This year, Instagram will celebrate its tenth birthday.  As the platform reaches a decade of visual content, it’s still growing and more popular as ever.  In fact, late last year eMarketer predicted that users will spend on average 28 minutes a day on the platform in 2020.  However, as the app has evolved over the past decade, what consumers want from it has changed.  Furthermore, how consumers interact with brands and their expectations around their relationship with brands has also shifted.

The question for brand marketers has now become – how do I create paid, owned and earned media experiences that will create a deeper relationship with my target customer?  As we look forward to 2020, there are the top three trends that we believe marketers need to pay attention to as they create relationships with consumers this year.

Natural Aesthetics over Staged Photos

Since Instagram’s inception, the app encouraged an aesthetic that has influenced everything from the way that restaurants plate food to the way that spaces are designed.  The goal is to create sharable moments that can achieve some level of virality.

However, recently many content creators have begun to share content that bucks against that trend.  Popular influencers like Jazzy Anne have eschewed a highly polished, staged aesthetic for a more natural and realistic look.

With the increased usage of video on the app, the use of technology like AR and VR, and the rise in popularity of apps like Huji that allow users to make their photos looks “more authentic”, we expect the trend of content that looks more natural to increase over the coming years.

“Repping the Brand” is Cool

In his book Contagious, Jonah Berger argues that people like to share content that makes them look smart or generally exceptional.  Brands like Lulus, Pretty Little Thing, and Gymshark have been able to leverage this to drive a ton of revenue for their businesses.

These direct-to-consumer brands are growing very quickly on the back of models that encourage “regular people” to share and evangelize their brand.  Whether it’s asking customers to “Tag to be Featured” or use a certain hashtag, people like feeling like they are repping a brand, particularly one they are proud to own.  Using their customers as growth channels, Lulus.com is seeing 50% growth year over year, and one of the biggest factors in that success was activating large numbers of their customers to share the brand.

As trust in brands continues to decline across the globe, consumers will increasingly look to reach other for inspiration.  Expect more consumers to share their passion for their favorite brands.  Furthermore, this will create a huge opportunity to capitalize on this behavior with scalable, technology enabled programs that drive an increased connection with consumers.

Lululemon has leveraged this technique with great results – they have created a large community with over 1600 “brand ambassadors” that represent their vision to create a community around healthy living.

 Instagram is Mall 2.0

Instagram continues to introduce new ways to accelerate eCommerce sales.  In fact, 60% of people say that they have discovered new products on the platform.  In 2020, we expect this percentage to increase even more, as there is no platform that can match its popularity and efficiency for introducing new products to consumers.

As the platform becomes an increasingly popular place for people to find items to purchase, brands are looking to consumers to deliver their messages.  However, paying influencers to create content can be expensive and labor intensive.  Some brands are paying up to $2000 per post for top influencers.  

The most successful brands will find unique ways to cut through the noise and encourage their most passionate customers to share content on their behalf, evangelizing why their product or service is amazing.

Interested in learning more about how LoudCrowd can help increase your UGC?  Drop us a line at [email protected] or request a UGC consultation. 

About LoudCrowd

We believe that the most effective way of marketing and selling your product is through word-of-mouth marketing.  Currently, the best (and most engaging way) for brands to scale word-of-mouth marketing is through User Generated Content (UGC) on social platforms like Instagram.  LoudCrowd helps you analyze your UGC and incentivize your customers to grow it.

About the Author

Zach Henault is a marketer living in Austin, Texas.  He’s spent ten years in the social media industry working with some of the leading brands in the world including Frito Lay, Procter and Gamble, Target, and more.  When he’s not writing about social media, he spends his free time playing soccer, cooking, and trying to make his plants look like a scene from Jumanji.