With over 600 million active users, Instagram isn’t just a network for selfie takers or those who take pleasure in photographing their food. As Instagram has become more sophisticated, so has its capacity to effectively advertise to users. Now is a great time to familiarise yourself with its features and understand its advantages as a marketing platform.

insta advert

There are reasons you might write off Instagram as a valuable marketing platform, perhaps due to its perceived reach skewing toward a younger audience, but as Instagram’s community has grown so has the diversity of its users. A wide variety of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram users are now regularly interacting with familiar brands through social media, so an active presence on Instagram has become increasingly important.

Organic Instagram followers are a great way to ensure brand loyalty, keep your customers updated and attract new prospects. Since Facebook bought Instagram back in 2012, their respective paid advertising platforms have become increasingly integrated and consequently, easier to use. If you’re already running any Facebook advertising, there’s really no reason you shouldn’t transfer some of your existing ads to Instagram and yield impressive results.

There are two elements to any strategy when it comes to Instagram, organic and paid. These ought to be looked at individually with your goals in mind, and together when considering your wider marketing approach.


Organic Strategy

Before you begin jumping into paid Instagram content, it’s important, but not essential, to have a stable and relatively active account for your business. There are several reasons for this:

– It creates an opportunity to create trust in, and awareness of, your brand

– It’s a unique platform which enables you to display a more personal side of your brand

– Like Twitter, Instagram allows you to interact with customers directly, with greater visual tools

– Perhaps most importantly, it’s free!

Whether you think sponsored Instagram content suits your brand or not, creating and curating a free account is undoubtedly a smart move.

You’ve likely heard it 100 times over, but it’s particularly relevant here; on Instagram, content really is king. If you can consistently produce relevant and engaging content, a lot of the work will be done for you. Generally, users are quite proactive on Instagram when it comes to organic content and the explore feature uses behaviour algorithms to present content (if it’s good enough) to people who have searched for, followed, or liked similar content/profiles.

That’s not to say however, that if you don’t have fabulous professional photography or videos to post, you won’t be able to see great results. A lot of what makes Instagram tick, is how you engage with users and utilise the tools the platform provides. Hashtags are vital, these enable you to reach new customers who might not necessarily know your brand but are interested in things related to it. There are plenty of third party tools which can help you find tags that are relevant to your product or service, looking at which tags competitors are using is also a great way to suss out what will be useful for you.

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Competitions are also a great way to increase user engagement with your brand. For example, a restaurant might run a contest to ‘win a meal for two’ by encouraging users to share a particular image and then picking a winner at random from those who have. This enables you to not only reach your existing follower base, but also the followers of anyone who has shared your post, exponentially increasing its reach.

Finally, a fairly new feature, Instagram stories are only shared for a set period of time and are great for pushing events or behind the scenes content which gives a different dimension to your campaigns. If you’d like to learn more about Instagram and Snapchat stories and their potential applications for marketers, look out for my next blog on Snapchat marketing.

Paid Strategy

The key to making the most of any Instagram paid campaign is understanding your audience. Unlike Google, where users are usually looking to make a direct inquiry about goods, services or simply a piece of information, on Instagram users are typically casually browsing looking for nothing in particular. For this reason it’s necessary to take a softer approach than usual when considering your campaign. As with Facebook, Instagram offers a number of useful tools to create engaging paid content which, crucially, doesn’t drastically differ from the organic content already populating users feeds.

There are four main types of ad on Instagram: standard photo ads, video ads, photo carousel (slideshow) ads and story ads. These all have their own respective benefits and limitations so it’s important you have a solid understanding of who your audience is and what your campaign will be offering before you pursue any of the channels. Instagram also offers a number of different call-to-action buttons, ‘book now’ or ‘shop now’ for example, so it’s simple to drive users to a particular conversion depending on what you want to achieve.

mock up insta ads

Paid Instagram content is a great way to reach new customers, increase brand awareness, focus on local awareness, and eventually drive conversions but there are a lot of different variables which you can play with, so make sure you have a coherent plan in place before you get started.

A good example is the targeting tools Instagram offers, these are the same as those available on Facebook, you can read more about them here. You can get really specific with targeting and it’s important that you find the sweet spot between reaching users who have enough relevant interests that they’ll be likely to convert, but also not being so specific that your pool of users is too small to have any significant impact.

This is reflected across a lot of the variables on Instagram’s paid ad platform:

– Type of ad

– Call to action

– Targeting

– Placement

– Frequency

If you aren’t sure about any of these areas it’s a good idea to seek advice from an expert. Creating a successful paid Instagram campaign ultimately will involve a lot of testing and certainly won’t happen overnight, but the more informed you are, the more likely you are to get better results in a shorter timeframe.

Obviously channels like Instagram don’t lend themselves to every business model or product, an actuarial firm is unlikely to see increased business from regular Instagram updates or ads, for example, but it certainly does have a number of benefits. Instagram is a fast growing platform and is a unique way to reach a whole new untapped audience.

If you would like us to take a look at your digital marketing, and see how Instagram might be able to boost business through your website, do get in touch