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Instagram has grown a lot over the past couple of years. As of recently, the social network hit the 700 million user count, coming even closer to Facebook (who has 2 billion users). With that said, one thing is certain – advertising on Instagram is worth it at this point.

Wondering why?

Well, according to reports and studies, 89% of Instagram users are outside of the US and between 18 and 29 years old. On top of that, about a third of the users attended college and 26% of them make more than $75,000 per year.

For brands advertising on Instagram looking for millennials and younger people, Instagram is possibly the greatest and most effective social media network worth aiming at. Since it is based on photos and videos (as well as Stories), it is great for engagement and unique brand stories.

But how to advertise on Instagram in the right way?

We are sharing our guide below.

Advertising On Instagram For Small-to-Medium Sized Businesses & Startups

Instagram is perfect for startups, and all the small-to-medium sized businesses looking to grow their networks and promote their products and services to native and targeted audiences. As soon as advertising on Instagram was officially introduced (late 2015), a lot of businesses seized the massive opportunities and tapped unique audiences while drastically decreasing their budget (ad) spendings.

On the other hand, Instagram ads have been proven effective for generating new business and essentially increasing the sales. According to a report from market research firm eMarketer, more than three-quarters of American businesses with 100 employees or more are incorporating Instagram in their new social strategy this year.

From another perspective, to advertise on Instagram does not only mean to push ads and hope for the best. Instead, the platform gives every advertiser a palette of tracking tools and analytics that help businesses understand the behavior of their target audiences and maximize their ad spend while getting more sales for every dollar spent.

So in a nutshell, Instagram is great for interactions. The content, on the other hand, is visually powerful and engaging which makes the conversion greater than content in textual form. However, advertising on Instagram is not simple – and there are several types of Instagram ads to choose from.

Types Of Instagram Ads & Best-Case Scenarios For Each

There are three Instagram advertising types you can choose from when promoting your brand to the audience. Whether your goals are to increase sales/downloads, get more website traffic or get business leads, Instagram helps you find the engaged audience you are looking for.

Below, we are listing the five types of Instagram ads and explaining the best-fit ad type for each of them.

Instagram Photo Ads: A Great Way To Tell A Story Or Feature Products

This is the most common type of Instagram advertising, where brands tell their story and feature their products or services through photos. A sponsored photo appears in the feed of the targeted audience with the tag “Sponsored”, potentially leading to the link where people can learn more, check out the product or purchase it directly.

As a feature, the Instagram photo ads are great and most used nowadays. The reason behind that is simple – they are non-invasive and easily blend in the feed of other photos and videos which the user follows.

Instagram Video Ads: Up To 60 Seconds Long And Amazingly Engaging

Video ads are a way to advertise basically everything on Instagram. They are appearing in the same format like photos – but are certainly able to engage and convince users more than photos. This is obviously thanks to the power of video as a format, which is engaging and perfect for sales.

According to some research, 71% of users are more likely to spend more on social video ads – where 27% of them are specifically targeted on Instagram. This only backs up the fact that the push towards video by Instagram is well worth it (and good for everyone).

Instagram Carousel Ads: Where Call To Action (CTA) Is The Main Hook

Celebrate more than touchdowns. Your favorites are on the McPick 2 for $5 menu.

A post shared by McDonald's (@mcdonalds) on

Carousel ads are a type of Instagram ads that lets users swipe to learn more about the image or video they are watching. Most usually, they are used with a call to action buttons which when swiped, lead to the actual product or service page.

For example, a video of a product in motion with a carousel ‘Swipe More’ could potentially lead to the page where you can buy that product. Unlike print ads, these carousel ads are based on action and offer the added benefit of taking users to your website so they can learn more about your offers.

Whether it’s an ebook you just wrote, an event that you are hosting or a product that you want to sell, carousel ads on Instagram are a perfect way to direct the journey of your users and lead them to your website – where you can successfully capture them to take action.

Instagram Stories Ads: A Full-Screen Experience

Instagram Stories are a new trend, where people see photo and video content from their following list for about a couple of seconds. The feature is in full screen and just got introduced to ads as well. Which means that brands can also advertise on Instagram Stories and capture the attention of someone scrolling through Stories with related interests.

The campaigns using these types of ads are also successful – only because the user can swipe up and be directed to a landing page. Whether it’s a product, a limited time offer, an invitation to an event or a free product, advertising on Instagram with Stories works because users are actively seeking new content.

