Advertising on Instagram for Beginners

The business world is a highly competitive space. As a business owner, you have to keep thinking of new ways to get your business “out there.” And there’s no better way to do so than by using social media.

Now, I know what you’re thinking, “why re-invent the wheel when my marketing strategies have been working just fine?”

Although, your present marketing strategies are effective for the time being, you need to stay ahead of your competition to remain successful into the future. And, to be honest, you can’t expect to remain on top if you don’t go where your customers are.

a person using Instagram in downtown

The truth is, social media, particularly, Instagram has taken the business world by storm. With about 1 billion monthly active users, you’ll agree that Instagram is one of the quickest growing social networks to advertise on. Therefore, your best bet to succeed in advertising is to share high-quality photos and stunning visuals on Instagram.

Plus, about 50 per cent of people on Instagram are followers of one or more businesses, so it’s much easier for you to get noticed through user-generated content and interest-based ads.

Simply, having a social media presence and posting photos isn’t enough. You need to take your advertising strategy a level higher.

If you belong to the group of businesses that have yet to take advantage of Instagram and all it has to offer, you’ll be happy to know it’s much easier to do than you think. In this post, we are going to look at how best to advertise on Instagram to get the results you want.

Why Use Instagram Ads

Instagram is growing and it’s growing fast! While it doesn’t have as many users as Facebook just yet, Instagram has users both young and old, and it looks like it’s only going to get bigger and better.

In fact, according to a study done by the Pew Research Center, about 55 per cent of people aged 18 to 29 years old use Instagram in the United States. Besides its rapid growth and young audiences, there are a couple of other reasons why Instagram has become so popular among businesses.

Instagram bird's eye feed

Use Instagram Targeted Ads

One of the reasons why Instagram advertising has become so successful is because it’s a targeted advertising approach. You get to choose a specific demographic of people you want to sell your products to, and you can even narrow down to very specific niches. This way, you get to control who sees your ads while making sure they will be receptive to them.

Proven Success

You might think Instagram isn’t mature enough a platform for advertising but nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, if you are still a bit skeptical about going the Instagram advertising route, its site offers a wide variety of brand case studies from companies that have used Instagram ads and succeeded.

High Engagement Rates

Instagram has the highest engagement rates of any online platform; its engagement rate is higher than Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter. In fact, according to a survey done by Yotpo, Instagram traffic stays on site 62 per cent longer than Pinterest, 45 per cent longer than Facebook and 40 per cent longer than Twitter. Perhaps, the best of all is Instagram users not only stay on the site much longer, but they also purchase items at a much higher rate, which means you have a higher chance of converting on your product ads too.

A Sneak-peak into How Instagram Ads Work

As Facebook now owns Instagram, you have to use Facebook’s Ad Manager creation tool to create an Instagram ad.

Here’s how:

Simply visit the https://www.facebook.com/ad/manager and go through the creation process.  Once you’re done, select the send people to your website option. When you reach the creative selection area, where you can format the ad, you’ll have the option of deciding whether your ad should also be shown on your Instagram feed or not.

It’s here you can choose your ad to appear on Instagram and nowhere else. To do this, check only Instagram as a destination for your ad. Before you do this, make sure your Instagram is linked to your Facebook account; otherwise, you won’t be able to post an ad.

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Best Types of Instagram Ad Formats

Carousel Ads

Carousel ads are interactive ad formats that allow you to display several images and video cards within a single ad. They are a favorite among eCommerce advertisers because they allow you more room for your products and encourage more prospective customers to interact with your ad.

Photo Ads

Photo ads are a big thing at the moment. They are easy to get up and running and they allow you to tell your story in your own way using beautifully crafted imagery.

Make sure each ad is optimized for its placement, however. Optimized placements will continue to receive traffic until the end of their campaign. If you don’t optimize image ads, you can miss out on extra traffic due to Facebook dropping the ineffective ad placement a week after its launch.

Stories Ads

Instagram stories are the newest form of advertising on Instagram. They are 24-hour, self-destructing photos and videos composed of either single or multiple photos and videos that are up to 15 seconds long. If you want to post time-sensitive information, Instagram stories are the best tool.

Instagram adVideo Ads

Video ads on Instagram used to be limited to 15 seconds, just like stories ads are now, but that has all changed. Now, video ads can be up to 60 seconds long and shot in multiple styles. Turn your ad into a landscape, keep it square, or try vertical video.

Vertical video is the new trend at the moment. It’s working great for engagement, as most new things do. Try it yourself and see if you can achieve successful results. No matter the format, videos still achieve the highest engagement rates of any ad format.

One key to highly engaging videos, despite their format, is to use a lot of quick cuts and movement to generate interest. Quick movements in the first three seconds of your video will break someone’s habit of scrolling past you ad.

