Of all the social channels, Instagram has been the fastest growing and most innovative over the past year. In fact, it has added so many features recently that it’s been a major task to keep up with its evolution and understand the ways that they can be put to work within the marketing space. With that in mind, let’s take a look at how much Instagram has grown over the past year and what 2018 is set to bring.

Story time

Instagram Stories came and conquered all in 2017. The idea couldn’t really be called original (it’s just a variation of what Snapchat has been doing for a while now) but Instagram’s user base of 800 million loved it nevertheless. The format itself reached over 300 million daily active users: double the size of Snapchat’s audience.

So if 2017 was the year Instagram Stories took off with users and influencers, 2018 will be the year they become a major part of a brand’s social media marketing strategy. That’s in part because stories will continue to evolve: Instagram has already allowed stories to be saved to a user’s profile, meaning they no longer just disappear after 24 hours. You should also be able to do more with stories very soon, like schedule them. There are also plans for more accurate reporting on the performance of stories to be available by the year’s end.

If you haven’t developed an Instagram Story strategy for your brand yet, then do so or you risk missing out on a huge marketing opportunity.

Influencing using Influencers

Influencer marketing has become a key component of most brands’ marketing strategies, and Instagram has become the best channel for brands not only to identify the influencers they want to work with but also to leverage that relationship to showcase products. That’s in part due to the size of the audience bloggers can build on the channel, but also the extent to which this audience engages with the people they follow. Even influencers who have a relatively small following can be valuable for a brand, as they tend to retain higher levels of engagement.

In 2018 we can expect to see a huge growth in the way brands use these micro influencers to promote their products. Posts that feature a product will receive more positive engagement on a micro influencer’s feed because of the level of trust these influencers are able to engender with their followers. As the volume and variety of these influencers increases and a larger number of brands are able to drive sales through this type of activity, influencer marketing is likely to proliferate significantly.

In addition to more brands entering the influencer arena, those already engaged with this activity are also likely to increase their activities: according to Later, 86% of businesses that currently partner with influencers on Instagram will look to partner with more in 2018.

Keep creating

In terms of the types of content you can create on Instagram, 2017 was a very exciting year. Stories took off, Instagram Live evolved and carousel posts launched. Despite new innovations like Stories and the rise of influencer marketing, brands plan to focus most on creating original content in 2018, over videos and live broadcasts, according to Later. Even when discounting its newer innovations, Instagram is a fantastic channel for creating engaging, innovative content due to its range of filters and external tools like Boomerang and Layout. As most marketers consider creating content for the Instagram feed still to be incredibly important, the channel will continue to innovate in this area, with one big change potentially being right on the horizon…

Re-posting made easy

Re-posting content has always been a bit of a chore on Instagram. On channels like Twitter, you can just hit the re-tweet button on a piece of content you like and it’s then posted to your timeline, with a little comment added if desired. In order to share content on Instagram, you have to use a completely separate tool, like Repost or Regram. However, that could all be about to change.

It has been suggested that Instagram is testing a re-gram button, which will act basically like Twitter’s re-tweet button or Facebook’s share function. This would streamline the process of sharing content you like, which should prove popular, and help ensure that appropriate credit is given to the user whose content has been re-grammed, which sometimes doesn’t happen at the moment. There’s no current timeline for the feature being rolled out but as Instagram are apparently actively testing it, the button should appear in the first half of 2018. Clearly the potential for this change to drive increased viral content distribution is substantial.

Instagram’s trend line to keep going up

2017 was a big year for Instagram: its user base soared, its biggest new feature was a smash hit and it continued to innovate and make the channel better for its users and the brands who advertise on it. Based on the evidence available, it looks like 2018 might yield more of the same.

Some stats were taken from the Later Instagram marketing report, click here to download the report.

Rob Kearsey
Social Media Executive