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Top 2021 Instagram Updates that will Impact your Influencer Marketing Campaigns

A couple singing in a recording studio.

Instagram has been busy during 2020, either launching or updating fun features for users and influencers. Brands have even more compelling ways to promote their products on Instagram and recycle influencer content as they approach 2021.

The State of Instagram Going Into 2021

While Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and TikTok remain leading channels for influencer marketing, Instagram is still the dominating platform for influencer activity.

channels to tap into for influencer marketing campaigns

Image via Business2Community

And Instagram shows no signs of losing ground to other channels in 2021. Not content to showcase its current features, Instagram has rapidly introduced new ways for creators to nurture meaningful engagements with their followers.

Instagram Trends and Updates that Impact Influencer Marketing

Raw and Honest Content Posting

How It’s Trending

Influencer marketing on Instagram is now mainstream. As such, consumers are growing discontent with Instagram influencers who seem like perfect human beings with amazing lives. Users want to connect with those that struggle and overcome.

That’s why the rising generation of influencers in 2021 are overly raw – some might say even to a fault. However, consumers can still pick up on inauthenticity. Influencers shouldn’t manufacture imperfection to drive engagement. Authenticity remains the foundation of amazing Instagram content.

How It’s Done

Meet Hannah Marie. She is a holistic wellness blogger writing from the perspective of the patient. Recently, Hannah disclosed herself as an “accidental addict,” meaning that doctors gave her unsafe medications to treat mental illness.

instagram updates raw and honest instagram content posting

Image via Instagram

Today, Hannah documents her story of withdrawal from dangerous, mainstream medication. Painfully honest, she inspires thousands to live boldly in the face of mental/emotional health disorders with a special focus on mindfulness, exercise, naturopathic alternatives, and recovery.

Key Takeaways

When being raw and honest, Instagram influencers must pay attention to their audience. It’s inappropriate to share personal details for mere shock effect. These influencers must be able to deliver value with every post and engage their followers with positivity despite frustrations and hardships.

Transitioning from Celebrity Influencers to Real People

How It’s Trending

Celebrities generate powerful brand awareness. Top brands still use them for annual Super Bowl commercials and high-profile, experiential marketing events. 

But for medium and small DTC brands, celebrity influencers on Instagram make less and less sense. The costs are simply too high and conversions unimpressive.

Meanwhile, Micro influencers dominate Instagram, providing some of most compelling content around brands than most other influencer types. As a result, many brands – including big names like Coca-Cola – are turning to influencers with smaller audiences.

These influencers are pickier about the brands that they partner with. Furthermore, Instagram influencers are able to nurture deeper connections with their audience than celebrities can (due to audience size). The end result is that brands partner with Instagram users that are real, everyday people.

How It’s Done

Micro influencers currently represent the dominant group of “real people” on Instagram. That’s not to say that all Micro influencers are authentic (there exist fake influencers within the Micro category) or that Instagram users with more than 100,000 followers aren’t also “real people.”

But at present, Nano and Micro influencers are low-cost, due to their willingness to work on product seeding and/or commissions. This lowers brand costs and demonstrates genuine excitement for the influencer’s favorite products and services.

Key Takeaways

If you’ve not yet explored the world of Micro and Nano influencers, you’re likely to find Instagram influencers that not only increase your conversions but also nurture more brand affinity on your behalf. These influencer audiences are highly engaged and consider them to be lifestyle authorities.

Instagram Stories

How It’s Trending

Instagram Stories are arguably the most popular form of ephemeral content online, not just on social media. Because these images, videos, and messages are transient, followers rush to view the Story before it expires.

How It’s Done

Instagram Stories last 24 hours. It is one alternative to posting on one’s feed. Influencers can add content to their Stories, and the highlighted profile picture signals to followers that a new Story is available.

instagram updates instagram stories

Image via Instagram

Audiences have multiple ways to engage, to include direct message, reactions, responses to Story features (such as surveys), and more. If a user wants to make their Story last more than 24 hours, they can add that story to their Highlights.

Key Takeaways

Brands and influencers can create a lot of excitement around strategic use of Instagram Stories. You can use them to signal a new post, special announcement, swipe-up sales, and more.


How It’s Trending

IGTV is Instagram’s vertical-style, long-form video option for brands and influencers. That’s not to say that users can’t also use IGTV for short-form video – because they can!

instagram updates igtv

Image via Instagram

IGTV demonstrates that Instagram is not just an image social platform. It can also provide a place to showcase compelling video content.

How It’s Done

Users can choose to create a Live video post (see below) or upload their own video. The best way to use IGTV is to consistently upload vertical-form video. Any horizontal or square footage will display better within a user’s Posts section.

Influencers have the choice between long and short-form video when recording. All long-form videos must be at least 60 seconds. IGTV is best for uninterrupted video. For montages or in-app editing, creators will want to utilize Reels (see below).

Key Takeaways

As popular as TikTok is these days, Instagram is creating a formidable alternative. After publishing IGTV videos, brands and influencers can share that content on Stories or combine several IGTV clips into a Reel.

In-app Shopping

How It’s Trending

In-app shopping is Instagram’s contribution to social commerce, or s-commerce. This feature allows users to respond to ads, sponsored influencer posts, or offers without ever having to leave Instagram.

instagram updates in app shopping

Image via Business of Fashion

How It’s Done

In-app shopping integrates with Facebook Marketplace (Facebook for Business) and offers users enhanced convenience when scrolling newsfeeds.

