As we close out December, it’s time for our favorite blog post of the year — and it’s all about Instagram predictions for 2020!
To help you kick off January with a supercharged Instagram strategy, we’re giving you the low down on all the biggest trends to watch for the next year, and beyond.
We’re sharing insights from the Instagram pros and industry experts in our top 10 Instagram predictions for 2020:
Instagram Predictions 2020 #1: Words Will Be More Powerful than Images
Instagram used to be all about the visuals — a cohesive aesthetic, high-quality photography, and on-brand images were a must.
And while you still need to be thinking about your grid in 2020, we’re seeing Instagram captions take center stage!
Influencers were the first to jump on the trend — Elise Darma, Quigley Goode, and Sarah Nicole Landry of @thebirdspapaya all share lengthy captions on their posts to give greater insight into their world or to share their knowledge.
“The last couple of years have brought about a new way of me using Instagram as my creative outlet,” Sarah Nicole explains.
“I had always been posting in a “photo first’ way, which often led me to feel frustrated with not knowing what to say. So I reversed it. I started writing mini-blog captions in the moments I was feeling them.”
Sarah Nicole added that by switching her thought process to “caption first, and image second,” it allowed her to be more journalistic in her approach, while being able to share more vulnerable and authentic moments of her life with her followers.
“I think we are craving human connection more and more,” she notes. “When someone else feels connected to something, they want to share it! So the combination of longer-form posts, and the ability for others to share those posts on Instagram Stories, helped me grow organically.”
And micro-blogging in captions has really paid off for Sarah Nicole — over the last year, @thebirdspapaya account has grown from 80k to 740k followers!
But brands are now starting to take advantage of the trend too — especially when it comes to raising awareness for the causes that they stand for.
Take, for example, sustainable clothing brand and environmental activists, Patagonia. As part of their campaign to highlight the issues around fish farming, Patagonia released an IGTV and film series that discusses the challenges the environment faces:
Along with sharing a preview of their IGTV video “Saving Martha,” Patagonia also gave insight into their mission and why they need their followers’ support.
And while you might be thinking that a longer caption might impact engagement rates, you’d be right — but only in a positive way!
According to influencer research by Fohr, the average caption length has more than doubled since 2016, and those with longer captions got the most engagement!
And by 2020, our feeds will be filled with an average caption length of 405 characters — which averages out to be 65-70 words!
Not sure what that looks like? Check out how Knix has nailed the perfect caption length with the help of a strong call to action to watch their stories and a nod to a cute cultural moment that their target audience would love!
Now we’re not saying that every caption has to be thousands of words long, but even writing a full sentence instead of just a few emojis could help you increase Instagram engagement.
Looking for tips and tricks on how to craft the perfect Instagram caption? Check out our free video workshop with Instagram pro Elise Darma and Taylor from Later!
Instagram Predictions 2020 #2: IGTV Will Be All About Series Content
Video is the future of Instagram and a ton of brands are now creating long-form video content for IGTV to drive real business results.
IGTV is super-immersive and, thanks to some recent changes, more closely connected to Instagram so it’s easy to align your Instagram audience with your IGTV content. If you haven’t already, it’s time to jump on board the trend!
But the beauty of IGTV over Instagram Stories videos is that your content can be housed there for as long as you like, making it the perfect setup for a branded video series!
According to Jon Youshaei, Product Marketing Manager of IGTV, Instagram is building an entire destination right in the Instagram app for people to go and browse.
“We’ve seen so many people go to this destination and find new content,” Jon says.
For viewers, this means that they can intentionally browse and pick a video when they’re in the mood to really engage and pay attention.
So our top prediction for IGTV in 2020 is that brands will start using it as a platform for serial content.
To take advantage of this trend, Jon recommends having a “repeatable theme and style that your audience can expect in every episode.”
Take Jameela Jamil’s “I Weigh” interview series where the actor interviews celebrities about mental health, body positivity, and more:
“IGTV is immersive in a very different way to Instagram Stories — you’re not being asked to scroll for more, tap for the next post or swipe up!” Mel explains.
“It’s just a ‘sit back and relax situation’, which leaves a huge area of opportunity to build brand affinity.”
But to make that work, you’ll need to make your videos engaging right off the mark — and that takes testing to figure out what works for your audience in terms of length, topics, and format.
“If you can find the right IGTV format for your brand, you’ll soon have your audience hooked onto your series!” says Mel.
Take a look at Lululemon’s Boob Truths series:
The video series features weekly segments on a single topic (how to find the perfect sports bra fit!), and is cohesive in terms of set and format.
