A new year brings new challenges and new opportunities. With so many things happening at the global Meta organization, it’s nearly impossible to keep up with all the updates on Instagram. If your business depends on social-media as a key awareness and conversion generator, pay attention to the trends mentioned below. They could be the key to remaining relevant in 2023.
In our previous Instagram Trends article we talked about IGTV (now dead), micro-influencers (gained a lot of respect this year), AR filters (Spark Studio is free for anyone), more analytics tools (Creators got a new dedicated section), influencer specialists as a job (either as a dedicated role or as specific responsibilities) and UGC vs stock photography (we didn’t account for the sudden growth and adoption of A.I. tools such as Lensa and Midjourney).
This year, we’re taking a look at 10 trends from 3 perspectives:
At the end of this article, we’re mentioning the sources on which our forecasts are based. Using our own experience of directly running or supporting over 400 campaigns ran in Flaminjoy in 2022, we’ve provided insights for future platform developments.
Improve ad performance, provide a better app experience and make predictions on user behavior.
Brands need to be able to target customers better, despite privacy choices. At the same time, users are not excited about Instagram’s recent push to video (TikTok’s engagement is approximately 6X higher than Reels), so they’re looking for something better.
Artificial Intelligence is the key to solving all these issues – and more! A.I. is not just about making better choices now, but also about making predictions on behavior and surfacing the best content that users will want to engage with. This is why TikTok feels very general the first time you use it. Then over time, as it learns from your actions and patterns, you start getting hooked and spend more and more time in the app.
A.I. is being used in Meta’s products at the moment, it’s just a matter of time before we fully see more implementations of it, with benefits for both advertisers and users.
Increase creator voices and improve brands’ content performance.
The basis for User Generated Content is made out of authenticity and trust. Users or influencers share their feedback on products and services, craft a compelling story and influence their community.
We’ve seen it time and time again, UGC means a secure connection between users and brands. According to Stackla, about 90% of consumers say authenticity is important when deciding which brands they enjoy and support. Not only that, but Shopify’s research shows that UGC-based ads get 4x higher click-through rates and a 50% drop in cost-per-click than average.
This puts everything in perspective: not only are users searching for this type of content organically, they also trust it more than brand-owned content. And when brands repurpose UGC within ads, it becomes a more powerful generator of conversions.
In 2023 we see UGC spreading even more and becoming a key part of digital marketing plans for brands, large and small.
UGC is more powerful than standard brand content, there are larger budgets allocated to influencer marketing.
Statista estimates that over 72% of marketers plan to increase their budgets allocated for influencer marketing activities in 2023. This means 2 things:
In our experience, running hundreds of campaigns with creators at Flaminjoy, an influencer marketing campaign is rarely a one-off activation. Strong brands plan their campaigns ahead of time and structure them in layers: PR, ads, social-media and influencers. Furthermore, content from influencers is repurposed back into the brand’s social and ad accounts, for an increase in engagement and conversions.
The winners here will be the creators that will become more agile and willing to work to become brand partners and collaborators, rather than one-time contractors.
TikTok continues to grow, Instagram increases the value of Reels.
On track to surpass 2 Billion Monthly Active Users in the next few years, TikTok is the next target Instagram is going after. Remember: Stories was inspired by Snapchat. Reels took notes from TikTok.
IGTV has been transformed into Reels and they continue to receive updates in the form of new tools and features. Now all videos on Instagram show up as Reels and that push will continue into 2023 and beyond.
According to a Nielsen study, online video consumption has almost doubled in the last 4 years. While we may think that it’s standard entertainment, we’re seeing #BookTok and other meaningful hashtags being used as a driver for valuable conversations around important topics, on a global scale.
Apple has cut off advertisers from accessing key data from Facebook and Instagram and Meta as a company needs to quickly adapt to this new privacy-focused reality.
