Will Blunt is the founder of Sidekick Digital by Will Blunt - B2B Marketing Expert - Sidekick Digital, a publishing business that launches, manages, and grows brands with content marketing.
With 90% of users following a business on Instagram and over 80% discovering new products and services on the platform - it’s business-critical to get your gram-strategy on point.The challenge with Instagram is that it is constantly evolving. Tactics that were effective only a few months ago may not get the same engagement today.Instagram’s algorithm and app design is constantly changing as they test and analyze activity data to create the most addictive user experience possible.So, what Instagram trends do you need to be aware of this holiday season?Let’s take a look...
#1. Make it all about the algorithm(s)
There’s a lot of discussion about Instagram’s ‘algorithm’ (singular) - when in reality, there is more than one algorithm at work.“Instagram doesn’t have one algorithm that oversees what people do and don’t see on the app. We use a variety of algorithms, classifiers, and processes, each with its own purpose.”One or many, the algorithms are still the holder of all secrets to being discovered and getting engagement on the platform.But how do the Instagram algorithms work, and why are they listed in a ‘trends’ article?The thing is, Instagram is regularly tweaking its algorithms to favor content that users are most likely to engage with. They’re also giving special attention to new features they release, such as Reels.Each part of the app uses a unique algorithm to showcase the most relevant and exciting content:
A post about Instagram's algorithms.
It may sound overwhelming to think that you need to create content based on numerous algorithms, but some consistent best practices apply across the board.In short, the more engagement you get in terms of likes, clicks, and comments, the more people will discover it - regardless of whether it’s a Reel, a Story, a video, or a photo. In saying that, each type of content requires slightly different approaches to achieve those things!
#2. Go big on Reels
As I mentioned above, Instagram is currently favoring Reels with its Explore algorithm because it is a new feature they’re trying to promote. There is now also a Reels icon in the main navigation of the Instagram app.Put simply, Reels are the trending Instagram content of the moment. If you master the art of these highly entertaining micro-videos, you’re bound to engage a huge new audience this holiday season.Interestingly, Reels can now be up to one minute long after originally being capped at 15 seconds. This is an example of Instagram altering the user experience and something you should keep your eye on when it comes to Reels.Looking for some Reels inspiration?This video from Netflix uses a simple lettered voting strategy to increase engagement which will ultimately improve the discoverability of the Reel:
View ReelSpotify, on the other hand, use Reels to feature artists and create a personal connection with its audience:
View ReelWhat can you learn from these two examples? Reels need to have a personal touch. Real people with genuine stories perform the best.
#3. Be an identity first brand
Leading on from the Spotify and Netflix examples, brand personality is becoming more and more important on social media. Your customers want to see the faces behind the brand, hear your story, and connect with WHY you exist.Truly authentic brands that are cut from the same cloth as their customers will shine this holiday season. It’s all about dropping your walls and connecting on a personal level. Your products and services are secondary to the emotional connection you have with your customers.Virgin is one brand that shines the light on its staff members regularly on Instagram, especially in their Stories content:
Virgin shining the light on its employees on InstagramTake a leaf out of Virgin’s book this holiday season and show off the people behind your brand.
#4. Take it live
Instagram Live is not new, but it’s definitely trending. Instagram even doubled down on this feature earlier in the year by allowing you to go live with up to three people in a ‘Live Room.’They encourage creators and brands to run Q & A sessions, host a talk show, give product demonstrations, or just hang out with each other live on the platform. It’s an effective way for brands to collaborate with complementary businesses or influencers because you gain exposure to each attendee’s audience during the live video.
Instagram LiveLive videos on Instagram are featured in the Stories section, so they have prominent positioning and include a ‘Live’ icon that increases the chance of someone viewing it.Consider going live with your team, partner brands, or ambassadors this holiday season.
#5. Use Stickers as links in Stories
For as long as I can remember, you could add links to Stories with the ‘swipe up’ feature. I bet you’re familiar with it. However, only users with over 10k followers could use the feature to send people to an external URL.Well, Instagram is changing things up. As of the 30th of August this year, you can add links to Stories using the clickable link sticker feature. ‘Swipe up’ is still available, but for how long, we don’t know - it’s due to be retired. Link stickers look like this:
Sticker links in StoriesYou’ll still need 10k followers to use this feature, for now, but Instagram is planning to test clickable link stickers with accounts of all sizes. A game-changer for brands that don’t meet the 10k criteria.If link stickers are available to your brand, they are a must this holiday season. Use them to promote important URLs on your website, such as product pages, landing pages for giveaways, flash sales, and more.
#6. Don’t forget the essentials
It’s easy to get swept up in the latest trends and de-prioritize the basics of Instagram marketing. Of course, it’s important to test out Instagram’s new features so you can keep pace with the algorithms. But some things will never go out of fashion - such as quality content, personable responses, and Instagram giveaways.Giveaways are particularly relevant around the holiday rush because they are ideally suited to increase engagement (likes and comments) and subsequently increase the discoverability of your posts. Research by Tailwind found that Instagram giveaways helped grow accounts 70% faster than those that don’t use them.We still recommend creating a landing page for your giveaway, even if it is in the comment-to-enter format so that people will visit your website - increasing brand recall considerably.This Instagram giveaway from Golde, a superfoods brand, is an excellent example of how you can partner with complementary brands to grow the reach of your account. In fact, Golde is regularly running giveaways on Instagram - it’s no surprise they’ve accrued over 100k followers.
Instagram giveaway from GoldeView and Create Your OwnThink about who you can partner with this holiday season for a giveaway of your own. But don’t get lost in the noise of new tips and tricks - focus on the essentials first!
There you have it, 6 Instagram trends that will set you up for success on the social platform for the holidays.Even if you don’t use all of these tactics to engage with your customers, make an effort to do something out of the ordinary this year. Sure, get the fundamentals right first. But open your brand up to the world of Reels, clickable Stickers, and live video. You won’t regret it!
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