We’re halfway through the year, which means it’s a great time to review the best Instagram trends of 2020 — especially the trends we predict will stick around!
From Instagram’s sharp turn into e-commerce, to hashtag challenges, carousel posts, and even branded AR filters, a lot has (already!) happened in 2020.
To help keep your business ahead of the game, we’re highlighting 8 of the biggest Instagram trends of 2020:
Instagram Trends 2020 #1: The Rise of Instagram Shopping
Instagram has always been a shopping destination of sorts — even before it launched any e-commerce tools.
But with the introduction of tools like Instagram Checkout, where shoppers can buy products on Instagram without leaving the app, and Facebook Shops, which allows businesses to build online stores on both Facebook and Instagram, shopping has become an even bigger part of how people both view and use Instagram in their day-to-day lives.
Even as COVID-19 forced thousands of businesses to pause operations, shopping on Instagram is live and well. In fact, Instagram released more e-commerce features in the past few months than they did in all of 2019!
Here’s just a few that caused a stir:
Instagram Live Shopping: currently being beta-tested with a select number of businesses
Expansion of Instagram Shopping: a global rollout to more businesses and creators which was announced in late-June
and many, many more!
There are also plenty of shopping features that are in closed beta and set to be released more widely this year — like Instagram Checkout and Shopping from Creators.
So it’s no wonder why businesses are investing in Instagram Shopping! Thanks to all of these features, businesses can build immersive digital storefronts to promote and sell their products directly on the app.
They can also market their products by partnering with influencers (via Instagram’s soon to be released Shopping for Influencers feature), getting products featured on the Explore page, running Instagram Shopping Ads, or by sharing Instagram posts and stories with product tags.
And these tactics work — according to internal data, 130 million Instagram accounts tap on a shopping post to learn more about products every month.
Instagram Shopping presents a huge opportunity for brands not only to influence and inspire shoppers but also to sell to them. If you’re an e-commerce brand looking to increase your online sales and you haven’t gotten started with Instagram Shopping yet, 2020 is definitely the year to do it.
Check out our Ultimate Guide to Instagram Shopping for tips on how to get set up with Instagram Shopping and convert more followers into customers.
Instagram Trends 2020 #2: Carousel Posts Level-up Information Sharing
Instagram has always been a place of inspiration, but in 2020 we’re seeing a real shift in informational content coming through!
And the best way to share detail-dense content on Instagram? With carousel posts!
With the ability to share up to 10 images in one post, carousels are the perfect tool for storytelling, as well as breaking down heavy information into digestible bites.
Carousels posts have long been popular with brands looking for a fun, yet detailed, way to show off their products. Brands like Supergoop have mastered the perfect carousel to not only highlight their products, but to also help followers make an educated purchasing decision:
But 2020 has seen a shift in brand sales and purchasing behavior, and in its place, Instagram has become a space for social awareness and education.
Throughout May (and beyond!) the Black Lives Matter Movement saw millions of informative and educational posts on Instagram. And the carousel post has never been more valuable for mass information sharing:
We’re seeing brands, creators, and influencers alike use Instagram as a place to educate, and we predict this “destination education” trend is going to stick around!
From how to support small business through COVID-19, to brand’s social missions, and deep-dives into detailed topics, the carousel post has been a great asset:
So if you’re a blogger, vlogger, or creator, it might be time to invest in carousel posts on Instagram and start micro-blogging your content!
If you want to save time with carousel posts, you can plan, schedule, and publish to Instagram with Later!
Just select your images from the Media Library, drag to when you want to post on the calendar, and schedule your post as normal from there!
Ready to get posting? Scheduling carousel posts is available on all paid plans.
Instagram Trends 2020 #3: Instagram Live Goes Mainstream
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to force people to stay inside, some pretty interesting trends have emerged on Instagram — like how everyone is suddenly flocking to Instagram Live.
And no, it isn’t just you! According to Facebook data, Instagram Live views increased by 70% from February to March 2020.
Of course, within the context of COVID-19, the sudden surge in live streaming makes a lot of sense.
