If you have been avoiding Instagram because it’s new and unfamiliar to you, you may be missing out on some of the best exposure you can get for your business. Instagram is a high-engagement platform where many from the Millennial and Gen Z demographic spend their time online. By combining organic interaction with a well-crafted Instagram advertising campaign, you can get your product in front of this audience and begin seeing profitable results. Our guide can help you understand the platform and the best ways to make your Instagram advertising campaign a success.
What Is Instagram Advertising?
When we talk about Instagram advertising, we are specifically referring to paid placement of posts on the app. If you have only promoted on social media using organic campaigns, it can seem counterintuitive to spend money to be seen. However, a paid Instagram advertising campaign can yield results that free posting just cannot match.
As of late December, 2017, Instagram had 800 million active users who have posted 300 million stories. Among those are 25 million businesses, many of whom are vying for the same prospects your business is. If you only use organic placement – that is, posts that you add for free to be seen by those who come to your posts naturally through search and suggestion – your content may never be seen.
Paid advertising gets your posts in front of people who would otherwise never see them, whether it is because of the times of day you and they are online or because of the sheer volume of content on the site. It also puts your posts in front of the right people. With a paid Instagram advertising campaign, you can choose who sees your posts, and when they see them.
Instagram is a visual medium. When you advertise here, you will use images or videos as the focus, rather than creating purely text-based ads like you might on another platform. You will also be able to add a headline, a small amount of ad text and a call to action.
In general, these ads will look very much like a regular Instagram post. This allows them to fit seamlessly into the Instagram users’ experience. When people do not feel that their browsing experience is interrupted by ads, they are more likely to be receptive to them, rather than considering them an intrusion.
Is Instagram Right for Your Business?
Instagram has provided powerful results for businesses in a wide range of niches. According to professionals at Instagram, in March 2017, 120 million users on the site visited a website, contacted a brand or got directions to a business after viewing an Instagram advertising campaign. Additionally, 60% of people who use Instagram say that they have discovered new products on the platform. Three out of four say that they were inspired to take some action after seeing a promoted post.
However, the Instagram audience has many characteristics that will make it a good fit for some brands but not for others. For instance, Instagram skews heavily mobile. This is because, while you can view content in your browser, you can only add it through Instagram’s mobile app. Since most people have and use a smartphone, this is not an issue for most brands. If your brand’s audience tends to be more desktop based than mobile, however, Instagram may not be for you.
Since Instagram is a visual medium, it is most useful to brands whose products have some visual appeal, as well. A company that sells data processing software, for instance, may not gain as much traction as one that offers home furnishings. If you can’t think of an obvious visual edge for your Instagram advertising campaign, you may not be in a place to post on this network yet. However, even brands with no visual product may still have success using meme-like illustrated text ads with clever slogans. Look at what others in your niche are doing to see what approach may be best for you.
Instagram’s audience is primarily those in the 18 to 29 year old demographic. The app is so popular that 59% of internet users in that age group use the app. However, the app’s popularity drops off with older audiences. Only about a third of people between the ages of 30 and 49 use Instagram. One in five people between the ages of 50 and 64 do.
The last thing to understand about Instagram’s huge user base is that it is largely international. About 80% of Instagram users are outside the United States. This can be a big boon to global sellers, but less useful to people who are trying to attract local users to a brick and mortar location. However, just because an Instagrammer can’t visit your business, that doesn’t mean they aren’t useful to you. Instagrammers from around the world may choose to interact with your ads, increasing your engagement and making your brand look even more popular.
Instagram’s Advantages Over Other Outlets
Instagram’s biggest advantage is its intuitive and engaging interface. Users spend a great deal of time on the app looking at photos and videos, liking content, and leaving comments. Because of this, the app has become extremely popular with brands. A major market research firm recently predicted that three quarters of companies with 100 employees or more would be on Instagram by the end of 2017.
Instagram offers excellent targeting and analytics. The app allows you to choose the gender, age group, geographic area, and habits of those who will see your ads. It can also allow you to choose the time of day your ads are deployed. Instagram’s analytic features make it easy to see who is viewing your ad and how they behave when they see it.
How Instagram and Facebook Incorporate
When Instagram began, it was a 13 person start-up. The platform became popular quickly, though, and big companies took notice. The app ultimately sold to Facebook for $1 billion.
This union with Facebook is good news for advertisers. Facebook now allows you to run your Instagram advertising campaigns through the same dashboard that you use for managing your advertising on Facebook. The Ads Manager works exactly the same for both social networks once you have set up and connected your Instagram account.
How to Get Started with Your First Instagram Advertising Campaign
The first step in creating your first Instagram advertising campaign is connecting your business’s Instagram account. If you don’t have one yet, you can start one from any mobile phone by providing your email and phone number. For convenience, you can also start an account using your existing Facebook account by tapping “Log in with Facebook.” It is also possible to create an Instagram account on your computer by visiting Instagram.com.
Be sure to completely fill out your business name and profile. The profile can only be 150 characters, so make every one of them count. Using a character counter app can allow you to rearrange text until you’ve made the most of it.
By the way, it is necessary to have a Facebook Page to run ads on Instagram. If this is something you have been neglecting to set up for your business, now is the time to claim your spot on this massive social network.
After creating your Instagram account, you can sign up for a Business Manager account on Face
book or add your Instagram account to an existing Business Manager account. Visit Business Manager, then go to Business Settings>Instagram Accounts. From there, you will follow the cues to claim your new Instagram account and incorporate it into your marketing.
In the Ads Manager, simply click “Create.” You can either opt for Guided Creation or Quick Creation. We recommend Guided Creation for your first ad so that you can get a better handle on the process of creating an Instagram advertising campaign.
