Want to improve your marketing results? Have you taken advantage of the latest wave of Instagram innovations?
In this article, you'll discover emerging trends that you can put to work in your marketing plans right away.
#1: Paid Marketing Partnerships on Instagram
Instagram has long been a popular platform for influencer marketing and the built-in paid partnership tool makes it easy for creators to tag sponsored content. For example, this post from @mrsoaroundtheworld uses a Paid partnership tag to disclose the relationship between the creator and the featured brand, @visitcalifornia.
As channels like Facebook advertising grapple with privacy and tracking issues, brands will likely consider devoting more resources to influencer marketing. After all, influencer marketing requires no third-party tracking and can cultivate relationships that contribute to long-term brand growth.
In October 2021, Instagram began teasing a series of creator-focused tools that confirm the platform's continued dedication to influencer marketing. For instance, it's currently testing a separate direct message (DM) folder for partnerships, a nod to the platform's continued dedication to influencer marketing.
Instagram is also testing a preferred brands feature that allows creators to develop a list of companies they'd like to partner with. When brands search for potential partners in the Instagram app, they can prioritize these approved creators to streamline their influencer marketing programs. This feature is likely to make partnerships much simpler in 2022.
Taking sponsored content a step further, brands can now repurpose select content from creators in their advertising materials. That means you can use tagged content from creators who have selected your business as a trusted brand partner. If you want to add more authentic content to your 2022 ad campaigns, this tool is a good place to start.
Instagram Collab Feature
What if you want to create content with a brand or an influencer instead of just featuring their work? Co-branded posts can be great for driving discovery and improving brand awareness. But until recently, Instagram didn't make it particularly easy to create content with influencers or other brands—aside from tagging another account.
Starting in October 2021, Instagram rolled out a new Collab feature to all users. Now your brand can add a collaborator to any feed post or reel to credit both accounts.
To add a collaborator to a photo or video, start creating content with your normal workflow. Then click Tag People and tap Invite Collaborator. Search for and select your collaborator so you can send an invitation.
When your collaborator accepts the invitation, both of your account names and profile pictures will display on the content. The content will also appear on both of your profiles and possibly in the feeds of both accounts' followers.
Instagram Affiliate Program
Instagram hasn't yet provided options for creators to earn income at the level that YouTube and TikTok do. But as of October 2021, Instagram has begun testing a native affiliate program that allows influencers to build an Instagram shop featuring their preferred products. Affiliate shop creators would earn a commission from each purchase.
This earning opportunity would be a clear perk for creators. But a native affiliate program could also benefit brands, as it could generate additional revenue and increase the return on investment from influencer relationships. Additionally, this native program may eliminate the need for a third-party affiliate program, which could streamline the partnership and commission processes for both brands and creators.
#2: Consumer-Sourced Instagram Marketing Content
It's hard to overstate how important authentic content is for brands. An overwhelming percentage of consumers consider authenticity essential when deciding which brands to support. But few consumers think of branded content—or the images and video your team produces in-house—as authentic. That's why it's essential to seek out creators outside your business.
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Sharing influencer content can certainly add a more genuine look to your feed. But influencer partnerships aren't the only solutions your brand should consider. You can also look for user-generated content (UGC) made by fans and customers.
Because many consumers consider UGC more impactful than influencer content and it affects their buying decisions, it's an increasingly critical component of your brand's Instagram strategy.
Thanks to Instagram's tagging and hashtagging features, finding UGC is relatively easy. To collect UGC, you can look for content in which creators have tagged your brand. Alternatively, you can create a branded hashtag that customers can use to submit their content. No matter which option you choose, always credit the original creator and confirm permission to share when possible.
For example, this @potterybarn post includes a hashtag that customers can use for a chance to be featured on the brand's account. The #mypotterybarn hashtag currently has more than 180,000 posts, giving the brand tons of UGC to share in its Instagram feed.
#3: Instagram Live Shopping
When it comes to eCommerce tools, affiliate shops are just the beginning of Instagram's new and soon-to-launch offerings. With the platform's Shop feature, your brand can build a digital storefront right in the Instagram app. Then you can add shopping stickers to your stories or tag products and collections in your feed posts—much like the @potterybarn example above.
To make shopping more interactive, businesses with an Instagram shop can now host live shopping events too. You can use these live experiences to showcase new product lines, show customers how to use your products, or even collaborate with other businesses. You can tag featured products, making it easy for customers to shop.
For example, this @thetinytassel Instagram live shopping event featured a collaboration with @evelyn_henson and highlighted a range of seasonal products. Customers could click the View Products link to browse the featured collection and save or purchase through the creator's Instagram shop.
With livestreaming, your brand can create more immersive experiences for customers. But you don't have to close out the experience when your live shopping event ends. Instead, Instagram allows you to save the content so you can continue to get value from it.
