Engagement boost Instagram. Top 7 Instagram Marketing Trends for 2020

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Wondering what the big Instagram marketing trends of 2020 will be?

It’s a new decade, and Instagram is no longer just a social platform, but also an economic engine for small and big brands alike.

In 2020, we’ll see Instagram continue its transformation into both an e-commerce platform and a long-form video platform, along with a new focus on conversion through influencer marketing.

But will it be enough to compete with marketers’ attention towards TikTok? Keep reading to find out:

#1: Hidden Likes will Create a Visual Shift in Content (and Increase Feed Posts?)

2020 will see a big shift in visual content on Instagram, with posts moving away from carefully curated imagery towards more relatable and less-produced content (including video).

The “no-edit” edit was a big trend in 2019, and it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere in 2020. Like most Instagram marketing trends, the teens are behind this one, favoring minimal edits to photos that produce a more organic, authentic look.

We’ve already seen brands adopt this look, which is good news for Instagram marketers everywhere who don’t want to spend hours editing their photos to perfection. Here’s an example from the Instagram retailer Lisa Says Gah:

Later’s resident “no-edit edit” expert  @lexiecarbone recommends using the VSCO filters A4, A6, A10, AL5, S2, N3, or J2 (AL1 is good for indoor photos as it softens the LED light).

This trend is also good news for video content! We will continue to see more video content on Instagram, because video on Instagram is really, really effective at increasing your reach thanks to how it performs on the explore page.

But you won’t need to spend thousands of dollars on a highly produced video in order to reap the rewards: in 2020, expect to see a lot more video on your feed and stories, but the video will look a lot more authentic and real-time.

Thanks to our phone cameras getting more advanced, it’s now incredibly easy to capture a high quality video from the palm of your hand, and consumers are enjoying seeing more authentic content over curated content. (You can thank TikTok for this shift – but more on that later).

In 2020, try posting a 3-10 second video of a particular moment, instead of a photo, and see what happens! If you need to edit your video a bit to fit with your feed, I I recommend the Tezza or VSCO apps (both available on iOS and Android).

But if we’re really going to see a dramatic shift in visual content on Instagram, it relies on hidden likes. Instagram is currently testing hiding likes on accounts all around the world, and many countries like Canada and Australia haven’t had public like counts for months.

Instagram’s main message for this change was to address mental health concerns, particularly with teens, but many marketers (like myself) have also pointed out another reason for this change: getting people to post more to their feed.

As creators, users, and brands have placed a greater emphasis on likes in recent years, the amount of feed posts has declined each year.

In our State of Influencer Marketing Report with Fohr,  our research  shows that posts to the feed are declining year-over-year:

Instagram users are saving only their “best” content for the feed, in an effort to keep their engagement rate high across all of their feed posts. Influencers are expected to be posting to their grid only 2 times per week in 2020!

But by removing likes, Instagram’s theory is that people will be able to be more creative and post what they want without worrying about how many likes they are getting on a post. If that is successful, I’m betting that Instagram sees an increase in feed posts too.

But like I said, this is dependant upon Instagram expanding their hidden likes test, but I’m predicting that likes will be hidden permanently in 2020.

Once that happens and everyone is on an even playing field, I do think we will see a more dramatic shift in visual content and an increase in posting to your feed.

So, why are feed posts so important to Instagram?

Well, since the explosion of Instagram Stories, more and more Instagram users are spending time watching stories instead of scrolling through their feed, which is where the prime ad dollars are (stories ads are growing, but since they are newer, they have more limited ad options and a lower ad inventory).

So what does this all of this mean for you, dear marketer?

Less time editing, more time creating content, and integrating video into everything. You’ll get to be creative and re-think your feed by having the flexibility to post more content, with less restrictions, and see how your audience responds to it.

Remember: your Instagram profile and the overall look of your feed is what converts a visitor into a follower, so while the perfectly curated aesthetic is out, it’s still important that your feed generally fits together.

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You can use a free visual Instagram planner like Later to plan the look of your feed before you post right from your desktop, and easily drag-and-drop to re-arrange until you find the look you love!

#2: Instagram Evolves into An Influencer Marketing & E-Commerce Platform

In 2019, Instagram launched Checkout, an easy way to purchase products without leaving the Instagram app.