Call-To-Action (CTA) Buttons On Profiles

Last but not the least way of advertising on Instagram are the CTA buttons, provoking a call to action directly from the brand profile. This also means that they are not that intrusive – but still serve as a great way to see if a particular Instagram profile offers the opportunity to shop directly from it.

Incorporated in 2015, the call-to-action buttons include examples like ‘Shop Now’ or ‘Install Now’ for different kinds of products, apps or digital content. They can link to any destination on or off Instagram that is normally aligned with your brand’s goals.

So, How To Start?

The first thing you need to do to kick off your Instagram advertising strategy – is to create a Facebook page for your business – as the main priority to advertise on Instagram. This is obviously because Facebook owns Instagram and both of the social networks are somehow connected.

Below, we are listing all of the steps you need to take in order to start advertising on Instagram:

  1. Sign up for Business Manager on www.business.facebook.com;
  2. Add your Instagram account in the Business Manager;
  3. Create your Instagram ad by visiting the Ad Creation panel;
  4. Choose your objectives for the ad;
  5. Click on Audience to create an audience for your ad (by selecting the main characteristics of your audience such as age, gender, interests, behaviors, ethnic affinity etc.);
  6. Visit Budget and Schedule and choose your daily – or lifetime budget of the ad you are running;
  7. Make sure you know all the photo design and technical requirements;
  8. Start tracking how your ads perform and improve them over time.

How To Find The Right Type Of Ads And Successfully Advertise On Instagram?

Even though these five types of advertising on Instagram are pretty simple and straightforward, most of the business owners nowadays do not know which may be the right fit for their goals. Our best advice is to choose photo ads and first and see how it goes – or if you have a bigger budget – diversify and optimize your ads in all of the ad types.

Know Your Audience

To successfully advertise on Instagram, you must know that you are advertising to the right audience. For that, you need to know your audience and know who needs your products or services.

Asking yourself who those customers are will not give you the exact answer, but will help you filter out their interests, habits, demographics etc. For the best results, you need to create audience personas and get into details such as their age, location, jobs, salaries and even personality types.

Use Captivating Copy

The content you are using in your ads is equally important to the image or video. In fact, an Instagram caption can make or break an ad, and tells a lot about the voice of your brand and its personality.

To figure out what is the best brand voice to use, you should start asking yourself about the main qualities of your brand (that you want to promote) and brainstorm the best attributes that describe your brand to refine its voice.

Along with captions, your copy should include hashtags if you want your ad to succeed. According to some studies, posts including hashtags are more engaging and relevant to the audiences you are advertising.

Consistency Is Key

If one ad doesn’t work at all and gives you zero sales, that does not mean that Instagram advertising is a bad tool.

Instead, it means that you should get to know your audience better, see what their needs are and create better content that engages them and convinces them to convert. From the smallest details such as the color of the ad – to its caption and hashtag – it is all about the relationship it provokes that truly matters.

Measure Success

A lot can be learned by simply measuring the success of your Instagram ads. Just like your ads on Facebook, there are so many metrics on Instagram that will let you master the craft or ads and see what works and what doesn’t for your audience.

In other words, the metrics are your most valuable spreadsheet. It is the money you spent in seeing how your audience (and whether it) converts. From one ad set to another to your entire campaign, they can help you eliminate the things that don’t work – and stick to the formats of ads that work.

See The Best Examples

The best way to learn how to advertise on Instagram is to see how brands are doing it. There are many successful brand accounts on Instagram you can follow. From Coca-Cola to Instagram itself, The National Geographic, Audi, WeWork and others, seeing their content will give you ideas and help you learn from the best.

If you run across an issue, cannot publish your ad or are facing difficulties of any kind, the incredible resource about Instagram ads from Facebook will help you. Previewing a sample ad and listing all the recommendations regarding its design, technical requirements and call-to-action, it will give you a better idea of what works and how to master the ad game on Instagram.

A Final Word

In the end, the power of Instagram to get more than one billion user actions from the introduction of ads in 2015 – is something that alone says much more than any other fact. The best way to get into Instagram advertising is now, knowing that the cost of it is still relatively affordable compared to the results it comes out with.

So, are you ready to dive in the advertising possibilities on Instagram – and find the recipe to the bestselling ad?

Fingers crossed for a great journey!

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