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Instagram’s popularity with users is growing — and so is its popularity with advertisers. In the third quarter of 2017, the company reported that more than 2 million advertisers were active on the platform.

This wasn’t exactly a surprise to the company, nor to the brands that have learned to use Instagram advertising to maximize user acquisition.

Those who haven’t, though, might have overcomplicated the process from the start. Being a visual platform, Instagram’s posts are meant to catch the eye. But when Instagram ads first rolled out, some marketing departments spent too much time, effort, and money on the creatives. They forgot that they were targeting the same audience they targeted on Facebook.

About a year ago, something clicked. Advertisers realized they could test their Facebook ad creatives on Instagram with a simple click. And it worked — people could see that, in many cases, these ads got better delivery on Instagram without significant investment in a whole new set of creatives.

Now, with audience reach thriving, both organic and paid advertising in Instagram stories should be an increasingly large focus for brands moving forward. In our company’s experience, brands are seeing an uptick in engagement when they leverage stories the right way.

Getting the Most from Every Instagram Ad

Maybe you’ve tested Instagram for user acquisition before, and you didn’t see the results you expected. Or perhaps you’re an avid Facebook advertiser looking to make the most of your social media ad budget. In either case, there are a few tactics you can implement to avoid wasting time and money on your Instagram campaign. Consider these strategies as you dive further into the possibilities Instagram offers:

1. Keep back-end costs low to start.

Instagram’s tie-in to Facebook’s news feed has truly been a boon to advertisers, and it can make testing on the platform much easier. If you’re wary of shifting your media budget to include Instagram testing, the ability to do so with one click and without spending more on new creatives is critical. It allows you to gauge the performance of an existing Facebook ad or test out new ideas, such as video content or an updated brand design, that might be a good fit for Instagram’s style.

You can also test new ads on Instagram through the platform’s Stories function. Pushing out your messaging through a story requires less commitment than a more traditional ad that users would see in their feeds. It also has a low barrier to entry, so you can wait to see how people react to content in a story before putting more spend behind it.

2. Choose authenticity over flamboyance.

While it’s easy to segment your audience, it’s important to remember which segments you’re targeting and what might appeal most to them. It’s equally important that you don’t limit your options or revert to thinking Instagram success means having the most visually impressive feed. Actually speak to your audience members, don’t just try to dazzle them.

Many audiences respond better to short videos than to still images, but you don’t have to invest in a production team to make a good video for them. Focus instead on performance: After all, professionally produced videos don’t always perform the highest. Instead, show a short iPhone video clip of your restaurant’s chef preparing your most popular meal or your employees wearing your brand’s shoes outside of work. For nearly every brand, authenticity will always outshine fancy production elements.

3. Wash, rinse, and repeat.

Don’t take any ad’s success for granted. Test everything multiple times. If something doesn’t work but you think it has potential, keep it and test it again later. In 2015, our first attempt at making videos for Facebook didn’t go as well as we had expected. But when we tried again with simpler and more authentic content, the response helped propel our company’s success.

In the world of social media, every potentially good idea has a chance to be a great one in the future. Audience preferences change, Instagram algorithms evolve, and time will likely teach you what the first attempt was missing to make it great. The point is, today’s failure could be tomorrow’s success, so test, test, test.

As Instagram — aka Facebook — continues its push to dominate social media advertising, the platform has proven its worth to brands in every industry. Knowing how to leverage its advertising power is becoming a vital skill for all modern companies.

Interested in more information about creating successful customer acquisition strategies on Facebook and Instagram? Check out my company’s webinar for more insights into what’s working for advertisers this year.