Social media isn’t a new thing - it can be traced way back, all the way to the Six Degrees Theory, which launched in 1997. Since then, we have seen a revolution in social media in so many ways, and today it is a tool not only to see a few pics of your friend’s cat, but also where you can buy that fish tank you have been after for a while or even sell that dog food you just started making!
Instagram came into this whole new world more recently - launching in 2010 as an image sharing and check-in platform. Instagram has changed a lot though since its early days because today it is a giant in the social media world -reaching almost one billion users today- that does so much more. But what does that mean for those of us in the marketing world? What do Instagram Ads actually offer us?
Then to Now
As previously discussed, Instagram kicked off in 2010 as an image sharing and location check-in app, which we all loved to use for our personal lives, right? But that was pretty limited for business because there wasn’t much space to actually throw your name out there and market your products or services. Since its launch though, we haven’t seen massive changes all the time - but when we have… well, wow!
So what were these changes and additions? Let’s hop into it!
Image and Video Size
Now this might seem a little odd to bring up, but the change from a locked-in, 1-to-1 ratio image is a pretty big step. Don’t remember that? Well, when Instagram first launched, that is exactly what every post had to be! Facebook made that change though, because when they took over in 2012, they saw the need for different resolutions, as they were going to expand Instagram’s target market to all phone makes rather than just focusing on iPhones. Today, 1080x1080 may still be a 1-to-1 ratio, but you are able to upload images and videos of different sizes and edit them to fit your own layout.
A big change? Well, it paved the way for the giant we know today, didn’t it?
Stories came in after the rise of Snapchat because the world loved them. What isn’t to love about short, punchy pieces of content that can show anything from that amazing tree you saw on your walk, to your brand-new bonsai kit that you are getting ready to launch! Okay, it is more than that. We all know the fun things that we can use it for in our personal lives, but when it comes to Instagram ads, Stories are a great way to quickly showcase something.
Stories have a few rules and regulations (but what doesn’t these days?). Let’s highlight a few, and go over their pros and cons.
- Length: 15 seconds.
Okay, that isn’t long - which can be a con. But the fact is, people these days don’t have the attention spans that they used to have for consuming individual pieces of content. So the short clip gives you a chance to hit your target, before they run off to the next clip.
- They have a 24 hour lifespan.
That isn’t long, and for many of us, that seems like a really short time for all the effort of making a great piece of advertising. The thing is, you can still save them - so they aren’t going to waste, letting you keep your organic Instagram Ads going as long as you want! The other pro for their shortened life is that you can use them really easily for timed advertising campaigns. This is always great when you are doing a giveaway, or you just want to put out a hint about a new product.
- You can get creative!
Yes - that can be tough, but the fact is, you can make an impact on your target audience quickly and effectively by just spending a little more time to create something good. Instagram even helped out with that by giving you a pretty great editing suite, for those of us who don’t have access to one of the big-name suites just yet.
So overall, stories are great ways to reach your target audience, and keep your brand in the front of their minds. A worthwhile addition? We think so!
Reels is still pretty new - launching in 2020 to allow users to post videos similar to stories to a far wider audience. While at first this was marketed towards the general Instagram user, it shifted to being a really powerful tool for Instagram marketers too!
So what makes Reels such a powerful tool? Let’s take a look at those pros and cons again shall we?
- An open audience.
That sounds odd to say, when marketers and advertisers like to target, right? But that is just it - you can target too! Stay with us here, because this really is a pro. So you can post a video, and share it to your followers, which they will watch and that will hopefully lead to a few conversions. But that is where the open audience comes in - it is a great way not only to reach your own existing audience, but to reach new potential followers too. A pro? Most definitely!
- Editor suite - it got even better!
Now this seems like a simple thing, but once more, they think about those of us who don’t have access to the more professional tools to edit our content. While it is still pretty simple in terms of what you can do, there is more than enough for any Instagram marketer to create a great piece of content, in the palm of their hand!
- It only uses portrait layouts. Now, today, most of what we do is in portrait. But the fact is, it does limit us at times as creators and marketers who have something that looks best in landscape. A con? Not if you use the tools you have been given on the platform!
Use for Marketing
So this is a pretty big one for us marketers… But the fact is, Instagram (with the help of their dad, Facebook) have made our lives a lot easier. From adding insights to help track campaigns and page performance, to continually updating their algorithm to make targeting more effective, Instagram has stepped up for the marketers.
Now, there are some pros and cons to all of this after all - but, to understand the depth of the changes for us marketers and advertisers, we will need to dig in deeper. The fact is though, what one person sees as a pro another will see as a con, so where do things turn from being a change for the better to being a change for the worse? Only time can really tell…
If you're looking for help using this powerful tool in your digital marketing strategy or want some insight into how we've used it before at our agency, feel free to contact us today.