Unsurprisingly, Instagram is an outstanding platform for brand awareness. Instagram has 1 billion monthly active users, and 500 million of those users are engaging daily on the platform.

Those users are not just engaging with their friends.

They are engaging with brands too, and they do so ten times more than they do on Facebook. Instagram’s sponsored posts are a fantastic way to get more reach, build your followers, and establish brand awareness.

Getting more followers as a business means that you could get more engagement, more traffic, and indeed, more sales.

In this blog post, I will show you how your brand can use sponsored posts on Instagram, how to create them, when you should use them, and how they are different from other types of Instagram Ads.
Key Takeaways:

  1. High Engagement Platform: Instagram’s user base is highly active, offering significant opportunities for brand interaction.
  2. Sponsored Posts: These are organic posts you pay to promote, maintaining their original engagement while reaching a broader audience.
  3. Targeting Options: Use in-app promotions or Ads Manager for precise targeting based on age, location, interests, and more.
  4. Advantages Over Other Ads: Sponsored posts leverage existing engagement, making them uniquely powerful for brand awareness and user-generated content (UGC) accumulation.
  5. Strategic Use Cases: Ideal for promoting Shoppable posts, leveraging UGC, increasing visibility, and brand awareness.
  6. Creating Effective Sponsored Posts: Focus on generating emotions rather than traditional ads to resonate with and bring joy to your audience.
  7. New Ad Formats: Instagram’s branded content ads extend the reach of influencer collaborations beyond their followers.
  8. Essential Strategies: To succeed, focus on creating content that evokes emotion, use targeted hashtags, and engage with your community actively.
  9. Continuous Learning: Stay updated with Instagram trends, best practices for Stories, and effective hashtag usage to keep your strategy fresh and impactful.

What are sponsored posts on Instagram?

Ana Gotter explains that sponsored posts on Instagram are organic posts on-platform that you then pay to promote. When you do this, you are not creating an entirely new ad with the same creative. You are paying to have that exact post, including its engagement, be shown to more users. They look exactly like other types of Instagram Ads.

Targeting criteria for sponsored posts on Instagram

You will get to choose some targeting criteria. Gotter described how you can both use the true Promoted Posts that happen in-app and the Ads Manager tool.

If you are utilizing the true Promoted Posts that happen in-app, you can boost a post and select targeting criteria of age, location, and interests. This is slightly more limited, but it is also simplified. These posts will only appear on Instagram, but you can have the goal of driving traffic to your site and adding in the URL of your choice along with an action button.

If you are running engagement-oriented sponsored posts while using the Ads Manager tool, you can choose a past Instagram post from your profile and then utilize all the targeting and placement options available to typical Facebook and Instagram Ads. In this case, all engagement that you get on and off Instagram will be transferred to the organic post as the campaign runs. That is actually a good deal. Someone comments on a Facebook Ad, and that comment is accumulated on the organic Instagram post to help garner more user-generated content.

How are sponsored posts different from other types of Instagram Ads?

As Gotter mentioned, both the promoted posts and the cross-platform sponsored posts are focusing on promoting already-existing posts as they currently exist.

Other types of Instagram Ads, however, are going to prioritize other specific actions. Examples include brand awareness, lead generation, traffic, and conversions. Most significantly, they are going to be optimizing for these goals with new creatives.

Even if you use the same image and text in other types of Instagram Ads as you have in an existing post, you are not actually utilizing the existing post. This means that engagement will be born and then die on that ad. So, you will not be able to capitalize on any of the engagement you already have.

There is one more big change with other types of Instagram Ads. The objective that you choose can affect who sees your ad. Facebook and Instagram show your ads to people most likely to take the desired action, so using sponsored posts is not exactly a permanent get-out-of-jail-free card to just get more engagement forever while trying to get leads on the same ad, too.

How to use Ads Manager to create sponsored posts on Instagram

Gotter is right when she says that creating sponsored posts in the Ads Manager is incredibly easy. Below are the four global steps.

  1. Head to Facebook’s Create an Ad page and then choose “Engagement” as your objective. Next, you choose your targeting. The beauty of engagement posts is that they can do well with any audience as long as the post is relevant to them.
  2. Choose your placements and then your budget. When it comes to placements, keep in mind that if you want to gather engagement or use it to your benefit, you will want to choose platforms where people can actually view those likes, comments, and shares. Side column ads, for example, will not give you that, Gotter warns.
  3. Then it is time for the creatives. Fortunately for you, sponsored posts on Instagram are the absolute easiest creatives to make because you are just choosing a creative you have already made. Make sure to choose the Instagram version of your post if you have a Facebook lookalike, and add action buttons if you choose.
  4. Review your ad and submit it.

