Instagram Advertising is Becoming More Mainstream - Don't Get Left Behind

Approximately three and a half years after Facebook acquired Instagram, the photo- and video-sharing social network received the “spare key” to Facebook’s robust ad buying platform. Beginning at the end of September 2015, advertisers were able to launch campaigns on Instagram through Facebook’s Ads Manager and Power Editor with all of Facebook’s audience data at their disposal.

Flash forward to February 2016 and there are over 200,000 Instagram advertisers serving ad content to over 400 million users. While Instagram had a 0.23% growth in December 2015 (higher than Facebook and Twitter), organic follower growth and engagement is declining, creating a “pay-to-play” ecosystem. This is all good news for advertisers. Since the click-through rate on Instagram ads is a strong 1.5% compared to 0.84% on Facebook, it already serves as a healthy pairing with your current paid social media campaigns.

Regardless of Instagram’s proven success in its early stages as an ad network, it also has a major differentiator – its users and their behaviors. Instagram users are deeply rooted in their personal relationships, connecting and sharing with close friends and family. We have seen that reaction (in the form of post comments) and engagement has been overwhelmingly positive compared with the trolls on Facebook and Twitter. Couple this with a higher engagement rate on Instagram (8x higher) and this leads to an overall positive feeling with scroll-happy users.

It makes sense. I may be gun-shy when it comes to posting my own content on social media, but I get a variety of niched uses for each platform. Think about what and who you connect with on Facebook and Twitter, compared with Instagram. I’ll take you through my experiences.

On Facebook, I like the latest Tasty video, scroll past a new picture of my sophomore year lab partner, and read a headline from Complex about the Kendrick Lamar-J. Cole collaboration.

On Twitter, I get insider info about my Carolina Panthers, tune in to the reaction to the latest Game of Thrones episode, and occasionally send out a witty tweet that a maximum of two of my followers will understand.

Then there's Instagram. Outside the clutter of memes, Instagram models, sneakers and athletes/celebrities, I connect with my closest friends and family by engaging with their trips to Spain or their new puppy. Even though a lot of users, including myself, get a unique interaction with consumer goods on Instagram, the main utility is hanging on to those relationships. After all, my mom didn’t ask me to set up an account for her to push knock off sneakers.

Another difference that advertisers have found is Instagram’s cost efficiency. Compared to Facebook, Instagram costs less while delivering similar, if not improved, click-through rates. Recently, our team tested Instagram ads within the same campaign as Facebook ads and monitored the results.

We spent 159% less with Instagram, and we were pleasantly surprised to see:

  • Over 6.3 times the likes on our posts
  • Almost 4 times the comments
  • A 22% bump in the clicks-to-website rate
  • A -17.7% cost per website click
  • A -25.8% cost per 1,000 people reached

These numbers are all very appealing to anyone, but let’s not forget about Facebook. “One in five minutes on mobile is spent on Instagram or Facebook. That's more than the next 10 mobile platforms combined.” The real advantage for agencies and brands is the scalability that this integration has allowed for. All it takes is a simple checked box as an advertiser to connect your Facebook campaign to Instagram. According to Facebook, once MVMT Watches started running ads across both platforms, they saw a 45% lower cost per conversion.

Although Facebook has made it easier on advertisers by integrating Instagram metrics into Facebook, most of us want to compare and analyze Instagram performance on its own. If you are wondering how to see the performance of your current Instagram placements, simply select the Placement option under the Breakdown tab at the campaign, ad set, and ad levels. Another alternative measure to assist with your reporting and housekeeping would be to create separate campaigns for Instagram ads.

It should be noted that Instagram announced last Tuesday that they will begin testing an algorithm-driven feed, much like Facebook did years ago. This news has been met with both praise and protest (by way of hashtag), but it will be interesting to see what comes of this change if it does stick since there are such stark differences between the two social platforms.

If you’re not already testing Instagram ads, now is the time to find out if Instagram is the right platform to build your brand. The number of advertisers colonizing Instagram’s users is growing month-by-month. Before you know it, it will be the holiday shopping season and even more advertisers will flood Instagram, causing prices to inflate. Better to test this powerful platform now while it is still cheaper than the other social advertising platforms.

Other Sources:

The Sky's the Limit for Facebook Inc.'s Instagram

Instagram Becomes a Force for Mobile App Advertising

These Are The Ways Facebook Advertising Is Improving

Instagram Advertising: What's Working?

Instagram Analytics: 6 Metrics That Matter For Marketers

Marketers' Facebook, Inc. Ads Are Getting a Boost From Instagram

Instagram Is Now Fully Open to All Advertisers as It Pushes ‘seamless’ Integration with Facebook