Sixth in a series
Now that you’re on Instagram, you may want to consider spending some advertising dollars to expand your reach. You can do this with sponsored ads, sponsored posts and product reviews. Here’s how:
Why Sponsored Ads?
With an ad, you can promote your brand to anyone in your selected target audience. The key is to keep the content engaging and aimed at a particular demographic.
Software marketing company Kenshoo says users are 2½ times more likely to click on Instagram ads than ads on other social media platforms, Fortune reported last year.
You can create ads for Instagram on Facebook, using Ad Manager, Power Editor or the Facebook Ads API (application programming interface). First, though, you’ll need to link your Instagram account to the Facebook ads account you want to use for your Instagram ads. You’ll need a Facebook page to do this. Facebook takes you through the process with a step-by-step guide.
Facebook offers you a choice of objectives:
- Clicks to website
- Website conversions
- Mobile app installs
- Mobile app engagement
- Video views
You also have a choice of advertising mediums: Photo ads, video ads and carousel ads.
- Video ads can be 30 seconds long. All Instagram videos play automatically without sound, so try to convey your story in pictures. Start the video off with motion to grab attention.
- With carousel ads, people can swipe to see up to five images. A call-to-action button – the only place other than your profile to allow clickable links – will take them to your website.
The best ads on Instagram look more like organic content than ads, though they do carry the “sponsored ad” logo in the corner. Keep the text from being salesy, and if you plan to use your logo, do so subtly.
Sponsored Posts and Product Reviews
Find Instagram influencers that cater to your demographic, and pay for sponsored posts on their Instagram account. In some cases, you may simply have to send a product for them to review. That way, you leverage their cachet to promote your products and services. You can also ask an Instagrammer to do a “takeover,” or post on your account for one to three days.
Take care to focus on influence, not just reach or popularity. You want someone who influences purchases, not just shares. Be sure the influencer is making sales to his or her target audience. And make sure you have an “out” in case the relationship turns out to be a poor fit.
Beware, too, of so-called influencers who’ve purchased “fake followers.” You can spot the fakes by reviewing the influencer’s followers. If hundreds or thousands of followers have no profile pictures and little or no content, they are likely fake. Be suspicious of an influencer with 50 thousand followers who only gets six comments per upload, and be aware that fake accounts typically follow a lot more people than are following them. Do the research before signing on the dotted line.
Once you’ve found your first authentic influencer account, follow it, and Instagram will show you “similar accounts.” Accounts that accept paid posts typically include an email address in their bio. Send a brief email about your company. Let them know you have something you think their audience will love, and ask for their sponsored post pricing. If there’s no indication, email and ask whether they do featured reviews or sponsored posts, and what their policies and prices are for each option.
For a sponsored post, you’ll probably create the ad for the site. In that case, do some research to figure out which photos and posts receive the most engagement, and keep that in mind when creating your ad. But don’t send users to your website. Instead, link back to your Instagram account.
Alternatively, for a review, decide what product, service and/or brand messaging you want to promote. The Instagrammer will create his or her own content, incorporating your product and/or message in a way that feels authentic to the influencer’s audience.
Will it work? It did for Yumbox. The company paid for a well-known blogger and Instagrammer to post a photo of a food-filled Yumbox, with a link back to Yumbox’s Instagram account. That one post doubled the company’s Instagram following and spiked traffic to the Yumbox website.
It also worked for Bachelr, a men’s fashion and accessory startup, which set up deals with several large men’s fashion accounts for its launch. The response was so overwhelming it crashed Bachelr’s server.
Advertising adds one more arrow to your arsenal. Consider devoting part of your ad spend to Instagram.