At 1.44 billion monthly active users, Instagram is still one of the most active social media platforms, ahead of TikTok even, which has a little over 1 billion monthly active users. 23.1% of people over 13 from all over the world are using Instagram.
With such a huge user base, it’s only normal that Instagram trends come and go as the platform is continuously learning how to cater to its users, and especially to Gen-Z-ers, who are basically dictating social media trends. Still, there are some long-lasting Instagram trends that have bloomed over the past few years, and that will continue to grow in 2023 and possibly over the following years.
Trends like authentic content and activism are more than just some fleeting Instagram preferences and reflect the direction the world is moving in after a pandemic, a war, and at least a handful of social justice issues that have surfaced and resurfaced in recent years.
It is more these types of Instagram trends that we’ll be talking about in this article, and not just themes or topics like in our article on the most popular TikTok trends of 2022.
So without further ado, let’s check it out, what is the latest trend on Instagram?
The Need for Authentic Content
Involvement in Social Justice Movements
Microinfluencers Over Macroinfluencers
Preference For Bite-Sized Content
Most Popular Instagram Trends of 2023
1. The Need for Authentic Content
The past few years have seen an increasing need for authentic content from both influencers and businesses. While aesthetically pleasing and appealing, there comes a time when perfectly curated feeds and pictures start to become boring and feel inauthentic. Humans crave real connection and relatability, and it’s hard to be relatable when everything on your page screams perfection or fakeness. That’s why more unfiltered photos and posts with a real story behind them have become increasingly popular on Instagram and will continue to be popular throughout 2023 and probably beyond. A good example of this is Sasha Pallari, a make-up artist who created #FILTERDROP and who promotes body positivity and self-acceptance on her feed.
The trend towards more authentic content has seen a surge not just among influencers but brands as well. Going into 2023, brand authenticity will be an absolute requirement. People want to know there are real humans behind the brand that they can connect to, they want their favorite brands to share the same values as them, and, most importantly, they want brands to promote transparency. When consumers feel connected and trust a brand, they are much more likely to buy from that brand. In fact, research conducted by Sprout Social shows that 76% of consumers will choose that brand over a competitor, and 57% will increase their spending, which brings us to the next Instagram trend:
2. Involvement in Social Justice Movements
As mentioned above, people need to feel like they’re sharing the same values with whomever they’re following on social media. This has pushed more and more brands to get involved and speak up on matters of social justice, environmental concerns, and politics. However, it’s important for people to see that this activism is truthful and not just a facade to sell more products under a “we care” umbrella. As a brand, you need to commit to a cause you really care about and show proof of support either through an external website or through Instagram’s own feature that lets users raise money for good causes and create fundraisers. In fact, the introduction of this feature has led to all kinds of cause-related marketing, which has been used both to raise money or signatures for a good cause or as a means to promote the brand’s own products. Either way, businesses have a lot to gain from this because fighting for a cause will bring attention to the brand itself, and consumers will be more likely to purchase their products.
However, fundraising and activism are sometimes not enough, and as a brand, you need to consider that even silence is a form of activism or, more precisely, a lack thereof, and consumers are listening. Take the recent example of Adidas and one of its celebrity business partners, Kanye West. Kanye West made some anti-semitic comments in an interview and then bragged that Adidas can’t drop him even if he says these things. Well, Adidas did eventually drop him and said they would “end production of Yeezy branded products and stop all payments to Ye [Kanye West] and his companies”, but they sure took their time and did it only after the Internet put pressure and started trending #BoycottAdidas.
So moral of the story is: don’t wait until consumers start boycotting and canceling you, take action as soon as one of your brand ambassadors does something that doesn’t align with your brand values, and especially your customers’ values.
3. Microinfluencers Over Macroinfluencers
This Instagram trend stems from a need for trust and connection as well. While celebrity influencers are nice to follow and admire, it’s almost impossible to engage with them, so Instagram users have been moving more towards smaller influencers that are much easier to connect with and relate to. As people start craving authentic content more and more, microinfleuncers do a much better job at satisfying this need, as their content is more real and better mirrors a regular person’s own life experiences.
This is valuable information for businesses as well. While 4 out of 5 young people believe that social media celebrities have more influence on culture than traditional celebrities like actors, singers, sportsmen, etc., according to Instagram’s Trend Report for 2022, smaller influencers can also be great to partner with. Their audience is smaller, but they have a higher engagement rate, and they are much cheaper than celebrity influencers.
If you find the right microinfluencers for your target audience, you can have a great return on investment, as their followers will be much more likely to trust them and their product recommendations. In the short-term, you might end up with a similar amount of products purchased as when working with a macroinfluencer, but with more faithful long-term customers, which will bring you more revenue in the end.
According to Instagram’s 2022 Trend Report, more than half of young people are moving away from big-box online retailers, and more towards shopping through social media. 27% of teens and young adults are expecting to shop through their social media feeds and in-app features, so it only makes sense that Instagram has so many shopping features that encourage its users to shop directly through the app. According to Instagram’s 2019 announcement for introducing shopping posts, there are over 130 million users tapping tags in shopping posts every month, and that number has probably increased since the end of 2019 because the pandemic encouraged even more people to shop online.
5. User-Generated Content
Speaking of shopping and micro/macro influencers, UGC has been very trendy in 2022 and will follow through in 2023 as well. Not that it’s something new, UGC has been around for quite a while.
But what is UGC? User-generated content is content that followers create naturally to promote a brand out of pure satisfaction with that brand’s products. With permission, the brand can then repost that photo or video to their profile and obtain two things: free endorsement for their product and free content.
Since this is great marketing for any brand because it builds credibility when people are genuinely excited about your products, there are now UGC creators who are paid to create content that looks like UGC but is actually paid promotion. I think this is quite sneaky, but sadly brands can easily get away with this because “influencers” can create accounts solely to promote just one product, and it looks like it’s the account of a regular person and not an influencer.
6. Preference For Bite-Sized Content
Studies show that since the mobile revolution in 2000, the average attention span has dropped from 12 to 8 seconds in a matter of 15 years. That’s less than the attention span of a goldfish.
With platforms like TikTok and Twitter training us to prefer more stimulating bite-sized content, it’s no wonder that this trend has transferred to other social media as well, and Instagram is no exception. Instagram has its options for longer-form content, but there is a clear preference for short posts, 15-second stories, and Reels, with video content having twice the engagement of regular photo posts.
7. Brand Memes
Memes are the king of the Internet, so it’s only natural that the human tendency for memes has somewhat taken over Instagram as well. According to Instagram’s 2022 Trend Report, “As times continue to become more uncertain, young people are leaning on mediums they can grasp and control. Memes provide a modest amount of certainty & control.”
And since memes have become so popular on Instagram as well, brands have caught on and have tried to put their spin on it as well. But it takes a special skill to create good memes, and not all brands have got that down. Posting general memes on your brand account is OK, but creating memes that actually make sense for your brand and users is a game-changer. You need to find something funny that somehow relates to your branding or products, or create a new meme that your customers can relate to. One brand that does this well is Chipotle. They frequently post creative memes that are both adorable and relatable, like this one:
These were the Instagram trends we found most interesting in 2023. We’ll keep updating this article and adding more as things change, so keep an eye on our social accounts, and don’t forget to share this with your Instagram friends.
See also: What hashtags are trending on Instagram?