10 Instagram trends for 2018

Girl Traveling Leisure Lifestyles Holiday Concept

Social media is one of the best ways to reach customers. Instagram alone has over 800 million monthly active users, and it’s constantly growing. In 2016, Instagram reported that 80% of these users are located outside of the United States, meaning that posts have the power to create an impact globally. Two years on, that international growth—and its potential for businesses—has only grown.

As Instagram’s global reach increases, the trends are coming thick and fast. A trend reflects what people are enthusiastic about, or what they are inclined to like or follow. While trends tend to be temporary—what's popular now can easily be replaced by something else tomorrow—they also have a huge power to influence. And in some instances, great trends stick around to become the new norm.

Following a trend is more than about riding the wave of popularity and having good timing. Following a trend is a signal boost, making your brand relevant and visible. Done well, you can harness a trend to create real results for your business or brand.

These results will be more than just a boost in your followers or the likes on your account, but real business metrics: new leads, more sales, and a strong brand and reputation.

Here are ten Instagram trends that are making the rounds in 2018. Try one, two, or even all of them help bring your brand forward.

01. Brighten with bold colors to make a statement

The colors on a design can make a big impact. And right now, brighter and bolder color choices are dominating social media.

According to the Pantone Color Institute’s Pantone Fashion Color Trend Report Fall/Winter 2018, one industry where this is dominant is fashion. Autumnal hues such as deep red, russet orange, and olive green are paired with violet, yellow, and blue-green. These colors clash, but this particular palette works because the bright colors pop against the darker ones. While it has its roots in fashion, this partnership of colors can work on illustrations, layouts, and other design elements.

Need help with finding the right palette for your Instagram post? Canva Learn’s article about colors has all the information you need, from color meanings to palettes. Check it out here: Canva Colors.

Canva offers hundreds of templates that explode with color. Start off with the Bright Red Banner and Floral Dress Instagram Post, or use a grid like the Pink Simple Flowers Collage Instagram Post.

02. Use the profile grid to create a wall of color

Instead of posting with the feed in mind, why not make the most of your profile page?

Recently, Instagram users have been taking advantage of the 3×3 grid on their profile by posting consective images that create a bigger image just like a puzzle. Other users take on a different direction by choosing a color, then posting images with different hues of that color. The result is a beautiful profile with colors changing every few images.

Fine art photographer Adam Rabinowitz of @colorcurated takes photos of everyday subjects during his travels, with a particular eye for color. He then curates these photos: when he posts them to fill the grid, it forms a solid-like block of color that is a feast for the eyes.

Adam Rabinowitz's Instagram profile page is compelling to look at because of its bright colors

Fashion photographer Shaira Luna (@shairaluna) does something similar, using lights and filters to create the warm hue of her photographs.

Canva Mexico’s Instagram also plays on color, but cleverly changes the hue for each post that makes up the grid, to subtly transition into the next set of colors. When viewed as a whole, the profile is one big gradient.

Canva Mexico makes the most out of color blocking on Instagram

Creating an attractive Instagram profile can entice people to visit your page and check out your posts as a whole, instead of waiting for them to appear on their feed. This is a great way to get past the algorithm that has people missing out on posts.

For inspiration, go through Canva’s templates by using the color as your search term. Here, the word ‘blue’ brings up several templates with various hues of the desired color.

Search Canva's templates with the color of your choice to find templates that fit your color scheme

03. Play with color and gradients

Say ‘gradients', and you might think of the pre-packaged word art that came with your word processor back in the ‘90s. Today, gradients are so much more polished. Not only can they be used for text, but they can also be used as backgrounds, foregrounds; even acting as the central elements of a design. Leading brands like Spotify, Stripe, and Apple are now using gradients on their websites or products. Instagram boldly used gradients with its logo and brand redesign in 2016, and while criticized at that time, it has made it easier for the app to stay on brand across its different products.

The choice of color is a huge factor when it comes to creating a good gradient. Random selection will result in a haphazard explosion of colors that can hurt your brand more than it can help. Use basic color theory to find colors that work for your needs. Gradients can help guide a viewer’s eye to where you want them to go, or even feel.

