Beauty brands were some of the first to whole-heartedly adopt Instagram into their strategy, and they’re still setting trends today.
There are more than 95 million posts shared on Instagram every single day—in the feed alone—so you can imagine how much higher that figure would be if it included Instagram Stories data. In fact, in the 3 years since Instagram Stories launched, Instagram usage has doubled. It’s simply a fact at this point that the amount of content being shared each day is increasing, making it harder and harder to stand out on the channel and garner engagement.
Since the Instagram algorithm is ruled by engagement, this is where brands should start if they want to grow, drive sales, and build meaningful connections with their audiences. The level of engagement your content receives plays a role in your visibility in the feed, so growing the amount of interaction you receive on each post should be a key focus for brands. It’s the classic notion of the chicken and egg—except we’re talking about reach and engagement.
But all this begs the question, what are people engaging with? We dug into the data and found six high-level trends that are driving engagement for many beauty brands.
1. Tantalizing Texture
This is one of our favorite trends because it’s just so oddly satisfying. Brands are making these super zoomed-in shots of product texture one of their content pillars, as they’re seeing how effective they are at capturing the attention of their community. Product close-ups have been around in the makeup space for quite some time—think crushed eyeshadows and smeared lipstick—but now it’s gaining momentum in the skincare space too, because it allows brands to communicate the feel of a product through a visual.
2. BTS Bathrooms
Who doesn’t love a glimpse behind-the-scenes? This trend essentially features beauty products in their natural environment...the bathroom! When brands feature their products against a wall of white subway tile, or a member of their community posing mid-makeup routine, they are not only showing how their products fit into their audience’s daily lineup but also how they fit alongside other like minded brands. This trend also works incredibly well among retailers; the likes of SpaceNK and Cult Beauty post beautiful (and shoppable 😉) shelfies highlighting a range of products all in one shot.
3. Give Some Lip
This trend is huge in the color cosmetics category. Top beauty brands love to showcase lips mid-application. It gives a really nice close-up of what different lipsticks actually look like on, and instantly captures attention when users are scrolling the feed. This truly is a thumb-stopping trend, and by the looks of things, the bolder the better. Also important to note: each and every photo has either the lip product in the shot—this emphasizes the fact that product imagery can achieve a high engagement rate, as long as it's executed in the right way.
4. Beauty On Board
This trend takes beauty to the skies, and was made popular by the influencer community. These mid-flight shots of select products show just how much beauty and skincare products are ingrained in so many parts of our lives. These shots are aspirational, and they take the notion of self-care literally anywhere. Not to mention—everything looks better with a sunset or cityscape behind it.
5. The OGs of Influencer Marketing
Speaking of influencers, the beauty industry was one of the first to invest in influencers way back when the concept was just emerging in the collective social media consciousness. Influencer partnerships have stood the test of time and remain a key pillar in almost every beauty brand’s social strategy. What’s showing up more than ever on beauty brands’ feeds? BTS of influencers’ makeup routines. Beauty brands aren’t just leveraging influencers to model their products in glam selfies, but brands are also using video to showcase how their products can be used with different skin types and styles IRL, and fit into different makeup lineups, all while tapping into the power of referral. There’s a reason why this trend has stuck—influencer video content provides a unique angle for brands to tap into and is key to maintaining a balanced feed.
One of the latest (and long overdue) trends in the beauty industry is the introduction of non-toxic, cruelty-free products. The conversation around clean beauty has even been a launching pad for new brands that are committed to an environmentally-friendly future in beauty. Beauty brands are bringing this to life with content that highlights natural ingredients that are at the core of their products. Brands are filling their feeds with everything from luscious plants and bright berries, to charcoal and gooey honey, to educate their communities on their products. It doesn’t hurt that images like these make for scroll-stopping visuals. Not only does this content pillar offer the chance for brands to promote their mission and attract new customers, it’s also driving performance for brands in this category.
To Follow or Not to Follow...
It can be tempting to jump on the latest trend, afterall, they’re trends because they’re popular with a particular audience. Trends can be helpful when brands are looking for new ideas, trying to break into new categories, or engage a new demographic, however there’s a lot to be said about carving your own path to foster a deeper connection with your unique audience.
You might already be posting these types of images and videos on your brand’s feed, and while that’s great, industry macro trends won’t necessarily perform with every unique audience. So an important question still remains—what trends visually resonate with your community?
Visual Intelligence ✨
There is such a thing as data-backed creative genius, and it is possible for data and creativity to coexist in wonderfully productive partnership. It’s called Vision.
Vision is Dash Hudson’s visual intelligence technology which can see images much like we do. It’s with this technology that we can empower you with the most impactful insights for visual content you’ve ever come across. Vision can identify engaging trends and show you areas of opportunity within your content strategy. Because every brand and every audience is different, Vision’s algorithms are unique too. Vision learns what your audience likes about specific elements of your content in real-time. This means that you can identify the micro and macro trends that are resonating with your unique customer.
Insight like this gives you the chance to welcome a little assistance when it comes to scrutinizing each and every image from a campaign shoot, or deciding which image to put first on a carousel. While you’re saving time on everyday decision making, you can focus on cool stuff like, you know, strategy.
Want to geek out and learn more about visual intelligence? We got you.
Header image: @cultbeauty
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