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Making the most of Instagram’s new ad platform

Making the most of Instagram’s new ad platform


Advertising for the masses has finally come to Instagram.

When Facebook first bought the photo-sharing app at a $1 billion valuation, users feared that their otherwise dazzling photo streams would be polluted by unwanted banner ads and sponsored content.

But in a move that surprised us all, the tech giant held off. By leveraging Facebook’s infrastructure while keeping it all in the backend, Instagram grew its user base from 30 million to over 400 million in the two and a half years since it was acquired.

Although Instagram began dabbling in advertising in late 2013, the company restricted access to only a few major brands in the U.S. and filtered their posts through a content-review process to ensure that brand content fit seamlessly with Instagram’s organic content.

With the new ad platform, Instagram has opened up access to advertising for any company in 30 countries. Companies can use the medium to increase website traffic, share videos, and promote mobile-app engagement.  Advertisers can also post 30 second videos as opposed to the usual 15 seconds that user-generated videos are restricted to (and we’re looking forward to seeing how the new Boomerang changes the IG ad game).

While all that new advertising signals a projected profit of $600 million just this year, many are concerned that lower quality content from some advertisers might be a turnoff for Instagram’s loyal users.

No one wants to be the brand that IGers grumble about. If you’re a company looking to expand your digital marketing to Instagram, here are a few ways you can keep the needs of your Instagram audience in mind:

  1. Don’t forget the power of a quality picture.

People on Instagram are looking for visually appealing content. Capitalize on the unique perspective your brand has to offer and put effort into creating works of art in a 1080×1080 image.

Protip: If it takes users a moment to register that your post is actually a sponsored post, you’re doing something right. Unlike traditional marketing where maintaining a cohesive and recognizable campaign is key, on Instagram subtlety wins.


Would you rather see a 50% off sticker superimposed on a picture of an old desk or artfully displayed oranges?

2. Resist the urge to turn into a Like farm.

It’s easy to post pretty pictures of your products and wait for the Likes to roll in, but do you really want to limit yourself on such a versatile platform? Don’t settle for 500 likes when you could have 5,000. Be creative and diversify your posts. If it feels natural to share images of your office at work, do it. If you want to share a #qotd that rings true to your brand, go for it.

Don’t think you can get away with using the same photos you use on other advertising platforms. Instagram users appreciate thoughtful contributions to their feed, and throwaway posts will be chalked up to laziness.


The folks at Fage sells Greek yogurt, but instead of posting the same old images of parfaits, they branched out and delivered images of other beautiful breakfast ideas. If Negra Modelo could have resisted the urge to Photoshop their hashtag and product onto the image, the tacos could have been much more successful. NB 1: Hashtags are for captions. NB 2: On Instagram, Photoshop is cheating.

3. Remember that Instagram is a lifestyle platform unlike any other social media outlet.

Thanks to its Facebook patronage, Instagram has extensive capabilities to target key audiences and optimize ad delivery. This means getting the message out to people who want to hear it the most.

But there are other ways to reach your target audience. Companies can use trending hashtags to gain more traction for their posts. Many brands have also been successful in aligning with influencers whose audiences overlap with their own. By doing so, these brands attract new followers and develop their brand into a lifestyle.InstaBlog3

You probably would never have guessed this was an ad for a hotel chain. By partnering with MLB, Sheraton captures a new audience.

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Glad encourages viewers to participate in World Food Day with a hashtag. By doing so, it becomes so much more than a tupperware company.

4. Interact with your audience.

One of the great things about social media is that it provides a direct connection to your consumer. Instagram is no different. In fact, it’s rolled out a series of call-to-action buttons that integrate with sponsored posts, allowing followers to jump straight from the post to the app store or the company’s website.

But for an even more direct connection, brands can interact with their audience on a one-on-one basis through comments and direct messaging. Though this method takes a considerable amount of time and effort, consumers react positively to personalized responses and feel more loyal to the brand that gives them a little TLC.

The truth is, Instagram can be a powerful platform for advertising. According to social media marketing company Kenshoo, click-through rates are 2.5 times higher on Instagram than on other social media platforms. And 71% US companies with 100 or more employees are expected to use Instagram for marketing by 2017.

That being said, the powers of Instagram must be used correctly. Sure, you could get away with putting minimum effort into your Instagram strategy. But by actively working to engage your Instagram audience, you not only grow your audience base, but foster brand loyalty.

Looking to leverage this new social capability to achieve your growth initiatives? Contact us and we can see if instagram (or the endless other opportunities to reach your audience) can meet your objectives.