A B2B Marketer’s Guide to Instagram’s New Advertising Platform

Earlier this year, I discussed the possibly of Instagram ads being available to the public sometime in 2015. On September 30th, that day officially arrived. After a year and half of testing with select companies, Instagram, the mobile photo and video sharing social media app, has finally opened up its advertising program to companies around the world.

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Like any other advertising platform, it’s important to know the fundamentals of what the platform has to offer. Understanding its audience, ad types offered, and what goals can be achieved with Instagram is necessary to find success.

Let’s take a closer look at Instagram’s new advertising platform:

The Facebook-Instagram Connection

If a company currently uses Facebook advertising, it’s already one step ahead of the game in setting up an Instagram ad. In 2012, Facebook acquired Instagram, which has allowed for the two programs to share the exact same ad managing tool. This is a huge appeal to current Facebook advertisers because they can easily test out ads in Instagram.

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Ultimately, if a company has a Business Manager account on Facebook, all they need to do is link it with their Instagram account. From there, companies have the ability to create and edit Instagram ads right within the Facebook Ad Manager or Power Editor Tools. Reporting is also done within the Facebook interface, making Instagram advertising a hassle-free program to test.

Selecting the Right Ad Type

While Facebook and Instagram share the same interface, Instagram, at launch, currently only supports a handful of Facebook ad types. These types of ads include:

  • Website Clicks – Ads that are designed to get users to visit a company’s website.
  • Video Views – Ads that are made for getting a video more visibility.
  • Mobile App Download – Ads that put the focus on getting downloads to a mobile application.
  • Mass Awareness – Ads that are designed to target a wide audience and are shown at the top of a user’s feed. (Note: These ads require the assistance of the Instagram sales team, along with setting up an Insertion Order.)

Instagram’s main appeal is the ability to share enjoyable, eye-popping images with the world. This needs to be kept in mind as ads are created. Using an image that has the ability to turn heads is a must in order to be successful on Instagram. Erica Bell wrote a great piece on Instagram strategies and best practices for B2B, which definitely applies to advertising as well.

In terms of visual creative, Instagram offers three options when making ads:

  • Image Ads – These ads use a single image as the main focus.
  • Video Ads – These ads show off a video to users.
  • Carousal Ads – These ads allow companies to use multiple images in one ad. Users can swipe left to view a new image.

Instagram Ad Types

Targeting the Instagram Audience

While Instagram ads are managed within the Facebook interface, that doesn’t mean the strategy should be the same. In fact, looking at demographic data, there is a big difference in the Instagram audience when compared to Facebook. According to SproutSocial, only 25% of 30–49 year-olds use Instagram, compared to the 73% who use Facebook. They also claim “a majority of Instagram users are under 30, and many are in their teens.”

With these demographic numbers, companies with a B2B focus might easily dismiss Instagram’s young audience as an advertising option.

It is important to keep in mind, however, that the targeting options Facebook is known for also work for Instagram. By targeting specific attributes, such as age groups, geography and job titles, companies have the ability to focus on the audience that makes sense for them.

The user size may not be as large as Facebook, but there still is a possibility a company’s audience is there. While the B2B audience may not be the majority on Instagram, the targeting tools offered allow for companies to easily find and target their audience.

Only on Mobile

The other big difference between Instagram and Facebook ads is that Instagram will be showing their ads on mobile platforms only. This could potentially be a deal breaker for companies that send users to their website.

In a post last month by Joe Vivolo, he discusses the importance of the landing experience for mobile advertising. When using mobile ads, the “landing pages and conversion actions both need to be tailored specifically for a mobile audience – no long forms and no downloads.”

It is also important, as Derek Edmond wrote, to “test user experience across a range of mobile devices.” This includes testing form submissions, navigation and the overall look of the site on mobile. If the content users are sent to isn’t mobile friendly then Instagram is most likely not a viable option.

Conclusion

The launch of Instagram ads gives companies another social media audience to target their messaging to. Based on Instagram’s year and a half test, results have shown the main benefit of advertising on their site is the brand recall rate it can offer companies. With the platform being visually focused, it’s easy to see why that is the case.

That being said, an effective strategy involves precise targeting, creative messaging and, most importantly, eye-catching imagery. Over the next few months, it will be interesting to see how companies utilize the platform and add their own visually explosive mark on Instagram.

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