stories.
IGTV: supports uploads of up 60 minutes of vertical full-screen video for tutorials, interviews, mini-documentaries and more.
Guides: function essentially like blog posts for long-form tips, recommendations, explainers and thought leadership content tied to a creator’s expertise.
These features help brands, influencers and media publishers drive more value for audiences seeking to learn. Expect educational long-form content to thrive in niches like skills training, wellness and professional topics.
Live Video and Virtual Events Are Here for The Long Run
During pandemic lockdowns, virtual events and livestreams emerged to sustain events and conferencing. But even as real-world conferences and festivals return, online events are here to stay due to sheer reach and convenience.
Instagram Live sets up seamlessly for behind-the-scenes coverage, product launches, Q&As, workshops, concerts and more. The intimacy of the format allows audiences to shape conversations through comments and questions.
When shoppable capabilities enter the mix, live video also enables demonstrations and real-time selling.
While virtual can’t fully replace tangible in-person connections, expect a hybrid model blending both online and offline experiences based on context moving forward.
Getting Creative with Augmented Reality
Augmented reality (AR) overlays digital effects, objects and information onto real-world scenes through a mobile camera. On Instagram, AR filters and effects open amazing creative possibilities for bringing static photos and products to life.
The platform now provides AR development tools for brands to create their own frames, filters and facial effects. Unique effects attract viral attention, while practical try-ons help buyers better evaluate products.
Cosmetics companies let users virtually try on different lipstick shades using AR. Home goods brands enable shoppers to envision furniture in their actual living spaces with 3D models. Vogue’s AR beauty tutorial lens guides users through product application.
Interactive AR experiences like these help brands spark viral attention, engagement and purchases in innovative ways. Expect expanding use cases across categories as the technology evolves.
Influencer Marketing Growth Shows No Signs of Slowing Down
Influencers remain more relevant than ever for brands trying to genuine connections with audiences. An astonishing 90% of Instagram users follow at least one brand account and look to creators for authentic endorsements.
Hyper-targeted influencer campaigns aligned with relevant products, values and aesthetics continue to outperform broader traditional advertising. Supporting niche and underrepresented voices also scores points with socially-conscious Gen Z.
As creators professionalize through forming agencies and diverse income streams, expect more structured blended influencer/performance marketing campaigns. regulation in disclosure and fraud protection will also increase legitimacy.
Optimizing the Entire Shopping Journey
Between shop features simplifying product discovery and integrated purchase workflows, Instagram aims to make the path from finding to buying items seamless.
Strategically tagging shoppable products throughout feed posts and Stories makes it easy for users to view what you sell. Link stickers next to relevant products in content help direct to your online store or drops.
Highlighting best selling items or new arrivals prominently on profiles keeps visitors engaged. Cross-linking shop features through checkout maximizes conversions.
Reducing friction across all touchpoints is key – help followers view, evaluate and transact easily.
Adapting Swiftly to Instagram‘s Ever-Changing Algorithm
The Instagram algorithm decides what content appears higher in feeds based on Machine Learning predictions of engagement. Staying on top of ongoing changes allows brands to adapt strategy.
Currently, Reels and video see priority placement in feeds while image- and text-heavy posts can underperform. Striking the right balance of educational long-form content alongside snackable video is key.
Responses like saves, shares and comments signal relevance. Regularly evaluating performance metrics helps strategize more effectively. A/B testing various formats also reveals ideal content combinations for your audience.
While third party tools claim to crack Instagram‘s code, genuine engagement remains the north star guiding visibility.
The Future Looks Shoppable
It‘s incredible reflecting on how far Instagram has come from its photo-filtering app roots. While compelling visuals and video remain vital for capturing attention, commerce capabilities now sit equally prominently.
Alongside the continued push towards short video, interactivity and engagement comes a growing shoppable focus – turning the platform into a complete discovery-to-checkout marketplace.
Rethinking Instagram primarily as not just a marketing tool but also a full-fledged ecommerce channel will be important moving forward. Creative brand storytelling now intersects seamlessly with product showcases and transactions.
The trends certainly look bright for elevating strategy beyond the feed. As consumer preferences and Instagram‘s roadmap keeps evolving, these provide a snapshot into where things are likely headed to help brands prepare for the pivot.
Want to future-proof your Instagram marketing approach? Let‘s connect to craft an innovative strategy tailored to what’s next.