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Instagram Advertising: The Ultimate Guide

Instagram is now home to over 25 million businesses worldwide. If your brand isn't included in this number, you're missing your chance to get the word out to this vast and widespread audience. Luckily, with a few tips and tricks, you can launch an Instagram campaign in just minutes!

The Ultimate Guide to Instagram Ads

“Follow me on Insta,” has become an uber-popular phrase among millennials and teens alike. Collecting followers has become a popular priority among the app’s many users.

This wave of popularity has made Instagram one of the most popular social media platforms ever. This huge level of usage also makes it a prime place to advertise. 

With the number of people that frequently check into the app, it’s a lucrative marketing opportunity. The visual appeal and engaging nature of the app make it an awesome place to position your next ad campaign.

Instagram is only a decade old and has come a long way in a relatively short time frame. Originally started as a mobile check-in app, Instagram quickly morphed into an extremely popular photo-sharing platform.

The successful app quickly became a favorite of investors as they fed it financially and nourished its growth. Then, just two years after launching, Instagram was bought by social media powerhouse Facebook for an astounding one billion dollars.

Today, Instagram has become one of the most popular social media apps in the world. Users can’t seem to stop checking in and scrolling through the billions of images and videos constantly being posted and shared.

With half a billion Instagrammers popping on to the app daily, it’s definitely a popular place to be. It’s also home to over 25 million businesses. If your brand isn’t included in this number, you’re missing your chance to get the word out to this vast and widespread audience.

Luckily, launching an Instagram campaign is relatively easy. Ads can be published in mere minutes.

The trick is to do things in a highly effective way. We’re going to share some great tips for developing a great advertising campaign to get the most out of your Instagram presence.

Instagram Ads Compared to Other Social Media Ads

Instagram launched in 2010 in a world of emerging social media apps. Founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger knew that they had to make their app stand out. As smartphone usage was booming, they wisely used the trend to their advantage.

They chose to develop Instagram to appeal specifically to iPhone users. The content had to be shared with a 1:1 ratio for simple smartphone viewing. With a 640 pixel height and width, it perfectly matched the iPhone’s display size.

The idea took off and Instagram became popular especially among Millenials. The ability to quickly edit and share photos was an amazing feature for a demographic that craved instant gratification.

Partnered with the genius of Instagram Filters, the app soon became the go-to for sharing images. These in-app filters can transform any bland photo to an artsy image, enhancing features and creating a whole new mood. 

The ability to geotag posts and check-in is another genius feature. All you have to do is click on a location and you can check out all of the posts that have been tagged there.

Organizing the posts by hashtags allows users to search for posts relevant to them, whether posted by those they follow or not. This makes sorting and finding content quick and easy. 

All of these features make Instagram a great place for your business. Plus, you’ll see that there are some smart ways you can make these features work well for your page and your campaign.

Adjusting and Transforming

Over time, Instagram added features and transformed the platform to remain relevant. This transformation has maintained Instagram’s popularity and kept it feeling fresh and new.

The app relaxed the image size constraints and began allowing videos and several photos per post. It also added a chat feature for private messaging. However, launching its stories feature may have been their most genius move yet.

Instagram Stories allows you to post photos and videos that disappear after twenty-four hours. Taking a page out of the Snapchat playbook was a smart move as the feature became hugely popular with Instagrammers that now post millions of stories per day.

With the guidance of tech whizzes Mark Zuckerberberg and Adam Mosseri, Instagram will only continue to flourish in the world of social media. Continual improvements and a growing audience, make it a prize choice for branding and advertising.

Developing a Genius Instagram Ad Campaign

Your Instagram campaign can give your brand such great momentum. The trick is to develop a smart campaign that is effective and well-planned. You’ll also want to stay in tune with the progress and adjust as necessary. Here, awareness and flexibility are key.

From the beginning of your campaign to evaluating the metrics, you can create smart ads and reach your targets. It’s important to think of your Instagram presence as cyclical: constantly planning, implementing, evaluating, and adjusting. 

These tips can help you hatch an awesome campaign. They can deepen and grow your brand’s Instagram presence. They will also help you develop your own best practices for interacting with the world of billions of Instagram users. 

Setting Smart Instagram Ad Goals

The first thing you need to consider is the “why” behind your campaign. What are you trying to accomplish on Instagram? How do you want your presence to impact your brand?

You may be a new brand or simply trying to expand your market. Maybe you simply want to create and increase the awareness of your brand.

Good news! Instagram is a perfect place to do this. The format and number of users on the platform makes getting the word out about your brand very promising. 

You might be looking to improve your brand’s reputation. This increase in brand consideration means that more buyers will opt for your brand in a purchase situation.

Again, you’re in the right place on Instagram. This goal just means that you might want to make your ads more informative so users can clearly see the benefits of your brand.

