Table of contents
  1. 1. Definition
  2. 2. Overview
  3. 3. Advantages and disadvantages
  4. 4. The relevance of Instagram paid ads for influencers
  5. 5. Best practices

Definition

Instagram Ads is a paid platform in which Instagram users can target their audiences by age, gender, demographics, location, languages, interests, behavior, and connections. The platform works much like Facebook’s advertising system which is no surprise as Facebook owns Instagram after the $1 billion acquisition

With over 600 million users overall, 400-500 million of which access the platform on daily basis, Instagram’s advertising system has made it possible for influencers to reach audience segments that were otherwise impossible to target with the more widely-used “organic” feeds posting approach. 

As Instagram already beats out all other social media platforms in terms of engagement (10X more engagement than most of the bigger social media platforms, including Facebook), brands have started to run paid advertisements on Instagram as the return on investment (ROI) is usually quite high. 

 

Overview

Instagram came out with Instagram Ads in late 2015, and since then over 500,000 advertisers have used it to generate business (leads, conversions, engagements, and followers). While many of these advertisers have been businesses of all shapes and sizes, a good portion of Instagram advertisers became individual influencers who use it to supplement their influencer marketing campaigns

Instagram’s advertising platform allows users to define their audience thus making it an extremely targeted approach as long as a brand knows who their customer avatar (ideal customer, follower, or fan) is. The platform has become quite popular with influencers since its inception as it has been shown that fans engage over 4x more with brands on Instagram than they do with Facebook. 

The cost of running Instagram Ads is higher than Facebook and Twitter, however, but that is because it produces better results than these two platforms - click-through-rate (CTR) is much higher. An advertiser can expect to pay over $6 per one-thousand views (CPM) when running ads on Instagram. 

Since its inception, Instagram has revamped its ad structure to include vertical photos and video ads along with the traditional sponsored feed posts. 

 

Advantages and disadvantages

One of the major advantages of advertising on Instagram is the ability to reach a younger and more energetic audience. As the platform tends to promote more visually-oriented and creative content, younger members of the global population are more likely to be found on this platform than on Facebook or Twitter, as well as more likely to engage with influencers and brands than these other two platforms (over 50X more likes, shares, & comments than on Facebook & 120x more engagement than on Twitter). 

That being said, Instagram Ads are not for everyone. While it can be incredibly profitable when it comes to most influencer marketing campaigns, some brands just do not “vibe” with the younger crowd. To better understand who should be using ads on Instagram, the following Pros and Cons have been given: 

 

Pros 

  1. Targeting: Whether you want to focus on a specific demographic, age, gender, location, language, behavior, interest, or choose from a proven customer list, you can do so with Instagram Ads. Instagram has many of the same features as Facebook when it comes to targeting, but with better brand engagement potential
  2. Goal Setting: Through Instagram’s paid platform, you can set goals for your campaign and monitor them right on the platform itself. This makes it a really useful influencer management tool
  3. Content Creation: Influencers do not need high-end technical equipment to produce creative visual content, as most of the photos and videos on the platform are shot and edited with smartphones. This makes the content creation for ads a breeze. Again, Instagram’s platform is just an easy-to-use influencer management tool in-and-of itself. Any advertiser who likes to create visual content will likely do well with Instagram paid advertisement. 
  4. Video & Photo Ads: The ability to advertise through both picture and video is great for advertisers as these two types of mediums have been shown to produce higher engagement and conversions than traditional text. In today’s fast-paced world, people have less time to read an article or even an ad. They do, however, find it easy to look at a picture or watch a short video. As Instagram allows all three forms of advertising through its paid platform, advertisers have the choice to use video, photos, or text to better engage with their target audience. 
  5. Ad Format: Instagram continues to update its ad features each year. No longer, does an influencer have to settle for a timeline photo when promoting a feed, they can now choose between videos, photos, stories, and carousels. The flexibility which this provides advertisers with makes sure that their ads don’t become stale but ever-fresh as they can continue to provide different pieces of content on a regular basis. 

Cons 

  1. Small Audience: Although Instagram does have over 600 million active users, most of those users are between the ages of 19-29. If an influencer or a brand does not have a product or service that resonates with that age range, then advertising on Instagram will probably not yield adequate results. 
  2. Text-Savvy Advertisements: For influencers who prefer to get their point across through text messaging, Instagram is probably not the best place to be, much fewer Instagram Ads where you have to pay to promote text messages that will not engage or convert. 
  3. Upkeep: All social media platforms require a lot of time and energy to maintain and this is true whether running paid ads or using organic marketing methods. Instagram is no different. Viewers can respond to ads being shown, so advertisers will have to answer back and that can take a lot of time. Add to that the amount of time spent coming up with constant fresh and relevant photos and videos, and you will most likely have to buy influencer management tools or hire help to maintain your Instagram account. 

 

The relevance of Instagram paid ads for influencers

Even though an influencer may already have a large and loyal following, paid advertising can help them increase their influence across the platform even more. More followers equal higher prices for shout-outs. 

Aside from increasing brand awareness, influencers can use ads on Instagram to increase follower satisfaction. As viewers can respond to ads, influencers get the chance to interact with their followers which increases loyalty. This increased loyalty also leads to higher conversions for businesses and individuals advertising their product or service with influencers who respond to their paid ads. Ultimately, follower satisfaction ends up becoming customer satisfaction. 

One final note to running paid ads on Instagram is this: ads on Instagram are designed to be non-intrusive. Influencers and those who use influencers to market their products and services realize that success lies in the personal touch and trust that followers have towards the influencer. Most ad platforms end up running so many spammy ads in a users feed that it really disrupts the user experience. Viewers end up ignoring or even hating the ad and the advertiser - not good for influencers or advertisers. This s not the case with ads on Instagram though. 

There is no significant difference between an Instagram Ad or a regular post feed. Both include a photo or video from the influencer, except that with an ad there is a small sponsored mark on the top right-hand corner. It is a lot like Native Advertising where the advertisement is a natural part of the content. Many times the viewer does not even realize it is an ad, just another heartfelt post by the influencer they are following. 

 

Best practices

Using an Instagram Ad is a great way to build your brand and influence throughout Instagram. However, there is a lot of competition when it comes to paid advertising on this platform. The following best practices will help you separate yourself from the rest of your competition and give you the highest results with the lowest CPM possible. 

  1. Test: The only way to know which audience responds best to which content is to test each and every format, image, copy, and video. It can be quite tedious to do so, especially if you do not like numbers or statistics, but well worth it in the end. The more you test, the more you can optimize, and the higher ROI you will receive. 
  2. Closed Captions (Videos): For higher retention rates and views, include captions in your videos. As many video ads on Instagram start with no sound, closed captions are a must to create that initial interest. 
  3. Proper Images: Never think that if one image works on one social media platform, it will work on them all. Studies have shown that Instagram users respond best to images with a bluish tint color, higher visual texture, and lower saturation. 
  4. Focus On Visual: Never forget that Instagram users are on Instagram for the visual content, therefore never use too much text in your video or photo ads. The image or video should make the dominant statement, while the caption or hashtag should only support. 
  5. Stay Creative: Smart and creative marketing are as relevant on Instagram as it is on any other paid advertising platform. The main idea behind good marketing is being creative. Do not keep showing the same ad over and over even if it has proven to be a winner. Also, never use the same style of images and videos that other marketers are using because that will not help your brand stand out. You can get ideas from other marketers but always personalize it to fit your unique style.