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Where is the Instagram Aesthetic Headed in 2020?

Instagram aesthetic trends are constantly evolving — but what does 2020 hold for your feed? 

From the “no-edit edit” to homemade memes and the obsession with carousel posts, your Instagram feed is about to become more creative than ever. 

Whether you’re a brand, business or influencer, we’re showcasing the best Instagram aesthetic trends and predictions you’ll want to know for 2020: 

What Does the Future Hold for the Instagram Aesthetic in 2020: 

Crafting an aesthetic on Instagram now extends to Instagram Stories, Instagram video, and IGTV, so it’s important you’re going into 2020 with a plan. 

The Instagram world moves fast, and when it comes to aesthetics and creative trends, things can change almost overnight — you need to have your finger on the pulse if you want to convert visitors into followers, and followers into customers. 

Plus with a savvy Instagram algorithm to compete with, you need to make sure your posts are bang on trend, and can stand out for the crowd. 

To help you map out what 2020 could look like for your brand on Instagram, we teamed up with Erin Dykstra from Something Social LA, Micah Heykoop of Matte Black, Jordan Hughes, Social Media Lead at Ritual

In this panel, you’ll learn how Instagram aesthetic trends are evolving on Instagram, and what we can expect in 2020: 

Ready to nail your Instagram strategy for 2020, now’s the time to focus on your Instagram aesthetic and get your posts ready for the future with these top trends and tips: 

Instagram Aesthetic Trends #1: Treat Your Grid Like Your Home Page 

These days, people turn to Instagram instead of Google to search for a brand or business, and your Instagram profile is quickly becoming your new home page.

And just like the goal of your website is to convert visitors into customers, the goal of your Instagram profile should be to convert visitors into followers.

That means that when you’re mapping out and planning your Instagram profile, it’s important that everything you post tells a story about your brand. 

That’s everything from your Instagram bio and Instagram Stories highlights, to your grid layout and editing style. 

Take for example plant-based cafe Kokomo — not only does their image choice tell the story of just how delicious a vegetarian life could be, but they also reflect their brand colors in the Instagram Stories highlights, they’ve used a punchy Instagram bio and share their menu and location “above the fold”. 

Instagram Aesthetic Trends: Homepage Kokomo

The first step for future-proofing your Instagram account is to pay close attention to how it reads as a home page.

If you can leave a lasting first impression when a new visitor lands on your profile, you’ll stand a much better chance at converting them into followers. 

Instagram Aesthetic Trends #2: The No-Edit Edit 

Long gone are the days of harsh edits and pumped up saturation — the “no-edit edit” is the trend we’re all lusting over for 2020. 

“Instagram is definitely becoming a more unedited places,” says Erin from Something Social LA. 

We’re talking tiny tweaks, a hint of color change and saying goodbye to unrealistic edits. Check out how influencer @jlbabe has adopted this cool look in her feed: 

Instagram Aesthetic Trends: No Edit Edit

@jlbabe

While we’re tipping this trend to be big in 2020, we saw hints of it throughout this year. 

In fact, our very own Taylor from Later predicted that: “the days of perfectly posed Instagram posts, overly edited photos, and Instagram bot comments are over, making way for more genuine experiences and authentic relationships”.

“The next generation of content creators are really into this no-edit edit look, which is a strong sign of what’s to come,” says Jordan from Ritual.

“But as a brand, you still need to think about what the brand position is and how your tone of voice can be represented through your images.” 

Check out how Later customer, Artifact Uprising has nailed the subtle-edits look while still reflecting their overall brand point of view: 

Instagram Aesthetic Trends: No Edit Edit

@artifactuprising

Want to get the look? Start by making the smallest of color adjustments to your photos — small adjustments to the temperature, brightness, or contrast will keep things consistent. 

Or you can use a subtle filter, but dial back the strength of the one you choose. For example, fashion blogger favorite, VSCO’s A6 is the perfect Instagram filter to help you create a minimalist “no edit” aesthetic. 

The A6 filter, part of VSCO’s analog series, includes beautiful natural tones, subtle color shifts, and slight fading. Check out how Later’s Marketing Campaign Lead, Lexie Carbone uses VSCO to get the look: 

View this post on Instagram

ready to slide into spring 🌾 @loq

A post shared by Lexie Carbone (@lexiecarbone) on

Instagram Aesthetic Trends #3: A Curated UGC Feed 

User-generated content isn’t the newest trend, but it’s one that’s growing massively on Instagram!

Brands are starting to think creatively outside the box — reposting and sharing their fans’ photos, videos, and stories with a strong strategy in hand.

UGC Airbnb Feed

@airbnb

Thanks to the repost to Instagram Stories feature, and tagging profiles in posts and stories, brands can now curate their feed with content created by their biggest fans.

