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Jumping On The Instagram Ad Bandwagon: How To Start

Welcome to the world of advertising on Instagram. What was once only accessible to big brands is now open to any brand, business, or product (that’s willing to pay, of course).  Before you hop on the bandwagon, there’s a few things that should be in place before you start spending your social media advertising budget.

1. Account setup. Make sure you have a Facebook business page setup, and link the corresponding Instagram account to it.  (Here’s a guide to walk you through the step by step process of setting up and linking your accounts.)

The most important thing to note is that Instagram ads CANNOT be set up in Facebook’s Ads Manager, but rather in the Power Editor. Surprisingly, Facebook live chat can be surprisingly helpful — folks will even screen-share with you, walking you through the process and trouble-shooting along the way.

2. Define goals. Understand and define your campaign goals. Why are you running the campaign in the first place? What is it promoting? Right now Instagram ads can drive traffic to a website, direct people to the app stores to download, and increase video views and overall awareness.
One stat you will not obtain via the ads manager will be how many new followers came from the campaign. You can use Iconosqure to estimate this number. When you go to target your audience, you will have the same options as you do with Facebook ads (location, gender, age, interests, etc.)

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3. Visuals. Skip the stock images & illustrations here. Use imagery, ideally “real” photographs of real people, that pop and make an impact. Test two different images with the same target audience and see which one resonates best. Fans will often surprise you. And if you want more than likes, consider posing a question, or ask followers to tag a friend in the comments “for a chance to win” a contest. *Make sure you have official rules in place.

4. Photo filters. Users’ Instagram feeds are going to start getting cluttered with ads, so best to make the post as authentic as possible. Using a filter is one way for it to fit in better. Keep in mind that once the image is uploaded in the Power Editor, you cannot edit with an Instagram filter, so use the filter before you upload.

5. Text restrictions. Keep the text on the image to less than 20% of the total. This is a familiar rule to those who are advertising on Facebook right now, Same goes for Instagram, so make sure you use the grid to check your work.  

6. Hashtag campaigns. If you are running a specific hashtag campaign for a new product, event, sweepstakes, etc., Instgram ads are ideal to reinforce that message and awareness; it’s an effective way to remind people how they can share their photos with the “official” hashtag.

As with all forms of advertising, you’ll need some time for “trial & learn.” I don’t like the phrase “trial and error,” as there is always room to run a better campaign next time. The initial campaign will serve as a benchmark to understand what worked and what didn’t.

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