It’s been more than a year since Instagram announced its ads API partner program, so where does it stand? Well, Instagram has emerged as one of the most powerful social media platforms for marketers.
If you’re a broker-owner who’s been thinking about diving into advertising on Instagram, now’s the time, says Wayne St. Amand, chief marketing officer of Brand Networks. He presented alongside Kyle Psaty, director of product marketing at Brand Networks, during Adweek’s August webinar, “The Future of Instagram Advertising.”
“When people are thinking about social media advertising, they tend to start first with Facebook, which, in many instances, makes sense,” says St. Amand. “But I think the data shows that Instagram has emerged as a mature platform all on its own with some amazing benefits.”
Since Instagram’s parent company is Facebook, businesses can utilize the same demographic targeting options and campaign analytics available on Facebook. “Marketing in general is moving down the path of measurable business outcomes, and Instagram is a great tool for this,” St. Amand says. And the price of campaigns is going down. In tracking client data, Brand Networks found that between August 2015 and March 2016 — the first nine months that Instagram allowed advertising — real estate brands’ advertising cost per thousand views (CPM) went from a little over $7 to just under $5. This is happening while the platform is reaching 500 million monthly and 300 million daily active users in the U.S.
“This is a story of maturity,” says Psaty. “If you’re not getting into Instagram now, you’re already behind the curve.”
Here are five tips for getting started:
Leverage your Facebook fans.
Launch your first campaign to your core audience. Facebook makes it easy to transfer ads over to Instagram, but make sure the attributes of your ad will work on Instagram. St. Amand says to keep in mind that people use Instagram differently than Facebook, and the material you run might not translate well between the two platforms. Do testing to determine which ads are performing well, and refine from there.
Your bid is the highest amount you’re willing to pay for the outcome you’re trying to achieve with an ad. Psaty says the bid affects the delivery of the ad. “You want to get your ads in front of people so Instagram can establish the quality of your ad,” Psaty says. So set bids high, determine how long the campaign will run, then monitor the campaign daily after you launch. You can always lower your bid as you get performance metrics.
Always be thinking about your target audience.
Single professional women? Newly married couples? Thirty-somethings with graduate degrees? Late-generation baby boomers? There’s a wide range of ways to target your ad on Instagram. “It’s all about delivering the right message to the right audience at the right time,” says Psaty.
Go video or go home.
In September 2015, only 9 percent of Brand Networks’ Instagram ads included video. The growth since then can only be described as explosive, reaching 65 percent as of March 2016. Instagram video ads have up to 60-second run times, can be in either landscape or square format, and autoplay and loop with the sound off — so think about getting your point across without sound, St. Amand says. He adds that 15-second videos tend to get watched without dropoffs more than full 60-second videos. “Broadly speaking, we do believe this is indicative of where the industry is heading,” he says. “The percentage growth of video advertising is clear and stark within our own platform, and that’s worth sharing.” Looking to the future, almost 30 percent of Brand Networks’ clients plan to run video ads. “If you don’t already have both feet in the pool of video on Instagram, it’s time,” he adds.
Make sure your content is powerful.
Crown Resorts, a hotel and hospitality chain, decided to make user-generated content the cornerstone of its recent Instagram ad campaign. Brand Networks worked with another company to source and get permission to use photos at the resorts posted by Instagram users staying there on vacation. Crown Resorts also used the images on Facebook. Compared to the company’s previous campaigns, they were able to reach more people at a lower cost. The ads had a 21 percent lower CPM with 40 percent more impressions, 25 percent higher sentiment in engagement, and 61 percent lower cost-per-like.
For more Instagram insights from Brand Networks, download the free Instagram Advertiser’s Playbook.