Instagram is booming. Not only is the amount of individual users rapidly growing on this visually-engaging social media platform, but brands are leveraging the social media marketing benefits of it too. According to a recent eMarketer study, the number of businesses using Instagram is expected to almost double within the next year.


Whether it's the nature of the platform itself, the growth of mobile, or the continuous changes we see each day in the social media realm, Instagram is a top channel for marketers. Not too long ago, Instagram unveiled their advertising options to everyone, and so far, so good. You can target individual users through their Facebook demographics as well as the behavioral data picked up through Instagram, allowing businesses to really focus on providing relevant users with the best content for their needs. Whether its data such as what profiles a user most frequently views, or which hashtags a group of people use most frequently, optimizing your campaign reach based on these findings can be incredibly beneficial. Ads are clickable and direct-response, bringing the user right to the point of conversion or product page. While the effectiveness of Instagram as a marketing tool is obvious, it's important that brands craft strategic approaches as they start implementing this type of social media advertising into their business plans. Like any type of pay-per-click advertising, without a cohesive plan that utilizes best practices as well as the specific attributes the channel possesses, your efforts won't be as impactful as they could be. To help brands improve the effectiveness of their Instagram advertising campaigns, we spoke with experts at some top organizations to gather their best advice. Additionally, we chatted with Blue Fountain Media's own group of social media gurus to learn what tips they use each day as they put together social media campaigns for some of our clients:

1. Use Videos

When you think of Instagram, you probably think of still images more than you think of videos. However, videos can resonate very well with users and capture interest in just a few seconds. Kate Endres, Associate Director of Engagement Marketing at Blue Fountain Media highlights the effectiveness and importance of video marketing on Instagram: "Instagram is an incredibly engaging platform in such a visual way, and the use of video on Instagram is so effective right now. While an image can be highly engaging, a video allows your brand to interact with users by telling a story within a 15-second window. It's a great way to captivate a user's attention and keep them coming back for more." -Kate Endres, Associate Director of Engagement Marketing, Blue Fountain Media

2. Leverage the Ad Format

Instagram offers advertisements based around a carousel format, allowing brands to use multiple photos to showcase their brand, products, or services. Adam Mashaal, Founder of Masheed, explains in his tip below how building on each image to tell a story can be beneficial:


"Some of the most compelling Instagram ad campaigns tell a story using Instagram's carousel ads. Starting with an opening scene and gradually building upon the narrative as users swipe left through a selection of photos, carousel ads are a great way to introduce prospective customers to various styles or features of your product. With a well-designed storyboard and beautiful imagery, users will be enticed to swipe through your carousel, increasing time spent viewing you ad while equipping users with knowledge about your offering in a creative manner that feels seamless with the Instagram experience." -Adam Mashaal, Founder, Mashfeed

3. Act as a Storyteller

Your images should tell a story about your brand as a whole, not just what you're trying to sell or promote. Samantha Romano, Corporate Marketing Associate at Blue Fountain Media highlights the importance of building a connection with your audience on Instagram: "Think about the story your images are telling. Does each image connect with your brand? Think about colors and layout when uploading your images. All of these factors play a role in the personality of your profile and how others view you as a brand. The great part about Instagram is that you don't have to be so literal. For example, if you look at Uber's Instagram, not every photo is of a car, but instead it represents the feeling you get when you use Uber. How does your brand make people feel? Knowing this will make taking images a lot easier and help create a stronger connection between Instagram users and your brand." -Samantha Romano, Corporate Marketing Associate, Blue Fountain Media

4. Prep Before You Begin

Before you launch your Instagram campaign, it's vital that you take the time to make sure the content you're engaging the audience with is ready. For example, as the growth of mobile skyrockets, and since Instagram is a mobile platform, making sure that your content is mobile-ready is key says Shir Balas, Social Media Marketing Specialist at Blue Fountain Media: "Instagram's advertising capabilities have given brands an amazing opportunity to drive this engaged audience to more branded content. It's important that before taking advantage of the new capabilities, brands focus on making sure the content they are driving their audience to is well-executed, mobile-friendly and helps achieve their specific goals." -Shir Balas, Social Media Marketing Specialist, Blue Fountain Media

