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Everyone posts their Instagram pictures on Facebook, so why do I need to focus on Instagram as an advertising platform? If my business isn’t focused on pictures, or if I am just a B2B business, there probably isn’t any value in advertising on Instagram.
If this sounds like your attitude towards Instagram advertising, then we are going to convince you that Instagram is the place to be when running PPC social media advertising campaigns – whether you are running them yourself or outsourcing to an experienced agency. In the following guide, we will explain the unique features of Instagram advertising that apply to all businesses, and how you can be successful advertising on this platform.
With over 800 million active users and growing, Instagram is becoming a bigger and bigger part of Facebook’s revenue, which is a lot! With the growth of Instagram Stories – which has stolen market share from former social media darling Snapchat – Instagram, and its appealing image-only format, appear set for social media stardom.
How is this not an advertising platform you’d want in your digital marketing toolbox? If that isn’t reason enough, the cost to advertise on Instagram is about half that of Facebook (about $5 CPM whereas FB is around $10). If you’re already using Facebook for your awareness campaigns, why wouldn’t you want to spend less to reach the same amount of people?
Via Neil Patel
Instagram has a unique, self-imposed quirk in that it does not allow you to post links anywhere except your bio. In an effort to focus the user’s energy on the image/post itself, Instagram has succeeded in preventing its platform from becoming too commercialized.
Because of this, the only place you can post a link is in your profile/bio. If you’re a business, you’ll want to take full advantage of this and post a link to your website in your bio, at the very least. You’ll also want to include a call-to-action (CTA) in your posts to let users know what next steps to take if they are interested in your brand.
Via Neil Patel
Whether it’s to check out a product, or even just to learn more, you need to take every chance Instagram gives you to market your brand in your bio.
Just as important is the bio information, which can help people who are interested enough to click through to your website.
Like Facebook, Instagram users are enjoying a visually stimulating experience. You want to be able to show your ad as subtly as possible while they are perusing the platform.
Long story short, advertising on Instagram is like trying to talk to a really attractive person; if you try too hard or act too eager, they will see it a mile away and be turned off. Similarly, if you push the hard sell on Instagram users, they will not interact with your ad. In fact, they will scroll past your ad – and quickly.
Be subtle, show delightful content, and win them over with funny posts and educational content. Include intriguing lifestyle shots that show how your product can be used and be creative with how you show your products.
You are an awesome brand, with a lot of confidence and substance to back it up, so share your content with flair, and the masses will come!
Similar to Facebook, you’ll want to focus on awareness, views of videos, website traffic from clicks, conversions, app installs, or leads. It is absolutely necessary to know what your goals are and what types of engagements correlate with you reaching your goals in order to be successful on Instagram.
Via Ad Espresso
We will get into more details on creating an audience, which are pretty much the exact same options available on Facebook. After getting those details down, you just need to decide on a budget and scheduling, like you would with most PPC campaigns, and you’ll be off and running!
Instagram has a few ad formats to choose from, and this will dictate how you approach content. Most of these ad formats are visually appealing, so you’ll want to spend some time brainstorming how your brand can be most effectively conveyed through images and moving pictures (i.e. video or GIFs).
These are ads that appear in the Instagram News Feed of users. They can be Photo Ads, Video Ads, Slideshow Ads, or Carousel Ads. This is the most common type of Instagram Ad, and you’ll want to think about how you want to impress your ad without interrupting the Instagram user’s viewing experience.
These are your single image ads that can be square or landscape in format. You’ll want to make sure you use images that fit the specifications of Instagram. They recommend that the dimensions of your image are 1200X628 with an aspect ratio 1.91:1.
You’ll also want to make sure that less than 20% of the image contains text. This is highly recommended on both Facebook and Instagram, and you’ll want to adhere to this as closely as possible because your ads might be rejected if they don’t. This is a rule.
You can also check your images to see if you comply with this particular rule here.
Always preview what your ad looks like before you post because text that can apply to a Facebook ad won’t necessarily be the same for an Instagram ad. For example, headlines don’t show up for Instagram ads.
These are the single video ads, and the ‘video’ can be a video or a GIF. Instagram Video Ads appear within the Instagram feed just like Facebook videos start out (playing without any sound). So, you’ll want to enable closed captioning to help your videos convey your story as completely as possible.
Many people who are watching aren’t using headphones and could be at work, so they’ll be watching discreetly and they’ll be more likely to continue watching if they can read what is being said so they can understand what is going on with the video.
Capture the audience within the first few seconds or else they will scroll on by. You’ll also want the audience to notice your brand in the first few seconds to make the most of the video and improve brand recall.
Instagram video ads can be up to 60 seconds long and it is recommended that they are at least 15 seconds long.
Most video files are accepted, but you’ll want them to be at least 600 pixels in width. Instagram users are crazy about videos, and the number of views is increasing over 80% year-over-year. That alone makes this format great for engaging Instagram users if you can find the right engaging touch.
It is best to stick with 125 characters or less as any more can get cut off. Practice being as concise as possible to make sure your captions get shown completely. Also, make your captions active. Get users excited about your posts and your brand by using active verbs.
