Instagram has become one of the top four social media channels. If brands want to meet consumers where they are, having a presence on Instagram is a must.

As a visually-driven platform, the rules for Instagram are totally different than they are for Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. And as is the case with any digital marketing channel, things move fast, and the rules change quickly. What worked on Instagram two years ago is likely passé today.

While we’re highlighting the top marketing trends in 2020, Instagram is a must to cover. Here we’ll detail what you need to know about Instagram in 2020 to help you get the most out of your Instagram marketing campaigns this year.

Create a Business Account

The Instagram business account is not a new thing ““ Instagram introduced the feature in 2016 ““but I’m always surprised to find there are brands out there who still don’t use it. If you’re one of those businesses, now is the time to switch from a personal account to a business profile.

A business account allows you to access analytics so that you can measure your posts’ performance. It makes it easier for followers to contact you and find your business offline. And it allows you to create paid ads if you so choose (more on that later).

Converting from a personal to a business account is super easy ““ one click is all it takes. Then go through the steps to add your contact information, change your profile picture to your logo so that it’s easy for those who know your business to identify the profile as yours, and you’re good to go!

Forget the Overly-Edited Images

When Instagram first started out, the aesthetic was all about heavily-edited images. Every post was tweaked to look picture-perfect, and brands would hide any flaws behind a Valencia or Lark filter.

Today, airbrushed and too-perfect images are a thing of the past. Instead, the Instagram trend is like Alicia Keys’ no makeup-makeup. Which is to say, people still edit their photos, but with a light enough hand that they appear to be unedited.

People are turning to Instagram and other social platforms for authenticity. Social media is a way for a business to show the unvarnished truth behind the brand, and that’s now reflected in the types of images people expect to see.

Take Advantage of Stories

Instagram stories have been around since 2016, but some brands are still unsure of how to use the feature. They put all their energy into creating posts and forget about stories altogether, but to do so is to miss out on a huge opportunity. The popularity of stories isn’t waning; in fact, 70% of Instagram users watch stories daily.

The great thing about Instagram stories is that they’re always featured at the top of users’ Instagram feeds. That means, if your brand is consistently creating and sharing stories, you’re always going to be one of the first things people see when they open up their Instagram app.

Stories are also a great place to share user-generated content. By reposting content created by fans who have shouted you out on social media, you gain a wider reach for those posts and build a rapport with your fans by sharing their content on your profile. It’s a win-win!

But the value of stories goes beyond that initial post, which only lasts for 24 hours. You can also create story highlights, which live on your Instagram profile forever. You can create categories for these highlights and save relevant stories to each of the sections.

For example, let’s say you run a home remodeling business. You can create a set of highlights that feature before-and-after shots of different types of rooms you’ve redone”“one highlights for kitchens, one for bathrooms, one for basement rec rooms, and so on. Adding highlights is just another way to cram more information about your brand onto your Instagram profile.

Use Instagram’s Video Features

From live video to IGTV, Instagram allows users to create video content in a variety of formats. And as we’ve seen the video trend take off across all marketing channels, it only makes sense to embrace video on this highly-visual social platform.

Instagram live allows brands to create live video and interact with followers in real-time. Live videos can serve a number of purposes.

You can do Q&As or webinars, positioning yourself as a thought-leader and resource for information. Go live at events or conferences to give your followers a behind-the-scenes look at proceedings. Or consider using live video when you’re launching a new product or service to announce the date it will drop and let followers join in on the excitement of launch day.

Instagram’s newest video feature, IGTV, allows you to get even more creative with video on the platform. IGTV started in 2018, and it allows you to post longer-format video. While video posts are limited to one minute, IGTV allows you to upload content that’s up to 60 minutes long.

IGTV is a great way to capture even more of your audience’s attention. You can reel them in with a teaser of the IGTV video on their feeds, and if your content is compelling enough from the start, they’ll click through to watch the rest of IGTV.

The more face-time you can get with consumers, the better. Finding ways to use these longer-form videos can be highly beneficial for your brand.

Craft Effective Captions

Getting smart about your Instagram captions is another way to grow your following. Instagram only displays the first two lines of text before viewers need to click to expand the caption, so leading with strong content that entices your audience to click to read more (or keeping things short) is the best way to go.

There has also been a shift in the way to handle Instagram hashtags. For many years, a debate raged on about whether marketers should put hashtags in the captions themselves or instead include hashtags in the first comment on the post. Research has settled the debate once and for all and found that, except for very large brands with over 100,000 followers, you’re better off putting the hashtags in the caption. So if you’ve been doing things the other way around, 2020 is the year to switch that up!

Use Paid & Organic Tactics

There’s a lot that you can do with organic tactics on Instagram. But as with other digital marketing channels, a combined paid and organic approach is always your best bet.

By establishing a business profile, you can boost content that performs well organically, showing that popular content to a new, broader audience. You can also create paid ads, either in the form of posts or stories. When you set specific goals and have a plan in place to measure results with meaningful metrics, these ads can do wonders for your brand.

Instagram isn’t going anywhere. But the platform is changing, and what worked on Instagram marketing last year might not cut it in 2020. By staying on top of the latest marketing trends and taking advantage of new features and tools on the platform, you can grow a following and attract real, meaningful attention for your brand.

If you’re looking for a partner to help you do it, we should chat.

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