How Can You Be Successful With The Newest Ad Option: Instagram Advertising?

Guest Blogger, Valerie Morris, shares on how to approach the newest ad program in digital advertising.

Screen Shot 2015-10-07 at 3.39.15 PMopens IMAGE file Big news this past week in digital advertising and social media: Instagram’s ad program is now open to all.  What was once just a beta program for a few big names is now open to all and is expected to make a big splash when it comes to digital ads.  In fact, Adweek predicted “Instagram will earn $2.81 billion in ad sales by 2017, outselling Google and Twitter when it comes to U.S. display ads.”  Maybe it’s time advertisers stopped ignoring Instagram in the world of digital marketing!

Instagram has often been written off in the past as the social media for those “young people.”  While it is true that Instagram started off as a safe haven for teens to flee mom and dad’s eyes on Facebook, it has grown into a much more robust and powerful social media over the past few years.  All of those teens that drifted over to the “cooler” Instagram (cool because mom, dad, and grandma weren’t there) are now college age students who are starting to make buying decisions.  A large number of adult users have shifted over to the Instagram space, including many moms, brands looking for good exposure, and others who love visual content.

The advent of their public ad program ushers forth a huge opportunity for advertisers and brands wanting to market in this space.  However, Instagram has a unique audience and in the case of advertising:  not all ads are created equally, especially on this social media platform.

Ad Basics For Instagram:

  1. Remember that visual is key.  So many users have shifted to using Instagram in the first place simply because they have great visual content.  Instagram forces posts to always have an image, as opposed to Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn where you can post text alone without any imagery.  Advertisers will be smart to focus heavily on creating engaging visuals.
  2. GREAT visuals are key.  Instagram users are already primed to have a certain type of clean, fresh, authentic experience on Instagram.  Overly salesy creatives will detract from the message.  Users will simply ignore the post.  However, use of trending color schemes, font families, and more organic photography will be received much better.  Another key component is keeping the fresh, bright feel.
  3. Play with the Instagram gods and goddesses.  There are many profiles on Instagram that have thousands upon thousands of followers – and not just followers, but LOYAL followers.  Partnering with these Instagram powerhouses can be a great way to leverage your ads even further.  A combination of organic posts with these powerhouses and other paid/sponsored posts will help your ad campaign flourish.
  4. Take advantage of Carousel Ads.  Instagram has also recently released Carousel Ads, which allow users to swipe through a series of photos.  Advertisers can get creative with telling a story through these multiple image options, rather than just the one image that is standard on Instagram.
  5. Video is here!  Instagram already allows users to upload short videos (currently 15 seconds), but when used creatively, these videos can pack a powerful punch!  A nice break from the norm is a brand utilizing video in a fresh, creative way.  Remember what I said about having GREAT visuals?  The same is true for video.  Social media users are constantly inundated with video, that you have to have an engaging and fresh video concept to gain Instagram users’ attention.
  6. Engage!  Remember that advertising on social media channels can be quite lucrative, but also remember why the users are there in the first place.  They are on social media channels like Instagram to engage and connect, whether with friends or brands.  The brands that engage back with any comments or feedback on any campaigns will ultimately succeed.  The set-it-and-forget-it mentality will get you nowhere in the world of Instagram.
  7. Watch your budget!  The cost per acquisition is still in the development phase right now as their ad program has been tested to only a beta group.  We expect these prices to go down, but until they do, they can be pricey.  On the flip-side, there are not many brands utilizing Instagram ads compared to that of Facebook, Twitter, and other programmatic ad buys.  The cost to getting to the party first may be worth it for many brands.
  8. Rotate your ads.  As with any programmatic ad campaign or social media ad campaign, you’ll want to make sure your ads are kept current, fresh, and consistently changing.  Too much repetition leads to ad fatigue and ultimately people glazing over.  Think instead about designing a “family” of ads that have the same look and feel, but aren’t all exactly 100% the same.

It’s an exciting time in the world of social media.  As Instagram joins the family of social networks allowing advertising, marketers ultimately have more options for growth. Employ the same strategic design and care you give to other digital ad campaigns and you will find the sweet spot with Instagram advertising!



Valerie Morris is an expert and fan of all things social!  She founded and manages Tintero Creative, a content marketing firm that is bringing a comprehensive approach to brands online.  Valerie understands that Valerie Morrisopens IMAGE file your online presence is so much more than just social media today, and that is precisely why her and her team invest time and energy into quality copywriting, blogging, SEO strategies, social media advertising, and of course, social media management.  They know that all of these pieces interact and build off of each other and love providing dynamic results for their clients.