This article was originally written on March 7, 2016. The article has been updated as of June 10, 2020, to include the latest news for using Instagram to market and advertise your business. A lot has changed in the last four years including being able to purchase your ads for both Facebook and Instagram through the Facebook advertising platform.
Instagram is the social media network that turned cell phone photography into artistic expression. Once considered “like Facebook, but only photos,” Instagram has developed into a network where visual matters and beauty evokes emotion and an innovative advertising platform.
Instagram has been all over the news since they launched the multiple accounts feature on February 9th to the cheers of social media and digital strategy pros nationwide. Shortly thereafter, financial and business news outlets announced that Instagram reached 200,000 monthly active advertisers. Facebook execs clearly knew what they were doing when Facebook acquired Instagram for $1 billion back in 2012.
Social media provides valuable space for digital strategy experts who want to get clients’ messages in front of highly-targeted audiences. Or more specifically, in front of relevant consumers who are willing to have a relationship with a brand. Social media allows consumers to be just that… social. Instagram takes social media one step further by adding inspiration through gorgeous photography. It has an emotional component that can be quite powerful to digital marketers.
So, what does the latest Instagram news mean for digital strategy?
Instagram advertising is gaining traction
A few years ago, “everyone” advertised on Facebook and Twitter, and that’s about it. Smaller but unique social media platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapchat have rapidly grown followings and developed niche identities, turning into advertising gold for digital marketers. In a recent earnings report, Twitter reported 130,000 advertisers.
Instagram advertising is possible for small business
Part of Instagram’s advertiser growth is owed to the parent company, Facebook. Digital strategy pros or small business marketers who are used to managing campaigns through Facebook Power Editor or the Facebook Ads interface can simply add in Instagram campaigns. And Facebook’s massive user base allows better targeting on Instagram vs. some of the smaller independent social media networks. Instagram’s ad interface opened this past summer.
Instagram needs its own digital strategy
A common mistake of advertisers is to jump into social media platforms with traditional advertising in mind. While this may get impressions and clicks, it misses the biggest advantage of social. Social is a relationship-building tool, helping consumers to feel more connected with a brand than ever before – through conversation, sharing, and feedback. Instagram has the ability to inspire through amazing creative; blatant product advertising and poor image quality can actually hurt the image of a brand. Approach Instagram advertising as art, not just as marketing.
Instagram video is growing
Video is growing on Instagram, taking the influence of awe-inspiring images even one step further. Instagram video advertising made up 25% of Instagram ads in December, up from just 10% two months prior, via an Instagram advertising study by Brand Networks. Video view counts have just been rolled out, letting advertisers and Instagram users know which videos are popular.