Instagram Predictions for 2018 and Beyond

Instagram Predictions for 2018 and Beyond

But even brands with the strongest Instagram strategy need to be looking ahead. User expectations will evolve with the platform, which means that today’s strategy can’t guarantee results in the future.

To help you stay ahead of the curve, we’ve rounded up some expert-informed predictions for Instagram in 2018 and beyond.

Bonus: Download a free checklist that reveals the exact steps an adventure photographer used to grow from 0 to 110,000 followers on Instagram with no budget and no expensive gear.

As Instagram succeeds Facebook to become the new home for brands, it will become an essential part of every company’s social strategy. Regardless of who your customers are, it’s likely that they’ll be on Instagram in the years to come. There are already 25 million companies using Instagram, but that number is likely to grow dramatically in the next few years.

Prediction 2: Augmented reality will explode on Instagram

This feature will allow anyone to create custom filters, face effects, and other visual elements. These elements will interact with users and their surroundings in Stories.

Instagram also plans to customize effects offered to users, based on the accounts that they follow. Compared to a platform like Snapchat, this will offer a more tailored experience. Users will be able to try out effects and filters they see on their Stories feed, adding a shareable element.

The possibilities with AR are endless: allow customers to virtually try out a product or service, or get a 360-degree view of a store or event. Companies that capitalize on this emerging technology to create fun, immersive content will reap big benefits.

Prediction 3: Your hashtag strategy will be more important than ever

In late 2017, Instagram added the option to follow hashtags as well as accounts. This change allows users to see more of the content they’re interested in and curate their feeds by topic. And at the F8 developers’ conference, they announced changes for the “Explore” section, which will soon be grouped by topics.

Topics will be populated by relevant hashtags, making it easy for users to dive deep into niche categories and interests.

Hashtags have always been a valuable tool for boosting the visibility of your posts, and these updates make them even more important. A targeted approach is key: you can’t just max out the 30 hashtag limit and hope for the best. Instead, research the hashtags your target audiences are following, and use them strategically.

Prediction 4: Live video will be king

Unless you’ve been under a rock for the last few years, you know that social video is exploding. In 2017, Instagram reported that the time users spent watching videos increased by 80 percent over the previous year.

In the same period, video content quadrupled. Over 300 million people watch Instagram Stories every single day. At this point, there’s no question that video needs to be a part of your Instagram strategy, and it’s only going to get more important in the years ahead. Especially live videos, which users can’t seem to get enough of.

Live video can be intimidating, but it’s also a great opportunity. Audiences don’t just want to be entertained; they want to have a conversation. If you’re the only one doing the talking, you won’t keep their attention.

Prediction 5: Instagram will transform how your customers shop

With its focus on strong visual content, Instagram has always been the perfect place to show off your products. Unlike on Facebook, where people want to see posts from friends and families, users on Instagram are eager to discover and follow brands. Who among us has not made the journey from Instagram post to shopping cart in the span of a single elevator ride?

With the debut of in-app shopping in late 2017, Instagram commerce is about to get even bigger. Now users can shop directly from brand accounts, tapping the screen to see item details and going directly to a website to buy. Brands can tag up to five products per post, or 20 per carousel.

As Hootsuite’s CEO Ryan Holmes pointed out, in-app shopping is old hat for platforms that dominate outside of North America, like WeChat. But as our continent catches up, audiences and brands can expect a bigger focus on making sales on Instagram in the months ahead.

Bonus: Download a free checklist that reveals the exact steps an adventure photographer used to grow from 0 to 110,000 followers on Instagram with no budget and no expensive gear.

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It’s not as simple as tagging your products and waiting for the sales to roll in. If anything, the increased visibility of products for sale means you need to work for yours to stand out. As ever, the focus needs to be on creative, eye-catching, and engaging content.

Prediction 6: Influencer marketing will become an essential part of your strategy

Recognizing this trend, Instagram is creating tools and guidelines for influencer marketing. For example, they introduced a Paid Partnerships feature in late 2017, which makes it clear when a post is sponsored.

Instagram’s Millennial and Gen Z users don’t mind being advertised to, but they want honesty and transparency. This new feature allows companies and influencers to be clear about their relationship.

An influencer who is aligned with your brand values and voice can be a great asset. Word-of-mouth accounts for 20 to 50 percent of purchasing decisions and adds credibility and visibility to your brand.

Prediction 7: Anti-bullying filters will make Instagram a more positive space for everyone

Social media isn’t all wedding hashtags and dog photos; there’s a dark underbelly, too. In recent years, bullying and harassment have emerged as important concerns for all social media platforms. So the announcement that Instagram is launching a bullying filter was a welcome one for many users.

The new filter will automatically filter negative comments related to appearance and character. While this will have more immediate impacts on individual users than brands, the outcome will be a safer, more welcoming platform.

Prediction 8: You’ll need to be ready for the change

Right now, companies on Instagram are riding a wave of high engagement. But it’s not likely to last forever. More algorithm changes will inevitably arrive, and they’ll impact engagement rates, as we’ve seen on Facebook.

Users may also reach a saturation point as Instagram grows in popularity, and start tuning out the endless parade of content in their feed. Companies should expect a decline in organic reach over time.

Most importantly, listen to your audience and engage with them often.

If you need help with Instagram strategy, please feel free to contact us.


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