Plus, with the use of the Countdown sticker in Instagram Stories to promote the launch of each new episode, the execution was nothing short of “IGTV genius,” says Mel.
So if you’re thinking about launching your first IGTV series in 2020, now’s the time to start strategically planning. Consider what your audience wants to learn, or see more of from your profile, and how you can better serve them through video content.
And don’t worry about budget — Mel explains that some of the best videos series out there are filmed on a low budget, but hook people in with some clever editing thanks to apps like LumaFusion and InShot!
P.S. We have some very exciting IGTV projects up our sleeve for 2020 — follow Later on Instagram to be the first to know!
Instagram Predictions 2020 #3: Brands Will Favor Partnerships with Micro-Influencers
Instagram influencer partnerships are by far the best performing platform for brands to reach new audiences quickly.
With an average 3.2% engagement rate compared to 1.5% across all social networks, having a strong influencer campaign strategy is a real asset to brands looking to grow on Instagram.
So more than ever before, we’re seeing brands and businesses investing a high portion of their budgets to influencer marketing — simply because, when done right, it works!
Even mega-beauty brand, Estee Lauder recently announced that they will allocate 75% of their marketing budget to influencer marketing over the next year!
But for 2020, we’re expecting to see much stronger partnerships between brands and micro-influencers!
Why? Because after influencer marketing platform, Fohr analyzed influencers’ posts, it’s was micro-influencers who had the highest engagement rates (averaging at 7%) on their feed posts in 2019!
In fact, influencers with <25K followers had higher engagement rates regardless of their genre, target audience, or topics.
Instagram influencer, Christina Galbato, who has worked with brands like the Las Vegas tourism board, Mazda USA, and Olay, agrees that brands will be more open to working with micro-influencers this coming year.
“Brands will increase their focus on working with micro-influencers,” Christina explains.
“Oftentimes a micro-influencer’s connection with their communities is much stronger!”
Art director, Erin Summer agrees that with a better engagement rate, and loyal community, micro-influencer marketing is a good strategy for brands in 2020.
“I think now is the best time ever to connect with influencers,” Erin advises.
“Look for the influencer who consistently gets lots of meaningful comments on their posts. In my opinion, that’s the best way to determine whether or not an audience is actually engaging with the content as opposed to likes or followers.”
Ready to jump into level-up your influencer strategy for 2020? We teamed up the Fohr to create this data-driven (and totally free!) State of Instagram Influencer Marketing Report! Sign up below and we’ll send it straight to your inbox!
Instagram Predictions 2020 #4: Authenticity Will Lead the Way for Brands and Influencers
Authentic content was a major trend for 2019 — and it’s set to become even stronger in 2020! We’re seeing tons 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.
Authenticity was once exclusively linked to the Instagram aesthetic, with the no-edit edit trends piquing interest.
But the authentic aesthetic expands well beyond a pretty filter in 2020. Hayley Zielke, Marketing Coordinator at Artifacts Uprising (a Later customer!) explains that as a brand, their mission is to share images that are beautiful and inspiring, but most importantly, it’s about telling a story.
“Artifacts Uprising created the hashtag #TellOn to be a space where our community could share their stories and connect with other storytellers,” Hayley says.
And when it comes to curating their feed from the ~400k posts tagged with the branded hashtag, Hayley stresses that it goes beyond the photo quality.
“Yes, we look out for color, brightness, and clarity. But truly we look for images that remind us of all there is to be grateful for — everyday moments, that view from your office window, that trip that you’ve dreamed of for years…”
So for 2020, having an authentic voice and mission is more important than following the “filtered” crowd.
“That has been a focus of ours the past few years,” Hayley says. “How can we [Artifacts Uprising] highlight every kind of experience — the imperfect and all? Because ‘aesthetic’ is what you make it and connection is what really matters.”
Want to know more about where the Instagram aesthetic is headed in 2020? Check out this blog post as we predict the trends that will shape Instagram’s future!
Instagram Predictions 2020 #5: Brand x Brand Collaborations Will Seriously Pay Off
There’s a new type of collaboration in town, and this one is set to be big for 2020.
Brands are now collaborating with other brands on Instagram to create quality content that drives traffic, boosts sales and creates a perfect marriage of brand affinity for each!
“Brand-by-brand collaborations can be incredibly powerful,” says Jess.
“In our experience, a brand-by-brand partnership can double your organic reach without any monetary spend. And they’re up to 25x less expensive than digital advertising!”
