How does the Instagram algorithm work? How can I build up more followers and why is the platform so interesting for marketers? These were our Instagram themes for 2018. Today we continue with our Instagram series here on the blog, and as 2018 is over, we introduce you to some of the most popular Instagram trends and challenges of the last year.

The trends

Since Q&A rounds are becoming more and more popular, also has been the question feature on Instagram Stories since last year. The idea behind it is that more time will be spent on Instagram. In addition, this function also contributes to strengthening the relationship and interaction with followers, as you learn a lot about the person. Instead of the surveys introduced in October 2017, in which users can choose between two possible answers, the sticker now also allows open questions. “What did you always want to know?”, “What are your plans for the weekend?” “What must I have seen in Vienna” are just a few examples of how they appear in the app.


Photo 2: New possibilities to  answer

Photo 1: The old feature: Only yes and no

Another trend last year that had a purely strategic reason was the reposting of photos in the stories of the same profile. Due to the Instagram algorithm, some images are not displayed in the feed and do not receive attention. The aim of reposting the newest image in the stories is to draw attention to it. In most cases the image is not displayed completely, but blurred or half hidden, so that the followers go to the profile to see the complete image and, at best, like it.

Meanwhile there is also more attention paid to other accounts. An account can generate coverage through mutual shout-outs. The followers on the other hand get to know new profiles with, at best, the same interests and topics, which they can then follow.  #shoutoutsunday, “my favourite accounts this month” or #FollowFriday are published in the stories as well as in the feed.

Since last year, Instagram Shopping has also been available in the feed and in the stories. The so-called “Shoppable Posts” are indicated by a small type of shopping basket as a link, and a click takes you directly to the product in the company’s online shop. Previously this was, and still is, possible through the “swipe-up” feature in the stories. The Instagram Shopping option appears in the feed, indicating the product price.

Foto 3: Instagram Shopping

The insertion of GIFS was initially only possible in iMessage, WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger and is now also available in the Instagram Stories. These Stories can be “pimped” by the new feature with suitable animations. The content of the stories can also be enhanced with the music feature.

Foto 5: Linking of Music
Foto 4: GIPHY for Instagram Storys

With more filters available for editing images every year, a new trend appeared. The “going retro” or vintage filter gives the pictures a 90’s touch. Behind the trend is the “Huji-Cam”-App. The aim of the app is to make pictures appear like a snapshot from a disposable camera.

Photo 6: Back to the 90’s with the Huji-Cam-App

The last big trend on Instagram last year was IGTV, as a YouTube competitor and online TV opportunity. Instagram TV is available on the top left of the home page and an addition to the stories. The advantage is that the videos do not have a time limit of one minute, as is the case with the usual videos. Like normal television, IGTV starts immediately when the app is opened. Here you can for example see videos of people you already follow. By swiping up, you get to the Discover feature to see a suitable or popular video. Here you can also like, comment or send the videos to friends.

These were the best known trends on Instagram this year. But there were also some Instagram challenges that attracted attention (and disbelief):

 “In my Feelings-“ or  “Do The Shiggy-Challenge

The reason for this dance challenge was the release of the new album by rapper Drake and a choreography by Instagram comedian Shiggy. What can you imagine by that? First of all, a certain part of the hook lyrics is the basis for the dance:

  1. “Kiki, do you love me“ is the part where you form a heart with your hands.
  2. “Are you riding?“ – the hands simulate a steering movement.
  3. “Say you’ll never ever leave from beside me” with one hand movement a negating gesture is made, as well as a move to the side.

All well and good, but if it weren’t part of the challenge to do this dance next to a slow moving car you got out of before. One starts such a dangerous trend and everyone follows. Everyone now knows Drake’s song, which is at least a positive aspect of this action.

The “Tide-Pod-Challenge

The next challenge is just as dangerous. This “test of courage” launched in the USA consists of putting the small Tide bags filled with detergent, stain remover and brightener in your mouth, biting them open and then publishing the video. It is not necessary to understand why such dangerous challenges are going viral. The fact is that it is neither cool nor funny, but simply life-threatening. Tide’s reference to the dangers of detergents is not very helpful in this case either.

And last but not least: The “Falling-Stars Challenge“

The last challenge that attracted attention last year, among other things, is the Falling Stars Challenge. What is the sense of it? We don’t know. The pictures are supposed to illustrate an apparent death. The person is lying with their face down, because it should look like a tumble. The person is surrounded by accessories that have fallen out of their pockets as a result of this “tumble”, but in reality are perfectly placed. The name does not refer to “normal” people, but to VIPs. Private jets, tennis courts or luxury shopping bags in the pictures symbolize the wealth of these stars.

Conclusion

There were many trends and challenges on Instagram in 2018. The innovations tie the user even more to the app and strengthen the interaction with the followers. Instagram Stories were more popular than ever. A 24-hour insight into the day can easily be given with pictures or short video sequences. The “swipe-up” function, as well as Instagram Shopping, encourage you to buy a product even faster. The simplicity of adding products to the shopping cart in the app and then actually ordering them offers companies and online shops a new way of selling their products. The trends make sense, but the challenges don’t. Spreading the often strange, dangerous and reckless challenges on the internet should not be a trend and they clearly deserve no attention.

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