Instagram advertising presents different goals and requires an alternate approach when compared to other social media marketing methods. Because the platform’s users are highly engaged, Instagram is particularly conducive to connecting with target audiences, building brand loyalty and ultimately increasing conversion rates. In fact, 60 percent of users say they have discovered products on Instagram while 30 percent say they’ve purchased something they first saw on Instagram.

To ensure you are launching a successful Instagram advertising campaign, it’s best to understand the different ad options and how to use them most effectively. Before we dive into those details, here are some of the top tips for running successful Instagram ads that make or break any of the platform’s available ad formats.

5 Top Tips for Instagram Advertising

Person looking at Instagram advertising engagement results.

These top tips for Instagram advertising will benefit all ad formats.

1. Know your audience. With 71 percent of Instagram’s global user base under the age of 35, it’s clear the platform attracts a relatively young audience. Additionally, 72 percent of U.S. teens use Instagram, making it the top social media platform for people aged 13 to 19 in the U.S. Because of this, you will want to tailor your target audience to fit in this demographic and run your ads targeting older audiences on other social media platforms. Additionally, make sure that your Instagram advertisements appeal to your target audience by keeping up on the latest Instagram trends.

2. Use your highest quality & most interesting visuals. Instagram is an image-based social media platform. With over 1 billion active users every month there is an incredible amount of content vying for attention. You will want to ensure that yours stands out by using your highest-quality and most captivating visual media. If you need some inspiration, check out the top 10 types of content that get the most engagement on Instagram.

3. Keep your captions short and sweet. Because Instagram is such a visually-based platform, users generally do not expect nor want to read long captions. The visuals themselves are the primary attraction on this platform, so keep the words to a minimum.

4. Use videos! Videos receive 38 percent more engagement on Instagram than images, so capitalize on that heightened engagement value through the use of video ads.

5. Include a Call to Action. There is little point in capturing your audiences’ attention with a fantastic ad if you do not then provide a next step for them to take. A call to action (CTA) tells your audience what they should do in response to an ad. For example, “buy now!” is a common, simple and direct CTA. Make sure you include a call to action so that users will further engage with your brand and increase your conversion rates.

The What, Why & How of Instagram Advertising

To run a successful social media marketing strategy on Instagram, you must consistently post high quality organic content on your page. An Instagram advertising campaign can help supplement this content by expanding your reach and increasing engagement opportunities. This will help boost your conversion rates and return-on-investment (ROI) more than organic content would on its own.

The first step in creating an Instagram ad campaign is to understand your ad options. Before paying your first dollar, make sure you have explored the different types of paid Instagram advertising available, the pros and cons of each of them and ways to optimize their effectiveness.

This guide will briefly touch on the logistics of creating some of these ad formats, and further reading is available on Instagram’s advertising page or in AdEspresso’s “How to Get Started” guide.

Instagram Advertising: Paid Influencers

Paying social media influencers is a unique form of Instagram advertising that involves directly contacting an influential figure on Instagram (i.e. someone with many active followers) and paying them to endorse or advertise for your brand. This is one of the newest and most effective versions of the word-of-mouth marketing strategy. It can be incredibly successful if you have a specific target audience that trusts and follows certain influencers. This is not an official paid Instagram advertising campaign because, rather than paying Instagram, you pay the influencer directly. If you want more information on the influencer ad strategy check out our useful guide on how to find and evaluate social media influencers.

Instagram Advertising: Boosted Posts

Person taking photo of flowers for Instagram Instagram advertising boosted post.

Organic Instagram posts can be a useful tactic for successful Instagram advertising.

Rather than requiring you to design content specifically for an ad, boosted posts source organic content already available on your Instagram page. This means that the exact same post you shared on your Instagram page is shown to an audience beyond your followers and will appear as a sponsored post in non-followers’ feeds. Any engagement with the boosted post will appear on the post on your page, even if the post receives engagement on Facebook. Because of this, boosting a post may be the perfect Instagram advertising strategy for your business if you are trying to increase engagement and build up more user-generated content (UGC) on your Instagram page. If you have a post that is already doing particularly well, you can also leverage any UGC you already have to increase the effectiveness of the ad. This is a useful strategy because people are more likely to engage with posts that have already received a lot of engagement from other users.

Instagram partnered with Shopify last year, which means businesses can now tag products in their posts and allow users to purchase items in-app. This tool is particularly useful when advertising through boosted posts because you can now encourage immediate purchases rather than relying on increasing engagement on your page or directing users to your website.

