October 23, 2015

Four Key Strategies for Instagram Advertising


Instagram is the hottest social media platform out there according to, well, everyone. In just one day, there are an average of 80 million photos posted on the platform, and 3.5 billion likes. Instagram is a user’s visual diary. So how can this be beneficial to advertisers?

According to Patrick Workman, Brand Development Lead for Instagram, research done by the platform has shown that 63% of millenials use Instagram to learn about products and services. Personally, I follow many brand accounts like Nike, Anthropologie, Madewell, Nordstrom, and Target to see their new products, sales, or just to see how they are using the channel. Against my bank account’s wishes, I have a knack for following small jewelry accounts — and have bought a few too many items after seeing beautiful images of the jewelry on my feed. Because of this, it wasn’t a surprise to me when learning that about 74% of millenials have been found to take action after being inspired by a post — whether it be visiting the website, downloading an app, or sharing with a friend.

According to Workman, 97% of campaigns tested by Instagram have generated significant lift in ad recall. With one in every five minutes being spent on either Instagram or Facebook, advertisers have the opportunity to reach this specific audience in a new way with creative and visually stimulating imagery and videos to further achieve our business goals. After seeing how these ads are playing out and being used thus far in their short life cycle, here are a few important notes to take with you when you are creating your new ads!

Think Simple and Streamlined

The platform that you are already using for Facebook advertising is what you use to create Instagram ads — making it an incredibly simple and seamless process. In Power Editor, where you normally choose the placement of the ad, between Mobile News Feed, Desktop News Feed, Desktop Right Column etc., you can now choose Instagram. This means that the functionality is the same for pricing, scheduling, delivery, and set-up. Most importantly for me, the same granular targeting options that are available for Facebook ads are now your playground for Instagram as well. 

Ad Creative is EXTREMELY Important

Not that the creative for other channels is not important, but for Instagram, being visually stimulating is absolutely critical. Compared to Facebook, users use Instagram for visual inspiration — so as advertisers, in order for our campaigns to be successful our imagery must be inspirational. In contrast, Facebook is more of a platform for personal discovery and making connections. Providing ads that are not disruptive, but instead aesthetically pleasing and captivating — and less like an actual advertisement — will help you gain a following and can will increase brand recognition. A few keys points:

  • Stay on brand and use your color scheme. You do not have to (or should you) include your logo in your ad as your brand will be associated with your page.
  • Just as you would have separate creative for Display ads and other channels, this creative should be specific for Instagram. Repurposing creative is fine, but be sure you are consciously choosing imagery or video that is fitting for this specific channel. Also pro-tip — take actual photos!
  • Copy is just as important as the creative. Instagram has provided a few guidelines for copy as follows: no one wants to scroll to read the entire long paragraph of a caption on a photo so keep it to about 150 characters or less. Links do not function in captions on Instagram — so this is where the calls-to-action come into play. As with Facebook, any copy you include within the image of the ads must not exceed 20%. And finally, keep it to three hashtags or fewer.
  • Ad objectives on Instagram include Clicks to Website, Video Views, Mobile App Install and Mass Awareness. Make sure to know which one is right for what you are trying to achieve.
  • The Instagram user base has extremely high expectations of brands using this platform. Instagram has made a promise to its user base to serve only engaging content and provide a native experience of ads. So this is the platform for brands to push their boundaries and feature their best, most compelling work.
Try Video Ads

Video ads are a great option for Instagram. They can be up to 30 seconds long (compared to the normal 15 second video capabilities for solely posting on Instagram). Videos can be landscape, not just the square. You can also experiment with sound and do not assume every view will include sound, as many people leave their sound off. Last note on video, a view is defined the same way that is it on Facebook, which is three seconds or more. 


Ultimately, every marketer that is entering the Instagram world must conduct their own experiments and tests in order to determine KPIs, benchmarks, and measurements of success. With such a new ad platform, every industry, product, and ad type has yet to be tested enough to be able to refer to industry standards, and each will be different.

So gather the people and get your Insta game going strong!