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10 Tips to Optimize Your Instagram Advertising Budget

instagram advertising header

Over the past few years, we’ve seen tremendous growth in the number of businesses using social media advertising. As organic reach continues to dwindle on large networks like Facebook and Twitter, social media advertising budgets are on the rise. It’s predicted that social media ad spend will reach $36 billion by 2017.

It’s not just the usual suspects getting involved with social media ads. We’ve seen a few of the newer mobile-first networks taking a crack at it as well. One platform in particular that you should have your eye on is Instagram. Instagram advertising has evolved since inception, partially thanks to its integration with Facebook’s amazing ad platform. If you haven’t given Instagram advertising a try, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity.

Why Instagram Advertising?

Even though it has grown quickly, many marketers are still on the fence about Instagram Ads. The hesitance is partially understandable. Because Instagram has always focused on keeping users in the app itself, advertisements are a shock to the ecosystem. However, that doesn’t mean they aren’t effective.

Instagram Ads have a completely native feel. Aside from a few small details, your ads look exactly like a regular post.

Instagram Ads

Instagram also has a very engaged audience. Research from Forrester showed that Instagram photos generated 58 times higher user engagement per follower than Facebook posts, and 120 times higher engagement rates than Tweets.

instagram engagement

When it comes to advertising, it pays to be in front of an audience that is likely to take action. It’s even more important on social media since you’re competing with millions of other posts for your audience’s attention.

Instagram advertising also gives you the ability to reach more people than you can organically, since people who aren’t following you can see your ads. Here’s a real life example.

Paper Boat Drinks published this post on its Instagram page.

Then, the company used the same image and caption in an Instagram ad. Look at how much more social media engagement the sponsored post received.

paperboat mocktails example

The six-week ad campaign generated an 18-point lift in ad recall and 15-point lift in brand awareness. Even though Instagram’s engagement is high, it doesn’t automatically mean all of your ads will be a hit.

In order to achieve real results, here are 10 tips to rock your Instagram advertising campaigns:

1. Create an Instagram Advertising Strategy

The first mistake brands make with Instagram Advertising is jumping in without a plan. We get it. Instagram is hot right now so there’s a lot of excitement around using ads. However, without a strategy, your campaigns will lack direction and purpose.

Before you create your ad, ask yourself these questions:

  • What are you promoting?
  • What do you want to accomplish with the ad?
  • How will you measure success?

Your answers will determine the direction of your campaign. Your approach for a campaign to get more followers would be different than if you were trying to get email subscribers.

Setting goals will also allow you to attach KPI’s and metrics to your ads. Be as specific as possible with your goals. Instead of simply increasing your followers, try boosting your followers by 20%. After you’ve finished running your ad, you’ll have a way to judge whether it was a hit or a dud. Then you can make adjustments for future ads.

2. Target Your Audience

As we mentioned, one of the biggest advantages of Instagram advertising is that it’s integrated with Facebook Ads. That means you have access to Facebook’s notorious audience targeting.

Facebook Ad Targeting

You can also use custom and lookalike audiences. Lookalike audiences allow you to create an audience that mimics your existing customers.

To further target your ads, you can use remarketing as well. Remarketing lets you display your Instagram ads to people that have visited your website in the past.

Using these advanced targeting features can increase your click through rate. Since your audience is more precise, your ads are shown to people that are likely to be interested in your business and take action. In addition to reaching more people, boosting your CTR can also lower your cost per click.

Don’t rush through the audience selection step when creating your ads. Think about who your target customer is and create ad campaigns specifically for them.

3. Don’t Make It Look Like an Ad

Consumers don’t like blatant advertisements. Pushing your message into peoples’ faces won’t bode very well for your brand. Instead of being the overbearing salesman, take a subtle approach. Some of the best Instagram Ads don’t look like advertisements at all.

Instagram does an excellent job of making ads look native within the user’s feed, but they don’t control the image and caption you use.

Instead of using a screenshot of its app or plastering its photo with logos, dating app Clover went simple. The company used a casual picture of a girl, similar to what you’ll find on a lot of people’s pages. When you’re scrolling through your feed, the picture doesn’t scream “advertisement.”

Clover App Instagram Ad

The campaign resulted in a 30% increase in new subscription and reduced user acquisition cost by 60%.

4. Partner With Influencers

Influencer marketing is one of the best ways to grow your Instagram following. We’ve seen a lot of brands partner with influencers for organic posts, but it can be even more powerful when combined with Instagram Ads.

When Korean cosmetic company Memebox partnered up with popular blogger and makeup artist Park Hye Min (also known as Pony) for its new Pony Effect line, the results were amazing. The Instagram advertising campaign generated a 20-point lift in ad recall, 11-point lift in brand awareness and 5-point lift in message association.