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Select live shopping events automatically appear in the Recent section of the Live tab in Instagram's Shopping portal. Your brand's live shopping content can also appear on the Video tab of your profile so followers can continue to watch it long after the stream wraps.
If you're looking for a way to promote your shop and create content that continues to drive business in 2022, live shopping may be a smart choice.
#4: Instagram Video Everywhere
From Reels to Stories to Live, Instagram has leaned heavily into short-form and livestreamed video in 2021.
In October 2021, Instagram announced the imminent retirement of IGTV, its long-form video platform. IGTV videos have since integrated with feed videos and now both appear together on a single tab in your Instagram profile.
That doesn't necessarily signal a step away from long-form content. In fact, it might indicate the opposite. If you've ever felt frustrated by the platform's now-defunct time limits—60 seconds for feed videos and 15 minutes for IGTV (uploaded via a mobile device)—you'll be happy to learn you have much more time to work with now.
All accounts can now create feed videos that are up to 60 minutes long. That means you have even more space—and a dedicated tab—to get creative with long-form video. Because tapping on videos will soon activate full-screen viewing and scrolling, long-form video could become even more worthwhile to invest resources.
For example, this @misfitsmarket video is more than 2 minutes long; ample time to walk users through creating a seasonal recipe with the brand's produce. The link in the brand's bio directs users to Misfits Market's website, where they can access the full recipe.
If you want to create short-form videos that don't disappear from your profile like stories do, Reels should be a key component of your strategy. Ever since the launch of Reels in 2020, Instagram has rapidly rolled out new features to compete with platforms like TikTok.
For instance, you can tag products to make them shoppable, add partnership tags for transparency, or tag collaborators. Instagram also launched a Remix feature, which allows creators to make collaborations, reaction videos, challenges, and pursue other creative ideas.
If you want to reach more customers with Reels in 2022, you may want to consider more than organic content alone. Advertisers can now create sponsored Reels, which appear between organic reels. Because sponsored reels are still relatively new, the space is less cluttered, which could lead to better results for your business.
To create a sponsored reel, navigate to Facebook Ads Manager. Create a new campaign and select ad placements manually. Choose Reels and set your targeting parameters. Then upload a video (up to 30 seconds) or use the available templates to produce a new one.
Bonus: 2 Emerging Instagram Marketing Features to Watch For
Here are a few more Instagram marketing features to look for in 2022.
Do you want to generate buzz around an upcoming product launch? In May 2021, Instagram announced a new feature just for you. Instagram Drops lets brands tease new product lines, increase awareness, and generate interest before they become available for purchase.
Although drops can certainly pique the interest of your current customers, they can also drive discovery and attract new customers. Like live shopping events, drops have their own tab in Instagram's Shopping portal, helping them stand out and capture attention.
For example, this @adidasoriginals drop highlights a new collaboration between the sneaker brand and designer Jeremy Scott. Users can tap on any item in the collection to browse in advance, and they can also tap the blue Remind button to get a notification when the line launches. Once the product line is live, users can tap to buy without leaving the Instagram app.
Link and Add Yours Stickers for Instagram Stories
Instagram has never been known for its external linking capabilities, but that may be changing—at least for some features. Until recently, swipe-up links in Stories were reserved for verified accounts or those with more than 10,000 followers. If you had a small or unverified account, your linking options were limited to encouraging followers to check the link in your bio.
By early November 2021, all accounts gained the ability to link out from Stories using an interactive link sticker. What does that mean for your account? No matter your account's size or verification status, you can link to anything from a new blog post to a lead magnet to an eCommerce storefront or product.
To add a link sticker to your story, start with your normal creation workflow. Then open the sticker tray and enter your URL. After you publish, users will see a Visit Link prompt when they tap your link sticker. The URL you entered will automatically load in the Instagram app.
When it comes to new stickers for Instagram Stories, link stickers are just the beginning. In November 2021, the platform rolled out an interactive Add Yours sticker. Using this sticker essentially starts a public thread that others can build on by contributing their own stories.
How would this work in practice? A consumer packaged goods brand might create a story highlighting a new dinner recipe. By applying an Add Yours sticker, the brand could prompt followers to add stories featuring their own dinner plates or attempts at replicating the recipe.
Although creating stories with the Add Yours sticker could certainly help brands generate engagement, this new feature opens up additional opportunities. Because these threads are public, they also have the potential to drive discovery. To leverage this tool, consider looking for relevant Add Yours prompts and contributing a story for added exposure.
Whether you're planning to focus on video, influencer marketing, or eCommerce in 2022, Instagram has or is testing the features your brand needs to succeed. Use these Instagram marketing trends to guide your strategy for the coming year and follow the platform's announcements closely so you can keep discovering and leveraging all of the latest tools.
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