When it comes to social media, Instagram commands a huge amount of power.

The photo-sharing network celebrated its seventh birthday this year, along with the news that its following has grown to over 800m accounts. That’s 500m people using Instagram to post their #OOTD or coconut latte every single day.

It’s having a big impact in the way businesses function, particularly small businesses. In the UK alone, Instagram says it will add £1.25bn to the economy in 2016 in terms of gross value added (GVA). This is predicted to increase to £6.7bn in the next five years.

With that in mind, here are the big trends for businesses to try out in 2018.

1. Social media is the go-to for e-commerce

For brands wanting to connect with customers, social media is the key. Instagram says businesses will seek to capitalise on this engagement by using social media to drive direct sales outcomes. This is one of the reasons the social network has been trialling “Shopping for Instagram” with Shopify in the US.

Businesses can tag up to five products in posts, providing direct links to the product. Shoppers can then buy the product without leaving Instagram.

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Once this is rolled out the rest of the world, hopefully in 2018, Instagram will become the go-to shopping app.

2. Ephemeral video is here to stay

Snapchat pioneered the ephemeral video trend, with content disappearing within 24 hours, back in 2012. Instagram took this and made it bigger with Instagram Stories in 2016. Now, more than 300m people use the feature every day.

Instagram says temporary formats like Stories will grow in popularity, and brands should get creative with immersive video experiences.

3. Sales will take place in your inbox

Messaging for businesses is taking off. According to data from Facebook, Instagram’s parent company, 53 percent of people say they are more likely to shop with a business they can contact via a chat app. As well, the general consensus is that people prefer to message a business instead of calling them or sending an email.

Instagram says it thinks this trend will continue to grow in 2018 and more business will be done within messaging.

4. Small businesses are driving innovation

Instagram loves small businesses. Ali Busacca, head of community for Instagram in Europe, Middle East and Africa, told Verdict:

“Everything we do at Instagram is with that community in mind, with those insights in mind. We take feedback back to the company and it helps inform the things we do.”

In particular, the social network is proud of the way it can connect small businesses with customers across the world. It says this levels the marketing playing field. It says this trend will continue into 2018, with small firms pushing the boundaries and setting a new bar for everyone within the industry.

5. Niche trends are key for growth

In 2017, Instagram has seen the growth of niche communities. It says businesses need to take note of this, as for any brand there’s a valuable and engaging audience that can be easily reached.

As a result, the rise of niche communities will give way to the rise of niche brands and businesses to create the specialised products and services the communities are looking for.

6. Content will remain king

Social media is all about content. The best thing brands can do on social media is to create good content in order to drive sales. Instagram says businesses need to engage with the behaviour and demographics of their audiences, to create the content that will get them noticed.