Last updated: February 15, 2021
Instagram recently celebrated double digits at the tail end of 2020 by turning 10. The visually stimulating and engaging platform may have been around for some time now, but it’s still far from maturity as it continues to evolve in new ways for businesses to expand their organic efforts into paid ones.
With over 1 billion monthly users, Instagram ranks second after its counter-platform Facebook, when we look at active users. As more users join the network and peruse their Feed, Stories, the Explore tab, and IGTV, its popularity and frequent new feature launches, there is great opportunity for brands of all varieties to get into this space and find ways to find success. After all, with that many people on the platform, your audience is most certainly present.
If the usage stats aren’t convincing on their own, read on to learn about five reasons to advertise on Instagram:
5 features & benefits to reap from Instagram advertising
The five key benefits of Instagram advertising that make it a lucrative channel for many businesses are as follows:
- Ever-increasing opportunities.
- Build a following for your brand.
- Easily create ads.
- Showcase your brand through Stories.
- Leverage higher engagement rates.
Let’s take a closer look at each one so you can identify if Instagram advertising is something your business should explore, and if so, learn how to leverage all it has to offer for maximum success.
1. Ever-increasing opportunities
Sure, there are many people on Instagram as we aforementioned, but what can we expect for actual growth? Let’s take the United States as an example. Of the 140 million users in the United States, Instagram saw an 8% increase in users in one quarter, spanning from Q3 2020 to the end of the year. Advertising in Western Europe? That region’s usage grew 17% in 2020. It’s consistently growing and it’s safe to say that Instagram has a ways to go before getting saturated or outdated. There is still plenty of opportunity left for businesses to get in front of their target audience, to expand their visibility, and to accomplish their various goals.
2. Build a following for your brand
While people go to social networks to connect with their family, friends, or to see what their favorite celebrities’ are up to, millions check out what brands are sharing. It’s not every platform that users actively do that. In fact, 200 million Instagram users visit at least one business profile each day. 81% of Instagram users also use the platform to research products and services. In addition, now that Instagram recently made shopping more prominent on the platform, 130 million users tap on shopping posts every month.
This is your cue to step in and show off what you’re offering in a captivating, visual manner. If done right, brands can build a significant following and drive business from the platform, so don’t hold back. Develop a strategy for the platform on its own but also consider how it will play in your holistic marketing and advertising strategy. Develop and use visually appealing and compelling content, and see how Instagram fairs for your brand and the products or services you provide.
3. Easily create ads
If you’ve used Facebook for your business's organic and paid growth through ads, then it’s easy to further expand your reach and efforts to their sister platform as they are connected through Facebook Ads Manager. With Instagram Ads being integrated with Facebook Ads Manager, you can reap the rewards of most campaign objectives, optimization selections, and targeting options. Simply connect your Instagram account in your Facebook Business Manager business settings, then in Ads Manager, add Instagram to your ad placement targeting at the ad set level, if you haven’t done so yet and see how Instagram’s three ad placements—Feed, Stories, and Explore tab—can work for you. While IGTV doesn’t have ad placements on it, I believe we can expect to see one becoming available in the near future – so keep an eye out for that. Facebook has stretched into a variety of placements across its ecosystem from within itself to Messenger, Audience Network, and Instagram.
If this will be your first foray into Instagram Ads, you can easily use creatives that work on Facebook, however, be mindful of specs so that you can make your ads look native to the platform and fit within certain video length limits, as they do vary across platforms and placements. If you don’t yet have images or videos that may be more Stories-centric, in that they are vertical and take up the full screen, you can edit your creatives in the ad level and crop them to fit the various placements until you do have more sizes of images and videos.
If you don’t yet have video ads but want to make a more significant impact by capturing the attention of your target audience on Instagram, take advantage of the free built-in tools that Facebook has to offer. In the ad level, upload or select your still image and then use the Video Creation Kit for templates, special effects, and overlay text to give your images an edge by adding some motion to them. Most features available within Facebook Ads Manager work on Instagram ad placements, too.
4. Showcase your brand through Stories
Snapchat may have been the first with ephemeral content, but it’s not the last. Instagram developed its own version after Snapchat declined Facebook’s acquisition offer and quickly surpassed Snapchat's userbase. While Instagram Stories isn’t new, more brands continue getting into this popular placement and seeing great success. Currently, a half billion people are watching Stories every day, thus further emphasizing why it’s important to add Stories into your organic and paid advertising strategy. While it’s true across Facebook’s advertising ecosystem, it carries over into Instagram as well, that you can easily connect with target audiences that may not know you exist and that you could add value into their lives. By showing up in front of them, you can quickly captivate using Stories given the brevity of the content and then get people into your funnel. With more than half of users saying they become more interested in a product or service after they see it in Stories, you might as well bet on yourself and see what kind of results Instagram Ads can bring you and your business.
5. Leverage higher engagement rates
From what we’ve seen in our client accounts and from what we’ve heard around the industry grapevine, engagement rates are typically higher than on other social platforms. While that is the case, make sure your product images and videos are visually engaging and on-brand so they can help drive more purchases. One social media team reported that engagement rates are highest for photo posts, followed by carousels, then videos—which of course, will vary by the content promoted, your industry, and audience targeting.
Ecommerce marketing platform Yotpo reported that people are 58 times more likely to engage with branded content on Instagram than on Facebook and 120 times more likely than Twitter. While engagement rates have changed since Yotpo reported those Instagram statistics in 2018, we have seen them slightly decrease over the years as more people join and upload content. Even if that may be the case for others, user engagement rates on Instagram posts and ads are still exceptionally high compared to other platforms.
To begin with strong engagement rates or to boost your existing efforts, leverage user-generated content, or UGC. If you don’t have any UGC content yet, start a hashtag trend to encourage your followers to contribute and share it. In addition, ask questions in your posts and then put some advertising budget behind them to expand their reach and visibility to new audiences. Reach out to smaller influencers and develop a partnership program. Once you have UGC content, reshare it on your account, whether it is someone wearing or using a product of yours, a review or testimonial, or anything else that people might share that relates to your brand. Some other methods of acquiring more engagement on your Instagram Ads is to create a contest to drive more followers and engagement on your contest posts, which you can also boost as ads. While the possibilities are endless, showcase your product or service in use so that prospective customers and avid fans can better have their expectations managed, as well as be more likely to convert for the first time or again.
Incorporate Instagram advertising into your holistic strategy
Instagram is a decade old now, but it’s still a cool kid on the block that isn’t going anywhere any time soon. People continue to join and utilize the platform on a daily basis and for businesses, they continue to launch new features that keep our target audiences engaged—be it leaving comments or taking a stronger action such as converting. If you work in ecommerce, Instagram can be a crucial key to your success as it is undeniable and currently the most shopping-centric social media advertising platform.
Consider Instagram as part of your overall marketing strategy to expand into this year to see if and how it can be a part of your funnel and help drive your bottom line. It’s not going anywhere any time soon as it continues rolling out new features for brands to utilize and find success from.
As someone who lives for connecting people, making the connection between consumers and brands is what Akvile DeFazio, president of AKvertise, a social media advertising agency, does best. As a conversion driven marketer, she is passionate about helping businesses expand their online visibility and reach their goals via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest Ads.