The Collabosaurus team has managed 6,500+ partnership opportunities for brands like ASOS, Sofitel, Red Bull and Topshop, and have seen first-hand how creative collaborations can be.
“At first glance, this would look like quite a bizarre collaboration for the two brands,” Jess says.
“But it’s getting a lot of attention! It has helped Kit Kat tap into a fashion-focussed crowd, with TDE being well positioned to align with such a well known brand. It’s creative, unexpected and has not only seen fabulous Instagram engagement, but media exposure as well!”
So what does this mean for Instagram influencers?
What’s important to remember is that influencer marketing and brand x brand collaborations are two very different strategies for success.
“For brand-to-brand collaborations, it’s all about leveraging what you have available to you in your business,” Jess says.
“Businesses, as opposed to individual influencers, have more than just an Instagram account in their bank of assets. Therefore, any collaboration you do together can be leveraged across many social platforms, email lists, event audiences, blogs, media, and so much more.”
With this in mind, we’re expecting to see tons more creative brands come together to produce engaging content specifically for Instagram!
Still not convinced? Check out this co-built project by Mailchimp and Vice — even without a physical product to sell, the brands have successfully teamed up to create content that appeals to both audiences and shares an important message that’s perfect for Instagram’s video-rich platform:
Instagram Predictions 2020 #6: AR Filters Are Here to Stay
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:
For 2020, we’re predicting that a lot of Instagram users will step away from the classic Paris or Oslo filters and start using more sophisticated AR-inspired filter.
Plus 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 Angela Giakas from Sunday Chapter jumped on the trend by creating her own “Rose” filter for Instagram:
She’s even gone on to create a second filter for her followers after the welcome response from her first release!
If a branded AR filter is in your sights for 2020, you’ll need to do a little bit of research, says Angela.
“Before you jump into design, consider your target market and what you think will appeal to them. Brainstorm a concept or idea that you think your audience will love, and then start bringing it to life!”
From here, it’s time to get to know Spark Studio AR.
“It’s not something you can learn overnight,” Angela warns. “Even with prior visual graphics knowledge, it took us a really long time to understand the tools for creating augmented reality. It can feel very overwhelming, so try to keep your ideas simple at the start!”
That said, Facebook has created tons of online resources including YouTube tutorials to help new designers, or can outsource your project to AR creators via Facebook’s Spark AR partners page to create your filters instead!
And that’s not all — AR filters are now helping people shop with Instagram!
After creating a sold-out digital clothing collection last year, Carlings has now released the €40 “Last Statement” T-shirt — the logo triggers various designs that appear on Instagram through augmented reality filters!
When you point the Instagram camera at the T-shirt, a Carlings design appears in the camera screen — it changes and moves along with the camera and the person.
“This allows the customer to digitally wear and share new designs without buying a new T-shirt,” says Morten Grubak, Northern Europe executive creative director for Virtue, an agency that led the project.
So it’s an exciting time for Instagram and AR Filters — and it’s only set to get bigger in 2020. Watch this space!
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 Predictions 2020 #7: Instagram Shopping Will be Bigger Than Ever
From shoppable AR filters, to one-click in-app purchases, Instagram Shopping is about to become big businesses for all brands on the platform.
Every month, 130 million people tap on an Instagram shopping post to learn more about products.
For businesses, Instagram shopping posts are a great way to showcase your products and drive more sales.
Especially now, thanks to 2019’s new Instagram checkout feature, which lets you buy products *directly* on Instagram without ever leaving the app!
But it doesn’t stop there — Instagram has recently invited a select few publishing brands to test the platform as an e-commerce tool.
As reported by Digiday, “publishers like Group Nine, Condé Nast and Highsnobiety are testing Instagram Shopping as a way to combine their large Instagram followings with their burgeoning e-commerce operations.”
Since it’s acceptance into the test group, Group Nine has been selling Dodo-branded merch, and a collaboration between The Dodo and direct-to-consumer brand Sock Club. Plus, 10% of sales is donated to help critically endangered species.
ICYMI: Brand x brand collaborations are going to be BIG on Instagram in 2020!
Laura Cranfield, social media manger at Lush, told us that for 2020, the cruelty-free skincare brand is looking to better understand the role Instagram plays in their audience’s purchasing journey.
“We want to provide our audience with content that helps them with where they’re at in the funnel. This means not only creating content to drive purchase (though that’s always a great result), we try our best to share our brand stories, elevate the voices of our staff and partners, and educate our audience on our products,” Laura says.
But you don’t have to be accepted into the Instagram test group to optimizing your posts for shopping!
