What I Fell In Love With: Instagram

Love Instagram Ads (2)

This is the first day in our “What I Fell In Love With In PPC This Year” series. Each post will talk about a new channel, feature or strategy that we’ve discovered or utilized in the last year. You can follow along on our blog or on Twitter with #MyPPCLove.

In 2016 I had the opportunity to work with several lead generation clients who were interested in expanding their presence in Facebook and subsequently in Instagram.

Instagram has had ads in the platform since 2013, but has only had their ad platform open to all advertisers and all business sizes since September 2015. Since rolling out ads, Instagram, like Facebook, has rolled out a lot of new features as well as business profiles. Over the last year, I have been able to work more and more with the Instagram platform; here’s why I love it and encourage you to give it a shot.

Getting Started on Instagram

It’s important to know that you need a Facebook ad account and Facebook page to run ads on Instagram. You need a Facebook account, BUT it’s not required to have an Instagram account for ads – it’s just recommended (confusing, I know). Without an Instagram account, you won’t be able to respond to comments and users won’t be able to click on your handle, among other issues. As far as managing your ads, Instagram ads are created in either the ad interface or in Power Editor (which is Facebook’s bulk editor). If you need additional guidance on setting up Instagram, check out this Facebook help page.

Now that you know how to go about getting started, let’s take a look at why I think Instagram is worth your time – or at least worth a test.

Growth & User Rates

According to Pew Research Center, when Instagram launched in 2012 only 9% of Americans were using the platform. In April 2016, that number had grown to 28%, with the largest portion of that audience being the 18-29 crowd. Around 50% of Instagram users use the site at least once a day, which is second only to Facebook in terms of usage. Other social media channels such as Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn, have much lower daily check-in rates, with a good portion of users checking weekly or even less according to Pew’s numbers. See the chart below.

Powerful Targeting Like Facebook

I think everyone in PPC can agree: Facebook offers some of the most powerful targeting capabilities of any platform. While the demographics of Instagram skew a little on the younger side, with Pew’s prediction that only about 18% of its user base is age 50+, I find that the targeting options can really zero in on an audience. Some of my favorite targeting for Instagram includes Life Events (e.g. – recently engaged, recently married, recently purchased a home) and the ability to target certain professions for B2B targeting that is very similar to that of LinkedIn. There are thousands of targeting features and combinations that are available, but if you happen to run out you can create a lookalike audience!

Tips for Instagram Success

It’s a Different Beast Than Facebook So Treat It Accordingly

As I showed you above, the audience on Instagram is different than that of Facebook, and these users have different ways of interacting with brands, people and content within the channel. In the same way that Bing Ads and Google AdWords often perform completely differently and need to be optimized accordingly, this is the best way to approach the Facebook and Instagram worlds as well.

Split Out Placements at the Ad Set Level

My biggest tip for Facebook and Instagram is to always split out your ad sets by placement category. Letting everything run simultaneously is a recipe for disaster, especially when each placement performs so differently. When setting up an ad set, you’ll want to adjust the Placement section to be “mobile only” and strictly Instagram. This will allow you to truly gauge the performance in Instagram.


Use Power Editor

Take advantage of the offline editor, Power Editor, when making a large amount of changes. You can quickly duplicate, pause and create new campaigns, ad sets and ads. While this tool could be a lot more handy as a desktop interface so that you could use it in offline situations, it’s definitely handy. If you need a guide to Power Editor, you can find one in the Facebook Help Center.

Utilize Custom Audiences

In addition to utilizing all of the targeting that Facebook offers, you can also upload business contacts, website visitors and app users to utilize as a custom audience. This is a great way to reach customers and potential customers on an additional platform.

What tips do you have for advertising on Instagram? We’d love to hear your tips in the comments!