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The Life and Times of Instagram Advertising & Why You Should Get on Board


In addition to proving itself as social media’s fastest-growing platform over the past few years, Instagram can now add “advertising powerhouse” to its impressive list of attributes. Facebook rules the world, this we know — which is why we knew its acquisition of Instagram in 2012 could only mean one thing: accommodating business needs and creating dollar signs through advertising.

Now you may be thinking: “Instagram advertising? That news is SO 2013.” BUT its ad solutions for businesses have made substantial leaps since the first Instagram ad (à la Michael Kors) surfaced in November 2013.

Fast-forward to 2015, a time when we not only have photo and video ads on Instagram, but also carousel ads, the support of both portrait- and landscape-oriented content, and the expansion to full, 60-second video ads. Bold, linear formatting of a relevant message nestled within a seamless stream of content is the key ingredient to the platform’s advertising success.

So … what prompted these “substantial leaps”? What key piece of feedback from the Instagram consumer led the platform to broaden its horizons beyond pretty photographs? The answer: a desire to take action. Therein lies the differentiating factor for Instagram and the gold mine for brands. While Facebook users typically prefer an in-app experience, Instagram listened and catered to the desire to purchase off-site.

Pairing Facebook’s intricately detailed targeting with the visual aesthetics Instagram users crave creates a personalized and appealing ad experience that fuels the viewer’s desire to buy the exact products they’re seeing in their feed. According to a recent webinar from the folks at Facebook, studies show that 75 percent of people take action after being inspired by a post — and we like those odds.

OK … what do I need to know to begin advertising on Instagram?

Due to the drastically shrinking attention span of the human race, I’ll save the Facebook Ads Manager and placement optimization discussion for another day, and instead give you four key pointers to keep in mind when you ultimately decide to implement Instagram ads:

  1. Always keep your objective in mind.
    If you’re creating Instagram ads for the sake of “likes,” then I’m sorry to say you’re not harnessing the platform’s power correctly. Promote and showcase your products, drive preference, elicit offsite purchases, etc. ROI is no longer a foreign concept, people.
  2. Build and measure for mobile.
    One in five mobile minutes are spent on Instagram. That equates to an average of 21 minutes per day spent within the app for every user (there are 400 million of them MONTHLY, folks). This means it’s crucial that your website is optimized to handle mobile website traffic coming from Instagram call-to-action buttons.

  3. Good creative is key.
    A no-brainer? Not necessarily. Sure, Facebook and Instagram may be different stylistically, but good creative is GOOD creative. Be visual, be bold, and be relevant. Don’t blame poor ad performance on the platform; instead, give your creative a good, hard look first. Chances are it’s not disruptive enough in a never-ending sea of content.

  4. Test. Test. Test. Done testing? Test again.
    “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” is usually sound advice … except in the realm of social media. When you think your ad has reached peak optimization, there’s always a tweak in copy, targeting adjustment or graphic out there that can bring even better performance. Likewise, there’s no one-size-fits-all ad formula or way to engage and inspire. Cater to your audience and test various types of creative. Spend time and even additional budget to optimize the most effective ads.

As marketers, we are constantly pushed for MORE — more followers, more engagement, more clicks to the website … in short, more MONEY for our brands or clients. Social media has, without question, become a huge outlet for driving customer preference and influencing purchases. In the past, the unanswered cry of “Where can I find this?” that you left in the comments section of that darling coral purse (#relatable) would lead you on a wild goose chase through dozens of web pages and blog sites in search of that springtime staple.

NOW, through increasingly robust Instagram advertising paired with Facebook’s intricate targeting tools, we’re able to engage potential consumers, provide the desire to take action, and turn them into customers resulting in dollar signs for your business at minimal cost per conversion — wins all around.