Engagement improves with hashtags. According to Quick Sprout, the sweet spot number could be 11 hashtags, although the sudden jump in performance at 11 – compared to having anywhere between 1 and 10 hashtags – is suspicious. But, it is safe to say that using a decent number of related hashtags will improve your Instagram post’s engagement.
Via Neil Patel
Hashtags allow users to segment content based on popular descriptors. Some of the more popular hashtags have a specific following, and if you can draw interest from a particular hashtag audience, you can find yourself in good favor with an influential audience.
Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags per post, but too many can be a turn-off to your audience as well. You want to find a balance.
Finally, hashtags help users understand what your brand is about. Use this social media dichotomy to help users understand your values and unique selling points.
Carousel Ads are as they sound, and similar to what is available on Facebook (do you see a trend going on here?). You can have up to 10 cards in a single ad. For every card, you can use a video, image or a slideshow.
Carousel Ads allow you to tell a story with many images, as users can click on arrows on the right or left of the content to browse through your images.
Slideshow Ads are Carousel Ads that scrolls on their own, much like a video. You can add up to 10 images per ad.
Instagram Lead Ads are the same ones available on Facebook, but now available for Instagram advertisers to take advantage of for their lead generation efforts.
What’s really cool about these Lead Ads is the pre-filled forms using Instagram information. Users can bail at many points along the conversion path, including the part where they actually have to fill out the form.
We’ve all been there… We are all ready to get whatever the brand is offering – a free trial, a demo, pricing information, a cool free t-shirt, you name it – and right when we get to the point where they ask us for our email address and phone number, we have second thoughts.
Pre-filled forms make the decision easier. Check out the fields that Instagram offers, based on their database of information on users, to see which ones fit your business best. Your visitors might not even have to fill out any information at all!
In addition to the creative that you’ll need for the ad itself, here is a list of components that you’ll need to create an Instagram Lead Ad:
Three hundred million users use Instagram stories daily. That’s larger than Pinterest’s entire user base.
Via Sprout Social
Single Image and Single Video are the two ad types available for this subset of ads. Here are the specifications you’ll need to follow:
You can also do a Single Video Ad. Just upload a video or gif up to 15 seconds long. You can even add music to the video to make it more entertaining.
Make the first half second very attention grabbing. Users will tap through very fast – especially if it is an ad and they aren’t interested.
Boost Posts are an easy way to get your brand in front of a larger audience without the hassle of starting up an ad campaign. If you just want to dabble in increasing your brand awareness, this could be a viable option.
This option can also help you get the needed social proof and comments necessary in the form of likes and comments to make a bigger impact with your posts when the time is right to start an advertising campaign.
You have two options for objectives when you choose Boost Posts:
With the ‘reach people near an address’ option, businesses can choose between a ‘Get Directions’ button or a ‘Call Now’ CTA button. If you are a local business that wants to drive in-store traffic or phone calls, this could be ideal for you. This can also be useful for franchises wanting to drive traffic to specific locations.
You can use Facebook data (because they own Instagram), so you’ll want to use their Audience Insights to find the right target audience just as you would with Facebook.
Facebook’s behavioral targeting is second to none, and their data is a treasure trove that undoubtedly has boosted Instagram’s rise as an advertising powerhouse.
Once you’ve found targeted audiences that work, creating campaigns around Facebook’s lookalike audience will help blast off your Pay-Per-Click Instagram efforts, Elon Musk style.
Via GQ Magazine
Once you find an audience that works, you’ll want to create a lookalike audience – Facebook’s bread and butter – which uses their sophisticated algorithm to find new prospects that look and act just like your working audience.
Via Neil Patel
Via Neil Patel
If you’re making ads specifically for Instagram, you’ll want to deselect Facebook placements. Check out all of the options – including browser, device, etc. – to make sure you are targeting exactly who you want to target. If you are unsure about a specific target (there are a lot of ways you can hyper-focus your placements), then just create a separate ad group or campaign and test how particular target attributes perform.
Users get tired of seeing your ads over and over again. You’ve probably even experienced this yourself. When you’ve seen the same brand popping up in your Instagram or Facebook feed over and over again, how does that make you feel? Probably not so good about that brand, especially if it is not a brand you already like.
You’ll want to implement preventative measures to stave off ad fatigue.
While Instagram/Facebook’s targeting allows you to target hyper-focused and small audiences, you don’t want to allocate too large of a budget to an admittedly profitable audience simply because you don’t want to oversaturate the audience with your ads. For example, $10-$20 per day might be appropriate for a small audience, but $250 per day would probably show them your ads to the point of annoyance. Find a balance between your audience size and your budget.
The amount of ads you serve is an arbitrary number that you’ll have to decide fits you business. Some may advise on 2-3 ads per person per week. Think about the appropriate ad impressions per person per week (or per day) that you want to show your users. This is not an easily testable aspect of your campaign because it is hard to tell when you’ve crossed the line into ‘annoying’ territory.
