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Photo by Eepeng Cheong via Unsplash

It has been a big year in the digital world, with so many businesses thrown in the deep end when it comes to online sales and marketing due to a global pandemic and worldwide lockdowns. If you are one of these businesses, you have probably adapted faster than you ever imagined possible!

Learning how to market your business online and via social media isn’t always easy, and even if you think you have it mastered, things are constantly changing and evolving.

In this article we will explore the latest trends on Instagram, and where those trends are headed for 2021, such as:

  1. Reels
  2. Visual brand storytelling
  3. Accurate brand/business information
  4. User generated content
  5. Animated posts
  6. Instagram Shopping
  7. Utilising relevant memes

Reels have arrived in a big way.

Reels are one of the biggest trends on Instagram right now, and they are only set to grow in 2021. With the latest Instagram update, there is now a shortcut to Reels from your home page – so you can be sure the brains behind Insta have big plans for this new video feature.

So what does this mean for your business? Get ready to get more personal and more creative in 2021! The editing tools in Reels make it super simple to create engaging, creative short videos with well-timed text overlays, music and cuts. Editing videos for social media has never been so easy.

Reels can be a great tool for your business to engage more with your customers, by giving you a dedicated place to show a bit of humour, creativity or personality that you might not get a chance to showcase in your feed posts.

Visual brand storytelling is everything.

In 2021, your brand’s visual appeal on socials is going to be as important as your website. As social media continues to grow and evolve with features such as Instagram’s new keyword search and shopping features, your brand’s Instagram page will be the first point of contact for many customers – and if you have it set up correctly, they may not even need to ever get to your website to purchase from your or book an appointment.

This is massive – if you aren’t paying attention to the visual appeal of your Instagram feed, you could be losing customers before they even explore your page. It’s the old ‘judge a book by it’s cover’ cliché – your Instagram feed is the book cover, and your customers are definitely judging – really really quickly.

Not only is it important to encourage engagement with your posts – but in 2021 it will be more important than ever that your Instagram account reflects your brand, it’s values, and your services in a visually appealing way.

To get on board with this trend, take a look at your profile image, Highlights covers, and your most recent posts. Do they all work well together to create a clear and consistent story about your company or brand? If not, you could be missing your opportunity to convert visitors into followers, and followers into customers!

Check out how @birkenstockau gives you an instant representation of who they are and what they stand for the second you land on their Instagram page. Things to note: the blue colour in the Logo image and highlights reels is consistent with Birkenstock branding and packaging. The images in the feed all have the same edit, colour tones and vibe, and the bio gives you accurate, relevant and quick info on their company. Ticking all the boxes here!

As well as visual appeal, your Instagram account must have accurate business information.

Like we mentioned earlier, many customers are searching for and finding businesses on Instagram these days, without ever going to search in Google. This means not only does your account need to visually appeal to your potential clients, but it must also provide them with quick but accurate information about your business.

Does your bio give a clear summary of your values and services? Is there a link to your website? Or better yet, is there a link through Linktree (or similar) to allow your customers to easily access multiple links for your brand such as your website, blog, appointment booking system, etc?

If not, it is time to update your bio – stat! If you are getting visitors to your Instagram – lacking this simple information will certainly mean you are missing out on potential sales. The easier and clearer you can make it for visitors to your page – the better.

User-generated content rocks.

User-generated content is certainly not the newest trend to hit Instagram, but it is certainly sticking around for 2021. Even some of the biggest brands in Australia rely heavily on sharing their customer’s content – and it can have huge benefits for you and your brand.

The first benefit is simple – it’s a time saver. Who wouldn’t want to reshare beautiful images of your brand’s product without having to actually create it? No-brainer there. Sharing customer images means you have variety to choose from and you can spend less time worrying about content creation.

An even better benefit to sharing user-generated content is that is encourages your customers to share your products on their page, tag your brand, use a brand-specific hashtag, etc. It is basically free promotion for your brand!

People love to share what they are using, and even more, they LOVE being featured by the brand they are sharing. Sharing your customers’ content is a fantastic way to let them know you appreciate them, are listening to them, and it helps encourage them to continue engaging with you and your community. 

There’s nothing better than happy customers who attract their friends towards your brand with positive feedback and personal endorsement.

70% of consumers trust recommendations from other users & 92% of consumers are more likely to try a product if it’s recommended by people they know.

– Arcs & Curves

Our friends over at @thelaughingpug do a fantastic job at sharing beautiful user-generated content, as well as encouraging their customers to use their hashtag #thelaughingpug to enter a monthly giveaway.

Get animated in 2021.

Animated posts are here and they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. We have talked a lot in previous blogs about how video is king for 2021 – and this follows along that same trend.

Animated posts don’t need to be complicated – we’re talking about a small well-placed twinkle in a photo, or moving text rather than static. It’s simple, but goes a long way to make your feed look polished, professional and engaging.

Not a graphic artist? No worries – there’s an app for that! Several, actually. The Adobe apps are all amazing if you’ve got some basic design skills and can pay a monthly membership fee. If not, apps like Canva are beginner-friendly, free and still give you a professional end result without too much effort.

Instagram shopping is the new black.

If you haven’t heard – Instagram shopping is the next big thing in the ecommerce world. So if you sell stuff online and haven’t started using this feature – get on it!! With the rise of Instagram Shopping, customers can buy from you without ever laying eyes on your website.  

With a new Shop shortcut, curated shoppable feeds, and the rollout of Instagram Checkout, Instagram is determined to turn the app into a streamlined shopping experience for its users.

Not only can browsers on Instagram now shop directly from sellers – but Shopping for Creators also allows approved influencers to tag shoppable products directly in their posts and stories.

Using the shopping features can take a little getting used to, but once you’ve got your head around it, it’s pretty straightforward.

Memes are here to stay.

Memes are another oldy but goody, and we still can’t get enough of them in 2021. Personal users of social media have been sharing memes for ages – but as we crave more and more “real” posts on social media and ask our favourite brands to show us more of their personality – memes are now getting shared more than ever on business pages.

Memes are also highly sharable content – so sharing cleaver and relatable memes on your feed can be a great way to encourage engagement with your audience. Just remember to keep things relevant – memes have been around for a while but they have certainly changed quite a bit from the days when Success Kid ruled the internet.

“Success kid” via theverge.com

Memes are also highly sharable content – so sharing cleaver and relatable memes on your feed can be a great way to encourage engagement with your audience. Just remember to keep things relevant – memes have been around for a while but they have certainly changed quite a bit from the days when Success Kid ruled the internet.

As you prepare to take your business into 2021, remember this year is all about creativity and personality with your socials! Have some fun with your content, get personal, explore animation, make some Reels and stay true to your brand.

Bring on a big shiny new year!!

About the Author: Miriah Sullivan

Miriah is the Head of Social Media at Straight Up Digital and has a wealth of experience working with small businesses on their branding, sales, and marketing strategy. When she’s not helping small businesses grow, she is raising her 2 children and getting in as much time at the beach as possible!

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About Straight Up Digital

Straight Up Digital is a full service digital marketing agency based in Burleigh Heads, Gold Coast, Australia. We specialise in Web Design, SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), Social Media, Paid Ads (AdWords & Facebook Ads), Email Campaigns and Video Marketing.