Current Instagram Trends to Watch

Instagram trends blog post. Image showing Instagram logo on pale pink background surrounded by multi-colored dots and yellow squiggly lines
Instagram trends blog post. Image showing Instagram logo on pale pink background surrounded by multi-colored dots and yellow squiggly lines

Is Instagram still worth investing in? Well, the short answer is yes. Instagram may be having a bit of an identity crisis as it tries to keep up with TikTok, but there’s no denying that it’s still a powerful social media platform to go to for building your online audience.

Throughout 2022 and going into 2023 there are a number of key Instagram trends that brands should be watching in order to get the most out of the platform in the coming months and years.

But what about TikTok?

TikTok’s dominance clearly has Instagram shaken as they try to keep up with its popularity and features. Though Instagram risks losing its base — users have been vocal in 2022 about just how dissatisfied they are with some current Instagrams trends — the the world of social media moves fast. If the below list of trends is any indication, Instagram still has some moves to play to maintain a powerful position with its loyal fans and new users alike.

Tip: Take a look at our TikTok-specific resources: What Is TikTok And How Did It Become So Successful? And 54 TikTok Stats You Need To Know [2022].

Here are the biggest Instagram trends happening right now:

Top Instagram Trends 2022:

While the rest of our list is in no particular order, there couldn’t possibly be anything else listed at #1. Perhaps the biggest and most impactful Instagram trend from this year, and certainly going into 2023 is the continued focus on Reels

Instagram has pushed Reels front and center as the primary content type favored by the algorithm, and this has definitely caused some disgruntled users. Many are lamenting for the early days of Instagram and its photo sharing roots:

IG Post

But so far, Instagram seems reticent to listen, remaining full steam ahead on making Reels and video content their main focus. And on the one hand, by doubling down on short form video content, the app has developed a micro-culture, where Instagram Reels trends take on a life of their own. More on this below. And though the usability of creating Reels still lags, Instagram has made great strides toward improving the Reels creation flow.

Tip: Read our blog to learn what Instagram Reels is all about and check out more Instagram statistics.

Updates Instagram made to Reels in 2022:

  • Respond to comments with a Reel
  • Collaborative Reels & expanded remixing options
  • Increased Reels maximum duration to 90 seconds
  • Templates to help you recreate popular trends
  • Achievement badges — gamification to encourage Reels creation

Like TikTok, Instagram Reels trends often start from trending audios, which are a great place to look for inspiration in your branded content. When an audio starts trending on Instagram, it often has a lot to say about cultural shifts, generational hopes, dreams, and nostalgia, pop culture phenomena, mental health mantras, and much more. 

For example, in response to Reels taking over the platform, this humorously defeatist tongue and cheek audio is often used by creators:

If you notice a trending audio that you’d like to use for your brand, the best piece of advice is: don’t wait! Trending Instagram audios have a way of disappearing in the blink of an eye, like memes, replaced instantly by the next trend.

The “old” sounds are still available of course, but using them after the trend has peaked will definitely be less impactful for views and engagements.

I mean, can you remember when Running Up That Hill was literally everywhere? Yeah, me neither.

Some popular audios that tend to be evergreen include Mr. Sandman, and this mashup of Abba and Britney Spears.

3. Instagram Story Trends

Instagram has made some significant changes to Instagram Stories which can be considered Instagram Story trends — some we’re thrilled about and some that have us scratching our heads a bit:

  • Links in Stories
    Perhaps the most celebrated update has been the elimination of the “10,000 follower or more” rule in order to access a link sticker (what used to be the “swipe up” feature). Now anyone, regardless of follower count can include a link in their Instagram Stories. This is not-so-small change for businesses and micro-influencers on Instagram who now have more opportunities to provide links to other content such as blog posts, event signups, and other landing pages.
  • 60 second snippet
    This one we’re not so sure about yet. A recent Instagram update allows Story videos that are 60 seconds or less to be uploaded as a single piece, rather than split into the traditional 15 second snippets. This not only impacts granular engagement metrics like tap forwards and tap backs, but it’s also a lot to ask of users who are used to the tapping format of Stories to sit and watch a full minute.

4. Instagram Shopping

Another Instagram trend to watch, of course, is the shopping experience. According to Sprout Social, 70% of people head to Instagram for purchases. And because of the popularity of Instagram for shopping and browsing products, Instagram has responded in kind, improving the ways that people can search for new products and complete transactions. 

Products can be linked from photos and even videos, meaning viewers and scrollers can learn more about things they see without a jarring jump from the app — great for influencers and brands alike. 

“Shoppable posts” like the one below from Sephora are indicated by a shopping bag symbol in the upper right corner:

Tip: Learn more about the social commerce trend in our blog post or download our social commerce ebook!

5. Reels Collabs

We mentioned this above briefly, but it’s worth expanding upon. One of the more interesting and impactful changes Instagram made to Reels has been the introduction of collaborative posts. Meaning that two creators can co-produce a Reel, each tagged in one line in the description.

This collaborative Reels style opens a lot of interesting doors for influencer marketing and brand partnerships.

In the below example, you can see “@ jimmy fallon and @ nick kroll” tagged together at the top of the Reel description.

6. Cross Promoting With Other Platforms 

Sharing between social platforms is also getting easier. Tweets can now be shared as Instagram Stories, which is a great way to subtly encourage people to follow you on Twitter, while breaking up your general Story content. You could also share popular memes from the Twittersphere to your Stories or grid:

You could also share influencer Tweets or industry Tweets and accompany them with an Instagram poll or other interactive element to increase engagement.

7. Creator Power

In a continued push to attract creators to the platform, Instagram is following a major trend among other platforms: offering a media kit option. Influencers can use it to streamline their brand partnerships, and find new opportunities. 

Officially called your “Creator Profile” this feature facilitates in-app profile sharing and promotion. A powerful way to cut out the middleman and simultaneously encourage users to continue creating Instagram content, rather than transitioning over to TikTok for example.

Marketers who want to tap into Instagram for influencer marketing will definitely want to keep this in mind in 2023. As recently as October 2022, AirBnB partnered with a number of influencers to promote their Hocus Pocus themed stay, in conjunction with the much-anticipated release of Hocus Pocus 2:

Tip: Learn how to build a successful influencer strategy for your brand.

For brick and mortar businesses, a significant addition to Instagram is a searchable map experience. Now you can attract new customers through geo-targeted posts and tags from other users.

Screenshot showing a map search view on Instagram. Searched businesses show up on the map, with nearby businesses also highlighted

The above example shows how a search for the "Stranger Things Experience" in San Francisco shows up on the map, accompanied by posts tagged with that, while also showing you nearby businesses such as restaurants, stores, and theaters.

9. The Chronological Feed Returns

Lastly, an Instagram trend that may or may not have a big impact on businesses is the return of the chronological feed. It’s the kind of feature that users commonly grumble about not having, but when it becomes available don’t tend to actually care about that much. But it’s still an important aspect that brands should be aware of — that could make it easier to get in front of your key demographics rather than having to depend on the algorithm.

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It will be fascinating to watch how Instagram continues to grow in the next year. We've surely not seen the last of Instagram Reels trends and new features, and Instagram Stories trends. This author is particularly interested to see if we'll be getting some new photos updates.

The Meltwater blog will be here to document it all!

Curious how Meltwater can help you strengthen your Instagram marketing strategy and to stay on top of Instagram trends using Social Listening? Fill out the form below to schedule a 15-minute demo.

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