The Guided Creation starts with choosing an objective for your campaign. This is where you define what you want to accomplish by advertising on Instagram. Are you looking to increase brand awareness? Bring traffic to your site? Get people to view your videos? Convert from prospect to sale?
The objective you choose for your Instagram advertising campaign will influence what you see throughout the ad creation process. Instagram’s advertising creator is designed to help guide you through the process and steps that are most likely to get you the results that you want.
Choose a name for your Instagram Advertising campaign that reflects the content and the objective of your campaign. This will make it easier for you to tell one campaign from another when you revisit them later on.
During creation, you’ll have the option to use either a single image or video or a series of images to be displayed together. You can use up to eight images in a single ad. Ensure that they work well together for the best impact and engagement.
The creation process will also guide you through linking your campaign to your Facebook and Instagram pages and adding creative elements like a headline, text and a call to action button. Accessing the advanced options will reveal additional elements that can be put into your ad. Which ones are available to you will depend on the objective you chose.
Once you are happy with the ad, you need only review and publish. In the Guided Creation version, this involves simply clicking “confirm.” If you wish, you can also save an ad as a draft by clicking “Close.” This allows you to revisit an ad at a later date to complete it and publish.
Which Type of Instagram Advertising Campaign Is Best?
Instagram ads are broken down into four basic types: image ads, video ads, carousel ads with multiple images and stories.
A photo ad uses a single image. It should be an image that features your brand and tells a story with one image. These ads can be highly beneficial even when people do not click. You still get an impression as the Instagram user navigates the site, even if they do not interact with your ad.
A video ad can be up to 60 seconds long. However, researchers with Wista say that the first 30 seconds of your video are the most important. It is vital that you engage your viewer right away in your Instagram video, otherwise they are likely to continue to scroll. Video ads can be great for brands whose products are most interesting in motion. A designer who has launched a new, flowy circle skirt can capture views with video of a twirling model, for instance. You also want to be sure that your video is captivating without sound, as many users do not play videos in their feed with sound.
Carousel ads are great for when you have a new line of products to showcase. For instance, a company with a new furniture collection can create a series of images that focuses on each piece in turn. A restaurant can also showcase the many fresh ingredients that go into a new dish.
Instagram Stories are a fairly new feature that has gained a high number of converts. Story ads are full screen ads that appear as users scroll along the Stories feed on their account. About 150 million Instagram users visit their stories feed every day. Since stories feature content that expires after a short amount of time, people check in regularly to see what is going on with their community and the people who they follow.
Instagram Ad Design Best Practices
The images that look best on Instagram are square images with a 1:1 ratio. You can, however, also choose to use portrait images with a 4:5 ratio or landscape ones with a 1.91:1 ratio.
The minimum image size is 600 by 315 pixels for a landscape images. To ensure that your pictures look great, aim for an image size of 1080 x 1080.
On Instagram, the image speaks loudest. If you wish to incorporate text, it should not make up more than 20% of the image. You can also add a caption; up to 125 characters is recommended, but a maximum of 2,200 characters is possible.
Images should be clear and well-lit. A simple background is best. Images with one dominant color catch the eye on small screens. The image below, for instance, shows an ideal background and elements with related colors that are pleasing to the eye.
Setting a Budget
Often, the first thing a person wants to know is how much an Instagram ad costs. However, there is not one set answer. Like ads on Facebook, ads on Instagram vary in cost depending on the targeting options and how much you are willing to spend to reach your potential customers.
You can choose to either pay per engagement or to buy interaction by the impression, which is expressed as cost per thousand (CPM). In the last quarter of 2016, the average cost per click on an Instagram ad was $0.72. Your costs will vary depending on how competitive your niche is.
When you are setting your budget, you can choose to set up either a daily budget or a lifetime budget for your campaign. With the daily budget, your ad will show throughout the day until you have hit your budget. With the lifetime option, the algorithm will pace your spending throughout the life of your Instagram advertising campaign.
You can also manually set bids if you have a hard budget and know how much you are willing to spend. This feature can be found in the Optimize for Ad Delivery section.
Creating a Great Call-to-Action
Marketers have long understood that a powerful call-to-action (CTA) is one of the most important elements of a successful campaign. Telling your prospects what you want them to do makes it far more likely that they will complete the desired action.
In 2015, Instagram allowed their advertisers to access this important feature by adding Call-to-Action buttons to their ads. They recently improved the feature to blend more seamlessly into an Instagram user’s experience. In the past, the call to action button was white for a few seconds, then turned blue once it had lingered on the screen. Now, the color is chosen based on the dominant colors in your image. This makes the experience more organic and makes the user more likely to show interest in the ad.
These buttons can be used to link to any destination on or off Instagram. You can send people to your Instagram profile to follow your brand. Or, you can send them to your website where they can browse your products and make a purchase.
The wording of your of CTA should be brief, clear, and compelling. “Follow us” or “Click on our profile to find a 10% off code” are great examples. These tell people what you want and what is in it for them.
Great results are possible when creating an Instagram advertising campaign. However, to ensure that you are using the platform to its best advantage, you need to make sure you understand the audience, the look and feel of the platform and which messages are most likely to make the customers you want engage with your ad. Study other brands’ advertising to see what works for them. Learn from your own analytics. Over time, you can hone your advertising campaigns to increase your success.
We know that managing social media content and campaigns can prove to be overwhelming as a small business owner, so our social media agency provides packages for social media to help you off set responsibility. Feel free to check out our services to see what will work best for your company, or you can schedule a time to contact us, and we can help you determine the best fit for your business.