Instagram Live broadcasts are one of the best ways to connect with your followers in a direct, transparent, and authentic way — especially when real-life get-togethers are impossible.
As brands and creators look for new ways to interact with their followers during lockdown, Instagram Live offers a practical, easy, and effectivey way to keep in touch.
Given this surge in live streaming, Instagram announced several new features for Instagram Live, including a new button to upload your Instagram Lives directly to IGTV when you’re done, the ability to watch live broadcasts on desktop, and support for businesses and creators with Instagram Live Shopping and Instagram Live Badges.
While shopping and badges are both still in closed beta, we expect them to drive even more Instagram Live usage in the coming months.
There’s no question that hosting a virtual event is a great way to provide a valuable service or entertainment for your audience to take part in, which can work wonders for building brand loyalty and trust.
Plus, you can strategically use your Instagram Live to promote your paid products or services and use Instagram Live’s built-in features to help drive traffic back to your site.
Looking for tips on how to communicate on social during COVID-19? Check out our guide here.
Instagram Trends 2020 #4: IGTV Takes Center Stage
IGTV has been on the up for some time now, but 2020 is the year the long-form video platform takes center stage!
Part of this can be linked to the improvements that Instagram made to IGTV last year, like allowing users to cross-promote their IGTV videos on Instagram and providing support for both vertical and horizontal videos.
But another major factor that is certain to drive-up usage even further is that creators can now start making money from IGTV with ads!
This is big news for the platform as it’s the first time creators will be able to make money directly from IGTV since its launch in 2018.
According to Instagram, the 15-second long IGTV ads will begin showing up in IGTV from a select group of partners and advertisers in the US with plans to continue expanding globally.
Look out for ads from brands like IKEA, Puma, Sephora this week as they, along with other test partners, will be the first to launch IGTV ads.
But even if you aren’t a creator, IGTV is a great channel to reach new audiences, grow your engagement, and even capture leads!
We even launched our very own IGTV series called Screen Time with Later where we recap the top trends, cultural moments, and social media news of the week!
Influencer marketing on IGTV is definitely a trend we expect to see more of in the future. And while a lot of brands are starting to take to IGTV, it definitely isn’t overloaded yet — meaning it’s a great time to get started with the platform and flex your video muscle!
Want to learn more about setting up an IGTV Series? We share everything we know in this blog post!
Instagram Trends 2020 #5: New Instagram Stickers to Support Small Businesses
There’s no denying that 2020 has already been a challenging year for small businesses and startups.
With so many businesses forced to close their doors and pause operations during lockdown and social distancing, Instagram became a lifeline for many brands to stay financially afloat.
And Instagram responded with a ton of great features and tools to help small businesses that went beyond shopping tools!
With the new Support Small Business sticker for Instagram Stories, people can mention the small businesses they love directly in the sticker to give their followers a preview of the account.
When people use the sticker, their story will be added to a shared Instagram story, so their followers can see it along with other businesses that people they follow are supporting.
And it didn’t stop there! Instagram also released new stories stickers and profile buttons for buying gift cards, ordering food, and donating to fundraisers.
When a user sees gift cards or food orders, they’ll be able to tap to make a purchase through a partner site — creating an opportunity for small businesses to offer affordable products for their following, while still delivering a service!
Almost overnight, Instagram saw a shift from the mega-brands holding center stage on feeds and stories, to small businesses and brands getting tons of exposure from their supportive community.
Facebook also announced its small business grants program, offering $100M in cash grants and ad credits to help during this challenging time.
This shift towards supporting small businesses is a welcome change in 2020, and one we hope will continue. Along with the new Instagram Stories stickers tailor-made for supporting small businesses and the expansion of Instagram Shopping to more creators and businesses, we’re excited to see how the Instagram community will work together to weather the storm.
You can find out more about small business challenges in 2020 (and how to overcome them!) in this blog post.
Instagram Trends 2020 #6: Instagram Challenges
From #FliptheSwitch to #TrickShot and #DontRush, 2020 has been the year of social media challenges — and not just on Instagram! TikTok has also been hugely important in driving the challenges trend.
