What are Instagram Ads and Why You Should Use Them

Do you want to advertise your business on Instagram? Well, the recent introduction of advertising features means it has never been easier to get in front of new customers. But are you ready for this change? The following article will answer all the questions you might have about running ads on Instagram.


Before we dive into the ads, let us first discuss the platform.


What is Instagram?

Instagram is a photo and video-sharing application that was originally developed for iPhone but has since been made available on almost all operating systems for as long as the device can download and run apps. 


It was created and founded by Kevin Systrom and Mike Kreiger in 2010 and bought out by Mark Zuckerberg in 2012 for a whopping one billion dollars!


People like Instagram because it's a picture and video-sharing social media network that is easy enough to use and has a wide variety of filters and simple editing features. It doesn't have a lot of frills.


Being able to upload photos and videos allows you to share tidbits of your life without having to go through a lot of detail and explanation. Images are pretty self-explanatory — a picture is worth a thousand words, after all.


What's more, you can also follow people that you're interested in, see their posts in your feed, and tag other people in your posts. Simple and engaging — that's it!


Instagram has been growing rapidly, reaching almost one billion users today and counting. That's a lot of people that you can potentially reach with your product or service! It's expected to grow to almost 1.2 billion come 2023. With the current trend, Instagram may breach that number halfway through 2022.


Its potential reach is even more astounding when considering that more than 80% of those users are located outside of the United States. The top three countries that use Instagram right now are India at 180 million, the USA at 170 million, and Brazil at 110 million.


So, if you're looking to expand your business globally, Instagram should definitely be one of your go-to platforms! Not only is it easy to use, but the potential reach is huge.


However, building a following organically in order to reach more people is not that easy to do. That's where Instagram ads come in.


What are Instagram Ads?

Just like Facebook Ads, Instagram Ads are a way to promote your business to a wider audience, especially if your page or account is fresh out of the box. It falls under social media ads.


While Instagram Ads aren't exactly new, it's only been fairly recently when it has been offered to its fullest extent. Under Facebook's wing, Instagram ads have evolved, allowing businesses of all sorts to take advantage of the platform.

instagram ads-1


Before, you could only post sponsored posts on your profile, which didn't allow you to pick an actual target audience or have any real control over who sees them. Now, you can directly advertise on Instagram through promoted posts and target your audiences more efficiently!


Because of Facebook's acquisition of this social media network, the social media giant absorbed and improved on Instagram's advertising.


So to be able to run Instagram Ads, you must first have a Facebook Ads Manager.

You must then connect your Instagram account to your Facebook account that has access to the advertising account. Sounds complicated? It will get simpler in the long run. We shall discuss how to do this in a different article as this is a separate topic in its own right.


While Instagram ads are run through Facebook ads, there are some key differences between the two that you should be aware of before running your ads.


First and foremost, Instagram Ads are image or video-based, and this means that your ads will be displayed as photos or videos in the user's feed. Unlike Facebook Ads, Instagram allows you to upload an image as your ad instead of using the typical third-party template.


Second, Instagram Ads are meant to be much more... organic. Since Facebook is a well-established social media platform, ads displayed on that site can be used for direct advertising and promotion.


People use Facebook as their home base: it's where they check in to see what their friends are doing, sharing articles and ideas from all over the Internet. Instagram is different. People use it to follow their favorite celebrities, brands, and interests. 


This means that when advertising on Instagram, you have to be careful not to seem too promotional or sales-y.


Being image-based makes it a powerful tool for businesses to create an emotional connection with their customers. When done correctly, Instagram Ads can create a sense of trust and familiarity between customer and brand.


Why Use Instagram to Promote Your Business

There are a few reasons why you should use Instagram to promote your business. Here are 10 of the biggest ones:


1. Large User Base

First, as mentioned before, Instagram has a large user base with over one billion users. This gives you a large potential audience to reach out to.

According to Hootsuite, the bulk of Instagram users come from the 18-24 (around 15% of total users) and 25-34 (16.5% of total users) age groups. 

Even while this represents the bulk of Instagram users, all age groups are still represented aptly.

hootsuite instagram

Source: Hootsuite


2. Rapid Growth

Instagram is growing rapidly. With its recent introduction of advertising features, now is the perfect time to start using it to promote your business. The trend shows that it will only continue to grow, so it would be a mistake not to use it now while it is beaming with promise.


3. Active users

Third, the user base is very active, spending on average 21 minutes per day on the app. In the 18-24 age group, 67% of users visit the app every single day. In the 25-34 age group, 60% of users log in every day.


4. Visual elements

Instagram is a visually-driven platform, and images are proven to be more effective in triggering emotions compared to text alone. If you want your ads to be memorable and inspire action from your target audience, using this platform could be advantageous for you.


Other social media platforms also have visual elements but considering that images are one of the main ways people engage with content, making use of this powerful tool can increase both awareness and traffic to your site.


A lot of people tend to shy away from text-based content as well, and they don't want to "waste" time reading through lengthy promotions. Nowadays, catching your audience's attention can be tough with our fast-paced lifestyle. If you need to introduce and establish your content first, you'll end up losing your audience's attention. 


With visual posts, the information is already delivered the moment the user lays their eyes on the post!


5. Requires Less Effort

Fifth, another advantage of Instagram is that it requires less effort when compared to other forms of advertising such as banner or pop-ups ads on websites or prime time slots in TV commercials.


Yes, you still have to think about what you post, and you still have to choose between what looks like user-generated to professionally taken images or videos.


BUT you don't have to create overdrawn commercials. You don't have to write long posts (although adding long captions can sometimes help). You don't have to be an expert copywriter to gain your customers' interest. 


All you need is an image or a short clip to capture your target market's attention. That's a lot easier than choosing between text ads, banner ads, video ads, or more.


6. Trust from Sharers and Influencers

Third, people are more likely to trust brands that they see promoted on Instagram. More than half of social media users trust brand posts that are shared by friends, while only a third trust posts from brands themselves.


This means that if you can get your customers to share your ads, they will be much more likely to trust you and buy from you.


Also, we mentioned at the beginning of this article that most Instagram users use this social media platform to follow celebrities and the like. 


Posts by influencers — even when they are #ads, or #paid announcements — add a certain level of trust to the brand. Audiences are more accepting of this and would even be willing to share such posts.


instagram influencers


7. Less Sales-y

As mentioned before, Instagram Ads are more organic and less sales-y than Facebook Ads. This gives you a better chance of appearing trustworthy to potential customers.


In addition, the layout of Instagram makes it difficult to place a lot of text in an ad. This forces you to be creative with your visuals and also creates a more casual and user-friendly vibe for your ads.


8. Laser-focused Targeting

Whether users like it or not, social media platforms collect information about them based on their activity and demographics. As such, advertisers can use this data to create laser-focused ads that are more likely to appeal to their target market.


Facebook Ads, for example, allow you to target audiences based on their interests, demographics, and behavior. Instagram Ads work in a very similar way.


This does not mean that you need to have a massive database in order to use it. You can still start with broad targeting and narrow down your audience later on. For example, suppose you're one of the few local businesses that are just starting off. In that case, you can go broad with your geo-targeting until you have already gained some traction and have identified the demographics that drive more sales to your store.


Last but not least, Instagram is owned by Facebook, so there's really no surprise that they have similar advertising features when it comes to targeting audiences.



Final Thoughts on Instagram Ads

Instagram is a social media platform that enables you to engage with your audience through visuals. Right now, Instagram also has advertising features that allow marketers and businesses alike to reach out to new customers!


With the right type of ads and enough audience engagement, you can easily convert more customers into buyers! 


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.


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