5. Include CTAs

Any strong marketing initiative includes a call-to-action (CTA) so that you can encourage users to take a certain next step, and there is no difference when it comes to Instagram ads shares Jess Bahr, Senior Strategist at Social Flow:


"Include a call-to-action in the image. Most people binge on Instagram, so they are scrolling through their feed verses ingesting each image one at a time. If you're image looks too native it may go unnoticed. Include a call-to-action on the image to draw attention to the ad and make it crystal clear what action you want the user to take." -Jess Bahr, Senior Strategist, Social Flow

6. Influencer Marketing

The power of influencers on social media is undeniable. Thought leaders in different industries hold a ton of weight when it comes to helping brands make their messaging resonate better with their customers or potential customers. Ashley Orndorff, Director of Marketing at Visual Impact Group highlights this below: "It's not enough to simply share a post with a cool picture and some hashtags. You may get some attention, but not nearly as much as you would with the help of an influencer or two. Identify the influencers in your industry on Instagram, build a relationship with them, and have them share a picture if themselves with your product with your company tagged. Then, when you share another picture of that product, you can also tag that influencer back to increase reach." -Ashley Orndorff, Director of Marketing, Visual Impact Group

7. Don't Focus On the Hard Sell

Instagram is for engagement and capturing the interest of your users so that you can you can then ideally convert them. Don't go overboard with making it too obvious that you're trying to sell shares Anton Eliasson, Marketing Manager at Shakr: "The key thing for brands to remember when starting to do marketing on Instagram is not to treat it as a place to land the hard sell. To fit into the Instagram community you need to play the long game and not try to sell sell sell, instead go for the soft sell." -Anton Eliasson, Marketing Manager, Shakr

8. Try Crowdfire

Using programs and tools to help increase the performance of your Instagram marketing is a strong component of any tactical advertising approach. Darrell Williams, Digital Analyst at SEO Works discusses one of his favorite tools for managing followers, Crowdfire:


"Crowdfire is a free tool to manage your relationships on Instagram and Twitter. This tool is great for finding inactive users and unfollowers. Why is this important? You can locate the most relevant users to follow and Keep track of how your social updates affect your followers to unfollowers ratio. Also you check the correlation of any two Twitter/Instagram accounts. Price: Free." -Darrell Williams, Digital Analyst, SEO Works

9. Think about the Overall Campaign

As Instagram continues to produce great results for brands that use the platform for their marketing, it's important that brands consider this a key element to the "bigger picture" explains Angelina Concialdi, Social Media Marketing Specialist at Blue Fountain Media: "As one of the largest and most active channels, Instagram's advertising opportunities, and more specifically, its video ads, are achieving incredible results. Moving forward, companies will need to focus on creating concept-driven content that paints a strong message and applies branded elements that will surge ad recall within a larger campaign." -Angelina Concialdi, Social Media Marketing Specialist, Blue Fountain Media

10. Leverage Available Space

Most businesses aren't taking full advantage of the space that is available for copy in the description section on Instagram. This is a great opportunity for marketers to include relevant terms that can help them better serve their audience needs explains Bob Bentz, President at Purplegator: "Instagram offers 2000 characters in the description, most of which are never used by most. For a business, however, it makes sense to take advantage of a lot of the copy that is available. By using more keywords and more hashtags in the description, it makes it far easier for the post to be found by new prospective customers." -Bob Bentz, President, Purplegator

Instagram Advertising for Your Brand

Instagram advertising holds a ton of potential for businesses with visually captivating content. While most commonly you'll see B2C brands on the platform, if you're a B2B with an active audience on Instagram, it's a great place to tell your brand's story, capture user interest, and stir some engagement and buzz with your users! If you have other tips for improving Instagram advertising campaigns that aren't listed here, please feel free to share them with us in the comments below! For even more helpful tips on how to improve your business' Instagram marketing efforts make sure to also read our checklist on how to use Instagram for your business.

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