Try using your video ads to highlight various products, new offerings, and interesting events your company is associated with.

Slideshow Ads

Slideshow ads are videos made up of still images combined with transitions. If you’re opting for a slideshow ad, find cool ways to transition your images in order to create interest.

Cool transitions don’t only have to apply to the images. Find ways you can transition your text as well. The more interesting the transition, the more captivating the ad will be.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Advertising on Instagram:

Set your Goals

Instagram campaign goals

Developing a compelling and enticing ad isn’t necessarily easy, and there’s certainly no guarantee you’ll get things right the first time around. That’s why it helps to have a goal. The below goals can help you run your first Instagram ad campaign.

You can measure the success of your ad against your set goals and determine whether the ad has been a success or a flop. You’ll get the best results when you have clearly defined an attainable goal. Here are a few simple but effective goals you can choose from:

  • Getting more profile visits
  • Generating more leads
  • Getting more website visits
  • Driving foot traffic to your location

Make Your Ad as Organic as Possible

If you want to have a successful ad, you need to make it as natural as possible.  No matter how much you are paying for the ad, you shouldn’t go over the top by listing all its features and cluttering images with too much text.

An important note for your advertisements: the Facebook 20 per cent text rule also holds true on Instagram, so don’t be greedy in forcing your marketing message. This means you should not exceed more than 20 per cent text real estate in your ads; otherwise, your ads are at an increased risk of getting instantly rejected.

Additionally, your ad should have organic content with natural lighting and authentic imagery to fit naturally with other content in customer feeds. You might be tempted to add a few filters to make your ads flashy but a clean, high-resolution detailed image is all Instagram needs for your ads to be a success.

Better still, if your images target real-life situations your audience can relate to, they will be more inclined to resonate with your ad and engage.

Lastly, follow basic image composition rules. For instance, follow symmetry rules when taking photos. Use focal points to your advantage when you want to draw focus to an ad and create interest through movement. With that said, keep your ads simple. Making your images busy will only confuse your audience.

fans reaching out

Build Your Fan Base

Another sure-fire way of ensuring your ads are a success is by building a fan base. For anyone to buy your products, you have to first find out what your audience is more inclined to. Their likes and dislikes are important to keep in mind when formulating your ad image and copy. The best way to do identify their likes and dislikes is by researching user profiles, popular hashtags, user images, content style, and type of descriptions that they use. The next step then becomes trying to replicate ads as closely to user posts as you can.

Pay attention to posts that have received the most likes and comments and develop a sense of what works well in relation to the audience you are targeting. Plus, you can also look at what other business profiles are doing. You don’t have to copy their ideas, but use competition as inspiration to make your business profile even better.

Define Your Audience

As you know, ads work well because you have clustered your audience into one niche. The same applies when you’re advertising on Instagram. You can do this by selecting factors like location, gender, age, interests, behaviors, demographics, languages, and connections. From there, you’ll be able to find the kind of audiences that have similar preferences. Once you have clustered your audience, Facebook will calculate things like:

  • Daily reach
  • Potential reach
  • How broad and specific your audience is
  • The criteria you should use to target your selections

Choose Your Ad Format

As mentioned above, Instagram offers five types of ads: carousel, photo, video, story, and collection ads.

  1. Photo Ads – These are ads that tell your brand’s story with imagery.
  2. Carousel Ads – Instead of using just one image, Carousel ads tell your story in a layer of multiple images to promote closely related products.
  3. Video Ads – Video ads are quite popular and have seen a tremendous adoption on Instagram. They allow you to leverage up to 30 seconds of audio and video.
  4. Story Ads – Use time sensitive ads to promote discounts and giveaways. Make sure to archive your stories, so you can use them again.
  5. Slideshow Ads – Slideshow ads are a great way to simplify the story telling process. They are also great for targeting users with slow internet connections, as they use less data than video.

In all three of these ad formats, there’ll be a caption below the picture containing up to 300 characters of text.

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How to Use Instagram Influencers

Influencers come in all shapes in sizes. They can be anything from everyday people to internet stars and celebrities. When describing influencers from a marketing perspective, they can be categorized in four distinct categories:

  • Nano – 100 – 1,000 followers
  • Micro – 1,000 – 10,000 followers
  • Macro – 10,000 – 100,000 followers
  • Mega –  100,000+ followers

Each category has their pros and cons. Depending on your goal, you will choose one or multiple of the following in order to be successful. Beginning with the smallest and ending with the largest, we’ll outline uses for each category of influencer.