Whether they use a branded hashtag like Airbnb or curating their whole feed from their community of influencers and ambassadors like Mejuri, UGC is here to stay! 

Instagram Aesthetic Trend: Mejuri

TOP TIP: Find a way to make your UGC content recognizable for your brand, says Jordan from Ritual. 

For example, Ritual wanted to tell the story of how their customers take their vitamins, and where in their daily routine Ritual fits in. 

So every time Ritual shares a UGC post, they add the Instagram time stamp to the image — a simple but effective way to make their UGC aesthetic stand out from the rest of their feed:

And the easiest way to get on board with the UGC is with Later! You can search by hashtag, or save posts that you’ve been tagged or mentioned in directly to your Media Library! 

user-generated content release blog
From there, all it takes is two clicks to add a post to your calendar and schedule it to your feed! 

Ready to jump on the UGC trend for 2020? Later makes it easy for you to plan, manage, and schedule your user-generated content Instagram posts!

 

Instagram Aesthetic Trends #4: A Focus on Authenticity 

There’s no denying that the no-edit edit trend was born out of Instagram’s shift towards authenticity. 

Authentic content is trending, and we’re seeing tonnes of brands and businesses getting on  board and showing a more honest, real and vulnerable side to their brand and business. 

A high level of authenticity can go a long way in building a stronger connection to your audience. When you can showcase the good with the bad, the struggles along with the wins, you brand will be more relatable to your audience. 

Take for example Jen Gotch, founder of Ban.do. Jen shared an honest post about mental health and the unfair protocol of emotional professionalism: 

View this post on Instagram

This is me after a real Big Cry at ban.do a few years ago right after Andrew moved back to Australia. In thinking back, I realized I’ve cried at every job I’ve ever had and even now there is still a little bit of embarrassment and shame associated with it. As someone who now helps run a company I am dedicated to creating a space where it is safe to express your emotions, but I know that expressing any emotion that brings us to tears (pain, sadness, grief, overwhelm and yes, joy) can still be very awkward when done at work (or any public space for that matter). I came up with the idea for International I Cry at Work Day to reduce the stigma around public expressions of emotions – and hey, maybe not publicly flailing your arms around screaming (been there) or sobbing uncontrollably while shouting obscenities in the middle of your office (been there) – but feeling our feelings without being mortified or even worse, worrying that our professional performance and emotional stability we will be judged. I post pictures like this and cry on my IG stories to normalize something that every human experiences in an effort to say, “it’s ok to cry.” And also to expose people to a range of emotions, because I recognize for many they have been trained personally and professionally to operate with very little range. I hope it helps. I’m happy to see you joining me (and @shopbando ) today in sharing your experiences and eternally grateful for your support in the personal risks I take in a public space. #InternationalICryAtWorkDay 🤗🥴😥😐🙂🙃🤣

A post shared by jen gotch (@jengotch) on

Off the back of this, Ban.do then created a slogan tee to mark their now annual celebration of “International Cry at Work Day” — an ode to all the times we’ve needed to shed a tear in the office, and raise awareness for mental health charities in the US. 

Similarly, sustainable clothing brand Everlane has always championed transparency with their marketing and strategy, even with their Instagram posts. 

Followers can tune into Everlane’s “Transparency Tuesday” series each week to ask questions about the brand and the clothing that might otherwise go unanswered. 

Transparency Tuesday Everlane Instagram Stories

But what has this got to do with the Instagram aesthetic? Well, it’s all about letting your viewers in and showing the real you. 

So we’ll be seeing a lot more spontaneous Instagram posts and stories in 2020 as brands step outside of their usual aesthetic to share an important messages. 

Instagram Aesthetic Trends #5: A More Inclusive Feed

Inclusivity starts from within your business, but it should be celebrated on your Instagram feed. 

Thankfully, more and more brands are stepping up and actively representing their community with their posts. 

Whether in the form of Instagram photography, brand ambassadors or Instagram takeover partners, some brands are making it their mission to accurately represent the diverse community they exist for. 

Take a look at underwear brand Knix — through their Instagram feed and aesthetic, the Vancouver-based brand is able to showcase the many faces of the womxn they stand for: 

Instagram Aesthetic Trends #6: The Photography + Emoji Combo 

The humble emoji is getting glow up this year by being included in feed images! 

From cute self-portraits to adding a quirky element to travel photography landscapes, all it takes is one emoji to make your photo stand out from the crowd. 

Check out how influencer @kidjess uses emojis to make her posts stand out: 

@Donte.Colley also used emojis on his humorous posts to inject an element of fun into his feed: 

 

Instagram Aesthetic Trends #7: Adding Video and Motion to Your Grid 

There’s no denying that video is taking off on Instagram, but some brands and businesses are hesitant to include video in their grid for fear of messing up their aesthetic. 