Just start by taking the first steps to be an approved retailer with Instagram, and then you can begin creating awesome posts with tagged products for easier Instagram shopping for your followers!
Want to learn more about Instagram Shopping? Check out our ultimate guide to help you every step of the way — from setup to first sale!
Instagram Predictions 2020 #8: Get Ready for More User-Generated Content on Feeds and Stories
User-generated content (UGC) is a killer asset for brands and businesses looking to grow online.
UGC is an affordable way to share high-quality content that generates sales for your brand — it’s the social media equivalent of a word-of-mouth recommendation!
In fact, 55% of consumers trust user-generated content over any other form of marketing, making it a surefire way to boost your sales and improve brand loyalty.
And incorporating UGC into your 2020 strategy doesn’t have to be complicated — it can be as simple as an influencer tagging a product in an Instagram Stories post, or a YouTube beauty tutorial featuring a brand’s new collection.
But regardless of its form, user-generated content has a big pay off for brands and business, with some seriously impressive benefits like:
Easy gathering and sharing of genuine reviews
Building a loyal fan base and community around your brand
Driving visitors to your site with a strong intent to purchase
Generating an affordable marketing stream
So if you’re looking to grow your business (especially within younger demographics) UGC can seriously help skyrocket your sales and build true brand loyalty.
In fact, UGC is so important when it comes to successfully marketing your business online, that Later has created some great tools and features to help you find, organize, and schedule user-generated content in minutes!
From easily finding content you’ve been tagged or mentioned in, to reposting content from your brand’s fans and loyal followers, Later has you covered!
Instagram Predictions 2020 #9: Video Content Will Get a Serious Upgrade
2019 has been the year for video upgrades — say goodbye to shaky camera work!
With the popularly of Tiktok, and it’s ultra-easy-to-navigate but super-powered video editor, there’s a new standard set for videos on Instagram
In fact, we shared a blog post on how your can hack the TikTok video editor or create awesome Instagram Stories for your feed! Check it out here!
With IGTV, stories, and in-feed video taking off and boosting all round engagement, it’s easy to see why brands are moving to a more “video first” approach.
Instagram influencer, Elizabeth Gilmore agrees, predicting that video content will continue to be king next year.
“I’ve found the more authentic, in the moment, and less ‘curated’ the better. It keeps viewers more engaged and a stronger authenticity makes people feel more human and part of the action,” Elizabeth says.
Christina Galbato told us she plans on adding video into her prodominately image-based Instagram strategy and encourages other influencers to do the same.
“Focus in on your unique niche and create related video content on IGTV — it’s a great way to engage your community on a deeper level and provide a ton of value,” she suggests.
The good news is that you don’t need to be a professional videographer, or buy an expensive kit to create engaging video content for your Instagram profile. There are tons of great video editing apps that can help you.
From resizing your footage to adding animations, branded assets, and filters to your clips, we’ve got an app for you. And most of them are free!
Want to dive into video for 2020? Check out our round-up of our top video editing apps to help get you started!
Instagram Predictions 2020 #10: Brands Will Optimize on Data-Driven Content
Audiences love two things — personalization, and data-driven information. And we think 2020 is going to be filled with both these things!
Brandon Perlman, founder and CEO of Social Studies, Inc. explains that machine learning and personalized content isn’t going anywhere:
“I foresee quite a bit more data-driven analyses and infographics being shared from real brand advocates, consumers, and fans,” Brian predicts.
A great example of this is what Spotify launched in mid-December — “their Spotify Wrapped campaign was brilliant, informative, personal. utility-driven, custom, shareable, and just slick.”
And the integration within the Spotify app to Instagram Stories was just flawless:
And remember when we mentioned brand x brand collaborations? Well, that trend will only strengthen the power of data-driven content on Instagram.
Take for example Later’s collaboration with influencer marketing platform Fohr. By combining our resources and data, we were able to produce a stat-packed industry report for our users:
Plus from our report, we were able to create some engaging graphic and super-shareable content for our feed and stories posts!
Even sponsored posts are taking a more data-focused route, like Create & Cultivate’s post promoting Microsoft365:
So if you’re looking at how to level up your Instagram content in 2020, start brainstorming in how you can integrate hard data and fast facts into your feed and stories posts!
As we kick off a new decade, Instagram is on track to be a powerful marketing assets for brands, businesses and influencers alike.
And armed with these predictions and top trends, you can confidently start to strategize for the future and start hitting your 2020 goals!
Don’t wait til the new year to get organized! Start planning, curating and scheduling you Instagram posts with Later — for free!
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