Instagram’s popularity has grown exponentially since its launch in 2010 and today it has more than 500 million active users. It is one of the world’s biggest social media marketing platforms, and as such, it should be harnessed for advertising your business.

Since its birth in 2010, Instagram has evolved enormously and today is the leading social media platform for sharing visual content. By nature we are visual creatures and image-based messages are absorbed and assimilated much more quickly than text-based content. By sharing your brand’s story via high quality images, audiences will be more engaged and more prone to interaction with your brand in an active and mutually beneficial way.

Images are crucial in successful brand marketing and a big part of brand marketing is advertising. Advertising on Instagram is an extremely valid option for business owners, alongside other marketing content and ads can complement and enhance any social media marketing campaign.

Advertising: One of the many benefits of Instagram

Using Instagram for business offers numerous benefits to marketers for businesses both large and small. These include but are not limited to:

  • Increasing clicks to your website
  • Increasing website conversions
  • Boosting engagement with your posts
  • Boosting your visibility and fan base
  • Boosting local awareness of your business
  • Maximising claims on offers and promotions you run
  • Creation of new leads for your business

Instagram has evolved into a comprehensive advertising solution for businesses of all sizes, and it drives tangible results. Through increased exposure, increased consumer awareness, and message association, your brand advertising on the platform will trigger more visits to your website.

Advertising on Instagram

It is only quite recently that Instagram has made available an option for placing retargeted ads. These dynamic ads are designed to take advantage of the browsing history and other activity on the platform of targeted users, and your ads will only be shown to specific users at specific times.

For example, an Instagram user who has previously engaged with you by browsing your business website will be shown ads for your business in their feed within a short timeframe following their visit to your site. This is in the form of a sponsored post. By advertising in this way, an interested consumer will be reminded of your business and the likelihood of them returning to your website is boosted.

Dynamic ads on Instagram can be in a still image format, a video format, or in the format of a carousel of still images.

  • Still Images – tell your brand story via beautiful images. Clean, fresh and simple, these ads inspire viewers to take action to discover more; you can also influence how they perceive your brand.
  • Video ads – combine the power of quality images with sound and motion. You can share video content of up to a minute in length to further capture the attention of consumers.
  • Carousel ads – these provide more depth to still image ads. Viewers swipe to see additional related images and at the end of the carousel a call to action button will take them directly to your website to explore further.

Real-life examples of Instagram advertising success

1. InnoGames advertised its new game Forge of Empires via Instagram. More than 5 million US users were reached, to achieve 5 times more installs than elsewhere in the world where the only social media advertising was via Facebook ad campaign. This was done via photo and carousel ads that attracted new gamers.

2. The British Heart Foundation targeted women aged 25-35 via Instagram and enticed users with photo, carousel and video ads to drive site visits and sign-ups. The focus of the campaign was to spread the word on the MyMarathon campaign, and almost 47 per cent more signups happened thanks to the advertising on Instagram.

3. LG used targeted Instagram ads to increase the exposure of its LG G5 Smartphone. Using videos depicting the message that “life is good when you play more”, the ads achieved a reach of 30 million globally, with more than 16 million reach in strategic countries for the brand and almost 2 million active engagements.

4. Cointreau joined with Liberty of London to target London-based women aged 25-35 with a story of elegance and sophistication via a video ad. It was shared to generate more than 30 million views and achieved six times more active engagement with the brand than via any other platform.

5. CCTVNEWS is a China-based English-language broadcaster. It is the first news brand worldwide to have advertised on Instagram, using video ads to lift brand awareness and connect with its audience. Its two-week campaign was designed to reach US millennials and communicate a Chinese perspective on world events, via two very short videos featuring memorable moments from documentary content. Almost 4 million people were reached and both ad recall and brand awareness were successfully enhanced.

6. Maybelline New York is a century-old cosmetic house and a modern global beauty brand. To raise its profile for eyebrow products in Australia as well as to increase brand awareness and drive sales, it created dynamic local content via photo format ads relating to the importance of brows in overall appearance. This was achieved using a local Australian Instagrammer and model. The result was a significant lift in brand awareness, message association, and sales.

How to start advertising on Instagram 

1. Create a business page on Facebook – this allows you to streamline the entire process.

2. Connect your Facebook business page to your Business Manager Account – choose “Pages” from the Business Settings pop out menu at the left of the screen. Select “Add New Page” and choose the option that suits your business.

3. Then add your Facebook Ads account to your Business Manager via the Business Settings bar at the left of screen. Click on “Ad Accounts”. Choose the best option for your business.

4. Connect with Instagram and sync your account to Facebook Business Manager – on your page in Facebook for business, click on “Settings” at the top of the page. Click on the “Instagram Ads” tab and connect your Instagram account to your Facebook page.

5. Login to your Ads Manager account (in Facebook).

6. Download Power Editor. This enables you to create your ad. Go to the Ads Manager platform and select “Power Editor” in the menu at the top of the page. (Note that you must use Google Chrome as your browser for Power Editor to operate).

7. Create your Instagram ad. Click on “Manage Ads” in Power Editor (top left of page). Select “Create Campaign” option. You will create a new campaign, create a new ad set, and create a new ad.

8. Enter the URL for your website and any text to accompany your image or video. Make the message captivating and of no more than three hundred characters. Use relevant hashtags.

9. Upload your image or video. Choose an image that is of premium quality and appealing to the eye.

10. Create a call to action button for the ad to take interested viewers to your website.

11. Review and edit your ad before publishing it to Instagram.

NOTE: Further instructions are available via Instagram’s website.

There is no better way to position your brand and business for growth in 2017 than by adopting a social media marketing strategy that includes advertising on Instagram. With such a high usage by the younger demographic, it is considered to be the most important social network by teens and is also vastly popular for users up to middle age. The potential for reach for your brand is unprecedented, and to not harness this power for your business in the future would be remiss.