There are two ways to boost your pre-existing posts:

1. Promoted Posts. A promoted post is the only Instagram ad that you can create without leaving the Instagram app. It can also only be boosted on the Instagram platform. This form of Instagram advertising is often considered less valuable because it offers a simplified and relatively limited version of the Facebook Ad Manager, the page where all other Instagram advertisements are made. To promote a pre-existing post, click the “promote” button which appears under all of the posts on your business profile, and fill out a target audience based on gender, location, age and interests. You also have the option to include a link and CTA button.

Promoted posts can be a great introduction to Instagram advertising for businesses new to the platform, but because of the relatively limited options for customizing the target audience and ad content, it is often the weakest Instagram advertising strategy for increasing engagement and conversions.

2. Sponsored Posts. Sponsored posts are often confused with promoted posts because both boost a pre-existing post on your Instagram page. Sponsored posts are different because you boost the post through the Facebook Ad Manager, rather than in the Instagram app.

Sponsored posts are generally preferred to promoted posts because they give you full access to Facebook Ad Manager’s audience targeting abilities while allowing you to boost your Instagram post on both Instagram and Facebook. Additionally, any engagement on either social media platform will be transferred to your existing Instagram post.

Check out Business2Community’s comprehensive guide to promoted and sponsored posts for more details about the logistics of this Instagram advertising strategy.

Instagram Advertising: Newsfeed Ads

Person looking at Instagram advertising on newsfeed.

One of the most common Instagram advertising strategies is the use of newsfeed ads.

In this form of Instagram advertising, an ad is displayed in the user’s newsfeed similarly to native posts. These advertisements are separate from content you would put on your page and are created in the Facebook Ad Center for the purpose of achieving a set objective. There are four types of newsfeed ads you can run:

1. Single-Image Ads. These are the simplest of newsfeed ads and consist of a single image, caption and CTA button. Compared to the other types of newsfeed ads, these do not drive as much engagement. However, they can be incredibly useful for A/B testing, allowing you to create up to six different versions of an ad with one image and different verbiage or calls-to-action to compare performance

2. Video Ads. Videos experience significantly more engagement than images on Instagram which makes video ads one of the most effective ad types. Video ads can be up to 60 seconds long, giving you the opportunity to hold user attention for longer, tell a complete story about your brand and truly engage your audience. Videos are particularly effective at increasing brand loyalty and driving engagement on your page. The downside of video ads is that they can be time-consuming and expensive to create.

3. Collection Ads. Collection ads are a collection of videos and images that showcase your products. These ads allow users to purchase directly from them by interacting with a clickable CTA, which says “learn more” or “purchase” and takes them to a page where they can purchase directly from a list of products.

4. Carousel Ads. Carousel ads allow you to post between 2 and 10 images or videos that users can swipe through. This style of Instagram advertising gives you the opportunity to get creative and tell a story about your brand or product, without committing the energy and resources needed for a long-form video. These ads are particularly useful because they increase the length of engagement with your post as users take the time to swipe through.

Instagram Advertising: Story Ads

Image of Instagram Advertising through Instagram stories on phone.

Story ads are a particularly unique and engaging form of Instagram advertising.

According to Statista, 500 million people use Instagram Stories every day, which makes it an ideal place to focus a portion of your advertising efforts. Organic Stories are a useful way to increase engagement with your audience by creating interactive content and telling your brand’s story. One of the benefits of Story-based Instagram advertising is that they can look and feel very similar to organic Stories, which sets up a seamless user experience.

Create Story ads with their unique vertical, full-screen format in mind and make them extra eye-catching in order to get users to engage with you. One of the most challenging parts of Story advertising is that users can tap or swipe through them quickly and miss key information. On the other hand, a story’s CTA takes the form of a swipe-up feature that takes users directly to your business’ website.

There two types of Story ads you can run:

1. Image Story Ads. These ads play for 15 second between other users’ Stories. It is important for these images to be optimized for the vertical Story format as well as captivating so that the viewer is more likely to view and engage with the ad. Because Stories do not have any sort of caption option, it may be tempting to put a lot of text on the visuals, but it’s best to let them speak for themselves as much as possible.

2. Video Story Ads. These ads also play for 15 seconds between other users’ stories. Similarly to image Stories, it is crucial to capture your audience’s attention because users frequently click through quickly. Additionally, because you only have 15 seconds, it can be difficult to tell your story quickly and still give your viewer enough time to swipe up on your CTA. While an interested user can swipe back to view your ad again, it is a good idea to give enough of a buffer at the end of your video for the user to react to the CTA.

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