“But it’s not just about videos,” says Micah Heykoop of Matte Black. “It’s about including an element of motion in your grid.” 

We’re talking the smallest animation like a twinkling star or moving background, anything that elevates an image from static to dynamic. 

And don’t let budget hold you back! Apps like Enlight Pixaloop and Mojo allow you to make super-simple but effective animated elements to your posts and stories. 

Check out how Later used a stock photo from Unsplash and Enlight Pixaloop to create this image: 

Wondering how to create animated posts and Instagram Stories? Check out our top 8 apps that make video motion easy

Instagram Aesthetic Trends #8: The Fine Line Sketch Look  

Earlier this year, Kim Kardashian West shared a sponsored PicsArt “sketch” edit on her feed. 

And this simple sponsored post sparked a whole new Instagram trend almost overnight! 

View this post on Instagram

How cute is this app!!! @picsart #picsartpartner

A post shared by Kim Kardashian West (@kimkardashian) on

But being a promoted post didn’t stop the Instagram world from loving this trend. In fact, variations of the hand-drawn sketch and fine line outlines started to fill our feeds. 

Later’s Jill Warren used the PicsArt app to create this post for her feed: 

Even brands like Barbor are taking inspiration from the  trend to make their shoppable posts stand out: 

And you might also have spotted Later’s nod to this cool trend on our grid — all our LaterCon-related posts contained cute graphic outlines that aligned at each side next to each other: 

This is one trend that’s set to stick around so now’s the time to start experimenting with sketches and outlines if you haven’t already! 

Want to stay ahead of the curve and on top of the competition? Download our free Creative Social Media Trend Report covering the top 20 creative trends shaping the social landscape right now! 

 

Instagram Aesthetic Trends #9: Designing with Doodles

Think of this trend as the cutesy little sister of the sketched outline look! 

On the back of the PicsArt popularity, we’ve spotted some brands drawing doodles on their photos and Instagram Stories. 

Check out how influencer Mallory Joy uses the trend to elevate her posts: 

Plus influencer Courtney Steeves uses the Instagram Stories editor to hand-draw doodles, lines and stars in her on-brand color palette of cream, tan and orange onto her sponsored posts, making her stories a lot more engaging: 

Let’s not forget Instagram overlay stickers — graphic designs and elements that are added to an image or video. Bright flowing lines, lightning bolts, and flowers are already proving to be popular choices:

Later Overlay Stickers SetThese stickers have seen a huge surge in usage in Instagram Stories, and now the trend is making its way into Instagram feeds too. 

And brand’s are loving this look too! Check out how Her Conference used white doodles to showcase this event photos: 

The best thing about this new trend is that it doesn’t need to be perfect to be impactful, so we’re expecting to see a huge uptick of this trend in your feeds next year! 

PS! We created our own FREE Instagram Overlay Sticker Pack that you can use with your favorite editing app! 

Instagram Aesthetic Trends #10: Carousel Posts that Convert 

Carousel posts are having a bit of moment on Instagram — and we can’t wait to see what 2020 will bring! 

First up, we’ve spotted fashion brands like Whistles using carousel posts to really maximize their Instagram real estate for shoppable posts. 

By creating a multi-photo post, along with an on-brand post template design, Whistles is able to show off a collection look book that’s really engaging: 

Instagram Shopping

Next, influencers are using carousel post to reveal behind the scenes moments with the followers. 

By showing more than one of the same event, influencers like Sunday Chapter are able to share “bonus content” with their audience and ask their opinion on which image they prefer, sparking even more conversation on their feed: 

Finally, we’ve seen a ton of creative collage apps like SwipeMix launch this year that help design a cohesive and panoramic collage post. 

With so many creative uses for carousel posts, we’re certain they’re going to be a big trend for 2020! 

Did you know that you can schedule carousel posts with Later? 

Whether you’re launching a new product line or just can’t decide on which photo to post, scheduling carousel posts on Instagram just got easier. 

All you need to do is drag-and-drop your photos to the calendar to schedule a carousel post: 

schedule instagram carousel posts

Ready to get posting? Scheduling carousel posts is available on all Later paid plans, starting at $9/month.

 

Instagram Aesthetic Trends #11: Sophisticated Shoppable Posts 

We’ve already mentioned how brands like Barbor and Whistles have stepped up their game when it comes to shoppable Instagram posts. But they’re not alone! 

We’re expecting to see BIG creative things from brands in 2020 as they make sure that no tagged product post goes to waste on their feed or stories. 

Check out how Anthropologie created an Instagram Stories Q&A on their products, and then tagged every story with the product they mentioned: 

And brands like FellaSwim are using user-generated content to make their product-related posts more engaging for their followers: 

Instagram Stories Engagement: Fella Swim

Shoppable post show no sign of slowing down in 2020, but if you want to convert your shoppers into customers, you need to start being savvy about your aesthetics and strategy — we’re talking beautiful imagery, great captions, and sales pitches timed to perfection. 

