5 Lessons I Learned from Running My First Instagram Ad Campaign

Last year, Instagram announce a slow rollout of ads on their platform. Over the past months, stats were released on some of their first advertisers.
Soon after, case studies were released:
Screen Shot 2015-10-30 at 2.25.57 PM
People were astonished by the results of these ads and itched for the opportunity to advertise their products and services on the platform. Over the last few months, Instagram been rolling out their ad platform to more and more businesses.

Of course, we got our hands on an account the first chance we had!
As I went through the ad process, I soon discovered this platform had me out of my comfort zone, and I realized some inevitable truths:

It isn’t your typical ad platform

While you can focus on a product or service on Adwords or Facebook, the Instagram community isn’t your typical user base. They cannot be sold to like earlier generations. Instagram users are much more interested in the experience or value.

Here are a few examples straight from Instagram:
As you can see, while the product is featured in the advertisement, the quality of the photo and the artistic style used is the most important aspect of the sponsored post. If it lacks creativity, you can quickly lose traction.

[Want to plan out those Insta ads? Check out our FREE Social Media Planning Calendar.]

It is cheaper than you would think

Because Instagram ads were opened to only limited businesses in its infancy, many predicted that the price to advertise on Instagram would be much higher than Facebook.

However, we ran our advertisement for a 12-day period and quickly got as low as 25 cents per click (averaging out to 35 cents). Other users saw the same results!
Instagram, much like Facebook, uses a few means of measurement depending on your campaign goals:

  • Per click
  • Per impression
  • Per engagement

The platform also features personal interest targeting that enables you to target people who would be the most likely to be interested in your product.

Pro Tip: Like Facebook, the more targeted your audience is, the cheaper your cost per action. This is known as a relevancy score and is the key to getting the most out of your total campaign budget.

It takes a while to get reviewed and accepted

After setting up our ad for the first time (October 7th), I figured it would only take a few short hours to get my ads reviewed and accepted. As 5:00 on a Friday (October 8th) afternoon rolled around, I was still waiting. I finally received notification early the next morning saying it was accepted.

I also noticed that any edits to our ad (even the budget) put the advertisement into a 24-hour hiatus. I quickly learned to take notes on how to optimize the ad and did as many changes at a time as I could.

Note: We can’t really blame this on Instagram. We placed our ad the first week the platform opened and there were literally thousands of advertisers waiting for their ad to be accepted.

Your post is gonna blow up quickScreen Shot 2015-10-19 at 10.39.22 AM

After waiting hours to have our ads approved, we quickly saw a response and gained 3 leads in just a few short hours. Our impressions grew into the thousands, and our click-through rates grew even faster.

Reaching a closing click-through rate of 1.87%, we killed national average rates on other platforms, including Facebook.

We were also able to gather some great engagement with over 500 likes on our post. We also received a few comments from users, which leads me to my final point....

Don’t be surprised to get a little push back

You may have caught that last comment in our ad. If not here, it is again:
Screen Shot 2015-10-30 at 2.34.28 PM
We quickly apologized to “dmoneyswagg” for improper targeting, but we also know that targeting will never be 100% accurate. The best thing to do in response to these comments is just say sorry.

Conclusion: The Future of Advertising

This recent rollout of Instagram ads created a different experience for advertising online. If done right, a user can scroll through their feed, see your post, and never even notice it was an advertisement. It will be just another user sharing an experience.

I predict that it won’t be long until this type of “experience advertising” becomes part of other platforms.

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