With an estimated loss of $10 Billion in revenue due to Apple’s privacy changes made in 2021, Facebook looks to adapt to this new landscape. It has already recommended advertisers move towards the Conversion API, alongside the standard Facebook Pixel.
It is now finding new ways of providing advertisers with personalized data, without direct access from Apple (which is focusing on its own ads platform).
Machine learning-assisted models will need to fill in the gaps and attribute valuable user data, when there is no such information to begin with. Over time, systems will improve and advertisers on Instagram won’t be forced to switch ad networks due to these privacy changes.
Budgets are increasing and creators become more specialized.
Creators focus on follower growth, community engagement and revenue increase. Using influencer collaborations but also Subscriptions (launched at the beginning of 2022), creators have a significant opportunity to achieve all 3 of their objectives.
With an increase in influencer marketing budgets, that allocation can go in two ways:
From the hundreds of campaigns we’ve looked at just this year, we’ve been noticing that repeat campaigns (with the same influencers) often provide a larger reward. Trust has been built and both sides want excellent results. It’s up to the creators to show off their work, be professional and negotiate better fees.
TikTok’s recommendation algorithm is still unmatched among Instagram and YouTube.
Instagram’s push into video started in 2018 with the reveal of IGTV, a somewhat uninspired and confusing side to the social ecosystem. With everything they tried to do and all their efforts put behind it, creators weren’t excited about a new tab and a different way of uploading videos.
At the same time, TikTok focused on its excellent recommendation system and provided a dead-simple way of sharing amazing videos that made viewers engaged and scroll more.
Every platform is pushing more toward the TikTok model (even YouTube has its own product called Shorts), but it still feels like TikTok has the upper hand.
Newer generations like GenZ are not signing up for Facebook and might look at Instagram as something that’s added on top of TikTok’s already robust set of features. If it wants to compete, Instagram still has a lot to catch up with.
Stories came from Snapchat, Reels came from TikTok – Meta’s resources are there to assimilate or eliminate competition.
Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter is not going terribly well – with 50% of employees being fired, mass resignations and the platform in a constant state of beta testing. It’s the best moment for Instagram to come up with a similar feature called Notes.
If we were to only look at a few of Instagram’s latest updates, we can understand their point of view, a push to become “the-everything-app”: writing, images, video, inspiration, shopping, reviews, recommendations, collaborations, etc.
Even with recent Meta company layoffs, the company still has incredible resources to mimic competitor features or simply listen to their users and adapt to create a better experience.
Human interaction is now more mediated than ever, we need new tools and platforms to help us connect to one another in realtime.
Meta’s ambitions are both on the AR (with the free Spark Studio AR effects builder) and on the VR fronts (Oculus Quest, Metaverse). On the other side, Apple is rumored to be working on a pair of AR Glasses. It already has a dedicated framework called ARKit, that enabled developers to build specific apps for Warby Parker, Snapchat, Ikea and various museums.
With competition heating up (Snapchat also has its own dedicated AR Lens Studio and believes more in AR rather than VR), it’s clear that the push towards Augmented Reality will not stop with the release of Meta’s Ray-Ban Stories Smart Glasses.
Google’s purchase of North (with their $1.000 Focals glasses) also meant its shutdown soon after, as hardware is significantly more difficult and expensive to produce. So whatever Instagram has in the works, it will need to be meaningful and integrated.
A lot of support requests go answered and human scaling is no longer possible.
In the middle of December 2022, Instagram announced a new form for hacked accounts. This goes beyond the standard route users had to take, which meant going to a knowledge base, reading a few articles, sending a report or an email. And waiting for Support to respond to the request.
There are already chatbot builders on top of Facebook Messenger, such as Botsify and Landbot, that do a great job of guiding users, providing key information and keeping clients engaged on ecommerce websites.
The challenge is to provide automation, with a human flair, that leaves users feeling satisfied. Or at least with an understanding of the next steps in the process of recovering a hacked account (for example). The alternative is a disgruntled mass of users that turn to other social media platforms and never look back at Facebook or Instagram.