When to create sponsored posts on Instagram

According to Gotter, there are certain cases when sponsored posts can really shine. These are some of the very best use cases for sponsored stories:

· When you want to promote Shoppable Instagram posts

Shopping on Instagram lets businesses tag products in their images. When users click, they will see product details and can click again to head to the product page and purchase immediately. They only work on mobile and Instagram, so use promoted posts or sponsored posts with Instagram-only placements to get more views and sales on that content.

· When you want to leverage your existing UGC

If you have posts that are doing really well, use them to get more results in a sponsored campaign. It will likely perform well with other audiences, and the already-accumulated UGC will work in your favor.

· When you want to accumulate more UGC

Having user-generated content on your ads is great, but having them on your organic posts is even better. When users see bananas-high engagement rates, they are going to take notice. Creating sponsored posts to capture more UGC on the original organic post is a solid strategy for this.

· When you just want more visibility and brand awareness

You can use sponsored posts to heighten visibility and brand awareness. So, if you are not e-commerce businesses and you just need to raise general awareness of your business and products, sponsored posts are a good idea.

Paying money: should you do it?

Eduardo Morales and Eliot Robinson discuss a concern many of you will have. You know now the benefits of sponsored posts on Instagram. The value of them is clear. What is not as clear, they say, is whether you should be paying money to promote posts from your account.

As Morales and Robinson explain, although promoting a post will ensure that more people see it, that does not mean that they will get enough joy from your content for the promotion to be effective. If you are promoting a post that is not generating joy in the people who see it, you are likely just paying money for them to get slightly annoyed at another sponsored post. In other words, you are wasting your money.

How to create sponsored posts on Instagram that give people joy

Morales and Robinson do not leave you hanging. They describe how you can create a sponsored post that gives people joy and that generates more followers, engagement, and sales for your account.

They urge you not to create “ads.” We are all very familiar with ads. They might work for big brands with big budgets on TV, a billboard or a banner on a website. However, they definitely do not bring people joy, and they definitely will not work for a small brand with a shoestring budget on Instagram.

Instead of trying to create ads, aim to create emotions. Effective sponsored posts do not require ad agencies or a lot of money. They require empathy and attention to detail when understanding what type of content creates joy and emotion on Instagram. When you create emotion, people will more likely want to learn about what you have to say, Morales and Robinson claim.

If you want to understand how to put emotions in your sponsored posts, you should read their detailed map.

A new ad format for sponsored posts on Instagram published by influencers

Here is another type of sponsored post you might consider for your brand. According to a recent post by Matt Southern, Instagram is set to roll out a new ad format for sponsored posts published by influencers. AdAge reported that the new format is called a “branded content ad” and that it is part of a larger strategy to build formal partnerships between brands and creators.

Currently, the solution that Instagram offers is largely informal. Brands can sponsor popular Instagram users. In that case, sponsored posts appear with the tag “Paid partnership with .” The limitation of those posts is that they only reach the followers of the influencer.

Branded content ads will be similar to other ads on Instagram where advertisers can promote the posts to appear throughout the network. Further, Instagram’s existing branded content partnership program is not available to everyone, but anyone will be able to apply to join the new branded content program.

More Instagram tricks and tips

When used at the right time and for the right use cases, sponsored posts on Instagram can be a huge asset for brands. To help you even further, I have written several blog posts to improve your Instagram game.

In Top 10 Instagram Trends You Should Follow Now, you will find trends that will help you battle low engagement levels, increase your following, and help you track what content is most successful. Instagram Stories content is incredibly engaging but what are the best practices for an entrepreneur? How Should the Entrepreneur Use Instagram Stories in 2019? will show you these best practices. In 16 Killer Instagram Hacks and Features for the Entrepreneur, you will learn five ways to establish a consistent brand presence on Instagram as well as sixteen Instagram hacks and features. In The Ultimate Guide to Hashtags on Instagram, you will find tips and tools for hashtags on Instagram, allowing you to grow the reach of your posts and, ultimately, your company. And if your company is completely new to Instagram, 20 Instagram Tips I Learned From the Experts might be a good start.

As a translator, I would like to point out the importance of adding translations to your social media marketing. If you ever need my help, feel free to contact me!