Back in April, Instagram announced that their current user base had reached an impressive 700 million. 100 million of those people had joined the platform over the course of just four months. With crazy growth like that, it’s no surprise that the number of brands using Instagram as a way to reach new and recurring customers is on the rise.


Why Your Company Should Use Instagram Advertising

While more is often always better, having more users brings an overload of content with it. This raises competition among posts, making it highly possible that users are simply not going to see your post, whether or not they’re following you! This is confirmed by Kevin Systrom, co-founder of Instagram who has been quoted that “on average, people miss about 70% of the posts in their Instagram feed”. Instead of showing posts in chronological order, Instagram’s algorithm works by creating a personalized news feed for all users to ensure they get the best content possible.

While the idea has definite appeal, it has had big ramifications on brands and advertisers whose number of impressions per post is dropping. So, what’s a brand to do to make sure that the right people see their posts and that they’re standing out from the crowd? Besides working on your brand’s organic strategy, Instagram Advertising is a powerful alternative to ensuring you get to connect and engage with the users you want to.

Over 1 million advertisers from all over the world are using Instagram to help realize their marketing goals: and for good reasons. Instagram performed an internal study on their users and found that 60% of them regularly use the app to help them in finding new products. If that’s not enough, 75% of them report actually performing some sort of action after seeing a post that inspires them. These actions can be anything from visiting the site of a brand and making a purchase to performing some good old-fashioned word-of-mouth marketing for the brand. Instagram is not only the place where your target audience is, but they also exhibit consumer behavior making the choice to advertise on this platform a no-brainer.


Get your Ad to the Right People

Another asset that makes Instagram advertising so powerful is the targeting opportunities it allows. You don’t have to throw your money away trying to reach everyone and hoping for the best. Instead, use the tools at hand and drill your audiences down until you know you’re showing your ads to exactly the people that you want to see them.

Here is a quick overview of the factors you can adjust:

  • Location – the ad builder allows you to target users based on regions, countries, states, cities or even addresses. You get to choose what locations you’d like to include in your target audience or exclude.
  • Age – the age range available starts at 13 and goes straight up to 65+.
  • Gender – is your ad relevant to only women or only men, or both?
  • Language – make sure your audience can actually understand what your ad is saying. Target your ads to specific languages.
  • Detailed Targeting – here, you’re able to target your ads based on users demographics, interests and behaviors. The opportunities you have here, are endless. Thankfully, this handy cheat list exists so you can see exactly what options you have.
  • Connections – This option lets you target people who have, simply put, connected with you. Maybe they attended an event you once hosted, have downloaded an app from you before, or follow your Page on Facebook or Instagram. You can even go as far as targeting friends of people who like your Page as well.
  • Lastly, you can target to ‘custom audiences’. Those email subscribers you’ve got? You can target them on Instagram too, simply share the data among the two platforms! Besides that, you can also reach people who have already visited your website before. There is even the option to create a ‘lookalike’ audience, where they’ll build an automatic audience that is similar to your currently existing audience. Cool, right?

We know this can be a lot to digest; we weren’t kidding when we said the targeting opportunities were powerful! As a marketer, it’s your duty to make sure you’re not wasting budget targeting ads to people who aren’t really into what you’re offering. That’s why we urge you to be as precise as possible, try out many different targeting groups till you find the ones that work best for you and your brand, and watch the efficiency of your Instagram advertising skyrocket!

Get Your Foot In The Door

Now we’ve got a tip for you: do you remember learning about the “foot in the door technique” in your marketing classes at your university? Probably not, right? In a nutshell: this is a technique of compliance where you get a person to agree to your major request by first getting them to say yes to a smaller one. The principle works the same in the digital realm.  You’ve got to build relationships with your potential customers and set them up for the conversion that you’d like. Warm up those cold leads!

This is where you can use your targeting to your advantage. Adjust all the previously elaborated on factors accordingly. Use the targeting options to the max and be as precise as possible when deciding on who should see your ads. Then, decide on your ‘modest’ request: their email address in exchange for a free ebook, a free app download, signing up for your newsletter, you get the drill. Now, use your ads to distribute your content leading them to a landing page where you have a tracking pixel set in place.

Lastly, create a new ad containing the ‘large’ request, like a sale or a paid subscription. Use Instagram’s custom audiences to target these website visitors who now already know you and have previously engaged. These are more likely to convert as you wish. Think about it, you’re not going to walk right up to a stranger at the bar and ask her to marry you from the get-go, you start with offering a drink to get to know each other. Why would you do any different in your advertising strategy?


Match Instagram Ad Type to Your Marketing Goal

Just like the targeting options, Instagram advertising allows you many different options when you’re setting your marketing objective.

There are four ad formats now available to advertisers. You can opt for a single image photo ad which is pretty much the most popular format. Then there’s the carousel where you can upload multiple images and Instagram users can swipe through. We also have video ads which give you the opportunity to really create an immersive brand experience. The most recent ad format is Instagram Stories where you can share videos or pictures that disappear after 24 hours. First things first: there is no right or wrong when it comes to choosing your ad type. Every brand is different and will experience this differently, that’s why it’s important to run simultaneous tests all the time so that you figure out what works best for your brand and target audience. While there is no one box fits all formula, it helps to match your ad type with your marketing goal to get the most out of your advertising.

  • Photo ads are good when you’re going for reach, engagement, app downloads or website clicks.
  • Video ads are a better alternative if you’re trying to create an immersive brand experience for the users. Are you trying to get your users acquainted with who you are and what you have to offer? This is a good format for app engagement, app downloads, or post engagement.
  • Carousels are the middle ground between photo ads and videos. So if you’d like to tell a bigger story, but don’t have the budget or resources to create a full video, create a carousel with multiple images instead. This is a good option when you’re going for website clicks, conversions and app downloads.


Borrow Takeaways from Your Organic Posts

It may seem simple, but many advertisers miss the mark at this point. Use your organic strategy for inspiration for your paid one. If you’ve already identified what works best organically, you should replicate that in your Instagram ads as well. So, before you do this, it’s important that you test things out: use your organic posts as your playground. Try out different creatives or captions, and see what your users respond to. Study the analytics surrounding these posts, and then use this knowledge when you create your Instagram ad.

Instagram Analytics now allows you to see your best posting times as well, so use this when you’re setting your schedule for your advertisements too. Save all your budget for getting to your users at the time that they are most active!

Now, it’s important to remember that you’re operating in Instagram’s world. What works on the other platforms, like Facebook, isn’t necessarily going to work the same here. It’s all about the visual, little to no text, and being as authentic as possible. Communicate your brand in a more subtle manner, like using your colors instead of plastering your logo on all your images. Incorporate user generated content in your feed. It’s no secret that users love and trust pictures from (potential) customers just like them. User generated content is a tool that can be used to turn your Instagram browsers into shoppers. Don’t miss out: utilize it in your Instagram advertising.

One final tip: minimize the noise you have on your ad. Your users should not be distracted by anything, even by hashtags. Yes, we know, it might seem weird to not have hashtags on Instagram, but you can save those for your organic posts. You want your users to perform an off-site click leading to some predetermined goal. If you give them the option to click on a hashtag, they’ll lose your ad and be directed straight into the search results.

Your turn!

Now that you’ve learnt some useful tips on how to improve your Instagram advertising strategy, it’s time for you to go out and give it a try! Remember to always remember where the users are in your marketing funnel, and create precise, targeted ads to meet their needs at that point in their journey. And don’t forget, getting the most out of your Instagram advertising involves a continuous process of trying something, listening to your data, and improving accordingly. You’ll find the formula that works best for you in no time.


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