Adding a new marketing channel as a small business can feel pretty daunting. Thinking of what to post, remembering to post it, and seeing if it’s actually working are all big challenges. But if you’re selling things online, Instagram provides an opportunity worth exploring.
Why consider advertising on Instagram?
There are now more than 600 million users on the platform and that number continues to grow every day. It’s also highly visual, which means it’s a great place to show your products in action. And hey, the native filter tools can help make your photos even better.
And last but not least, brand engagement is high. In fact, engagement is about 10 times higher on Instagram than on Facebook. You can include links directly to your website and product pages, and shoppers are even able to checkout on Instagram with some brands.
So now that you have a little context, let's walk through ten things to consider to help you make the most of your Instagram marketing dollars.
10 simple Instagram advertising tips
1. Target the right audience
Even if you haven't built a large following yet, Instagram allows you to target your ads to the right audience using factors like age, gender, location, interests, and more. For example, let's say you sell golf apparel online. You could easily target your Instagram ads at men and women between the ages of 18-30 in the United States who have expressed interest in golf on Facebook or Instagram.
Pretty awesome, right? There are a lot of options for campaign goals (choose “Conversion”) and ad types that you can dive into when you’re ready, but we suggest getting started with something basic today. For a full overview of Instagram Ad products, you can go right to the source here.
2. Minimize your use of text
If you’ve ever advertised on Facebook, then you know the 20% text rule. If aren't familiar with the rule, it basically means that they will reject your ad or significantly reduce the reach if you have text on more than 20% of your image. On Instagram, this is even more of a no-no.
People love Instagram precisely because it is a visual social platform. Essentially, your ads shouldn’t look like ads. They should feature your products in a compelling way—that means not covered with text. They should also be 1080 x 1080 so they fill the space accordingly.
3. Use your most beautiful images (and lots of them)
You’ve probably invested good money in taking product images for your store. You can (and absolutely should) re-purpose those on Instagram. Make sure they are truly beautiful. And if they aren’t, find a free editing tool to touch them up.
This is a great opportunity to show your products in a bunch of different ways by using carousel ads that feature multiple images of your products in the real world. Forget the shots of your products with a white background—that’s for a catalog, not for an Instagram ad.
4. Forget hashtags
While hashtags can improve your reach with organic posts, ads won’t show up in hashtag search results. If you have extra space in your text, you could use them to point people to other related products and posts, but we'd recommend skipping it.
5. Choose your caption wisely
You only get 300 characters for your ad caption, so make the most of it. Tell people what’s awesome about your products. Include any special offers. Make sure to have a clear call to action. And if you have a sense of humor, Instagram is a great place to get that across.
Just be sure to maintain the look and feel of the rest of your brand's online presence.
6. Ditch the branding on your images
Don’t throw your branding on top of your product image. It's distracting and unnecessary, since your ad will be seen next to your Instagram icon and handle, which will speak for itself.
7. Don't forget video
Instagram is an awesome place to post short videos that show off your products, offer some how-to tips, or showcase related entertaining clips.
The quality doesn’t need to be perfect, but make sure it formats correctly with no black space on either side, has at least 72px minimum resolution, and is between three and 30 seconds long.
8. Turn off the sound
Don’t forget that Instagram is a mobile experience for consumers. While people love videos, they often have the sound off on their mobile device to not bother their neighbors (or tip off that they are watching videos when they shouldn't be).
Instead, add closed captions to your video or text breaks so your target audience can get your message without needing to turn on the sound.
9. Ease into your budget
When you're just getting started, you’ll want to get a feel for what people respond to and what they don’t. Start by spending a few dollars a day to learn before you diving in with your entire budget.
10. Tie your Instagram ads to your onsite experience
If you’re spending money driving traffic to your website or online store with Facebook, Google, or Instagram ads, there is a good chance you have a very targeted message. You know exactly who you want to reach and where you want to send them. In order to get the most return on your ad spend, you should be matching your advertising messages with the messages that a visitor sees when they land on your site.
In the example above, The Bruce Lee Store store acknowledges that their visitors are coming from Instagram by using the social platform's colors and branding. They are also greeted with the same messaging and offer that was promised in the initial ad, giving the shopper a positive and cohesive experience.
Want to learn more about targeting your onsite displays based on what you know about your visitors (like whether they came from an Instagram ad)? Check out our advanced targeting guide!