Over the past year, Instagram has transformed the way people shop online. When COVID-19 hit the world last spring, Instagram and its parent company, Facebook, launched many tools to help brands, and especially small businesses, survive and thrive during the pandemic.

From Shops to Shopping Tags, Instagram marketing for eCommerce is in full swing. As we continue to use social commerce in the new year, we’re reflecting on the 2020 trends that surprised us along with the Instagram marketing trends for 2021 to help you prepare and excel in your marketing strategies for the upcoming year.

2020 Trends

IG Shops

We anticipated that Instagram would continue to look for ways to organically make the platform shoppable but the pandemic seemed to have put that on the fast track. In May 2020, they made the “View Shop” feature available to all advertisers in an effort to help smaller businesses expand their eCommerce offerings. With Shops, brands have the option to make platform-direct checkout available to consumers or send consumers directly to their website. IG shops also include customizable features that allow businesses to personalize their Shop to feel more organic to their brand.

Instagram marketing IG Shops

Live Shopping

IG Live saw a resurgence once the pandemic hit. People needed new ways to connect with one another and this feature makes it easy for everyday consumers to feel hyperconnected to creators, influencers, celebrities and more. What made this feature even better for advertisers? Adding the functionality to shop products directly from the Lives!

Instagram marketing live shopping

Ads with Product Tags

Over the last year, this has been available through organic posts only. However, advertisers will now be able to capitalize on this feature from a paid perspective. Ads with product tags allow users to maximize their product’s reach by boosting shoppable posts or creating the ad in Ads Manager.

Instagram marketing product tags

2021 Trends

Instagram Keyword Search + Curated Explore Tab (currently not monetized)

In November 2020, we noticed a feature update to Instagram that allows users to search a variety of topics. When you type in a recommended queue, “baking recipes,” for example, as seen in the screenshot below, it takes you to a curated explore tab with contextually relevant posts.

If IG chooses to monetize this feature, this functionality would make Instagram a curated shoppable moodboard for all. Keyword targeting has been in beta testing this year and we predict that kind of targeting paired with this feature could make for an interesting product offering for the platform.

Instagram marketing

Instagram Reels

In August 2020, IG introduced their short video feature called Reels. These 15-second multi-clip videos have been a huge interest to advertisers but is not fully available as a monetized feature in the platform. We anticipate 2021 will be the year that changes that.

Collections in Instagram Stories

This is a newer feature as of late 2020. Traditionally, collection units have only been allowed on newsfeed placements. Collections tend to drive higher landing page view rates and overall engagement so as people shift viewing to stories formats, this could prove to be a very effective placement.

Instagram marketing collections

AR Lens Technology

AR lens technology has been an area of opportunity for a while but adoption rates for advertisers (especially retailers) have been fairly low. However, as we continue to navigate life in a pandemic, AR lenses could prove to be the top new way for consumers to visualize products in their homes or even on them directly.

Instagram marketing AR lens technology

If you are interested in taking your Instagram marketing to the next level, let’s chat. We’re here to help!