You can even follow the gradient principles when creating a layout for your posts. Pick props that are of similar hues and arrange them accordingly, like in the examples below.

Don’t want to think too much about what colors to use? Canva offers hundreds of gradient images and photos. Just search for ‘gradients’ and use them in your design.

The White Text & Gradient Background Mother's Day Quote Greeting Instagram Post and Blue Photo Stars Earth Hour Instagram Post uses photographs with natural gradients as a background.

04. Bold typography and font types

While typography will always be a part of a design, the kind of typefaces used vary as trends come and go. Sans-serif fonts are the top choices, as they work well for both headers and body text, and are easy to read.

For headers, take a sans serif font with thick strokes to grab a viewer’s attention. Place it against a background to create contrast, or give it a highlighter effect by adding a shape only slightly bigger and wider than the actual text. A more dramatic effect can be achieved by layering text over images, letting them overlap with each other instead of keeping them separate.

Bold sans serif font help make the quote stand out from a dark background by creating contrast.

Placing shapes behind text can help highlight the words and work as an alternative to help them stand out against a light photo or background.

Small shapes roughly the same size as the text works as highlights without overpowering the design

Lastly, consider using typography to hold images. Canva has frames in the shape of the alphabet. Dragging images inside and placing it against a plain background will give a different perspective.

In this design, the shape of the text becomes the frame for the image

Get this look on Canva: Use the terms ‘photo holder letters’ to find letter-shaped photo holders. For maximum effect, use any of the pre-made text layouts from Canva’s in-house designers.

Try these designs I made myself using Canva elements: Chill Birthday Greetings Instagram Post and Benefit Concert Instagram Post

05. Add illustrations to your photos

Photos are powerful on their own, but combining a photo with illustration adds a whole new level of interest. Illustrations can emphasize the subject in the photo and provide a sharp contrast between the two different graphic mediums. It can also help emphasize the message you want to bring across or evoke emotions. It can be whimsical, funny, or thought-provoking.

Illustrator Naomi Dawson (@n0meo) posts her outfit of the day (OOTD) and its matching accessories, then draws cute illustrations that play up the theme. It's a fresh take on a classic social media meme and ensures her followers are always eager to see what she has for her next post.

Naomi’s illustrations work with the theme of the day. Her layouts include her with her baby, a solo shot, and her shoes.

Lipika Shantharam (@creativewali) is a visual artist. Her travel photos are beautifully integrated with illustrations, creating a dreamy world within the reality of the images.

Lipika’s illustrations are treated with the same filter as the photo, letting them blend and look more cohesive

Can’t draw? No worries. Canva has thousands of graphics that you can use to spice up your design. Fire up your design, type in the search box what you’re looking for, and make sure to select the ‘Illustration’ tab to bring up relevant results.

Be bold and playful with these Canva templates that combine photos and graphics like Pink Floral Mother's Day Instagram Post and Colorful Illustrated Music Night Invitation Instagram Post

06. Hip vintage floral feels

Vintage style has been a constant inspiration for modern designs. Add flowers and nature, and the appeal is even stronger. Vintage floral designs are elegant and regal, bringing to mind the interior design and furniture of England’s castles.

And let’s not forget that flowers are naturally beautiful. Simple selections of a few blooms can instantly brighten any layout or bring a pop of color into your photograph. Bunches of flowers can act as instant background without further arrangement.

And if fresh flowers aren’t on hand, you can use faux flowers or plants—or illustrations. Pick ones that go with your theme or product, and the difference won’t be noticed.

Flowers make great backgrounds for invitations and social media posts. Use illustrated flowers like here with Purple Flowers Wedding Instagram Post or use filters like the Red Photo Flowers Instagram Post

07. Less staging, more natural feel

Marketing is all about presenting the product. Backgrounds and sets are carefully planned and arranged to best showcase the product, or what it represents. This trend is carried over to simple flat lays with muted colors. But just as color preferences change, layouts too are experiencing a revolution. Simple flat lays with minimal props are being replaced with layouts that look busy and crowded, but still focus on the product.