PonyEffect Instagram Ad

With over a million Instagram followers, Pony’s influence was able to give the cosmetic line instant credibility and gain the trust of its target audience.

You can achieve similar results by finding an influencer that has captured the attention of your demographic. Instead of asking for a shout out, partner up and run an Instagram ad. Then, use Facebook’s audience targeting feature to put your ads in front of the right people.

5. Include a Hashtag

A popular Instagram marketing tactic is to find popular hashtags and use them in your posts. That way when people search for the hashtags or see them trending, they’ll be able to find your brand. This is effective, but the problem is your posts are surrounded by thousands of other people using the same hashtag.

Popular brands like Nike and Under Armour have massive audiences so they can create their own branded hashtags. When you click on the hashtags within their posts, you see content all about their brand.

The bloodline runs deep. #TeamUA

A photo posted by Under Armour (@underarmour) on

If you don’t have the notoriety of Under Armour, you can still raise awareness by including a branded hashtag in your Instagram ads.

Start by looking at some of your most popular hashtags. You can use Sprout’s Instagram Analytics report to quickly find which hashtags have been the best performers for your organic posts.

Instagram Analytics

Incorporate your top performers into your ads. If you don’t have any data to work from, you can also create new hashtags for your campaign.

6. Use Video Ads

It’s hard to argue the power of social media video marketing. A survey from Mixpo showed marketers plan to produce more Instagram videos over the next couple years.

Video Marketing Statistics

Cointreau, a famous French liqueur, used Instagram Video Ads to keep its vintage brand relevant among a demographic of females between ages 25-35. The campaign reached 150K people and had six-times higher engagement compared to other platforms.

Most brands instinctively choose to use images with Instagram advertising. Think outside the box and use video to reach more people and engage your audience.

7. Get Your Customers Involved

User-generated content (UGC) has become a popular tactic for social media marketers and with good reason. A study from Ipsos MediaCT found UGC is 35% more memorable and 50% more trusted than other types of media and information.

User Generated Content Study

If your brand has a loyal following and brand evangelists, there’s a good chance they’re sharing pictures and videos involving your brand on Instagram.

Look for ways to integrate this content into your Instagram advertising strategy. Include images of customers using your product and services, or a video of your fans at an event.

Showing real people in your Instagram ads has a more authentic feel than staged photos. BlackMilk Clothing does an excellent job of using photos from its customers on its Instagram page instead of paid models.

Ice Cream and Toasties: the perfect Winter match ? @5lettersymcmb @misterfitz_ #blackmilkclothing #blackmilk #bmtartannavytoasties

A photo posted by BlackMilk Clothing (@blackmilkclothing) on

Get your customers involved and watch your Instagram advertising campaigns take off.

8. Follow up With Organic Posts

Your Instagram advertising campaigns don’t have to be isolated from your organic efforts. Bridge the gap by having a series of posts related to your ad campaign on your Instagram page.

TV Land used a combination of advertising and organic posts to promote its comedy series Teachers when it first launched. In addition to the organic and paid posts from the official @teachersseries Instagram page, TV Land also made organic posts on the network’s page as well. By using multiple avenues, TV Land maximizeed the show’s social presence and increase brand awareness by 21%.

TV Land Instagram Advertising

Use a holistic approach to magnify your voice on Instagram.

9. Test Everything

Split testing is one of the most important aspects of advertising. Changing your call to action, caption or image can completely alter your results. Instead of limiting yourself to one ad creative, make variations. Even the slightest change makes a difference.

Unbounce ran an A/B test where it switched a single word on its landing page and saw a 90% increase in CTR.

AB Testing Case Study

Instagram Ads makes it simple to do A/B testing. Duplicate your existing ads and tweak different elements. A good place to start is the CTA button. Instagram gives you a nice selection of various CTA buttons to persuade viewers to click.

Instagram Ads Call to Action Buttons

Of course, you can also change out your captions and images as well. Then analyze your reports to see which variation delivered the best results.

10. Don’t Expect Floods of Sales

While Instagram Ads can be very effective, you also have to understand the buying process. Many brands make the mistake of assuming ads will result in immediate sales. However, the sales funnel has changed over the years. It’s not as simple as someone clicking your ad and buying your product. There are steps in between.

The real power of Instagram Ads is its ability to grow your brand, connect with a wider audience and gain their trust. This eventually results in sales. As tempting as it may be, don’t think short term. Instagram advertising is a piece of your overall strategy and will deliver long term results, so don’t be disappointed if you don’t get an immediate surge in sales.

