Instagram is a social networking powerhouse that currently boasts over 1.5 billion monthly active users, 500 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. 80% of marketers in our 2021 influencer marketing survey found Instagram to be the most important channel for influencer marketing, with advertisers spending $8 billion on Instagram influencer marketing by 2021. With a wide array of options within each of these verticals, Instagram advertising 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.
3. Carousel Ads
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.
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.” All video and photo ad offerings are available for placement in an Instagram user’s feed (In-Feed) or on the Explore page.
4. Stories Ads
Instagram Stories Ads are sponsored videos or photos that appear between users’ Instagram Stories. Brands have a maximum time allowance of 15 seconds for a sponsored Instagram Story and can choose one or multiple segments of photos and/or videos to play the full length of the ad.
Stories Ads are equipped with an optional swipe-up CTA, and while captions are not available, text can be incorporated as an overlay.
5. Shopping Ads
Shopping Ads also called ‘Shoppable Posts’ give businesses the power to facilitate shopping experiences directly through Instagram and re-engage with customers. These posts feature a “View Products” tag or tiny image of a shopping bag, and include a brief description of a product or service, a price tag, an additional photo, and a purchase link to the brand’s website. U.S. users may be able to purchase directly in-app through Instagram Checkout.
Shopping Ads can run as video, single image, or carousel formats either In-Feed or on the Explore Page.
6. Instant Experience Ads
Previously named Canvas Ads, Instant Experience Ads were originally exclusive to Facebook, but are now available for Instagram Stories and as a built-in feature to Collection Ads. The Instant Experience Ad format allows brands to create ads that, once clicked, become a full-screen user experience. Within an Instant Experience Ad, users can scroll, zoom, and swipe to see more detail.
Like many Instagram and Facebook native advertising options, Instant Experience Ads are a content medium that brands can utilize to reach new and existing audiences.
7. Collection Ads
A Collection Ad includes a main image or video followed by 3 smaller product images. Fashion brands and retailers commonly use this format so users can browse and buy products or services directly from the advertisement.
When a user taps on a Collection Ad it transforms into an Instant Experience—a full-screen landing page—that conveniently leads to the company’s website or product page. Collection Ads are available as In-Feed Ads and Explore Ads.
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.
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 large macro-influencers may be out of reach for some brands, smaller influencers on Instagram called micro-influencers are available for partnership and promotion. Micro-influencers, accounts with less than 50,000 followers, are a popular option for brands looking to reach specific audiences.
75% of marketers believe Instagram Stories to be the best content format for Influencer marketing, with Instagram in-feed posts and video posts coming in second place by one percent.
These findings show just how effective Instagram’s content offerings are for brands looking to boost awareness and increase ROI through influencer collaborations. Virtually every content feature on Instagram’s robust platform allows for influencer marketing possibilities: In-Feed video/photo posts, Stories, IGTV, and Instagram Reels.
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.
2. Instagram Live
Instagram Live allows influencers to engage audiences authentically and in real-time. By activating influencers in Instagram Live, brands are also able to grab audiences in the moment with urgent and disappearing content.
3. 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. A takeover can exist in any content format so long as the influencer is posting from the brand’s channel. 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. An Instagram takeover is typically held as an Instagram Live event, where the influencer hosts a live broadcast from the brand’s social media channel.
4. Whitelisting Influencer Content
One of the main ways brands can amplify traditional influencer content is by extending influencer campaigns into paid ads through whitelisting. Whitelisting allows brands to use the influencer’s handle for paid Instagram ads.
Re-using influencer-generated content for social media or other advertising channels is an efficient way to stay on top of the various growing content formats and to minimize production costs/creation costs. Brands can then utilize the influencer-content across many different mediums (streaming ads, In-Feed/Video Ads, brand-owned ads, Story Ads, etc.)