If your goal is to increase website visits, sales, or app downloads, a mobile app ad is a perfect choice. Getting successful conversions from your ads can work great on Instagram.

With clearly defined, measurable goals, you can move forward with your marketing plan. These objectives will also drive your strategy and help you make the best choices for your campaign.

Speak to Your Instagram Ads Audience

One of the best ways to ensure your campaign is successful is to define your target audience and keep them in mind every step of the way. Who are you trying to reach both during your Instagram campaign and with your entire marketing strategy?

Think about the need for your product. Who is most likely to benefit from it? What segments of the population most closely identify with the characteristics of your brand?

Asking yourself these questions can help you develop your target audience. This can also help you create content that speaks to this group.

Instagram allows you to build audiences with many factors to consider. This ensures your ad is being viewed by the users that are more likely to interact with your brand.

You can narrow your audience by traditional demographic characteristics like gender, age, and language. You can also target users in a specific location, which is especially helpful if you are trying to drive traffic to a physical location. 

Instagram’s mountains of user data allow you to tap into the personality of your audience. You can dive deeper and create audiences based on interests and behaviors associated with your brand. 

Creating custom audiences of your current customers allows you to keep your brand at the forefront of their minds. Look-alike audiences give you the chance to be seen by users that are similar to your current customers and more likely to be intrigued. 

Once you have defined your audience, you can better develop your content and advertising. By thinking about your brand from their perspective, you’ll be able to more successfully appeal to them.

Check Out Other Ads on Instragram

Checking out other ads can be super inspiring. It can also give you the chance to see what works well and what doesn’t do so great.

Take these ads from competitors Green Chef and Purple Carrot, online meal delivery services. 

They are two very similar companies with similarities and contrasts in their advertising style. 

Both feature mouth-watering images of their dishes. However, their strategies differ. Purple Carrot features a soft call to action and a simple caption.

Example of an Instagram ad
Another example of an Instagram ad.

On the other hand, Green Chef takes it to the next level. They partner with Soyummy to tout their brand. They make big claims and create a need for their product. 

These strategies are paying off. Their ad has some serious viewership and over a hundred user comments.

That’s not to say that you should mimic your competitor’s ads completely. Just take note of what they are doing well and use that information to your advantage. 

After all, you’re likely chasing the same target audience. Why not use your competitor’s strategies to win out in the long run?

Learn About Instagram Ad Types

Depending on your objectives, you’ll want to consider different ad types. It’s important to understand the types of Instagram ads, as well as how to use them.

Photo Ads

Photo Ads on Instagram

This is pretty self-explanatory. It’s a photo of your product or service displayed within a user’s feed. These can be great for building awareness of your brand.

The key is to make a dynamic impression with a crisp, stunning photo. Add a clear call to action to reach your goal. Bonus, these are quick and easy to publish. 

Stories Ads

You can take advantage of the popularity of the Stories feature with a story ad of your own. In fact, one in three stories viewed on Instagram is from a business.

Creating an attention-grabbing story ad can get you some great exposure. Plus, it allows you to create an ad that fills the screen, getting the full focus of the viewer.

Video Ads

Video ads on Instragram

These allow you to tell a bit more of a story. They are great if your objective is building brand consideration. 

With a video, you have time to share your brand’s message and benefits. It also allows you to inject some engaging personality in your advertising.

Collection Ads

These ads are a combination of photos and videos that share more in-depth information about your products. This allows you to show off a ton of imagery and share a large number of brand benefits.

These are great for converting ads into purchases. Users can browse and buy products directly from the ad. 

Carousel ads on Instagram.
Another example of carousel ads on Instagram.
Instagram carousel ads.

These are ads where users can swipe through several photos or videos. This allows you to share multiple messages or images in one advertisement.

Carousel ads are great for retailers showing off multiple products. They are also awesome for converting views into website visits and purchases.

Make a Financial Plan For Your Instagram Ad Campaign

Now that you’ve decided on your goals and what types of Instagram ads can get you there, it’s time to talk numbers. How much are you going to spend on your Instagram campaign?

The Instagram price structure can vary; however, it’s very results-driven. Often, you can pay per impression or clicks. This means that you have the benefit of only paying for what you truly get out of your ad.

Instagram has easy tools to set your budget and adjust it as needed. This allows you to throw a little more of your marketing budget towards the campaigns that are working successfully. 

Stay True and Authentic To Your Audience

When advertising on social media, it’s super important to be authentic. You need to create a personality for your brand that users trust. 

If your Instagram ads seem forced and over the top, users simply won’t believe you. Focus on showing your brand’s benefits by personifying it for viewers. 

When creating a personality for your brand, think about your target audience and their typical personality traits. This will help you cultivate a brand personality that they can identify with.

Once you develop this personality for your brand, keep it consistent. Users crave interacting with brands they can trust. 