Kick back and relax, this photo from Vans seems to say

Many millennials are experiencing “marketing fatigue”—where they become immune to images that are blatantly trying to sell something. What they do respond to is photographs with a more natural, candid feel. Photos of people in action, or casual photos while doing an activity, are having a moment. Think of stolen shots while you and your friends are dining out, while hanging out at the beach, or even just taking a walk. Using your own photos makes your post more personal and unique.

Haven Cafe Sydney's posts give off a comfortable, relaxed vibe that will make you want to come in for a cup of coffee and just hang out
A close up of coffee being made provides a great background for this advertisement from Toby's Estate
Showing the process of making dinner gives a relaxed, approachable air, and can promote a product without being pushy

Grab attention by showing a relaxed, behind the scenes look like the Cake Decorating Workshop iPhone Layout and the White Bordered Coffee Shop Instagram Post

08. Don’t forget Instagram stories

Use Instagram Stories to reach your audience and get your brand’s message across. It has grown from being a Snapchat competitor to a powerful marketing tool. Stories last only for 24 hours, but with the new Highlights feature, you can organize them into categories or themes and keep them on your profile for as long as you need. You can also set up a live broadcast to show events as they happen, or use it as a live Q&A to interact with your viewers.

Artists like Jason Mraz use Instagram stories to promote their latest work. Instagram themselves use the app to share happenings from events that they’re hosting or supporting.

While Instagram stories are meant to be temporary, use it to create buzz and send attention to your permanent posts.

You can use a photo for your stories like White Sale Kids' Fashion Stuff Story, or create a cute illustration for your story like Pink and Green Turtle Birthday Status Story

09. Create quality videos

Videos have always been popular on social media. It's a way for you to share information with your followers beyond static images and long captions.

While you can share short, 15 second videos on Instagram stories to capture viewer attention, give them more by posting videos to your timeline or to Instragram's new video channel app, IGTV. Timeline videos run for one minute, great for sharing relevant information and short enough to keep viewer's interest. IGTV on the other hand, can keep 1 hour long videos and are ideal for those who want to push their brands further.

Post quality videos instead of ‘from the hip' shots, and by quality, we mean focusing on the message you want to share. Tell a story—your process, thoughts, insights, etc.—and don't embellish things too much to preserve authenticity.

Chris Everingham is a fitness and nutrition coach who uses Instagram to share his exercise videos. He explains what the exercise targets, how it is done, and shares tips for best practices when executing it. The vidoes are short but clear and precise.

Visual artist Josie Lewis creates colorful, rainbow inspired paintings. How she makes her art is as fascinating as the finished product itself, and thankfully, she regularly shares her process through videos in her account.

Take time to craft a good, informative video to maximize the allowed time. Include title pages to introduce your video and use this as a thumbnail. Giving your viewers a visual clue on what the video’s about has a higher chance of interaction, likes, and shares.

These templates work great as title images for your video. You can take a still of your video and use it as a background to match the content. You can add in details like this Dragon Sculpture Social Media Graphic, or keep it simple like Canva Design Tutorial Social Media Graphic

10. Interact with users using Instagram Stories Q&A templates

Did you and your friends ever pass around a slam book in school when you were younger? This notebook had premade questions and was a fun way to get to know your friends better.

Question and answer templates are a trend taking Instagram by storm. These Stories templates are fun questionnaires that range from fill in the blank questionnaires to this or that questions, checklists to fill in the blanks. You can even answer using GIFs. Users can take a screenshot of the templates that are created by other users or brands, answer them, then post to their timeline.

Joey of @shethespy is a lifestyle blogger, and her templates cross fashion, pop culture, tv shows and movies, books, and personal themes. With over a hundred templates that provide hours of entertainment, Joey has set her name out there as a quality template creator and source.

Joey’s Instagram Stories templates run from a gamut of topics: from Jane Eyre, color keywords, and Harry Potter, among other things. Below are some examples of her more popular ones.

Martina Martian's signature art style is colorful and cartoony. Her templates are playful and engage users to respond in a humorous way.

Templates can also be timely, like these ones on Canva that were created to commemorate the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle: Red Royal Instagram Story and Cream Gold Blue This or That Instagram Story

Keep exploring

Instagram as a platform keeps evolving, and with it comes with the different ways people use it to share their stories. Coupled with user aesthetic, there are never ending ways to up your Instagram game.