Cash-strapped startups and small businesses need all the help they can get. During the process of developing and building their services and products, the marketing of it all can sometimes fall by the wayside. However, marketing your business doesn’t have to be a headache – especially in the era of social media. With several platforms to choose from, in this series, Social Media 101, we’ll walk you through the basics of how to advertise on different social media networks.
Following up on our guide to advertising on Facebook, we’ll now look to Instagram. A highly visual platform with high engagement rates, Instagram offers brands a plethora of ad formats and options, including a unique concept – influencer marketing. What’s more, Instagram shares targeting tools with Facebook, making it simple to find exactly the audience you want to reach.
But just because Instagram and Facebook share a tool does not mean that their ads operate similarly. Read on to learn more about the options available on Instagram and how to leverage them to best highlight your products.
Navigating the Different Types of Ads
You’re probably thinking that creating an Instagram ad can’t possibly be that confusing – but just deciding the type of ad you’d like to run can be an overwhelming experience if it’s your first foray into social media advertising. We’ve broken them down below:
- Photo Ads: The most basic option, a photo ad includes just one landscape or square image that appears within a user’s feed.
- Video Ads: Exactly what it sounds like, a video ad contains a video in landscape or square format that can be up to a minute long and appears within a user’s feed.
- Carousel Ads: An extended photo ad, a carousel ad can include between two and ten photos or videos that users swipe to view.
- Slideshow Ads: Though the name ‘slideshow ad’ may make you think that it’s similar to a carousel ad, it’s actually made up of a series of still images which play as a video. Bonus: you can add text and audio to slideshow ads.
- Stories Ads: A departure from the rest of the ads, Stories Ads appear in Instagram Stories, a function that allows users to share photos and videos that are only available for 24 hours before expiring.
Shop Now Ads + Shoppable Ads
If you’re a local retailer looking to increase conversions or sell products directly, Instagram offers two types of shoppable ads. The first includes a “Shop Now” button that direct users to a product page, while the second is a fully shoppable ad via a partnership with Shopify – if your company has an online store supported by Shopify, then you can tag your products in the Instagram ad to create a seamless retail experience.
Influencer Marketing: Sponsored Posts & Branded Content
A particularly unique opportunity that Instagram offers is the ability to partner with Instagram-native influencers – users with impressive followings and engagement rates – to promote your brand or product. There are currently two avenues you can take:
Though this requires you to find the influencer who best fits your brand and company vision, and then negotiate with them directly, the impact of having an influencer can be enormous. Influencers provide credibility and, since they have a follower base that trusts them, often results in an increase in leads or app installs. Plus, it takes the onus off of you to target your audience directly, a nice perk for startups if you’re unsure of your exact audience demographics. All you need to do is agree on a price for the post as well as the content, and then the influencer does the rest.
Another option that Instagram has recently rolled out is their branded content tool, which discloses when a post is part of a paid advertisement for greater transparency and without the reliance on a hashtag such as “#ad”. To use this tool, do note that you’ll need an Instagram Business account and that the tool doesn’t do all the work for you. That said, though you still have to negotiate with the influencer of your choice regarding payment and content, the tool then allows both of you to provides functions including partner approvals, which means you are tagged in the content and have access to the analytics. Pretty nifty.
Once you’ve determined which of these options works best for you, you’ll just need to login to your Facebook account to set it all up. From there, you’ll be well on your way to your first Instagram ad.