Make sure to maintain consistency with your other marketing channels as well. You want your brand to have a holistic voice, no matter how and where customers are interacting with it.

As consumers see your consistency and repeated authentic messages, they will begin to form a relationship with your brand. It’s important to keep this relationship intact to develop a strong customer base. 

Stop the Scroll

Advertising on Instagram, the ultimate guide.

One of the most important parts of creating your Instagram ad is stopping users from scrolling right past you. You need to grab their attention and grab it quickly. 

Your initial impression needs to be dynamic. It needs to stand out from a user’s feed and lure them in. 

If you are publishing a photo ad, your goal is to stop users long enough to read your caption and the call to action. A well shot and edited photo goes a long way here. 

Video ads are great for sharing more information, that is if users actually stick around to watch them. When produced strategically, you are likely to earn more views and longer watch times. 

Start your video’s message quickly. Viewers should immediately know what they are learning about. Then, make it entertaining enough that they hang around to absorb your whole message.

Carousel and collection ads are awesome for sharing multiple images but you need users to look through them or they are pointless. Your first image or video should focus on grabbing their attention. It should also include information that tempts users to swipe or scroll to check out what else you have to offer.

Your story ads should be fun and engaging. This is a great place to mix it up and let your brand’s uniqueness shine. Keep it fun, lighthearted, and entertaining to capture views.  

Whatever type of ad you choose, focus on making it stand out. When you can get users to pause their scrolling and keep them around for a few moments, it can be a big win for your campaign.

Catching Captions

Instagram is an app focused on visual stimulation and information. However, words are also super important to your advertising campaign.

Your ad’s captions also tell a story. They are also another chance to deepen or enhance your message. How you craft your caption can boost your ad a ton.

Instagram users are here for photos and videos. They don’t want to read a mile long caption. So it’s best to keep it short, sweet, and to the point. 

There’s also the dreaded “more” button. How many users actually click that and read the entire caption? Likely not an overwhelming majority. That’s why your word placement is essential. 

Check out this well-worded, highly informative caption from Orgain. It’s super-efficient, using only twenty words to share four benefits and a call to action. They even threw in a play on words for a little light humor! 

Caption your Instagram ad.

Keep in mind when crafting your captions that less is often more. Putting your most important information first can help it get read. Use limited words as an opportunity to accentuate your ad, not overwhelm it.

Engage With Users With Your Instagram Ads

Social media is a big opportunity to engage with consumers. Instagram is one of the very best platforms for this. It’s also another chance to create your brand’s image and personality.

When users comment on your ad, try to respond, and meaningfully. You need your brand to be an active Instagram user, just like your customers.

Try to respond to both negative feedback and praise. Use the comment section as a forum to answer any questions or resolve any issues. 

As we said before, stay authentic and true to your brand. Use a consistent voice and tone, even when responding to comments. This helps customers forge a connection with your brand. 

Razor subscription service Billie, is a master of engagement. Check out the comment section of one of their Facebook ads.

Engage with users on your Instagram ads.

Everything about the Billie brand screams light, fun, and bubbly, and their comment section is no different! All of the conversational elements from the casual tone to the fitting emojis fits their brand perfectly.

Focus on enhancing your brand’s voice by engaging similarly with users. Not only does this give you another customer service tool, but it’s also another chance to reinforce your message.

Analyze and Adjust For Better Instagram Ad Success

One of the biggest benefits of Instagram advertising is the ability to see how well your ads are doing. This easy to interpret data allows you to see what’s working for your brand and also what isn’t.

These simple charts are based on your advertising objectives. They show you the trends of your ads, in real-time. 

This information is super valuable in tweaking and making adjustments to your campaign. Being able to see what works immediately makes changes faster to implement. It can also save you some big bucks otherwise wasted on using an ineffective strategy long-term.

Use this data to your advantage when planning future campaigns. Once you’ve run a few ads and studied the analytics, you’ll have a good feel for the best ways to plan your Instagram ads.

Bonus - Seamlessly Advertise with Facebook

Facebook’s ownership of Instagram benefits more than just its shareholders, it gives you some perks as a marketer as well. Advertising on both platforms can be done all in one place!

The Facebook Ads Manager page is your dashboard for setting metrics, creating ads, and analyzing data for both platforms. This makes dual advertising super simple, saving you a ton of time and energy.

Your Impactful Instagram Campaign

Advertising on Instagram is very lucrative.

As you learn the ropes of Instagram advertising, you’ll reap the benefits from branding to a huge audience. Hopefully, we gave you some tips and tricks you can use to get up and running.

From publishing your ad to analyzing the data, you can use Instagram to grow your audience as your ads appear in front of new sets of eyes. You can create a strong personality for your brand and engage with customers to increase loyalty and sales. Your Instagram presence can create a whole new set of branding opportunities for your business.

What do you want to share with Instagram users with your next captivating campaign?

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