Wondering what the big Instagram predictions are for 2018?

Last week we shared our top Instagram marketing trends of 2018 and published a report on the State of Instagram Marketing in 2018. In this post, we’ve rounded up a few expert takes on what’s to come for Instagram marketing this year!

There’s no question that focus will continue to be on growing your reach on Instagram — especially as organic reach seems to be a thing of the past. Optimizing content performance and investing in paid advertising will be a crucial part of your Instagram marketing strategy this year.

Here are our experts’ top Instagram predictions for 2018:

Instagram Predictions #1: Instagram Stories Will Be More Important Than Ever in 2018

When Instagram Stories first launched in 2016, it gave brands a new and effective way to connect with their followers. As Instagram Stories continues to grow in popularity, it’s no surprise that many of our expert Instagram predictions included insights on this popular feature.

Chelsea Foy, founder of @lovelyindeed told us, “At first I was pretty hesitant about Instagram Stories, but I’ve embraced it and it’s become not only a key part of my strategy but a really fun part of my day! I love the interactive nature of it and the more personal connection I can make with people via their story responses. I plan on utilizing the story tool lots more this year, and leveraging it to create community, drive traffic to my other endeavors, and more.”

Nick Dimichino, a social media lead at Square predicts, “Stories will become the new Instagram — it’s already at the top of your feed, it’s tougher to get space in feed with organic content, and as users and posts continue to balloon, all content is vying for the same real estate. Stories is the future (but also, the now).”

A feature we saw debuted in December last year, Instagram Stories Highlights, is also expected to make waves in 2018.

Southern California photographer, Arielle Vey (@ariellevey) comments, “Stories are my absolute favorite and I plan to do more of them this year! More specifically, Story Highlights have been so interesting to curate on both a business and personal level. I’m looking forward to using stories and highlights as a lighthearted format to further engage with my followers on a more spontaneous basis.”

Nick Dimichino is also a fan of the new feature, commenting, “Story Highlights have changed the game — we’re planning on doing a lot more with Stories, using the Highlights format to showcase our sellers, share tips and tricks, educate business owners, and detail our products and offerings.”

Businesses and popular influencers like Marianna Hewitt are already adding multiple Instagram Stories Highlights to their profile to showcase their brand, drive traffic, and sell products. If you’ve haven’t used the feature yet, check out our guide on how to use Instagram Stories Highlights to wow your customers!

Jen Joyce, a social media marketer, believes that Instagram Stories will stick around as users are looking for more authenticity. “Instagram Stories is going to be huge in 2018. Content that is so quick to leave the space creates an urgency for people to consume it. It’s a great way to be more human and authentic, rather than just being a beautifully put-together Instagram feed. We don’t need to be perfect on Instagram Stories, and people connect more with that.”

Evan LePage, managing editor at Destination Canada, says “I expect Stories will come to dominate the time and effort of marketers on Instagram. I wouldn’t be surprised to see volume of images and videos posted the traditional way decrease, while Stories get longer and more complex.”

In 2018, you can expect Instagram Stories to continue to dominate and become an essential part of your Instagram marketing strategy.

Instagram Predictions #2: Instagram Ads Will Become a Critical Part of Your Instagram Marketing Strategy

With continued changes to the Instagram algorithm and heightened competition to have your content be seen, Instagram ads will become a critical part of your Instagram marketing strategy, whether you’re an influencer or business. As organic reach continues to decline, you’ll need to begin using Instagram advertising (if you haven’t already) to get more engagement and reach on your posts.

While it was mainly businesses that used Instagram ads in the past, “boosting” posts will soon become the norm for everyone.

Thea Neal, social media leader at Hallmark, predicts that ads will become a crucial part of social strategy, commenting, “My biggest prediction: See ya, organic reach. Brands have gotten sucked in with the current algorithm, and just like with Facebook, we’ll see a giant reach drop so that the platform can make more money. It’s good business for them, bad business for us.”

Jenny McCoy, a digital strategy consultant noted, “In 2017, Instagram ads shifted from being a mostly additive component of my media plans to becoming a hero placement for objectives throughout the funnel for many brands. I think Instagram will steal a larger share of media plans in 2018 and I hope that this increased investment in and development of paid strategies will also mean that brands who are not a natural fit organically can ease off on the widespread vanity growth hacking obsession.”

According to a recent report, 75 percent of Instagram users take action, such as visiting a website or making a purchase, after looking at Instagram ads.

McCoy also commented, “It’s okay if growing a community on the platform is not right for your brand. You can shift those resources to paid to reach consumers and drive results for your business.”

Not sure where to start? Check out our Step-by-Step Guide to Running Instagram Ads.

Instagram Predictions #3: There Will Be a Much Larger Focus on Video Content This Year

Instagram allows users to upload videos between 3-60 seconds in length, and when video posts were first introduced, more than 5 million were shared in 24 hours. Instagram’s video engagement numbers grew by 53% in May from the year before. This surpasses the 46% growth rate that photo posts received in the same timeframe.

