With over 400 million active users, Instagram is a coveted space for marketers. But up until now, using this medium for paid advertising has only been available to a few, select big brands. Now that any business of any size can advertise on the popular app, how should they go about taking advantage of this powerful platform?
For brands serious about creating Instagram campaigns, the platform can open up a whole new audience for a relatively inexpensive price tag. Instagram campaigns can now be accessed by any brand through the Instagram API or Facebook Power Editor Tool. (The ability to create ads in Power Editor is rolling out slowly and is not currently available to everyone.)Additionally, all the niche targeting advertisers enjoy in Facebook is available for Instagram ads, including the ability to leverage custom and look-alike audiences. This is a huge deal as brands previously had to rely on fans following their Instagram handle to see their message. Facebook acquired Instagram in 2012.
What’s more, without the clutter of a platform like Facebook, these consumers are more likely to notice and engage with these ads. In fact, initial findings from Instagram and Nielson conclude that ad recall from sponsored posts on Instagram was 2.8 times higher than the average for online ads.
While telling a story in one picture is hard to do well, it is one of the most powerful ways to communicate. Enter the old adage, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” More and more, we are becoming a visual audience, and the ability to tell a story with images is vital to successful marketing and advertising campaigns, even more so with the community on Instagram.
If you’re in marketing, the burning question is always how to tangibly measure success. Brands have long hated the “URL in profile” comment on Instagram photos, but with new “Learn More,” “Shop Now,” and “Install Now” buttons, marketers can breathe a sigh of relief, as the new API allows brands to send users straight to their site or app for purchase. For many retail brands, particularly fashion accessories and clothing, this is especially good news as photos of these items are more likely to elicit an “I want that” response.
Once the decision has been made to advertise on Instagram, how should small businesses market their services without turning off consumers who don’t like to be marketed to? Here are some basic tips for businesses embarking on their Instagram journey.
Keep your audience in mind – Users tend to be more passive on Instagram than other mediums. People are on Instagram to be inspired and entertained, not marketed to, so it’s important to meet your consumers with the right mindset. If you’re a fashion brand, stale product photos won’t do. Instead, show users the experience of wearing the clothes so they feel inspired.
For example, take the latest collection on a journey through cities that inspired the design and expose users to places they may have never seen. Free People does this especially well by using exotic locations to elicit a sense of adventure.
Create images specifically for Instagram – Success on this platform has been built around beautiful imagery and spontaneous photography. The typical online ad or marketing video will not fit on Instagram. Don’t waste your money if you are simply going to repost other campaigns. Users have the ability to hide your ads and they will. The community grew without ads, and your campaigns need to stay away from images that are too staged or messages that feel pushy. Unstaged, real, and candid – these are a few of the adjectives you want viewers to use when describing your ads.
For example, look at Mashable’s Instagram feed. A top brand with over 198,000 followers, the images are stunning, appealing to both photographers and technophiles alike. But when you move to their Facebook page, you get a very different vibe, one that is more focused on written content and news. If they simply moved their Facebook images over to Instagram, they would clearly not see the same success.
Remember your objective – Instagram is still marketing, and you shouldn’t jump on the bandwagon just because you can. What is your campaign goal? More followers? Brand recognition? Sales? Make sure you know, and that your campaign is aligned to that goal. This is the only way to measure actual success, and it will also ensure your campaigns have the right message and images.
Using the example above, it’s clear that Mashable’s Instagram objective is engagement and followers to build their brand. On the flip side, if you look at another successful account – Levi’s, you get the feeling their objective is engagement and followers to sell more jeans. Their photos are all about showcasing their denim using lifestyle photography.
Be patient and test – Don’t expect to be an overnight sensation. Results might not come right away, so be patient. Stay true to your brand and your objective, and test accordingly. Just like any other platform, it will be hard to predict which images elicit a positive response; so don’t be discouraged when some fail. Just make sure to use those learnings in future campaigns.
Have someone dedicated to social – Many businesses tend to take social campaigns more lightly than print, online, or TV campaigns. But no successful social campaign was ever just “thrown out there.” If you are spending money on social, you should be serious about it and this means having someone dedicated to the channel.
The best way to hire or identify this person is to find someone who is passionate and knowledgeable about the nuances between platforms. They should be a creative risk-taker and in the know on the greater social landscape outside of their own pages.
While there aren’t any rules you must adhere to when it comes to becoming an Instagram sensation, these tips are great ways for brands to start their ad campaigns on the right foot.
This post was originally shared on Internet Retailer