“Social commerce is consumers’ ability to shop and purchase products or services inside a social media channel without having to leave the platform to complete a purchase.” – How to Integrate your Influencer Marketing into your Social Commerce

Thanks to this feature, users can easily respond to sponsored ads with products they’re interested in and return to using Instagram as their favorite social channel. 

Key Takeaways

S-commerce trends like in-app shopping gives brands more options when creating paid or influencer campaigns. The shopping experience is more streamlined, and customers can convert with fewer clicks.

And the best part is that no one has to leave Instagram to shop. Instagram is now an all-inclusive native ad and eCommerce platform combined.

Instagram Live

How It’s Trending

Yet another example of popular ephemeral content, Instagram Live invites users to participate in virtual events in real-time. Influencers are using Live to promote their own events, host live FAQs on their favorite products, and more.

How It’s Done

Users initiate the Live feature from their profile. As soon as you launch the video, you are live for viewers to join. Ideally, someone is available to manage viewer comments as they appear. Instagram Live is an exciting way to engage consumers.

Once your event is over, so is the live feed. You can choose to allow the video to disappear (for the truly ephemeral effect). Or, you can share the Live event directly with people, groups, or on your IGTV wall.

Key Takeaways

To get the most out of Instagram Live, brands and influencers are announcing their live event well in advance. Some even send out Instagram invites. Most viewers will feel the urge to engage with you during the event, so be sure to have someone receiving the feedback and answering questions for ongoing user-generated content.


How It’s Trending

Instagram Reels is the platform’s response to TikTok, the fast-growing newcomer to influencer social media. With either platform, users can create short-form, vertical-view video from their smartphone.

The main advantage of Reels over IGTV is that Reels allows users to edit, cut, and add filters/music to their video. Amateur videographers can make professional-looking videos in minutes.

How It’s Done

Influencers, brands, or users can either upload or record videos they want to include in their Reel. Using editing tools within the app, users can add music, filters, make cuts, trim and more.

instagram updates instagram reels

Image via Business Insider

Users don’t have to publish right away. They can save their video if pressed for time and finish it later. Once they’re ready to publish, they can post to their wall and also share the reel to their Story.

Key Takeaways

Reels represent the final video trend on Instagram, demonstrating once and for all that it remains the leading platform for social media creators. We encourage brands and influencers alike to attempt each video feature and refine their skills on the best medium for their audience.

That said, TikTok is most likely here to stay. For those enjoying great success with Instagram Reels, they will likely also do well on TikTok.

Cross-platform Content

How It’s Trending

Thanks to Instagram-Facebook integration (Facebook manages both platforms), it is easy to manage cross-platform content and expand one’s reach. Instagram also integrates with Twitter and Tumblr.

But most platforms and mobile devices are making it easier to share content from one channel onto another. The result is consistent activity on more channels and reaching new audiences.

How It’s Done

From Instagram, you can add the option to “Also post to” Facebook, Twitter, and Tumbler.

instagram update cross content promotion

Within advanced settings, users can choose to automatically post to Facebook every time they post to Instagram.

instagram updates cross content promotion 2

When taking advantage of cross-platform content, many marketers suggest tweaking some posts when possible. Adding subtle changes to each platform post can enhance engagement. That said, Instagram’s built-in features make it easy to more or less copy/paste content onto other platforms. Due to its convenience, even conscientious influencers are choosing to use these features rather than labor over each platform’s post.

Key Takeaways

Cross-platform content reaches audiences that tend to be active on one channel and less active on another. The feature ensures that more people see a post sooner rather than waiting on them to check all of their social channels.

Social Cause Feature

How It’s Trending

Instagram’s social cause feature is a byproduct of Facebook Social Impact. Using these donation tools, followers don’t have to just know about a cause or problem, they can contribute to a solution by donating to a valid nonprofit organization within Instagram.

instagram update social cause feature

Image via Facebook

How It’s Done

Nonprofit organizations must first sign-up with Facebook Social Impact to enable donations on Instagram. Upon approval, nonprofits can create donation buttons and share them with Instagram users.

These buttons work on posts and Instagram Stories. These social cause features enable influencers to raise awareness and generate funds for causes they care about at the same time.

Key Takeaways

After a year of global pandemic and unprecedented natural disasters, brands and influencers have risen to the task to help those in need. Social media users can contribute to nonprofits with fewer clicks, and Facebook’s platform manages the transactions within the app. It’s the nonprofit version of s-commerce.

AR Filters Campaigns

How It’s Trending

Augmented reality (AR) filters alter the look and style of your posts on Instagram Live and Stories. No longer a just fun tool for Facebook Kids Messenger, users and influencers are adding fun flavors to their posts, including changing their faces and backgrounds.

instagram update augmented reality

How It’s Done

To access AR filters on Instagram, hit the plus (+) sign and select either Stories or Live. A carousel bar will appear on the bottom of your screen, and you can change your face, the picture, or the background.

These filters match user faces with surprising accuracy and add another layer of fun for users and viewers alike.

Key Takeaways

At this point, Facebook and Instagram are just showing off. AR filters add a new dimension to posting style. Brands, influencers, and users can further refine their content for increased viewership and effects.

Conclusion: Stay ahead of the game and pay attention to these top Instagram trends that will impact your influencer marketing in 2021.

The best influencers will not try to “do it all” on Instagram – mostly because there is now so much one can do with images and video. But influencers will try to master one or more of these upcoming trends.

In your campaigns, collaborate with your influencers about how they are getting the most from these Instagram features. Don’t be afraid to try new things, track performance, and refine your campaign strategy in 2021.

Special thanks to our friends at Grin.co for their insights on this topic.
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