Instagram is a social networking powerhouse that currently boasts over 800 million monthly active users, 250 million of whom use its Stories feature on a daily basis. Accordingly, brands interested in reaching Instagram’s deep well of users are constantly looking for the most effective techniques to advertise on the trending and popular social platform.
The two primary ways for marketers to reach audiences are via Instagram’s native advertising features and a variety influencer marketing strategies, tactics, and campaigns with advertisers spending $1 billion on Instagram influencers alone in 2017. However, the wide array of options within each of these verticals can be a daunting assemblage to absorb and comprehend.
In order to give brands a better understanding of Instagram’s advertising landscape, we’ve developed a comprehensive guide which details the many ways the social platform can be leveraged to reach potential customers.
In order to use Instagram’s native advertising features, brands will first need to set up both a Facebook Page and an Instagram Business Profile. These accounts will serve as a launchpad for native advertising efforts and will become destination options for ads and campaigns.
1. Photo Ads
Photo Ads purchased by brands display a single photo and caption in a user’s Instagram Feed. Labeled as “Sponsored”, these ads provide marketers with the option to include a range of different calls to action (CTA’s) alongside clickable links.
Photos Ads, while static, can be versatile. They’re able to serve businesses by increasing brand awareness, conversion, engagement, reach, traffic, and app installs.
2. Video Ads
Video Ads give brands an added dimension of vibrancy on Instagram. This advertising feature autoplays videos up to 60 seconds long or, alternatively, offers a slideshow feature that enables up to 10 images to loop in video form.
Similar to Photo Ads, as well as many of Instagram’s native advertising options, Video Ads are denoted as “Sponsored.”
Carousel Ads give brands the power to post up to 10 photos or videos as a single swipeable, dynamic post on Instagram. This format gives brands the opportunity to display multiple pieces of branded content that can create more in-depth narratives.
Carousel Ads are accompanied by a full-width CTA and link for viewers.
4. Stories Ads
Instagram Stories Ads are sponsored videos or photos that appear between users’ Instagram Stories. Sponsored photos in Stories are visible for three seconds, while sponsored videos can be played for a maximum of 15 seconds.
Stories Ads are equipped with an optional CTA, and while captions are not available, text can be incorporated as an overlay.
5. Shoppable Posts
Shoppable Posts give businesses the power to facilitate shopping experiences directly through Instagram. Tagged as “Shoppable,” these posts include a brief description of a product or service, a price tag, an additional photo, and a purchase link to the brand’s website.
6. Canvas Ads
Canvas Ads were originally exclusive to Facebook, but are now available for Instagram Stories as well. The Canvas Ad format allows brands to create ads that, once clicked, become a fullscreen user experience. Within a Canvas Ad, users can scroll, zoom, and swipe to see more detail.
Like many Instagram and Facebook native advertising options, Canvas Ads are a content medium that brands can utilize to reach new and existing audiences.
Outside of Instagram’s native offerings, brands can partner with influencers on the platform to promote their brand image, generate user engagement, and/or advertise specific products and services. Promotions can be subtle or explicit and can include offer coupons, deals, or giveaways, or specific CTA’s.
Virtually every content feature on Instagram’s robust platform allows for influencer marketing possibilities. However, influencer-brand partnership posts must contain either “#ad,” “#sponsored,” or the requisite sponsorship disclosure in the caption to comply with FTC guidelines.
Macro-influencers are Instagram accounts that have amassed more than 100,000 followers. Some macro-influencers are verified on the platform, while others appear as normal accounts. Their breadth, depth, and activity can vary greatly.
As “online celebrities,” macro-influencers are a testament to the inherent success of Instagram and other social media platforms. Macro-influencers on Instagram are frequently used by brands to get their messaging out to large audiences in effective and meaningful ways.
While verified accounts and macro-influencers may be out of reach for some brands, smaller influencers on Instagram are available for partnership and promotion. Micro-influencers are accounts with less than 100,000 followers that have become a popular option for brands looking to reach specific audiences.
While they may have less reach, aggregate engagement, and be prone to fake followers and engagement, micro-influencers sometimes offer more targeted, loyal, and responsive followers.
The Paid Partnership Tag reads “Paid partnership with…” and displays a brand’s Instagram account above the featured content, allowing influencers and their partners to view performance metrics unavailable through other means.
In the FTC’s latest sponsored social media disclosure guidelines, the organization deemed paid partnership tags or native disclosure tools (like the above example) as insufficient disclosure.
Differing from Instagram’s default feed, Stories showcase content that disappears within a 24-hour window. Brands can partner with influencers on Stories, using a wide range of promotional messaging techniques.
One of the most popular ways influencers and brands partner through Stories is by showcasing a product or service through a video, while including branded hashtags in overlay text. Influencers can also present shopping opportunities in their Stories by creating CTAs around products or services that encourage followers to purchase on a brand’s website. To further increase conversion rates, influencers can provide links to brands’ websites within their Stories.
11. Live Stories
Live Stories on Instagram allow influencers to engage audiences authentically and in real-time. By activating influencers in Live Stories, brands are able to grab audiences in the moment with urgent and disappearing content.
12. Instagram Takeovers
An Instagram takeover is when an influencer is enlisted to create content for a brand’s Instagram account for a predetermined period of time. An influencer will promote a takeover in advance on his or her own Instagram account to encourage their followers visit and engage with the content.
Takeovers are popular with businesses looking to showcase their close relationships with influencers, advertise big launches, or bolster the traffic and followers on their own Instagram account.