The Perfect Time for Instagram Ads

Instagram advertising works. This is the perfect time to jump in and give it a try, since most of your competitors probably aren’t taking advantage of it yet.

sprout audience engagement instagram

However, to better collaborate, analyze and engage with your Instagram, you need an Instagram management tool that truly makes your advertising process easier. With Sprout, you can monitor branded hashtags, track customers’ posts and measure profile performance so you know you’re on the right path.

Instagram advertising can be monitored and tracked more easily with a little guidance. Keep the 10 tips you just learned in mind and you’ll be crushing Instagram Ads in no time!

Have you given Instagram Ads a try? Leave a comment and let us know your best advertising tips.

This post 10 Tips to Optimize Your Instagram Advertising Budget originally appeared on Sprout Social.

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About Daniel Rodgers

A lot of news that you will not see in the paper. A lot of technology that is coming out that will not see in the paper.

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The Latest Evolution of Facebook: The Marketing Low-Down on 5 Recent Changes

Latest Facebook Updates 2018

Latest Facebook Updates 2018

From the Russian ad debacle to the Cambridge Analytica scandal to suffering a major stock price blow just a few short weeks ago, Facebook has been making less-than-stellar headlines the past few months. Users are concerned about their privacy and how their data is being used—and brands and marketers are wondering whether the platform will continue to be a viable advertising and engagement platform.

In an attempt to rebuild trust, ensure better data protection and transparency, the social network is doubling down, again, on their commitment to improving the user experience and creating a fun, respectful community.

As all marketers will remember, the quest to improve user experience started way back in 2015, with the announcement it would be making refinements to its News Feed to strike a better balance between friends, public figures, publishers, businesses, and community organizations. That continued in the summer 2016 with more updates favoring friends and family content—and was still on the move when the first scandal broke later that year.

Of course, these changes didn’t do marketers and brands any favors in the organic reach department. Organic reach had already been declining, and these moves have nearly eliminated its potential. And now, more changes have arrived, presenting new challenges as well as some opportunities.

Below we share the low-down on five of such recent or rolling out changes, what they mean for social media marketers, and some potential next steps to take.

1. A New News Feed

Once again, the News Feed is getting a facelift—a big one. While Mark Zuckerberg announced back in January 2018 that changes would be rolling out throughout the year, a “major update” was announced in April, which Director of Product Management, Mark Hull, details in the video below:

Essentially, meaningful person-to-person interaction is what will carry the News Feed ranking weight, and person-to-page interactions will continue to be second tier. Oh, and Facebook expects people to spend less time on the platform.

This sounds pretty scary for marketers. Most have adapted their strategies to zero-in on fostering engaging discussion, as well as throwing spend behind Facebook’s ad platform (which is also changing and we’ll get to that later).

But before you eliminate Facebook from your marketing mix, there are a few opportunities to consider:

Working with influencers: With Facebook continuing to elevate content from individuals, there may be no better time to start building relationships with industry influencers and thought leaders that you can collaborate with on content.

Read: Death of Organic Reach = New Opportunities for Influencer Marketing

Facebook Groups: As my colleague, Nick Nelson, reported not too long ago, while groups have long been available as a feature on Facebook, the brand-driven “Facebook Groups for Pages” were just rolled out last year. And some brands are seeing traction with them, but this isn’t something you leap into without being thoughtful.

Read: The Question on Many Marketers’ Minds: Should My Brand Start a Facebook Group?

Facebook Stories: Very recently, Facebook insiders asserted that Facebook Stories may very well be the future of connection on Facebook. Once again, as Nick Nelson pointed out: “Facebook Stories are intriguing because they offer a real chance to capture part of a user’s attention — maybe even more than the minimum amount.” And early adopters may secure an advantage.

Read: The Future of Connection on Facebook: How Stories May Change the Marketing Game

2. Stricter Ad Targeting

As of late, most of Facebook’s critiques are a result of their advertising products and practices. By increasing the targeting capabilities of their advertising products, Facebook arguably put users’ privacy at risk. To help correct that perception and protect user privacy, Facebook is making several changes to their advertising platform.

One such update was released in early July, requiring advertisers to state where they acquired people’s information for their custom audiences. Instead of simply uploading a list of emails you want to target as a custom audience, Facebook wants advertisers to take extra steps to ensure those emails came from a reputable source and that the audience has consented to those ads. With this change, Facebook hopes to improve transparency with users about why they see ads from certain brands and how they received their information.

New Facebook Ad Disclaimer

(Credit: Facebook)

In addition, Facebook has also disabled their Partner Categories product, which provided targeting capabilities from third-party data providers to advertisers. This limits advertiser insight into user behavior outside of Facebook (e.g. purchasing activity), making ads appear more natural to users and less “big brother.”

From our perspective, this is good news. Consumers are increasingly wary of marketing and advertising messages and this move can help strengthen the credibility and relevance of your ads and brand. Of course, this is all assuming you can and do confirm your custom audience lists and sources fall within the new guides.