Learn how to take your shoppable posts to the next level with our Ultimate Guide to Instagram Shopping! 

Instagram Aesthetic Trends #12: The Pantone Palette 

This year, the bible of color pairings, Pantone created an app that’s been making serious waves on Instagram. 

The Pantone Studio app lets users identify the colors in their photos and create a color palette based off the image that they want to share. 

The Later team fell in love with the app last summer: 

And what ensued was the #PantoneChallenge — photographers, influencers and content creators came together on Instagram to showcase the app and their own color palettes. 

Spearheaded by Aminah McKenzie, a full-time portrait and fashion photographer from Virginia — the trend exploded onto the Instagram scene after she posted on Twitter using the Pantone app! 

Speaking to Buzzfeed, McKenzie said: “Someone posted their photos from the Pantone app and tagged me, because they said they were inspired from the set of photos I posted. From there, people started hashtagging #PantoneChallenge.” 

 

From then, we’ve spotted consistent mentions of the Pantone app and brands, micro- and macro-influencers like @fixedformat have jump on the trend: 

Pantone Color Challenge

@fixedformat

We’re expecting to see more brands and businesses getting involved with the trends — maybe not committing to the #PantoneChallenge itself, but finding ways to pay homage to the color giant, just like OhhDeer

 

Instagram Aesthetic Trends #13: Retro IT Vibes 

This Instagram aesthetic prediction is all about going back in time! 

We’re loving this throwback to everything retro and IT-cool on Instagram — from old Windows desktop views to iPhone notifications and alerts, tech is trending right now. 

And it will keep on appearing in your feeds into 2020! 

From WeWork, to Ritual and GirlBoss, brands and businesses are really getting creative with this trend.

In fact, we loved this trend so much, that we teamed up with design app Storyluxe to create Instagram Stories templates that work for this trend: 

To get access, all you have to do is download the free Storyluxe app! 

We’ve created this quick video to help you get started with the Storyluxe app and spark some creativity with the Later templates pack! Check it out:

Instagram Aesthetic Trends #14: DIY Instagram Memes

While this Instagram aesthetic trend may not suit every brand, we’re seeing a lot of this cute and cheeky meme creation using the Instagram Stories editor: 

Brands like Ritual are adding a little bit of wit and humor to their posts, which is one trend we can get behind: 

View this post on Instagram

stop right now and look at my morning routine

A post shared by Ritual (@ritual) on

But there’s still the challenge of integrating memes into your grid without compromising your aesthetic. 

For the social team at Ritual, Jordan explains that it’s all about honoring your brand’s color palette as you design and integrate a meme into your feed. 

“Just adding those little elements, like our brand colors or signature layout from our creative team, makes it still look low-fi and organic, but recognizable as our content.” 

View this post on Instagram

My recipe for starting the week strong.

A post shared by Ritual (@ritual) on

If you really want to nail the trend, make sure you pick classic font from your Instagram Stories text options and make it highlighted with a background color to match your brand. 

Later created their own meme using just the Instagram Stories editor and a video editing app like InShot to resize the image. 

Instagram Aesthetic Trends #15: Using Stories Filters for Your Videos 

Thanks to the launch of Spark Studio AR, we’re seeing a new wave of creators using the studio to create “preset style” filters to edit Instagram Stories.

From fall shades, to perfect replicas of VSCO’s most popular presets, there’s now an Instagram Filter to suit your mood: 

AR Filters for Stories

@janmahaven

We’re predicting that a lot of Instagram users will step away from the classic Paris or Oslo filters and move over to more sophisticated AR-inspired filter. 

And brands and influencers will start creating AR-filters for their followers — making it even easier to spread the trend far and wide. Check out how travel influencer Sunday Chapter jumped on the trend by creating her own “Rose” filter for Instagram. 

Want to learn more about how brands can use AR filters? Check out our blog post for 8 inspirational ways to use the trend! 

Instagram aesthetic trends are always going to shift and change, but the key to success is being able to adapt the trend to your brand’s personal style. 

The good news is, you can preview your Instagram grid before you post with Later’s Visual Planner:

Once you’ve uploaded your photos, you can easily drag and drop your scheduled posts create your best on-trend feed. Or, if a photo edit just doesn’t work in your lineup, you can remove it completely! 

Jumping on board a new Instagram aesthetic trend? It’s never been easier! Plan, preview, and schedule your Instagram posts with Later — for free!

 

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Written By

Nikki Canning

Nikki is part of the marketing team at Later and has worked in digital media in London, Dublin, and Sydney. She loves strong coffee, cuddly puppies, and planning her next travel adventure. Follow along on Instagram @nikkitravelled.