Instagram continues to look at other platforms they can integrate into their own set of features and functionalities.
Another prediction on the future of Instagram in 2023 has to do with details revealed in the present. In July 2022 the social network opened access for a new map experience, with a focus on finding new attractions, such as museums or restaurants.
The next step will be adding reviews, integrating chat (via WhatsApp) or directly. Then ordering directly (using the Shoppable Tags), taking Glovo, Uber Eats and PostMates out of the equation.
Is it far-fetched? In a year for this to happen – yes. But we are already seeing glimpses of it and the Metaverse requires more resources. That translates into a need for new services and revenue streams, using tools already in place.
Looking ahead to 2023, Instagram is expected to see a number of trends that will impact businesses and creators on the platform. These trends include increased use of Artificial Intelligence to improve ad performance, as well as provide a better user experience
At the same time, it’s important to remember the continued growth of user-generated content (UGC) for building trust and authenticity with customers, and a greater understanding by creators of their role in the larger digital marketing ecosystem. The rise of influencer marketing will continue into 2023, as brands look to work with more and more creative professionals and use UGC as a key part of their content strategy.
Other trends to watch out for include the rise of ephemeral content (Stories), the growing presence of e-commerce on Instagram, and the increasing use of video (Reels) for business.
Keep an eye out for these trends and stay up to date to make sure your business stays relevant on Instagram in 2023.
People have also asked:
The biggest competitor at the moment seems to be TikTok, as has a clear advantage when it comes to its video expertise and A.I.-based recommendation algorithm. Instagram still has a larger user base, but TikTok is growing among GenZ and younger generations, while fewer kids start with Instagram.
There is no one social-media platform that is looking to replace Instagram, but rather Instagram is looking to replace others, with similar features such as Stories (Snapchat), Reels (TikTok), Notes (Twitter) just to name a few.
Going from a photo-sharing app to an entertainment/commerce app is not an easy task. Nor is the metamorphosis completed in a year.
These are the 4 pillars that Adam Mosseri, Head of Instagram, mentioned they are focused on:
Instagram’s future will be decided by the platform’s ability to execute its vision, but also by users’ trust and loyalty to it.
In July 2021 Instagram’s Head Adam Mosseri declared that the platform is no longer a photo-sharing app. That is to say: it’s so much more than that. It now has audio-only rooms (similar to Clubhouse), ecommerce tools to shift budgets from offline to online, short-form videos (IGTV became Reels), an updated attractions maps, new recommendation system, ways of sorting your own feed.
It’s been doing all of these changes in an accelerated way since 2020. COVID-19 meant a lot more people suddenly went online-only and the competition from platforms such as TikTok became more intense.
Despite all of this, Instagram is still a great place for both brands and creators, with the platform averaging 2 Billion Monthly Active Users, up from the previous year.
While Instagram isn’t losing its popularity, its trajectory can no longer be accurately predicted as we could when it only focused on images. It’s now got bigger ambitions, as more people leave Facebook for other platforms. What we know for sure is that the winning platforms are the ones that are most adaptable in the face of adversity.
There are key things you should first look at if your reach is (much) lower than it used to be:
Start with these questions and figure out a plan to jumpstart your account. You should start seeing results in just a few weeks, even with a smaller account.
At this time, the most recent statistics from Statista mention Instagram has an estimated 2 Billion Monthly Active Users. TikTok on the other hand has between 1.2 and 1.8 Billion M.A.U.
However, these numbers don’t tell the entire story. If you’re a business looking to achieve great results, you should also focus on engagement. Phlanx sets a range between 2% and 5.60% engagement (from users will over 1 Million followers to small accounts between 1K – 5K). TikTok’s average engagement rate is higher than all of those, with 6.73% (according to a detailed SocialInsider study)
As more data comes in, we will update the answer to this question with the most relevant and up-to-date information.
Next time Influencer Marketing makes a move, you'll be the first to know!