Should You Use Instagram Ads?

Likely yes. Here’s why.

Instagram offers incredible opportunities for businesses of all sizes to reach their target audiences.

But as more and more brands join Instagram and the feed becomes more competitive, it can be harder to stand out.

Imagine being able to reach the specific groups of Instagram users you want to connect with, engage them, and convert them into customers.

Well, that’s totally possible!

In late 2015, Instagram opened up Instagram ads. Using the Facebook advertising system, marketers can now reach any specific segment of Instagram’s 600+ million users.

And with 400 million people using Instagram every day, Instagram ads have become an enticing avenue for brands looking to increase engagement (and profits, too).

More than 1,000,000 Instagram advertisers

Since Instagram launched advertising on its platform in 2015, Instagram ads have driven more than one billion user actions. And just last year, it more than doubled its advertiser base in six months to 500,000 advertisers. By March 2017, there were more than 1 million advertisers on Instagram.

A survey by Strata in 2016 found that 63 percent of US ad agency professionals planned to use Instagram ads for their clients. This is a huge jump from the 34 percent in the year before (when Instagram ads were not yet available to everyone), making Instagram ads one of the most popular social media advertising choice.

Image from eMarketer

5 Reasons to Use Instagram Ads

Why are Instagram ads so popular? Here are a few reasons:

1. Audience growth

Instagram is one of the fastest growing social media platforms. TrackMaven studied 26,965 brands across all industries and found that brands saw a 100 percent median follower growth from 2015 to 2016.

2. Attention

Users spend, on average, 50 minutes a day on Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger. In the U.S., one in five minutes spent on mobile is spent on Instagram or Facebook.

3. Intent

A study by Instagram found that 60 percent of Instagram users say that they learn about products and services through Instagram, and 75 percent say that they take actions such as visiting sites, searching, or telling a friend after seeing an Instagram post.

4. Targeting

Instagram ads uses Facebook’s advertising system, which has probably the most powerful targeting ability. You can specify your target audience’s location, demographics, interests, behaviors, and more. You can even target people who have bought from you or interacted with you and others like them.

5. Results

According to Instagram, which looked at more than 400 campaigns globally, ad recall from Instagram ads was 2.8 times higher than Nielsen’s norms for online advertising.

Should you consider Instagram ads?

So, should you be using Instagram ads? Likely, yes!

Instagram ads are incredibly powerful, but before you dive in, there are several factors to consider:

1. Demographics

Is your target audience on Instagram?

According to Statistic, as of December 2015, the largest U.S. Instagram user group were between 18 to 34 years old (26%), followed by 18 to 24 years old (23%).

Pew Research Center found that in the U.S., female (38%) are more likely to use Instagram than male (26%). While the study was only conducted on Americans, I believe similar patterns exist globally.

2. Topics

Do your target audience talk about your industry/product/service on Instagram?

Facebook surveyed 11,000 young adults (13 to 24) across 13 markets and discovered that some of the most popular topics on Instagram are:

  • fashion/beauty
  • food
  • TV/films
  • hobbies
  • music

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but before diving into Instagram ads, I’d recommend doing some research on the topics your target audience engage with the most on Instagram.

3. Visual storytelling

Can you create visual content that blends into your target audience’s Instagram feed?

According to the same Facebook study above, “Instagrammers appreciate aesthetic quality in visual content”. Instagram is a visual-first platform, where visual content, rather than text, is the primarily form of communication.

If you have a presence on Instagram already, it’s likely that you would have ticked all the checkboxes and Instagram ads are suitable for you. Otherwise, it might be great to start testing the water on Instagram without using any ad spend.

Tip: If you are just starting your Instagram account or wanting to refine your Instagram marketing strategy, check out our complete guide to Instagram marketing:

3 Helpful Tips for Creating Instagram Ads

If I’ve convinced you to explore Instagram ads, here’re several helpful tips on creating great Instagram ads.

Feel free to explore the articles below to read more Instagram ads tips.

1. Blend in, don’t stick out

(from Doug Baltman, Instagram Advertising in 2017: What You Need to Know)

Doug Baltman’s advice is to use photos that blend in with other photos on your target audience Instagram feed. Otherwise, your ad will stick out as inorganic content and be less effective. This is the same advice given by Facebook. This could mean to use photos of people or your product instead of illustrations or…

A general rule is to try to avoid putting words on top of images…

As most Instagram posts do not have text on the photos, any photos with text on them will feel out of place. Instagram users might detect that it’s an ad immediately and quickly scroll past it.

Tip: The more text you have on your ad, the less reach it’d receive (apart from a few exceptions). Here’s Facebook’s guide for using text in ad images.

2. Leverage user-generated content (with permission)

(from Pawel Grabowski, 26 Instagram Ad Best Practices That Will Make You an Outstanding Marketer)

In his article for AdEspresso, Pawel Grabowski shared 20 best practices for Instagram ads. Among the 20, the advice on using user-generated content stood out for me.

User-generated content is more genuine and helps potential customer gain trust in you. Pawel quoted a report by Nielsen which stated that:

92 percent of consumers around the world say they trust earned media, such as recommendations from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising.

Using photos from your customers in your ad design (with permission) makes your Instagram ads more effective and helps your ads blend in, too.

3. Use targeting to connect with a local audience

(from Ana Gotter, 26 Instagram Ad Best Practices That Will Make You an Outstanding Marketer)

This is a great advice for local brick-and-mortar businesses. Facebook’s advertising system allows you to target very specific locations while Instagram’s business profile features allow customers to contact you or get direction to your business.

Imagine being a local restaurant which shows an ad featuring their most mouth-watering dish to a user within a close proximity, just in time for dinner, and that user immediately sees a map and directions to you. All it takes is a click to your profile, and you can get both a new customer and a new follower at the same time.

What do you think of Instagram ads?

Just like Facebook ads, I believe Instagram ads will constantly evolve and improve, allowing us to create even better ads. A good case in point: just recently, Instagram introduced lead gen ads and Instagram Stories ads.

If you have not looked into Instagram ads, I think it’ll be worth checking it out for your business.

What do you think of Instagram ads?

The full version of this blog post was first published on the Buffer Social blog on March 16, 2017 by Alfred Lua.

If you are curious to learn more about Instagram ads, here’s our beginner’s guide to Instagram ads: