Most of those who advertise in Google have also advertised in Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and even in websites related to their niche industry. Maybe they have advanced publicity campaigns or posted ads through the NPR. But they dismiss Instagram, usually due to the fact they are not sure of getting an investment return there.

Although Instagram is more recent and has less users than its mother company, Facebook, is the family’s star that everyone wants to seat next to during the Thanksgiving dinner. Instagram provides a platform to tell visual stories through different ads formats and many advertisers have noticed that this channel produces a higher investment return compared to other advertising campaigns through other digital means.

Currently, Instagram has more than 1 billion active users, according to Statista, and the dizzying growing rate that has experienced since 2013 is really amazing.

It’s just a matter of analyzing the following chart:

But with so many active users interacting in its feeds the whole day, how can a small business stand out?

This is where Instagram’s advertising comes into play. Like in Facebook, popularity comes with a massive number of contents and breaking through in an organic way to make a real impact, could seems to be almost impossible. Instagram ads can turn to be a powerful tool to focus on the right public, at the right moment, with the right message and the right images.

This guide will show everything that is necessary to know for starting an advertising campaign in Instagram.

What is Instagram advertising?

Advertising on Instagram is about paying for posting sponsored content in the platform to, this way, reach a bigger and more specific audience. Although there are many reasons why a company or an individual may decide to advertise. Instagram advertising is often used to increase the brand’s exposure and the website traffic, generate new leads and boost the current customers to the other side of the funnel (and, hopefully, to the conversion).

Since Instagram is an extremely visual platform, the text ads are not really important here. Instead, an image, an image set or a video (that can be accompanied by some text) prevail to reach the audience through the Instagram ads.

And the best part? Instagram advertising actually works! In March 2017, more than 120 million Instagrammers visited a website, got addresses, made calls and sent emails or direct messages to get more information about a company after having seen an Instagram ad. According to Instagram, 60% of people assure that have discovered new products in the platform and 75% of the users toke action after having seen a post.

As in the case of the Facebook ads, by investing some money in a post, advertisers get a bigger exposure for the brand, as well as a higher control over who can see that post.

Traffic

If what is intended is to redirect people to a website or to the Appstore to download the app, this is the main objective. The only additional steps required are choosing between those two options, then introducing the chosen URL and… Let the traffic come!

Engagement campaign on Instagram

Who doesn’t want more likes, shares and engagement in general? If the objective is the engagement, something to consider is that at this moment it’s only possible to pay for the “post – engagement” on Instagram. Facebook allows to pay for the “page engagement” and the “responses to the event”, but this option is not available for Instagram at the moment.

Apps installations

If the main objective is the app download, this is the right place. To set it up, it is necessary to choose the app from the store during the setup process.

Video views

A video making use to imply a time and money investment and that’s why not promoting your video on Instagram would be like buying a ticket to Hawaii and leave it in your desk. Fortunately, this is a very simple objective and doesn’t require additional steps to setup.

Lead generation

Who doesn’t want more leads? If that’s the main goal, it must be considered that the lead generation ads don’t offer the same default answers fields that Facebook.

Currently, Instagram just admits the email, the full name, the phone number and the gender. These ads also suppose a bigger barrier than the Facebook leads generation ads since when leads tap to open the ad, they will have to tap to complete their information. In Facebook, leads can fulfill their information without tapping.

The other setup element is that is necessary to create a lead acquisition form at the moment of creating the ad. If you want more information about lead ads.

Conversions

For last, but certainly not least, we have conversions. This objective allows to take leads to perform an action generating more conversions for the website or the app. This requires that you setup a Facebook pixel or an app event based on the website or the app that you want to promote. This will allow to track the conversions.

3. Setup the target (segmentation)

Now that the objective has been selected, it’s necessary to address the right public so, therefore, the ads could reach the right persons. This is the real magic of the Instagram ads since the Facebook deep demographic knowledge is used to reach the right persons.

If this has been done before with the Facebook ads, it is probable to have different created audiences and the process would be well known. For someone new in this process here is a summary of the options that can be superimposed to get a properly segmented public. (For example, someone who wants to address New Yorker women between 19 and 65 years of age who are interested in yoga and healthy food, can do it)

Location

If someone wants to address a country, region, state, city or postal code, or if what is required is to exclude or include certain places, guidance by location will allow to do all this and even more.

Age

Allows to address ranges of age from 13 to over the 65.

Gender

Allows to choose between men, women or both.

Languages

Facebook recommends to leave this field empty unless the language you are looking for is unusual in the addressed location.

Demographic data: in “Detailed Guidance” is the demographic data, which has several subcategories with even more subcategories under them. For instance, this route could be followed: Demography > Home > Homeowners > Tenants.

Instagram demographic segmentation

Interests 

Interests can be also found in “Detailed Segmentation” with multiple subcategories in which you can go deeper. For example, if you are looking for people interested in distilled beverages, science fiction movies and aviation, all these options are available!

Behaviors

This is another “Detailed Segmentation” option with multiple subcategories to explore either shopping behavior, job roles or anniversaries among others. The options seem to be endless.

Segmentation for behavior on Instagram

Here is possible to address the persons connected to the page, the app or the event.

Customized publics

Customized publics allow to upload contacts lists, which in turn allows to address leads that are already in the client portfolio or the customers whom we want to make an upsell or address ads to persons that have interacted with the brand’s social networks profiles or have visited the website.

Similar audience

If the customized public is taking advantage of its potential, it is possible to create a similar public. This will allow Instagram to find persons with similar characteristics from other audiences.

Once the public has been set up, Facebook will provide a guide about how specific or big it is (size).

Instagram ads audience

This is an important tool to pay attention to, since what advertisers are looking for is a balance so the audience won’t be too big (because it wouldn’t be sufficiently oriented) but not too specific (in the red zone) because it probably there won’t be too much people (if there’s any) to reach with so many objectives.

4. Choose locations

Now that an ideal demographic group is being addressed, it’s time to choose the locations. This is essential if the campaign’s objective is to show just Instagram ads. If the advertiser decides to ignore this step, Facebook will allow the ads to appear in both platforms.

This is not necessarily something negative, but if the advertiser has content specifically created for Instagram, the “Edit Locations” option must be selected here.

From here it is possible to specify Instagram as location, as well as the advertiser wants these ads to appear in the feed and/or in the stories section of the platform.

5. Establish your budget and the ads calendar

For those who are familiar with the functioning of the budgets through Facebook, AdWords and other digital advertising platforms, this step shouldn’t suppose a challenge.

For those who are not acquainted, although they don’t know exactly where they can stablish their budget when the first advertising campaign is running on Instagram, shouldn’t get worried: this a matter of try and failure and it has a lot to do with experience. And the good thing is that it offers the possibility of pausing or stopping the campaign at any time if it seems that the budget is not being properly assigned.

Setup the Instagram ads budget

So, it should be daily or for life? While some tend to be inclined to the daily budgets, since guarantee that the budget won’t run out too fast, the lifetime budgets allow to schedule the ads delivery, so there are advantages and disadvantages with both options.

It is also advisable to explore the advanced options shown next. For instance, by biding manually the advertiser will have the control to decide the cost of each lead.

Instagram advertising bid options

As it was mentioned before, it is also possible to run an ad schedule to target specific hours and days of the week in which is known the audience is more active in the platform. This is a very valuable way to optimize the budget. As a reminder, this is only available for those who use lifetime budget.

6. Create an Instagram ad

Now it’s time to create an Instagram ad!

Hopefully, after following the previous steps, the advertiser must have in mind a content for the ad that is intended to promote. This part of the setup can be different depending on the campaign’s objective, but there always be some ad format options to choose. So, as the next step, the different available ad formats will be discussed.

Instagram ad formats

Those who are prompt to make bad decisions, probably want to prepare. Instagram has six ad formats to choose. (Those are much less than the ones that Facebook has) Two of them are for Instagram stories. The other four are formats designed for the Instagram feed, which are more used by the advertisers.

#1. Ads for the images feed

This is the most standard ad format and probably the one seen most often while scrolling through the feed. These ads are individual images that will be shown as a native experience while the target customer scrolls through the feed. The best thing of these ads is that they don’t look like ads, especially if done right.

Here are some additional details to keep in mind:

Technical requirements:

Type of file: jpg or png.

Maximum file size: 30MB.

Minimum image width: 600 pixels.

Image ratio: 4:5 minimum, 16:9 maximum.

Text length: The text shouldn’t occupy more than 30% of the image.

Number of hashtags: maximum 30 (*it is increasingly recommended to use less).

Available objectives:

Reach.

Traffic.

Conversions.

App installs.

Lead generation.

Brand Awareness.

Engagement.

Catalog sales.

Store traffic.

Available call to action buttons:

Request.

Reserve.

Call.

Contact.

How to get there.

More information.

Get schedule.

Download.

#2. Stories images ads

It is a concept pretty similar to the previous one, but these are for the Instagram stories! Next, we’ll show the details of the Instagram stories ads:

Technical requirements:

Image ratio: 9:16 recommended.

Minimum image width: 600 pixels.

Available objectives:

Reach.

Traffic.

Conversions.

App installs.

Lead generation.

Available call to action buttons:

Apply.

Reserve.

Contact.

Download.

3. Video ads

It’s possible to spice up an ad using a video. If time has been invested in making a quality video, then it must be promoted through the Instagram feed.

Although most of the video files are compatible with Instagram, it is recommended to use H.264 compression, squared pixels, fixed frame rate, progressive scan and audio AAC stereo to 128kbps+ compression (PROFESSIONAL ADVISE: if the video doesn’t meet the requirements, it always can go through the Handbrake video transcoder, to make adjustments).

Technical requirements:

Video resolution: 1080 x 1080 pixels (at minimum).

Maximum file size: 4 GB.

Video ratio: 4:5 at minimum, 16:9 at maximum.

Video length: 60 seconds at maximum.

Video caption: optional.

Image ratio: 4:5 at minimum, 16:9 at maximum.

Text length: 125 characters, maximum recommended.

Number of hashtags: 30 at maximum (Use less).

Available objectives:

Reach.

Traffic.

Conversions.

Lead generation.

Brand Awareness.

Engagement.

Store Traffic.

Available call to action button:

Request.

Reserve.

Call.

Contact.

Download.

#4. Video stories ads

This is another suitable space to post video ads, because that is what the users expect to see here and that’s why the “sales” part of the advertising doesn’t feel forced. The recommended specifications to upload the video are the same that the previously mentioned and here are some additional details to keep in mind.

Technical requirements:

Video resolution: 1080 x 1920 pixels (at minimum).

Maximum file size: 4 GB.

Video ratio: 9:16 at maximum.

Video length: 15 seconds at maximum.

Video caption: not available.

Available objectives:

Reach.

Traffic.

Conversions.

Lead. generation.

App installs.

Available call to action buttons:

Apply.

Reserve.

Call.

Contact.

Download.

#5. Ads in carousel

Then we have the carousel ads. This format allows to show a series of scrollable images instead of just one image.

This kind of ad is ideal for very visual brands, such as the food industry, furniture, clothing, tourist destinations, etc. But not just for “sexy” business; it also can work to humanize a brand or recreate its culture showing the staff behind the company.

The carousel format allows to choose up to 10 images for a single ad, each one of them with its own link and copy. The video is also a good option for these ads.

Technical requirements:

Type of file: jpg or png.

Maximum file size: 30MB.

Minimum image width: 600 pixels.

Image ratio: 4:5 at minimum, 16:9 at maximum.

Text length: 2.200 at maximum (*although Instagram recommends to keep it under 90 for an optimal deliver).

Video length: 60 seconds at maximum.

Number of hashtags: 30 at maximum (it is better to use less).

Available objectives:

Reach.

Traffic.

Conversions.

Brand awareness.

Lead generation.

Catalogue sales.

Available call to action buttons:

Request.

Reserve.

Contact.

Call.

Download.

The 5 best advertising practices on Instagram

Now that the basic principles of Instagram advertising have been presented, it is time to obtain the highest possible return of investment following the best practices to create big ads on Instagram.

#1. Give each ad personality

It doesn’t matter if is a funny joke, an emotive video or just an intriguing image that shows the advertiser’s culture, if the Instagram post doesn’t feel humanized, won’t be successful developing its whole potential.

People use Instagram for entertaining, having fun or to get surprised. Could be while going to work or when relaxing after a long day. Nobody seeks to enter Instagram to see a boring corporative ad. That’s why appealing to emotions is always the way to go.

#2. Making sure the ad is contextually relevant

What works for a social media platform may not necessarily work for other. For instance, is probable that a company doesn’t promote the same content through LinkedIn as through Twitter, since the audience use to be in a different tone.

The same thing happens with Instagram. By analyzing the target and making awareness of where is, many useful things for the campaign will be understood.

On Instagram, is it likable that a potential customer download and read a 40 pages e-book? Probably no. It is necessary to make sure the posted ads are not excessively sales – oriented, since that’s not what is usually used on Instagram.

#3. Use hashtags

Advertisers shouldn’t limit to just use hashtags like #food or #love. It is necessary to be more creative and make an users research to find out which hashtags are the most searched by the audience. Besides, it’s not advisable to exceed with the hashtags. It can make the post look careless and desperate.

#4. Make a contest

The promotion of a contest or a giveaway is, by far, one of the most efficient ways to reach the objectives faster with Instagram advertising. Why? Because people love competition and things for free! What a better way to get people excited about a brand?

At this point, however, is important to be careful since there is the risk of getting full of “trash” followers that, once the contest have finished, just leave. For this reason, is important to make sure, through the procedure, that the users who participate are really interested in the product or service.

#5. Post in optimal hours

Something short about this was told in the Instagram ad setup budget section, but using the ad scheduling feature (which is only available with the lifetime budget) it is a great way to get audience at the right time.

Someone who really knows his audience will not have problems determining this, but the try and failure principle can also work here. It depends a lot on the nature of the business, for example: for an online retailer, when does people use to buy clothing online? Or for a restaurant, which days of the week have the highest traffic levels on the website or the store? Wondering these things is a good starting point.

Without further delay, it is necessary to get going and make advertising on Instagram! This is a platform that shouldn’t be ignored, and this guide should provide enough resources to make it.

See you soon.

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