Welcome to a new year, 2021, the year of hope, change, and improvement—or so we wish (it will be interesting to look back on this at the end of the year). If 2020 taught us anything about running a business, it was just how necessary adapting that business to online sales and communications was. This year, at least for the time being, the lesson should remain the same, and focusing on the things we can control while we wait for the world to return to some sort of normalcy is all we can do.
And so, in addition to making the necessary improvements to websites, digital meetups, and more, looking for ways to put some excitement back into social media could be a good boost for businesses trying to enter the year as strong as possible. Instagram recently released reports on three types of trending content that seem to be performing well for businesses large and small, and they’re all things that can be easily adopted by businesses in our industry, too.
1. Lo-fi Video
Lo-fi video—or video that has a low-production, DIY look and feel—has been trending across brands seeking to engage with their customers in a way that feels “approachable and unpolished,” according to Instagram. Cite this as yet another example of big brands humanizing themselves and sort of coming down to earth. Though the pandemic may be partly responsible for this trend—less production during lockdowns and quarantine, cost-cutting galore—this way of connecting may very well be something that sticks around.
Instagram references brands like Dunkin’, tempting consumers with nothing more than a cutting board, a knife, and a few of their products; Australian brand Big Girls Don’t Cry Anymore, which used real people (not models) to highlight their products; and Brazil-based brand Amaro, using the outfit change trend to showcase its latest styles. The videos vary in platform, from Instagram’s popular (and TikTok-like) Reels, to IGTV and Stories. You can view them all here.
You’ve probably heard some talk of drops—or limited releases—recently, and there’s a reason for that: They create a ton of hype. Think about those limited-edition designer collaborations for big-box stores like H&M and Target. Remember those lines? The internet frenzy? Same logic here, but it’s expanding more than ever.
Brands are utilizing drops to drum up consumer spending and generate excitement, and they aren’t even having to go big to do it. Prerelease promotions are sometimes as small as a simple product post and release date—mystery, it seems, tempts more interest.
And it’s businesses that you wouldn’t even expect to collaborate on anything. McDonald’s Taiwan, for example, teamed up with high-end fashion designer Apujan to create a series of package designs and even food (do you remember the jet black hamburgers?) in a limited release. And it worked—people went mad for it. If a fast-food chain can somehow jump on the limited drop trend and attract a base of young, affluent customers through it, I think anyone can.
Instagram advises making use of the countdown clock stickers for Instagram stories as a way to generate anticipation. It also suggests using donation stickers, if your brand is pushing a limited release of a charitable product—a big selling point for many a young consumer today.
Finally, Instagram’s branded content features offer a way for businesses large or small to connect with creators on the app to offer enticing collaborations. You can read more and see examples here.
If you’ll recall from this article on JCK from back in November 2020, experts predicted that a rise in digital misinformation would be one of the dominant trends of 2021. Unfortunately, that prediction already appears to have come true, but the good news is that there are brands taking it upon themselves to combat it.
Info-social is described as “a style of text-based content that aims to educate and inspire communities,” according to Instagram, and it’s one that’s making a big splash on the platform. Topics like climate change, racial injustice, and local community outreach have dominated discussions, with businesses sharing information on important social issues with their customers in shareable, easily digested ways.
The posts are visually appealing, often brightly colored and bold. Some come in carousel form—multiple images users can swipe through on their feeds—like one from graphic designer Manassaline Coleman, founder of popular account @sa.liine, who showcased a “virtual protesting kit” during the height of the Black Lives Matter protests last summer.
Others combine video with text, such as the content created when Goodwill partnered with body-positive activist Erik Cavanaugh to educate followers on the ways people can create job placement and training opportunities by shopping at Goodwill.
While some of the content certainly has a degree of professional editing and graphic design, Instagram’s tools make it possible for any independent business owner to create their own info-social art for good. You can see all the examples Instagram shared here.
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