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Along with Instagram Checkout, they also launched Shopping from Creators, which allows influencers, artists, and celebrities to add shopping tags to their posts.

Their followers can then click on the shopping tag, and purchase the product without ever leaving the Instagram app:

Both of these features are still in a closed beta, with only a handful of brands in the US, but you can definitely expect to see Instagram Checkout and Shopping from Creators rolled out to more brands, if not everyone, in 2020.

But in a somewhat surprising development, Instagram announced at the end of 2019 that they were launching a new platform to connect creators with brands looking for sponsored Instagram content.

Yes, that means that Instagram is an influencer marketing platform now, too.

This is another added benefit of removing likes, which makes it more difficult for brands to find influencers they want to work with as they can’t quickly see what their engagement rate is. (But if you’re choosing influencers based solely on engagement instead of reach, watch this video).

Now, a “select group of Instagram creators” will have access to Facebook’s Brand Collabs Manager, which is an influencer marketplace that was previously limited to Facebook creators.

Instagram creators can share their analytics and engagement rates with brands, identify topics that they are interested in creating branded content for (such as travel or beauty), and both brands and creators can search for partners and reach out to each other.

This has the potential to be pretty huge for both influencers and brands on Instagram in 2020, as Instagram helps “source new deals, manage partnerships, and automatically share insights” about sponsored content with brands, instead of having influencers send over screenshots.

Couple this with the ability for influencers to tag a brand’s product in their posts and have their followers buy it without leaving the Instagram app, and influencer marketing on Instagram is about to get a lot more sophisticated and conversion-driven in 2020.

Currently, it’s difficult to properly attribute direct ROI from influencer marketing, so giving influencers the ability to sell a brand’s products directly through their account could be a game-changer for the industry.

Expect brands to become more focused on driving conversions with influencers in 2020, as the industry becomes a proven channel for acquisition, instead of just awareness.

Instagram Marketing Trends #3: The TikTok Takeover

I know this is a post about Instagram marketing trends, but you really can’t talk about Instagram in 2020 without talking about TikTok.

TikTok is a video-sharing app that generally centers around music (it was formerly called Musical.ly) and is extremely popular with teenagers (and now, adults). The TikTok app was the #3 most downloaded app in 2019, and with 500 million active users, it has about the same usage as Instagram Stories.

In 2020, you can expect to see a major TikTok influence on the type of content you see on Instagram, specifically Instagram Stories.

TikTok content is incredibly real, unfiltered, and focused on the content instead of the aesthetic. For example, many videos are shot in the basements of parents’ homes, instead of in well-lit, Instagrammable living rooms.

A few months ago, we wrote a blog post about how TikTok’s video editor is the perfect app for editing Instagram Stories. Creators and brands have already tapped into this, sharing whimsical videos edited to music on their stories and their feed, like this post by Nichole Ciotti:

It’s a fun, albeit random, platform to hang out on, and it’s incredibly popular because of the potential to go viral. TikTok is centered around the “For You” page, which is their version of Instagram’s explore page, and it’s an incredibly powerful engine for distributing your content.

You can have 20 followers, create one video, and get over 1 million views and thousands of followers (it happened to me last week!).

So while Instagram is moving away from public engagement numbers and their algorithm is making it more difficult to have your content seen by your followers, TikTok is offering the complete opposite to marketers.

In November 2019, Instagram launched the “Reels” app in Brazil, which is a direct competitor to TikTok. Facebook’s strategy to compete with TikTok is to first win in markets where TikTok isn’t popular yet, like Mexico and Brazil.

Stay tuned, because we could see the Reels app coming to North America in 2020!

But one feature I wouldn’t be surprised to see this year is an improvement to Instagram’s explore page algorithm, to make Instagram’s discoverability a bit more competitive with TikTok.

We’re going to be creating a lot more TikTok content in 2020, but when it comes to marketing your business and actually driving sales, Instagram is definitely the better (and more sophisticated) platform to focus on.

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Your goals for TikTok should be focused on purely brand awareness, as right now you can’t even add a link to your TikTok bio!

Instagram Marketing Trends #4: Your Brand Voice is More Important Than Ever

According to our research, caption length on Instagram has doubled since 2016!

