If you’ve been up-swiping, hearting, and trying out filters, you know what it means when we say that Instagram is taking the social internet by the reins. Just this year, we witnessed Instagram bringing out several new features to its mobile app, making room for enhancing its desktop counterpart, and reaching the 1.12 billion monthly user mark.

Oh, and this is besides releasing a new messaging app—Threads—and taking the social internet by storm for a while by creating the highly debated concept of hiding the likes count on posts. It’s been a whirlwind year, and it’s not even over yet. So what does all this mean for you and your business?

Opportunity. If your business has a working social media strategy in place and has Instagram in your sights, you might want to pay attention! Because 2020 is poised to be the year where marketing and ad-spends grow much bigger, and the network will likely make more legroom for brands and businesses to flourish, given its current growth trajectory. Recent stats from the network reveal that in just a matter of months, 130 million accounts are tapping their screens to reveal tags from Instagram Shopping posts. That’s a quick catch-on by any standards, and this will only drive revenue from Instagram marketing even higher.

So with these factors in mind, we isolated three key trends that can add meaning to your overall Instagram marketing strategy:

All you need to know about a business is right here on Instagram – With features like contact details, booking, and maps for outreach, Story highlights and posts for branding, and DMs for those who need customer support or wish to get in touch—Instagram is trying to be a self-contained customer experience platform. If your Instagram strategy is crucial for brand growth, ensure you check all these parameters and not focus on just the branding aspect of things, lest your marketing strategy becomes just an endless circulation of content, with zero optimization.

Instagram is positioning itself not just as a marketing channel, but a dedicated business tool – Seeing as the network is incorporating e-commerce and support, and testing out advanced marketing features like a separate platform for creators—among other things—it’s clear that the network is trying to cater to every business need. So running everything from Instagram is different from having a social media strategy that’s stretched to fit all the networks in your brand basket. It’s time to re-evaluate if your social media strategy is making the most of Instagram marketing features.

Threads is positioned as the “personal” offs-shoot Instagram, giving more impetus for brand marketing on the original app – Earlier this year Instagram launched a separate mobile app called Threads that may have underwhelmed a few—it only incorporated the personal messaging and status features of the main app, with the addition of a little more personal information like battery status and location. But this is crucial. It tells us that the network has divested it’s traditional outlook into this new app, paving way for Instagram to become more brand-centric.

This is evidenced by how the network has ensured that ads are no longer served only on feeds and Stories, but also on your Explore tab now. On their blog, Instagram has made this statement about the move: “Brands are an important part of the Instagram experience for people. Whether it’s shopping, catching up on Stories, or discovering the latest trends, we see people actively looking to connect with brands they like. That’s why, over the next few months, we’ll be introducing ads in the Explore feed.”

Takeaways for brands & marketers

So what can you—as a brand owner, or marketer, or social media strategist—make of this scenario to optimize your brand marketing game? Here are some quick practical pointers that’ll help guide your Instagram marketing with a wide-angle view on your brand strategy, as well.

Upgrade your mobile website’s performance

This has been the golden rule since social media became mobile-first. But we cannot emphasize enough the need to optimize your mobile webpages, now that Instagram is poised to increase the slice of traffic social media plays in webpage visits. This is not just your browsing audience, but your prospecting and purchasing audience, that you’re welcoming to your website. With relatively newer features—like Instagram’s shopping tabs and in-app product description pages routing a user to your mobile site—it becomes all the more crucial now.

Optimize your business for in-app shopping

In-app product pages, the store display tab (the shopping bag on the feed), and ads on the Explore tab—the list is steadily growing! Instagram has done everything to hint that they’re trying to keep more people on the app, with channel purchases from within their mobile platform itself.

Two things point to this: the choice of features that have been rolled out this year, and the rise in the number of mobile shoppers across the globe. And if this is going to be the flow of things, you must ensure your brand is capitalizing on it in every way.

  • Are your product pages set up right?
  • Have you updated product posts with price tags?
  • Have you experimented with positioning your ad on the Explore tab?

Make sure you check all these boxes in the coming year if you want to stay ahead of the Instagram curve.

Building more ephemeral content

It’s no surprise that Facebook really took to the stories format, replicating it across Instagram and WhatsApp, as well. But it’s not just them—pretty much every network is testing out some form of ephemeral content format for their platforms. LinkedIn is one example of a network that tested out the feature in late 2018, and now Twitter has announced that they would too be testing out disappearing tweets as a format.

The focus on short-term content not only indicates that marketers will have to get on the grind and produce more content, but also indicates that both organic and paid content may see some switching up in formats and styles in the months to come, if the Stories format is going to hog the rest of the social internet.

Product/service discovery has a social media pivot

This one is largely self-explanatory. More and more people are now geared towards hunting new brands and services on social networks, and it’s not a stretch to call social media the new search engine for brands. A whopping 80% of people on Instagram follow business profiles, to give you an exact idea, and this number is only poised to rise with the network initiating more features to help micro-businesses and give them an ease of doing business within the ecosystem.

Optimizing the Instagram bio 

While Instagram profiles aren’t currently very search-engine friendly, the introduction of alt text for images gives us an idea of what’s to come. A bio is the best real estate you get on Instagram to make an impression and it is an essential part of your brand marketing checklist.

Your bio is where you can tell your brand story, show off your brand personality, play with concepts, build intrigue, or simply announce yourself to the world. Focus on keeping it succinct, because remember—you’re elbowing around for space, sandwiched between all the many distracting things going on in a single page. If you want to learn what makes-up a killer social media bio for your business, you can refer to this guide that gives you multiple strategies to work with.

Instagram may be a fairly straight-forward network to position a brand on, but if its plethora of updates and expansions this year is anything to go by, it’s going to be attracting a lot more eyes – which will potentially make it a bigger challenge to retain your audience’s attention this year.

If you want a head-start on Instagram marketing, you can check out a social media tool that can help you plan and organize your content ahead of time and reach the right audience. Did we miss out on anything interesting in our Instagram marketing forecast? Drop your comment below and let us know, we’d love to hear from you!

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