Overlapping audiences can also be a cause ad fatigue because you are hitting up the same audience within different campaigns. Users are not mutually exclusive to the arbitrary audiences that you create. Luckily, Facebook has a tool for helping you figure out your overlap so you can avoid duplicating your advertising efforts across your Instagram campaigns.
Via Social Examiner
If you find overlapping audiences, try to prioritize audiences (usually smaller audiences get higher priority compared to bigger audiences with the appropriate bidding) and see which work best.
You’ll also want to use negative audiences to help avoid impressing your ads in a duplicative effort. For the lower priority (and usually larger audiences) you’ll want to exclude the smaller and higher priority audiences.
Via Social Examiner
Big surprise, but Instagram’s image-focused platform makes high quality images important when creating advertising posts on the platform.
Also, don’t post duplicate images because it comes across as lazy and will be a turn-off for your audience. It is as bad as posting a poor quality photo. Instagram users want to be amused and entertained, and they won’t be delighted by duplicate images – it might even earn you an un-follow!
Most importantly, have fun in trying to entertain your audience. A picture is worth a thousand words, so you don’t have to do much work after you pick an awesome picture!
Built on the premise of word-of-mouth recommendations, targeting influencers on Instagram is a powerful way to reach large swaths of audience that are relevant to your brand or products. Additionally, you gain instant credibility and social proof by working with a partner that already did the hard work of gaining a user’s trust for you. User trust is one of the most important aspects in winning over a loyal following.
Via Shopify – Hilary Duff holding up a Wildflower iPhone case
You can pay for a service to help you find influential users across Instagram, like Ninja Outreach. Basically, this service can help you find popular people on instagram and assist you in reaching out to them to partner with you to spread your product’s awareness through their organically built audience.
But, there are drawbacks to influencer marketing.
It can often be expensive to work with influencers as they are in a position of leverage, and depending on how much they like your brand, they can drive up the price for you to use their audience.
Are you good at negotiating? If not, it is time to get good at negotiating because you’ll be working with influencers who have experience wheeling and dealing to get the best value for their sway. Have a number in mind for how much you value their audience, and be willing to walk away from a bad deal.
What if it doesn’t work out? Tough luck. Most influencers won’t put results-driven delivery into a contract, which means you’ll have to be okay with whatever outcome comes from the partnership. Make sure you know exactly what you want from the influencer and try to incorporate as many results-driven points in your contract as you can. Put your project management skills into action! Decide on:
Once you get all those details out of the way, the positives of an influencer relationship can be fruitful.
There’s a cool factor that you just can’t buy by working with certain influencers, and down the line, that instant credibility can be worth whatever price you paid in brand awareness dividends. Users are simply more likely to buy when someone they trust has bought into a brand.
A McKinsey study showed that you’re more likely to retain your customers through influencers. Word-of-mouth in today’s world means working with these influencers.
You’ll also want to attach your influencer content to your product pages. Without a doubt, the popularity of your posts and account can influence the purchasing intent of users. Long story short, users are more likely to purchase your product when they see many others interact and follow your brand or posts, so use the well-earned social proof you gain and apply it to your products.
Instagram understands the power of influencers – and the use of influencers by brands – to magnify a message, and they are trying to bring more transparency and consistency to the relationship with Content Expansion.
These are basically tools developed by Instagram to help facilitate paid relationships in an honest way.
These tools include ways to view the metrics behind the posts related to the partnerships. It also includes enforcement of policy for tagging and making sure the branded content relationship is kosher and meets certain standards on both sides.
Partner approvals will make sure that businesses can approve a creator partner in advance. This also helps them avoid constantly approving tags used by the creator once they’ve established a working relationship.
You can also reach out to bloggers/influencers manually, just like you would if you were seeking a link for SEO link building.
Instagram is now partnering directly with an Ecommerce platform – namely, Shopify. This is huge for Shopify and Instagram, and not such good news for everyone else in the Ecommerce or image advertising realm (we’re looking at you Pinterest and BigCommerce).
Instagram has added shopping tags to their News Feed posts and Stories.
While you can’t promote posts like this yet, you can allow:
The feature on Stories is not yet available to everyone, but will be rolled out in the next few months according to Instagram themselves.
Here is a case study to show how an Ecommerce company can capitalize on the recent Shopify-Instagram partnership. There is definitely a bias to this case study, which was done by Shopify.
Also, by going to the Shopify app store page, one can tell by the comments that Instagram is still learning a lot about how to work their Ecommerce integration (i.e. the platform might still be buggy for the Ecommerce integration).
In order to participate in the Shopify/Facebook/Instagram partnership, you’ll first you’ll need to create an Instagram business page. Then, you’ll need to create an approved shop in the Facebook Channel.
Shoppable posts on Instagram provide a seamless customer checkout experience for anyone who discovers your products in their Instagram feed.
Instagram is here to stay, and it is only growing in popularity with more features for advertisers. This smorgasbord of advertising-friendly attributes makes marketing on this platform a no-brainer, especially if you can creatively present your brand in images. The young demographic – with their disposable income – that makes up a majority of users is the cherry on top of why you should be using Instagram if you want to get the best return on your advertising dollars.