2019 was definitely the year of the Instagram caption, as creators and brands tapped into the power of the written word to engage and connect with their followers.

And in 2020, our feeds will be filled with an average caption length of 405 characters — which averages out to about 65-70 words.

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So yes, long captions may be a “trend,” but they are also part of the overall shift to authenticity we are seeing on the Instagram platform.

It gives you an opportunity to tell a deeper story, have followers spend more time reading your posts (which is one of the factors of the Instagram algorithm), and increase engagement.

Last year, I made a big shift to my personal Instagram @taylor.loren, and started sharing more meaningful posts about my life in the captions.

This was one of the best things I did in 2019, as it allowed me to create a real community with my Instagram friends and connect on a deeper level, while my following grew too.

But beyond benefits, it’s also genuine, and as a marketer in 2020, your brand voice and caption copy will be more important than ever.

It’s important for you to have a strong brand voice, and to be vocal about your brand mission. Pretty pictures aren’t enough in 2020, followers want to both know and support what a brand stands for beyond its products.

Here are some tips for applying this trend to your 2020 Instagram marketing strategy:

  • Flip the script and think about what you want to say in your caption first, and then find a photo to match.

  • Create “micro-blogs” about a topic related to your brand on your Instagram feed. You can share a few paragraphs of blog posts you already have, or write a new one.

  • Write your captions when you’re in the right creative zone. It’s a lot easier to sit down for 30 minutes and write all your captions for the week when you’re in the “writing zone” instead of trying to come up with a caption every day.

  • Use captions to create mini-guides, for example you can share travel tips in your caption about a destination. Don’t forget to add a CTA to “save” your post for future! Learn more about why saves are important here.

  • Create a brand tone of voice guide for social media, including your brand mission, what terms you use/avoid, and how your copy should make people feel. Already have one? Great, this is the perfect time to review it and make any updates!

  • Write your captions on your computer instead of your phone. Using Later, you can schedule your Instagram posts for free and compose all of your captions from the comfort of your desktop instead of your phone.Plus, Later will automatically add in line breaks to your scheduled posts, so you can read your longer captions more clearly!

In 2020, commit to writing your captions on your computer instead of your phone. Using Later, you can schedule your Instagram posts for free and compose all of your captions from the comfort of your desktop instead of your phone.

Plus, Later will automatically add in line breaks to your scheduled posts, so you can read your longer captions more clearly!

Instagram Marketing Trends #5: It’s Time to Create Your IGTV Series

For years, Instagram has been focused on competing with Youtube to become a platform for long-form video content. And in 2019, they made some major strides thanks to huge changes and improvements to IGTV features.

IGTV abandoned their “vertical video” thesis by adding the ability to upload landscape video, and IGTV views skyrocketed thanks to the ability to post a “preview” of your IGTV video to both your feed and your profile.

2019 was huge for IGTV, as the platform really evolved into a feature that was not only used more, but regarded as being “cool” too.

It took a while, but now people are actually spending time watching IGTV videos, and creators are starting to invest more in providing more value for their followers on Instagram instead of trying to drive traffic outside of the app. You can see this with both the rise in micro-blogging through captions and posting videos to IGTV instead of Youtube.

In October 2019, IGTV Series were launched, which lets creators organize their videos on a separate page, and includes a badge with the series name to separate it from other IGTV videos.

@KadeSpice @IngridNilsen pic.twitter.com/0QmpHwpxYw

Viewers can now binge-watch their favorite series and subscribe to notifications for new episodes (similar to how you can do this on Youtube). When a viewer watches an episode in the series, the next episode will automatically be recommended for continued viewing.

IGTV Series are set to become a serious Instagram marketing trend in 2020, and it’s not just for the big brands with big video budgets.

Because of the shift in visual and video content we’ll be seeing this year, creating an IGTV video or series is as simple as propping up your phone and hitting “record.”

One of my favorite examples of how small businesses can use IGTV series is from my friend Katie Ruddell, founder of the plant-based cafe Kokomo in Vancouver.

Her “Business Casual Fridays” series on IGTV is a perfect example of how small businesses can take advantage of video content, by answering questions, sharing behind-the-scenes info, and connecting on a whole new human level with their followers.