Many brands such as Lush Cosmetics have incorporated video content into their Instagram marketing strategy:

Creating video content specifically for Stories will also be a new focus in the new year, especially as Instagram Stories ads continue to gain popularity.

Tom Windeknecht, popular minimalist photographer and content creator plans to add more videos and animations to his Instagram marketing strategy, and he believes they will continue to grow in popularity.

Marissa Berrini of the popular account, @my.unicorn.life also plans to make the dive into video. She notes, “It’s something I’ve pushed away because I find it challenging but hey if you don’t push yourself then you won’t grow, right? I’m excited to move more into sharing my art and finding new ways to express what means the world to me.”

While photo ads will likely retain their top spot in 2018, the number of businesses that plan to use Instagram video ads nearly double since last year, from 20% to 38%.

Instagram Predictions #4: Finding Creative Ways To Keep Up With Instagram Algorithm Changes

Many of our Instagram experts expressed their hope for Instagram to go back to a chronological feed. However since there’s still no sign of turning back the clock, a few of our experts predict that users will continue to look for new and unique ways to optimize their content and make sure their posts are being seen.

Cassey Ho of @blogilates says that the feature she would most like to see in 2018 is the return of the chronological feed, however she notes, “But that’s not going to happen, seeing that extra engagement will most likely need to be supported by paid reach. So, I’d like to see trending hashtags come back. It was fun seeing what random national holidays were hot that day!”

Marissa Berrini says, “I feel like 2018 will be the year we’ll see people reset their approach to curation. The last couple of months I’ve seen content creators sharing their views about the challenges of Instagram’s algorithm and how discouraging it’s been for them, especially for small businesses. Some are taking this hurdle as an opportunity to find new ways to expand their community. This past year pods were created to fight back. I believe we’ll see more of these workarounds in 2018.”

Berrini also commented, “If Instagram doesn’t want to go back to the old days, at least create the option for us to see things in the order they were posted. I think that’s a nice compromise, right?”

Elizabeth Gilmore, senior brand designer at Intercom believes that with the recent updates, it’s more important than ever to be raw, uncensored, and real. She commented, “I also think that as the platform continues to monetize, we’re going to keep getting bombarded by sponsored ads and branded content. This is just inevitable but as creators it’s even more important to be aware of it and work harder to express a unique perspective on what we think is beautiful or shareable.”

Chelsea Foy (@lovelyindeed) advises, “We’re going to need to find creative ways to drive followers to the fresh content on our feeds, using Stories, cross-promotion, and any other avenues we can find. Creativity and resourcefulness is going to be key!

Caroline Lee (@teamwoodnote) recognized younger users for thinking outside the box with content creation stating, “Gen Z starts getting really noticed for the content they’re creating. And it is weird, but so good. Not highly curated, but still very intentional.”

Instagram Predictions #5: Shopping Options Will Become Even More Prominent in 2018

Shopping on Instagram is expected to continue to explode throughout the year. In 2017, Instagram graced us with the ability to add links to Instagram Stories, which was great news for retail brands and publishers.

Evan LePage predicts that ecommerce will become even more prominent on Instagram in 2018. “As Instagram introduces more tools for sharing links and advertising, soon enough many of our online shopping experiences will start with an Instagram story or post,” he says.

Nick Dimichino couldn’t agree more. “Shopping will blow up even more and brands will begin to view Instagram as a digital sales catalog (especially obvious verticals like fashion, beauty, food, tech, and maybe even CPG),” he says.

As noted in our State of Instagram Marketing Report, while 2017 saw a big focus on increasing brand awareness, 2018 could be the year that Instagram fully transforms into a sales channel, with more businesses than ever focusing on Instagram advertising, influencer marketing, and product promotion.

Instagram Predictions #6: Instagram Will Continue to Roll Out New and Exciting Features

In 2017 we saw a variety of new features launched on Instagram, making it easier for users to share content and connect with their audiences. Experts predict the platform will continue to expand with new tools and capabilities in 2018:

Nick Dimichino says, “Instagram is likely trying to figure out a way to create virality on their platform. A lot of its most popular accounts share screenshots of tweets, which have gone viral in their own right on Twitter. Instagram wants creators creating on their platform, so giving the average person (or brand) the power to post something that can grow well beyond its followers will be a key to expanding the platform.”

Ana Linares (@ananewyork) comments, “Would love to see a more targeted newsfeed organized by categories with a search tool like Pinterest, where you can search accounts you already follow within travel, fashion, food categories for example. Would make it way more interesting!”

Tom Windeknecht adds, “I would love to see the ability to have a “Favorites” group. This way, I could keep all of the people that I LOVE to see and comment on, in a group and see when they posted. I currently use Post Notifications for these people, but sometimes they get lost with all of the other notifications going on.”.

There’s no doubt 2018 will be another big year for Instagram marketing, and we can’t wait to see what’s next for the platform!  Have any Instagram predictions of your own this year? Let us know in the comments!

Want to get the most out of your Instagram account this year? Later is the #1 Instagram marketing platform that helps you plan, schedule, and optimize your Instagram posts!


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