Instagram Advertising in Today’s Market: What You Need to Know
Instagram has super-high engagement ratesInstagram has the most engaged audience out of all social sites. Not only do your ads get seen, they get remembered. Instagram’s research shows ad recall from Instagram sponsored ads is 2.8x higher on average than ad recall from other social networks. Forrester did independent research on the platform’s ads and found that consumers are 58x more likely to engage with branded content on Instagram compared to Facebook and 120x more likely compared to Twitter. Visitors from Instagram stay on a site for an average of 192 seconds, longer than visitors from every other channel, including Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter, meaning traffic from Instagram is the most engaged. Yotpo’s research showed a surprisingly similar result: the Instagram engagement rate is not only higher than other social media platforms, but also beats out other channels like email, referral traffic and paid acquisition.
Paying for Instagram space pays off. Instagram users are highly engaged, and by paying for posts, you’re increasing the likelihood that you get their attention and gain new, engaged followers. Michael Kors was one of the first big brands to experiment with Instagram advertising- and the results speak for themselves. Their first Instagram ad resulted in almost 40,000 new followers. To put that in perspective, their sponsored post earned them nearly 16 times more followers than their unsponsored posts. Below, see an example of their first Instagram ad campaign:
On Instagram, it’s guaranteed that ads are seen – and seen by the right people. Instagram’s advanced targeting builds off of Facebook’s targeting abilities. Facebook has had plenty of practice perfecting the art of targeting, and it brings this knowledge to Instagram. Why is this important? If you’re going to spend money on ads, you need to know that the ads are going to be seen by the right audiences.
To succeed on Instagram, you need to start by picking the right content. But what does that mean? And how do you know which content is right for you to use in ads?
On Instagram, every marketing image is a chance to tell a story. It’s important to think about how your ads fit into your overall Instagram strategy, because each image needs to be cohesive. Think about how every detail — such as lighting, captions, hashtags, and context clues — will influence what your audience will take from your ad images.
The last thing you want is for your ad to stick out as inorganic content. When users are scrolling through their feed, you want your ad to look just like any other piece of content they would see from their friends or people they follow. If your ad sticks out, then it’s not going to be effective. A general rule is to try to avoid putting words on top of images – like in the example below, the post sticks out from other images because of the words and it’s branding on top of the image: In contrast, this ad by Banana Republic blends in much better because it doesn’t have text on top: Today’s customers can smell an ad from a mile away. In order for your ad to get results, it needs to add value, not just be a blatant Instagram advertisement for your product. Think about the type of content people like on Instagram — it’s often aspirational, well-photographed, and uses very little text on the photo, but rather communicates in the caption and hashtags. Your ad should be like this as well. Look at how Levi’s does a great job of creating an ad that looks like any other photo shared on Instagram:
Look at what works well for you organically when choosing what to advertise on Instagram. What type of photos do your customers submit to you? What posts do you publish that get super high engagement on your Instagram? This content is a good starting point for choosing your paid content. You shouldn’t think of it as classic “advertising,” you should think of it as a way to amplify your content better. Look for posts that got great results and then repurpose these into ads. Then, test relentlessly. Just because you think your ads are awesome doesn’t mean it’s true. You need to have the data to back it up, and the only way to prove your ads are performing at their optimal level is by A/B testing. The two most important things to test are visual content and written content. Run two ads on Instagram with the same image, but different copy. Or, keep the captions the same but test different images, or test an image vs. a video. Test even the smallest changes – like mixing up your hashtags – you never know what will make a huge change in your ROI.
Pura Vida is one brand that’s done amazing on Instagram because of their great understanding of visual commerce. In fact, they’ve done so well that they have a 4x ROI on their Instagram ads.
Our Senior Marketing Designer is also our resident Instagram addict, so she knows a thing or two about what makes a smart Instagram advertising strategy. After examining the most successful Instagram campaigns, she analyzed what big brands are doing right – and how you can learn from their strategies. Her top tips?
- Genuine, candid photos are best. Visual marketing is all about authenticity – it’s important that Instagram pics look real, not like staged marketing images.
- Pictures including people (especially people’s faces) tend to be the most compelling. There’s a reason everyone loves selfies.
- Take a look at other great examples of user-generated content to get inspiration for your own campaigns. The best way to build a successful campaign is to study what made others work so well.
- Simplify the buying process for Instagram followers – learn how to start an Instagram shop to provide easy access to products featured in photos.
- Think of creative ways to incentivize participation.
With Shoppable Instagram options on the rise, stand out from the pack by making your shoppable gallery experience different by adding a layer of UGC, showcasing star ratings, reviews and number of products sold next to each tagged product.