The launch of Instagram in 2010 changed the landscape of the social media world, and the wider world for that matter. Considering you’ve found your way on to this blog, it’s probably safe to say that you’ve spent a fair chunk of time mindlessly scrolling and tapping away through your Insta-feed. The visual perspective of life that the photo and video sharing service offers captivates its 1 billion+ monthly users every single day.
What started off as simple sharing of still, square images to a user’s feed, has evolved into a whole ecosystem of Hashtags, Filters, Geotags, Videos, Explore Pages, Likes (and the Removal of Likes) just to name a few buzzwords. When you throw into the mix the addition of full screen temporary photos/videos or ‘Stories’, Business Accounts, Advertising, Reels, and in-app shopping purchases; it’s no surprise that Instagram has revolutionised the shopping industry, advertising, and digital marketing as we know it.
The scale of Instagram is simply immense.
- 1+ billion monthly users
- 81% of users use Instagram to research products and services
- 130 million users tap on shopping posts every month
- 500 million users of the Stories function every day
Whether it’s direct social selling of products or assisting in community-building, Instagram is a serious goldmine for people, businesses and influencers of all shapes and sizes. There are countless interactions on Instagram across other industries. With Fashion leading the way followed by the likes of E-commerce, Beauty, Retail, Electronics, Services and many more – its unsurprising that promotion, advertising and selling through Instagram has become an integral part to the marketing strategy of many businesses.
Although these strategies do require some capital and lots of time to effectively implement, getting your brand onto the screens of potential consumers can be game changing for your business. Undoubtedly one of the best ways to familiarise yourself with the style and scale of Instagram ads is to simply go on to the app and browse around for a short while, you will inevitably come across a whole range of different ads and since you’re concentrating, you’ll notice how often they come up!
Whether you’re completely new to Instagram marketing or looking to level up your strategy, our guide is here for you no matter what!
Instagram Ads – What Are They and Why Should I Be Using Them?
In short, Instagram ads are advertisement posts that businesses pay for to serve Instagram users. Ads can be designed to appear in many locations throughout the app, such as in-Feed, Stories, or the Explore Page. Ads can be designed in a multitude of formats:
- Single photo/video: single photos or videos that appear in user’s feeds. Best suited for compelling visual content that can be conveyed in one image.
- Carousel Ads: Collection of images and videos that can be swiped through. Also appear in-feed. Effective for a selection of related products or images or tell a multi-part story.Ê
- Story Ads: Immersive, full-screen ads that appear in between user’s regular story content. Audio will automatically play if sound is turned on. Advertising content on Stories does not disappear after 24 hours, the length of the campaign is up to the creator.
- Shopping Ads: Allows users to view and browse products like a traditional shopping website. Purchases can be made via quick links to the product on your website or directly through Instagram if Instagram Checkout is enabled.Ê
- Reels Ads: Full screen vertical ads (similar format to stories) shown in between Reels. Usually include stylistic features typical to Reels, such as video, audio sound or music
- Explore Ads: Appear within the Explore tab of Instagram, a specific area of the platform where users go to discover and explore new content, which of course is based on their usage habits. Will be viewed as a user clicks on a post and begins to scroll through the Explore page.
Customised Calls To Action in the form of swipe-ups in Stories or clickable links and buttons on in-feed ads can be included on Instagram advertising material, with the main goal of taking a user to a landing page such as your website or the app store. Some common CTAs include: Shop Now, Book Now, Install Now, Learn More, Subscribe, Sign Up, Donate Now, Contact Us and countless more options.
Okay but How Do I Actually Create Them?
Ads are created through the Facebook Ads Manager platform, which can be visited online or through the mobile app (Remembering that Facebook acquired Instagram in 2012!). This will allow you to get the most out of Instagram’s specific creative, targeting and observation capabilities for your campaigns.
Step 1: Define your Objective
This first step is crucial, defining your specific objective for your ad campaign. Instagram have made it easy by giving you a range of options to choose from:
This is also where you can name your campaigns. A notable and identifiable name is very efficient for keeping track of your campaigns in the future.
Step 2: Choose your Budget and Scheduling
I.e., How long you want you want your campaign to run for and how much you would like to spend on it.Ê
Two general options for your budget:
- Daily Budget: Allows for ad to run indefinitely, set a maximum daily spend
- Lifetime Budget: Will run for a set amount of time, set a maximum spend for your whole campaign
Step 3: Define your Audience
Targeting your desired audience is truly a key step in the ad creation process, and one of the most enjoyable! This is where you can utilise your knowledge of the demographics, behaviours, and trends of your target audience.Ê
Creating a New Audience allows to you specify a range of categories and factors such as:
- Detailed Targeting: (Demographics, Interests, Behaviours)
Step 4: Select your Ad Placement
Simply selecting where your ads will appear (E.g., Feed, Stories, Explore Page etc.).Ê
The two options given are:
- Automatic Placements: Instagram will decide where they think your ads will perform best
- Manual Placements: You choose specifically where you want your ads to appear
Ads Manager will help with the technical specifications of each ad placement you choose, i.e., size and orientation of images to ensure they are visually optimised.Ê
Step 5: Select Format and Get Creating
Now’s the time to actually design and create your ads and get them out there on your account. Calls To Action can also be implemented here and destinations of where you want to lead your customers to.
To go the extra mile, you can set up/add your Facebook Pixel to track conversions and user activity. You will be able to see insights about how your audience has received and interacted with your ad and your business/brand.
Tips and Best Practices
Now that you have an introduction to launching your Instagram ads, now the important part is to make sure that your ads are attention grabbing and effective. Here are some brief tips, tricks, and examples.
Think Mobile First! It is vital to create your ads for a seamless viewing experience on mobile devices. 98.8% of users access Instagram on mobile as opposed to desktop so this one is a no-brainer!
Capture Attention Early & Get Straight to the Point. On a scroll-centric platform such as Instagram, content is consumed at a super-fast rate. Your content needs to capture attention straight away to stand out from the endless stream of posts (ESPECIALLY if advertising in Story format as posts have a time limit).
Keep Branding and Messaging at the Forefront. Strategically showcase your logo and any messages you are trying to convey. E.g., McDonalds pushing brand recognition to signify the start of summer Ð stylised logo through a pair of thongs, iconic beach background.
Use Attention Grabbing Imagery/Video to Showcase your Value Proposition/Product
Use Text – But Keep it Short and Sharp. Clear and concise and captions, descriptions and messages are a crucial element. They add meaning and value to your ad while also catering to those users with sound off. A casual, conversational tone can be more effective than professionalism in some instances.
Think About your Audience and Solve a Problem for them
Drive Engagement and Interactivity – Calls To Action. Interactive features such as Hashtags, Mentions, Locations and Polls are always great at driving engagement. What do you want your customers to do? Buy Now? Shop Now? Book Now? Customised CTAs are a key feature of driving conversions from your advertising materials.