But the biggest driver has been… well, quarantine life.
As more and more people stay home to flatten the curve, social media challenges have blown up as a way to stave off boredom while having fun with friends and family.
In fact, challenges have been so popular that Instagram created its very own challenge sticker for stories to streamline the process of giving and receiving nominations for challenges!
Now if you see a challenge you want to participate in while scrolling your friends’ stories, you can join instantly by tapping on the sticker.
This will bring you to the Instagram Stories camera where you can record your challenge and then nominate a few friends.
And while challenges are best suited for regular users, we’ve also seen a lot of brands take part in (and initiate their own) Instagram challenges.
Take the design app @over. Their monthly #OverDesignChallenge is a perfect fit for their community of design enthusiasts, while also increasing awareness of the app’s creative editing and design tools and features.
LA-based brand @cultgaia also jumped on the trend with their #cultgaialetsdance challenge.
For every dancing video posted on Instagram, CultGaia pledged a $25 donation to the No Kid Hungry charity.
Whether you’re simply taking part in a challenge or launching your own, Instagram challenges are a great way to keep boredom at bay while entertaining your followers!
Check out our guide on how to use Instagram challenges to grow your following. And don’t forget you can schedule all your Instagram challenges content in advance with Later!
Instagram Trends 2020 #7: Memes are Taking Over
Memes are really popular on Instagram — like really, really popular.
But that’s beginning to change.
In the last year or so, brands and businesses have also started jumping on the meme bandwagon, breaking away from the highly curated feeds of 2018 in lieu of something a little more authentic and a lot more fun.
It was really just a matter of time. Memes are meant to be relatable, relevant, and highly-shareable so they’re perfect for increasing engagement and even driving product interest.
Take @ritual for example. The modern vitamin brand often posts fun, pop-cultural memes that show off its ethos and brand values — all while engaging their audience in a relatable way.
The same is true for @hims. They often share playful memes that entertain their audience while drawing attention to their product in a peripheral way.
These are just a few ways that businesses can use memes on Instagram! Just remember that while they’re fun and super-versatile, it’s important to stay on-brand with the Instagram memes that you post.
Ready to jump on the meme bandwagon? Check out our guide on how to use Instagram memes to increase your engagement.
Instagram Trends 2020 #8: Branded AR Filters
Ever since Instagram opened Spark AR Studio in mid-2019, the platform has become inundated with artists and designers creating their own unique effects for Instagram Stories. And the results have been, well, pretty amazing!
In case you’re unaware, Spark AR Studio is an augmented reality platform for Mac & Windows that allows you to create AR effects for mobile cameras. Think of it like Photoshop or Sketch, but for augmented reality.
Until last year, if you wanted to submit your own custom AR effects on Instagram Stories, you had to be accepted to the closed beta program… but now anyone can create and submit effects!
And one of the biggest trends to emerge from this is branded AR effects.
Take @summerfridays for example. The skincare brand has several AR effects that you can access directly from their Instagram profile:
There are many reasons why AR can be a powerful marketing tool for businesses — but one of the biggest has to do with freedom of creativity.
There are countless applications for the technology: cosmetics brands can use AR to let their followers virtually “try on” makeup, furniture brands can use AR to show what their products would look like in people’s homes, and fashion brands can use AR to create virtual fitting rooms, allowing people to try on shirts, sunglasses, or entire outfits to see how it fits their shape and style.
Whether you’ve decided to create your own AR filter for your brand or incorporate some cool existing AR effects into your stories, it’s a great way to grow your account.
Check out our guide to Spark AR Studio for tips on how to use AR effects for business!
Hopefully, this Instagram trend report has sparked some creativity and you’re feeling ready to level-up your feed aesthetic and start experimenting with new content for your audience.
Did we miss anything? Let us know what Instagram trends you’re seeing in the comments below!
Want to start integrating some of these trends into your Instagram marketing strategy? Later makes it easy for you to plan, manage, and schedule your Instagram posts!