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On the horizon: Advertising on Instagram

With a community of 300 million and growing, Instagram is one of the world’s largest social platforms. To date, Instagram has remained fairly advertisement free. When Facebook purchased Instagram back in 2012, they slowly rolled out selected ads from widely known brands, but advertising for small/medium businesses has been unavailable. In a recent new release, Instagram announced that in the coming months it will open up advertising to businesses of all sizes. Citing statistics from 475 measured campaigns, Instagram’s ad recall from sponsored posts was 2.9x higher than Nielsen’s norm for online advertising. With stats like these, online marketers will be flocking to Instagram Ads to see what kind of results they can achieve for their brand.
How can you ensure success with Instagram ads? Like any marketing medium you’ll need to do your research to make sure you are hitting the right target. If your target market is not widely represented on Instagram, this may be a platform that you can revisit at a later date. However, if you are targeting one of the millions of sub-cultures represented on Instagram, then following the tips below will help make sure your dollars are being well spent on Instagram Ads.
  1. Understand why people use Instagram – Instagram is photo and short video (15 seconds) sharing platform. With Instagram, you snap a photo or video with your phone, then choose a filter to change the image (if desired), add a caption, location and tag friends and then share with your followers. Instagram does support the use of hashtags for easy keyword searching.  It is important to note that Instagram is a very visual platform. Users expect to see creatively filtered photos or videos that tell a story. 
  2. Set a goal – Understand that Facebook and Instagram can have vastly different users and experiences on each platform. So while you may be seeking click-throughs with a Facebook ad, you may be looking for a follow on an app download on Instagram. Create a goal based on who your Instagram demographic will be.
  3. Create images that tell a story – Your Instagram ad will not be effective if the use of imagery is poor. Text can be used, but it can’t be as text heavy as a Facebook ad or Adwords campaign. Because the platform is so visual, your ad should be authentic to your brand and convey a message through captivating imagery.
  4. Use captions with questions and #hashtags – Asking a question in the caption will help engage your customers. Keep it short so people can easily see what kind of information you are looking for. Also use hashtags to help people find your brand or products/services when they are searching for people and companies to follow.
As with any form of advertising, your goal should be to get the user to act. Whether it is to pick up the phone, visit your website or make an online sale, getting the user to act is your primary concern.  With an image based ad on Instagram, use your photograph to interrupt the user from their everyday stream of friends. The short text on the image can be used to engage them and give them an offer or a reason to click through or follow you. Then the caption can be used to help them find more information on what it is you are promoting. Even a short, image based advertisement, can be effective if created correctly.

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