Social Media

Paid Social Strategy 101: Instagram Sponsored Ads

Many advertisers are now shifting their budgets towards Instagram Sponsored Ads.

With 80 million photos and 3.5 billion likes generated daily on the platform, brands are eager for a slice of the social commerce pie.

The secret is, Instagram is easy. You don’t need professional equipment or an enormous budget to get started with Instagram Sponsored Ads. “Your audience doesn’t want perfection, they just want to know that they’re understood.” says Samantha Jayne, Instagram influencer and author of “Quarter Life Poetry.” So jump right in and connect.

We’ve rounded up five steps to getting the most hearts for your dollar out of your next Instagram Sponsored Ad.

1. The Anatomy Of An Ad

Instagram Sponsored Ads are so powerful because they’re native, which means they blend right into the feed as users scroll without disrupting the experience.

Prachi Mishra, Head of Product Marketing at AdRoll, one of the first companies to work with Instagram and brands on paid ads, dissects the anatomy of a Sponsored Ad below:

 

 

Instagram offers a range of call-to-action buttons for their paid posts, including “Learn more,” “Download,” “Install Now,” “Shop Now,” “Sign Up,” “Buy” and more. Since organic posts don’t allow clickable links, it can be valuable paying for this CTA to help maximize conversions.

2. Powered By Facebook

Instagram Sponsored Ads are run through Facebook, and can be set up through Ad Creation, Power Editor or the Facebook Ads API. This gives you access to the full suite of targeting features, so you can filter by audience demographics such as age, gender, and interests.

 

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As with most paid social channels though, Instagram is secretive with how much it costs to advertise on the platform. “Instagram is very secretive about the cost of advertising, but figures of between $350,000 and US $1 million per month have been mentioned by executives,” writes Quora user Nigel Mountford.

3. Business Tools

For smaller businesses or those who aren’t ready to invest in Sponsored Ads just yet, Instagram’s Business Tools can be a good introduction to the paid offering. 

Launched just last month, Instagram Business Tools are the app’s solution to making advertising more accessible for small to medium businesses. It’s simple, mobile-first interface can also be great for bigger businesses looking to run quick campaigns on the go. Business Insights breaks down into three main offerings:

– Business Profiles

 

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This is a free feature, but brands must have a business account on Instagram and a Facebook Page. With Business Profiles, brands can give followers four options to get in contact with them: call, text, email or directions to the nearest location. 

– Insights

 

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Insights gives marketers a quick and easy view of who’s engaging the most, when they’re engaging and which content is resonating the most. It also digs deeper into follower demographics such as gender, age and location.

– Promote

Now you can turn a trending organic post into an ad right within the Instagram app. Simply pick a post that’s been generating a lot of engagement and add a CTA button and target audience, or allow Instagram to suggest an audience.

4. Pass The Mic

Find your niche and partner with influencers to create more awesome content for like-minded users.

Instagram is made up of thousands of niche communities and feature accounts, which are galleries dedicated to highlighting a specific topic.

Popular communities include “Passion Passport,” an account featuring travel photos from around the globe, “Pursuit of Portraits,” an account dedicated to featuring unique and artistic portrait shots, and “On The Table,” a gallery of food and other items styled on tables.

Brands can consider partnering with influencers who are plugged into these communities to further amplify their reach. User Generated Content (UGC) is proven to build trust and drive more engagement, with 59% of millennials reporting that they use UGC to inform their purchases.

Here are some examples of brands that are crushing it with UGC:

 

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Herschel encourages followers to use their hashtags #WellTravelled and #HerschelSupply to share photos of Herschel products out in the wild. If you’re lucky, your photo might just be shared with the other 773K followers on the Herschel Instagram account. Sometimes, Herschel even hosts giveaways and your tagged photo can win you a backpack or other accessories.

 

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This past November, Lucasfilm and HP partnered with Instagram influencers to hype up the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

HP asked their Instagram influencers promote the #AwakenYourForce sweepstakes, which offered followers a chance to win a Star Wars Special Edition notebook and a movie ticket voucher. One of these influencers, musician Rudy Mancusco, shared a remake of the Star Wars theme song, driving over 66.5 likes and 298 comments with just one post!

5. The One Constant On A Constantly Evolving Platform

Over the past year, Instagram has been releasing a series of updates to their ad offerings and expanding on their media formats.

Last year, Instagram launched Carousel Ads, a slideshow format that lets brands compile a series of photos for users to view in succession. A few months ago, Instagram started doubling down on video, extending the video clip length to 60 seconds, and adding video to the Explore grid. More recently, Instagram turned on its new algorithm that shows photos in the feed according to which ones they think users like most, rather than chronological order.

Despite the number and frequency of updates that have left many marketers’ heads spinning, the key to standing out in the feed remains constant: quality content.

Prachi shares her timeless tips for creating compelling content on the app:

 

 

So get ‘gramming! Find your audience, create your aesthetic, build out your community and continue to test until you find a strategy that works best for you.

 


 

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Denise Chan @denisechan26
Senior Content & Community Marketing Manager