The end of 2018 is almost nigh, so many of us are looking ahead to what 2019 may hold.

Instagram has enjoyed a fabulous year in 2018. Since its launch in 2010, it’s grown year on year and reached an important milestone in June this year when it notched up 1 billion monthly users. It’s fair to say that it’s become one of the most powerful and influential of all the social media platforms.

No doubt the popularity and reach of Instagram will continue to grow in 2019, and whilst we don’t have a crystal ball to be able to see into the future, there are certainly some features or updates that you can expect to see in place next year:

  1. Instagram stories – these aren’t going away any time soon. In fact, they’re getting bigger! It all fits in with the trend of people now looking at video as opposed to static images. If you’re not already embracing Instagram stories, then you really need to. Stories are a combination of video & images that disappear after 24 hours – and everyone who’s anyone is using them. It can be of huge benefit to your brand, helping your business appear in the “Explore” section which could help you gain new followers you hadn’t previously reached.
  2. Instagram TV – IGTV was launched in June this year, giving users access to video content that’s up to an hour long. It’s dedicated to vertical videos (something we didn’t see at all just a few years ago) that is suitable for watching easily on a smartphone – and that’s no coincidence. With most people accessing online material through their mobile devices it makes perfect sense to work within a mobile format. Some say Instagram TV will be the new YouTube in 3-5 years so by jumping on the bandwagon now, getting comfortable with the format and being present at this early stage will mean you’re ahead of the game.
  3. Hashtags – as with the previous couple of points, these aren’t going anywhere. It’s likely that in 2019 we’ll see even more people following specific hashtags so they can keep up with what’s going on in subjects they’re interested in.
  4. Filters – hot on the heels of Snapchat, Instagram filters have become a firm feature of the platform. Watch out for polaroid effects and some brands developing their very own filters too. Kylie Jenner did exactly that for her 121 million followers to be able to “try” her new lipstick shades for themselves by using her filter. Features such as augmented reality filters will enable you to be able to virtually place that new sofa in your living room to see if it works in your own space. Clever stuff and it works – it could make all the difference in the ultimate buying decision. Even on a more simple level, you can use filters to create a “look” for your brand by deciding on the right filter for your brand personality, then using it for every image that you post. It’s an ideal way to showcase your style.
  5. Shopping on Instagram – as we’re talking of buying, you’ll notice shopping on Instagram becoming much bigger. You’ll need to think carefully about what you want your links to achieve before you embark on a strategy as different approaches work for different reasons. If you’re simply wanting to get a greater reach and increase your followers then try using Instagram stories with the option to swipe up to best effect. If you’re wanting to make a direct sale of your products then direct buy links in your feed are likely to be more effective. It’s about having a strategy – an end game – and working with the most effective tools within the platform to achieve it.
  6. Engagement – everyone wants to engage more with their audience – or they should do! Making the most of the tools on Instagram that help with engagement is key. These include asking questions with the option for your audience to give their answer, using the emoji slider or even running a poll. Think of it as reaching out to your customer and not just asking them what they think, but showing everyone what their thoughts are too. You’re showing your audience that you care about what they think. Even better, you should then show them how you’ve taken what they’ve said on board and done something with their feedback. It’ll help raise your brand awareness and loyalty.
  7. Emojis will still be all the rage – the library of emojis grows & grows with each new software update! Around half of all comments on posts contain emojis, and they’re searchable too so people can look out for particular emojis as they browse Instagram. Having an emoji that works well for your business can not only help indicate emotions but can help people find you. Clearly the use of emojis needs to be appropriate for your kind of business – for example, if you’re a financial or legal business, using emojis will take away from your professionalism and not be suitable. It’s also worth bearing in mind that the meaning behind emojis isn’t necessarily universal so choose your emoji wisely!

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