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Planning Instagram ads? Here are 3 surefire ways to get the most out of your budget

Instagram ads – love ‘em or hate ‘em, as a brand you know it’s incredibly hard to grow your Instagram footprint without paid media. Plus, why wouldn’t you speed things up if you can?

In our last article we discussed 5 ways to grow your Instagram organically. We mentioned that both paid and organic activities are needed for your Instagram marketing to work, however in 2021 Instagram available real estate space is diminishing and the “pay to play” model needs to be an integral part of your overall Instagram strategy. 

If this is a new territory for you, here are three ways to include paid ads in your Instagram marketing strategy:

Promoted posts/Instagram ads

Instagram ads are posts or stories you can pay to promote on users’ feeds. Typically, they look just like regular posts with the exception of a “sponsored” label under the creative. 

When should you use Instagram paid ads:

  • When you want to reach a larger audience than your current followers 
  • When you are running a site promotion and need to diversify and increase your traffic
  • When you want to bring more users to your feed 

What to keep in mind when running an Instagram ad:

  • Audience, offer, creative: every ad you make needs to have the proper offer for a specific target audience with a creative that matches that audience
  • Back-end conversion: Instagram ads are just that – ads. That means an Instagram ad won’t bring you a sale, but rather send traffic to a landing page. That landing page can be your store, your Instagram shop, or another online destination that is made to convert. If your “destination” is not optimized, Instagram ads will not work
  • Test! Test! Test! If this is your first rodeo, you will need to play around and split-test your advertising campaigns until they bring in results. In fact, even if this is not your first go but you’re now dusting off the saddle after a while away from ads, you should do the same.  Instagram as a platform is ever-changing and strategies that have worked a while ago are not working anymore. 

Sponsored contests

One of the fastest and cheapest ways to grow your Instagram account is to run contests where you offer the chance of a draw entry in exchange for activities that serve your brand’s Instagram. To use it in your paid media projects, sponsor the post directly in Instagram to your target audience.  

Here’s a common way of running Instagram contests that has proven to work across most industries and types of businesses:

  • Offer a draw for one or multiple prizes for your products. Gift cards and product bundles are very popular. Important: at least one of the prizes needs to be big enough to cover the purchase of a product in your store. A small prize that only covers half will seem very self serving and you won’t find quality participants.
  • Impose a participation rule. A popular strategy is asking your audience to follow the page + tag 1-3 friends + like the post. Note: do not make your participants jump through hoops and hurdles to participate in a contest. Be strategic about the contest and get what you need in exchange for participation but more than three actions will deter participation. You can always add bonus entries by asking participants to share in stories or on their feed
  • Create a time frame and randomly draw a winner with a random name picker. And stay true to this! If you cheat the game by picking your family or friends’ names to avoid giving out free money, these types of contests will not have a positive effect on your Instagram marketing. Plus, why wouldn’t you want new people to try your products?

Note: engagement is key here. Practice proper Instagram etiquette and engage with your new followers by liking and commenting on their comments, as well as welcoming them as new followers in the inbox. 

Influencer Marketing

Ah, the I-word!!! Harsh truth incoming: people that hate on Instagram Influencers are either:

  • Sour about “having to work for a living” because they don’t really understand what a true influencer does or
  • Business owners that have tried “Influencer Marketing” once and it failed, usually because they went with the “small cost big promise” offer

 If you’re one (or both) of the above and own a brand, keep reading. 

There is a big difference between a self-proclaimed influencer and an actual influencer. A real influencer has influencing powers, no matter how much you dislike their bikini photos or bitcoin posts. They have created an audience of people ready to engage with, support and buy from them and that’s a hella lot more than most brands can do. 

Strategic Influencer Marketing works. All you need to do is find trusted Influencers in your niche and boom -> you have a target audience to sell to through a reliable source they trust. Oh, and of course you have to have all other marketing and converting pieces in place for you to actually sell with Influencer Marketing just like you would with any other paid traffic sources. 

Influencer Marketing is still one of the hottest promotions you can run as a business and it all has to do with trust. Influencer Marketing removes barriers of traditional advertising because your customers are introduced to your products by a trusted source – the Influencer.

Things to keep in mind when doing Influencer Marketing:

Authenticity is key. Your influencer partners should try and test your products and offer an honest review and insights about them to your followers. An honest influencer will also serve your brand better than someone that only wants a brand’s money. They have a reputation to uphold and they build their trust by being honest.

Keep the long-term in mind

Influencer marketing is a type of marketing. It’s not a one-and-done paid post that will get your cup of sales to overfloweth. Just as you pay attention to your consumer behaviour psychology, sales funnel, back-end conversions in other types of marketing you need to pay attention to those elements with Influencer Marketing too. 

Multiple promotions work great in Influencer Marketing. In fact, they work better than a one-and-done model. Just like your audience needs to see your ads and go through a funnel before purchasing, your Influencer acts as a traffic source. A great way to do this is to send your influencer partner several of your products and ask in return to create a series of posts. That can include: unboxing, initial thoughts after one use, feedback after several uses.