Advertising on Instagram – Getting Started

“There is little doubt that Instagram is a powerful storytelling platform for marketers. But so far, most of them have not advertised on the service but instead have used it for more subtle forms of marketing.”  – The New York Times, June 3, 2015

This past month, the photo centric social media platform, Instagram announced that it will begin to allow marketers to advertise. For those who want to tap into the 300M global users, 90M of which use Instagram monthly, this is good news.

Marketers have been eager for ways to encourage and promote online purchases through advertising on Instagram, especially because the platform, when done correctly, elicits a response that makes you feel something.

It moves you.

It isn’t about buying that pair of gorgeous heels because they’re the right price point – it’s about buying and wearing those gorgeous heels so you FEEL and BELIEVE you are gorgeous. THAT’s the difference.

But will marketers know how to continue to engage their audiences viscerally once they begin spamming them with product placements?

The trick to good advertising on Instagram marketing with resulting conversions, even with advertising, must keep in mind best practices. But what are these?   Step one is knowing the audience of the brand and what its current attitudes are about your brand.

Reynolds Wrap   

(from Seeing is Believing: Using Instagram Data to Drive Marketing Insights)

Reynold’s set out to understand the millennial female consumer and the brand associations for Reynold’s Wrap to help create more effective marketing and product development.

We analyzed targeted demographic consumer images that included the use of foil and brand products. We decoupled the ‘kitchen’ concept and focused on the consumer ‘moment’ sharing to build a customer journey story.

The analysis showed that the dominant sharing came in the hair coloring experience, not the kitchen experience. In fact, the women were creating and sharing several moments throughout the experience and mentioning the use of the foil and even the brand at times. The Reynold’s team had good evidence to consider new marketing and merchandising opportunities internally and with its retail partners from this application of Instagram data analysis.

Next Steps

So, before you begin advertising on Instagram, begin with the building blocks of any campaign:

  • Goals
  • Strategies
  • Tactics
  • Measurement of Impact

One of the best articles I have read to date on how to thoughtfully create an Instagram campaign is by Hootsuite, written just two weeks ago:  How to use Instagram for Business, a Beginner’s Guide.

First, consider the visual style you want for your Instagram brand. Choose one filter or a set of filters that you will use for the majority, if not all of your photos. By using the same filters over and over, you establish a style that will become recognizable to your followers. Since your goal is to get Instagram users to stop scrolling once they see your image (in order to engage with it by liking or commenting), the more instantly recognizable your photos are, the better.

The article details how to set up a strong Instagram campaign – it’s time consuming, metrics based and thorough. In other words, it’s spot on and will allow you to be prepared for when Instagram launches the ability for all of us to begin advertising.

Case Studies:

Quite honestly, the brand case studies on Instagram’s own business page are quite good, especially the Mercedes-Benz case study which used a combined Facebook/Instagram ad campaign to increase traffic to their site by 54%.

Mercedes-Benz put imagery at the center of their campaign pulling inspiration from the #ThingsOrganizedNeatly hashtag, creating whimsical and engaging ads highlighting the versatility of the GLA. The brand tapped photographers and brand ambassadors to answer the question, “What would you pack in your GLA?” and used their photos of neatly arranged items photographed from above on a custom GLA cargo mat to portray the versatility of the vehicle for various weekend trips.

So good luck! As Proof begins incorporating Instagram advertising for its clients’ social campaigns, we will post on our blog our results. Let us know what results you have had and we will regroup and post again moving forward.

Post Note: My 14-year-old daughter just reported to me that she finds the new Instagram ads “so annoying, and I just swipe to delete them.”  Clearly, we marketers have some work to do!!

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