Nano Influencer

Instagram influencer posing for pictureNano influencers have the least amount of reach. These are everyday people who interact primarily within their friend groups and circles. Despite the limitation of their reach, they have the highest authority among their followers. Some marketers consider them to be “secret weapons.”

Nano influencers have the most trust of their following because they have no incentive but to be anything but themselves. When you increase in size, as an influencer, and brands approach you, you risk compromising your authenticity for a payday. If you’re a nano influencer, it’s likely the first brands to approach you are fitting in the niche or persona you built for yourself, creating a natural fit. Seeing as the collaboration is genuine, more people who trust you are likely to engage with your sponsored product posts.

From the marketer’s perspective, you can achieve higher than average engagement rates for less spend from sponsored posts because of nano influencers’ inherent authority. The only caveat is they have less reach.

In order to make a nano influencer strategy work, you need volume. This means spending time researching and recruiting, possibly, hundreds of nano influencers for your campaigns.

One additional bonus to using nano influencers is a majority of their audience will be local to their area, as most followers are their within their immediate social circle.

Micro Influencer

Micro influencers are the next level up from nano. They are considered to be topic experts in their fields. They can be anything from leaders in fitness to technology and blogging. YouTube channels and industry experts tend to fall in this range. They have large amounts of authority within their area of expertise due to achieving credibility on their subject. Their followings are committed and assume an engagement rate of between 25 and 50 per cent, making them a powerful asset for marketers.

Nano-influencers still have the highest engagement rates; however, micro influencers combine higher than average engagement rates with up to potentially 10 times more volume.

Because of their modest size, they are typically engaged in dialogue with their following. This is an important consideration when targeting influencers for brand engagement, as the influencer’s target group will be immediately impacted due to their level of trust with the influencer.

Micro influencers are perfectly relatable, authentic, and trustworthy when advertising product. Think of micro influencers as word-of-mouth advocates for your brand. Their authenticity, combined with thousands of followers, can help to create the pillar you need for your targeted influencer marketing strategy.

Macro Influencer

Marco influencers are professional social advertisers that take their content seriously. By now, they’ve most likely monetized Instagram to a point where it has become their full-time job.

The benefits of using a macro influencers are the reach and professionalism they can attach to your brand. These influencers are still considered quite genuine and relatable; however, the line is becoming more blurred, as more macro influencers find ways to monetize their accounts full-time.

Macro influencers have carved out a space for themselves with a special skill set. For example, many influencers are professional makeup artists and make their living advertising cosmetic products. Only cosmetic brands can have access to these influencers as they are established in that sphere.

They garner a large reach while still remaining personal. This means, if you can have them find an angle where they can promote your product using a personal story incorporating your brand, you’ll find success.

Mega Influencer

Mega influencers are the celebrities of Instagram. They garner the most number of likes, comments, and reach. The downside is their engagement rates vary between 2 to 5 per cent.

If you’re looking to work with a celebrity, you should know whether you want to target local or global users. By working with mega influencers, you’ll invariably attract users outside of your targeted markets.

You should also consider if the engagement per ad spend is worth it in comparison to a collection of nano, micro, and macro influencers. It may be more work to collect multiple smaller influencers, but the payoff could be worth it.

Current Influencer Trends

foodie taking a picture of their mealIn the last year, many brands have become more granular with their influencer targeting.

Many brands favour using micro and nano influencers because they provide better customer advocacy through authentic content. Micro and nano influencers are more relatable, meaning they have more weight behind their recommendations and endorsements, and they are far easier to work with.

Brands also found their integrations were more seamless and portrayed in a more favourable light by followers when using smaller influencers. Micro and nano campaign rates were six times more effective per engagement than macro and mega, as the former’s audience base have a deeper level of trust and loyalty.

Sponsor rates on average were lower for micro and nano campaigns as well. Companies find their spend is affordable and can be doled out over a sustained period versus within a short time-frame.

Instagram Shout-for-Shout

If you don’t have a large budget, try doing a shout-for-shout on Instagram. All you have to do is reach out to influencers and ask them if they are interested in sharing content for you. That is, of course, in exchange for you sharing their content or at least shouting them out in a simple caption. You’ll find most of them will be happy to help, as long as they can mutually benefit from the arrangement. However, for this to work, both accounts have to have equal reach, so both sides benefit equally.

Wrapping It Up

While you might be new to the idea of advertising on Instagram, after reading this, you should have an idea of how to get started.

It’s okay to have a bad break at first. That’s expected with every first attempt. But the more you get the hang of things, the more you’ll get a sense of what works and what doesn’t.

Once you do, you can implement what works and discard what doesn’t work.

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Website Comments

  1. Anya Skrba

    Instagram is probably the best social media platform you can use for engagement or connecting as a brand with your followers because it’s visual, simple and it’s attracting all generations!

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