The Year of the Instagram

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Forget about the Year of the Dog, 2018 is lining up to be the Year of the Instagram.

With new analytic tools and exciting features, this year’s shaping up to be the most sophisticated year for Instagram marketing yet. Whether you use Instagram for business, blogging, or just to stalk your favourite celebrity, we reckon that if you are going to do it, do it right.

So, without further ado here’s your essential guide to staying ahead of the latest trends and making sure your Instagram pops in 2018.

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Micro Influencers

From Zoella to Grumpy Cat, influencers have shaped the Instagram landscape as we know it today with their legions of adoring followers hanging on every word they say and more importantly every recommendation they make. Brands realised this very early on and have utilised it to their advantage over the past year by paying influencers to promote their products in a seemingly natural way (cue candid photo of model lying on the beach with her fake tan bottle perfectly placed).

In 2018 this is likely to change with brands looking to micro influencers, Instagrammers with 1K – 20K (roughly) followers as opposed to 100K+, to promote their products. Now, I’m not saying that this is going to be strictly unbiased promotion either, but there is something slightly more trustworthy about your average Joe recommending the latest fitness supplement that helped them achieve their goals, than a TV personality with 6-pack abs and a fleet of personal trainers and nutritionists.

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Follow Hashtags 

Tired of constantly typing in your favourite hashtag? I sure am. There are only so many times a guy can search #DogsOfInsta before he starts to question himself… Thankfully, that is now a thing of the past, with Instagram’s new follow a #hashtag feature. It allows users to effortlessly keep up to date with their favourite hashtags directly in their news feeds.

Personally, we think this is an absolute coup for Instagram and will save me valuable minutes (hours) of scrolling time. Cute dogs at you finger tips - what more could you want?!

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Shopping Feature

Are you ever browsing through your feed and think, “aww those shoes would look fabulous on me…”, but you can’t find them without hours of searching on the internet and let’s be honest who’s got time for that.

Well people, get ready for a revolutionary feature that will change the way you purchase your favourite items forever without ever having to leave Instagram. I give you, Shopify.

Brands simply tag the product / item of clothing with a description and price. The users can then click straight through to purchase their desired product without ever having to leave Instagram, simple.

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Story ads, the new secret weapon

Instagram’s copycat version of Snapchat’s stories skyrocketed in 2017 with over 300 million daily users, double that of rival Snapchat. Therefore, it will come as no surprise that this is becoming an essential part of any brand’s marketing strategy for 2018, with followers able to effortlessly see behind the scenes activity or the latest product line at the click of a button. So, don’t be afraid to be story happy this year, the more content the better.

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Boosted Posts 

Inevitably, like Facebook, the organic reach of your post will start to dwindle, especially for business pages with large followings. After all, it’s a business and like any business the ultimate goal is to make money, therefore, this comes at a cost to the user. It, unfortunately, is no longer enough to create quality content and send it out into the Instagram stratosphere to do its thing. You need to now put money behind your posts and target your key demographic in order to get your content seen. This is going to lead to paid advertising becoming a major part of your Instagram strategy with boosted posts being essential if you are wanting to reach your target audience.

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So long user generated content (UGC)

For any brand, quality user generated content is sold gold. Just look at Daniel Wellington, who, in my opinion have one of the best Instagrams around. They solely use UGC and it works wonders. Unfortunately, 2018 is looking like the year in which, that horrible word, legality comes into play. By this I mean you will not simply be allowed to repost UGC without permission. Instead, your brand will need to have a social media policy in place, ask permission and get approval before you can use this - excellent content stream.

Instagram are, however, finally testing a regram button which would allow brands to post UGC without any legal issues. But, until that fully comes into place be sure to ask permission before you post, you don’t want any PR disaster.

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All about the algorithms

As they say, stats don’t lie. And this is soon to become the case on Instagram with algorithms and analytics becoming your new best friends. With the new algorithms constantly lowering your organic reach and engagement it is essential that brands keep on top of their analytics, Instagram Insights API, to ensure they are maximising their content to its full potential. We have all felt the pain of a great post that took hours of care and attention only reaching 50 people, don’t let that happen again.

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Story Archive 

Now, I’m sure we all have Instagram stories we’d rather forget (the 3am kebab selfie) but for the majority they are treasured moments that until now would have been lost to the ages. Thankfully, the super brains at Instagram have now brought in a new feature, ‘Story Archive’, allowing you to save all of these cherished memories for you to peruse at your leisure. I don’t know about you, but I love this feature and it will certainly make for some interesting viewing come December 31st, 2018 as you look back on all those wonderful (some cringe worthy) memories of the year past.

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Sending your stories directly to WhatsApp 

Instagram are currently testing a new feature that will allow you to automatically transpose your Instagram stories straight to WhatsApp. This is likely to divide opinion with many sure to be all for the sleek integration between social platforms allowing you to effortlessly share your favourite stories directly with your chosen friends. However, the naysayers will find this an annoying feature that will see their group chats inundated with videos and pictures of their friend’s babies and long walks in the country with their partners (cue the shudder) which I’m sure we could all do without on a daily basis.

So, in closing I leave you with the always relevant words of social media expert and author Erik Qualman, “We don’t have a choice whether we DO social media, the question is how well we do it.”

Author William Corbett Photograph

William Corbett

Junior Strategist