So, if you haven’t already, take the steps to review your custom audience lists and their sources. You need to be able to state if you received the information directly from your audience, a partner, or a combination. If you used a data provider like an advertising or marketing agency, double check that they’ve acquired the data honestly and they agree to Facebook’s Terms of Use.

3. New Data History Tools

Now more than ever, people want control over their data. They want to know what information is stored, who has access to it, and they want to be able to delete it.

Recognizing this need, Facebook announced a new feature called Clear History that will be released “soon.”With this new feature, Facebook is giving users the ability to see the websites and apps that store information with Facebook, and delete that information from their account.

However, Facebook will still retain aggregated analytics, but no personally identifying information will be contained.

“We’ll still provide apps and websites with aggregated analytics – for example, we can build reports when we’re sent this information so we can tell developers if their apps are more popular with men or women in a certain age group,” Facebook says. “We can do this without storing the information in a way that’s associated with your account, and as always, we don’t tell advertisers who you are.

What exactly does this mean for marketers? If you use Facebook plugins on your website (think Facebook Pixel or “Like” buttons on websites), your audience can now see and delete the information that the plugin collects; meaning it won’t be connected to their profile any longer.

Obviously, if users take advantage of this when it rolls out, clearing their history could be problematic for marketers, and maybe even users. For marketers, it will be incredibly difficult to target these folks with ads. For users, that could mean an uptick in irrelevant ads for a time.

However, the eventual upside for advertisers could be the “re-learning” that needs to happen after a history cleanse, which can lead to a more relevant and accurate look of who your audience is.

4. Poor Customer Feedback = Ban

A poor customer experience really sours your impression of a brand. An to ensure that ads on Facebook lead to positive shopping experiences, and not negative ones, Facebook will now ban brands that have low customer satisfaction ratings from advertising on their platform.

For example, if users give you too many frowning faces shown in the rating system below, Facebook will reject your ads.

Facebook Negative Review Example

(Credit: Facebook)

Before you become too concerned, however, Facebook says it will: “Share feedback directly with businesses that receive high volumes of negative feedback and will give them a chance to improve before taking further action. If feedback does not improve over time, we will reduce the amount of ads that particular business can run.”

So, even if you receive negative ratings, you will have an opportunity to make improvements to prevent being banned.

The opportunity here is obvious. The better customer experience you provide, the more successful your marketing efforts will be. For Facebook ads, this is rooted in focusing on clarity and honesty within your ads.

At a minimum, Facebook suggests taking steps to ensure your ads aren’t misleading. In addition, use images or videos to make it very clear what you are selling and what you are selling it for. It’s also a good idea to set clear expectations for how users will receive your product or service. By setting clear guidelines, you’re more likely to meet customer expectations, leading to more positive user ratings. For more insight, read Facebook’s tips on how to improve customer feedback.

5. All of Your Ads, Exposed

Knowing the organization behind an ad is important. Otherwise, users might not trust the content of the ad. So, to increase ad and page transparency, Facebook now allows users to see all of the ads any page is running within their partner network.

This includes ads on Instagram, Messenger, and the rest of the Facebook partner network. In addition, even if pages aren’t advertising, Facebook will provide more information about a page including name history and the date the page was created. Together, these changes aim to give users more information about an organization so they can decide if an ad is credible or not.

Facebook Ad Transparency

(Credit: Facebook)

For marketers, this change isn’t a bad thing — it may even mean more eyeballs on your advertising content. However, marketers should still be thoughtful about how their ads will be perceived by individuals outside of their target audience.

For example, even if an ad isn’t specifically designed for or served to them, users can still review (and report) your ads. As a result, you need to take extra steps to make sure your ads are consistent, clear, and friendly for all.

The Life Force of Facebook

Long before the scandals and latest privacy concerns, Facebook has been rooted in evolution. Just think what the platform started as and has become. So, while the recent and coming changes seem pretty fierce, I think it’s safe to say we were already on that trajectory. And there’s probably more to come.

Since the major changes that impacted advertisers and brands began rolling out in 2015, Facebook has maintained their actions are all in the interest of creating a better user experience. And at the end of the day, that’s what the goal of any marketer is in their quest to nurture their audience and aid them on their customer journey.

So, it’s OK if you’re a panicked, disheartened, or simply irritated. But, at this point, the platform still holds marketing opportunity, marketers just need to adapt their social media marketing strategies, try new features and avenues, and work hard to ensure they’re part of providing that great user experience.

Looking for more social media marketing news, tips, and insights? Check out all of our recent social media-related blog posts.

The post The Latest Evolution of Facebook: The Marketing Low-Down on 5 Recent Changes appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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