So for Instagram marketers in 2020, it’s time to think about what your IGTV series will be!

This could be sharing a weekly recipe, beauty tutorials, home renovation updates, or any topic that relates to your business that your followers would love.

Stay tuned, because we’ll be launching our own IGTV series, The Tea with Taylor (that’s me!),  at the end of January on @latermedia’s account!

Instagram Marketing Trends #6: Augmented Reality Reaches New Heights on Stories

One of the most fun Instagram marketing trends to come out of 2019 was the explosion of AR filters! In August, Instagram opened up the Spark AR program to everyone, allowing artists and brands to create AR effects (aka stories filters) for the masses.

Thanks to Instagram AR creators, there’s now tons of new filters and effects that can give your Instagram Stories photos and videos an upgraded and edited look, which is seriously trending on Instagram at the moment.

And with a wide-variety of tones, color grades and effects to choose from, it’s easy to pick a perfectly on-brand filter and start shooting – all without leaving the app!

We rounded up 14 of the best AR filters for Instagram Stories in this post, and we can expect to see this trend continue to grow in 2020.

But there’s more to the AR trend than just pretty filters, as evidenced by the viral “Which Disney Character Are You?” filter that exploded over the Christmas break, which led to similar filters being created for Harry Potter, Pokemon, and Sailor Moon characters.

Spark AR recently released new features that include target tracking and particles, making it possible to bring 3D effects to life through Instagram Stories.

Here’s an example of target tracking filters:

And what you can do with particles, like creating rain or fireflies:

I’m not an augmented reality creative genius, so I find it difficult to predict exactly what AR trends we will see in 2020, but it’s guaranteed to become a more visible part of the Instagram experience.

And don’t forget that Instagram also recently rolled out a closed beta of AR Shopping too, allowing brands to create filters to “try on” products before purchasing them. So we could see an increase in using AR for e-commerce in 2020, too.

Instagram Marketing Trends #7: Everyone Becomes an “Influencer”

If 2019 was the year of the micro-influencer, 2020 will be the year of the nano-influencer.

Micro-influencers (10-100k followers) found success as they have higher engagement rates than macro-influencers, and their recommendations can come across more like a trusted recommendation from a friend rather than an #ad.

Nano-influencers are basically normal people on Instagram, who have a smaller following (generally less than 20k) and run their Instagram account more like a personal account than a full-time influencer account.

Insta-popular brands like Mejuri, Golde, and Glossier are tapping into the “trusted recommendation from a friend” approach to influencer marketing by creating affiliate programs for their customers.

And because it’s 2020, “word of mouth” is really shifting over to Instagram, where it’s common to have non-influencers sharing affiliate links for their go-to products.

Lexie Carbone, who leads our marketing campaigns here at Later, is a great example of this. She uses the link in her bio to drive to a landing page that has her affiliate links listed for 10% off:

When she posts about a partner brand in her feed or stories, she’ll direct her followers to the link in her bio for 10% off.

This trend is line with the overall shift to making influencer marketing a more conversion-oriented channel in 2020, and you can expect to see more brands creating Instagram-friendly affiliate programs for their loyal customers.

Final Thoughts on Instagram Marketing in 2020:

I’ve talked about the trends that will be growing this year, but I think it’s worth noting a couple trends that are at risk of becoming passe.

Let’s face it: Instagram Live is no longer trending, and it’s likely not worth the extra effort and stress that comes with running a live broadcast, where anything can happen. In 2020, I would re-allocate your “live” resources towards investing in video content for your feed, stories, or IGTV instead.

Also, will the “authenticity bubble” pop in 2020? Authenticity was the #1 Instagram trend of 2019, but it will need to evolve beyond a vulnerable caption to last for years to come. Once everyone is “authentic,” what will it mean to be authentic on social in the years to come?

2020 is set to be a monumental year for Instagram, with the platform turning 10 years old later this year. Thanks to TikTok, it may no longer be the newest, coolest app around, but Instagram is still the best network for brands big and small to reach new customers and make major sales.

What do you think will be the biggest Instagram trend of 2020? Leave a comment below, and make sure to subscribe to our newsletter to stay up-to-date with the latest Instagram marketing trends, features, and strategies in 2020!

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