A Guide to Running Instagram Ads for Your Small Business

Updated on 24 June 2019

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A Guide to Running Instagram Ads

According to Instagram Business, 60% of people say they discover new products on Instagram and more than 200 million Instagrammers visit at least one business profile daily.

Gilbert Kumpukwe, digital strategist and senior campaign manager and Jandre De Beer, managing director at the digital marketing agency, Version.Eight Media (V8 Media) speak to SME South Africa about how SMEs can use Instagram ads to better their chances of reaching a new audience, connect with customers and generate sales from leads.

According to Kumpukwe, Instagram is the top social platform to engage with younger audiences.

“They [young audiences] get the convenience (and have less reservations) about making a purchase on Instagram than other generations, so the potential pool of buyers is certainly there.”

Kumpukwe says Instagram ads are also a good option for small businesses in terms of affordability and the low levels of competition, as compared to Facebook.

Instagram offers a variety of ad formats from Stories, Photo, Video, Carousel to Collection. Stories are especially effective, says Kumpukwe.

“Whether an ad or organic content, Stories (Story ads) are an excellent way to connect with people – these 15 second snippets have the ability to hook people in with your message or ‘Story’ and they become open to sending you a message in reply to your ad. Having a high-impact, clear message-driven ad can result in a number of people reaching out to your DMs.”

De Beer agrees saying if the ads’ design are plain or boring or confusing, it can drive low engagement and very low results.

It’s essential to ensure that you have a simple, clear message that speaks to the consumer and offers value

De Beer provides answers for  frequently asked questions about advertising on Instagram (mainly B2C), including:
– Why it’s worthwhile exploring Instagram ads
– What information or hashtags should be included in an Instagram advert
– Addressing mistakes business owners make
– How to maximise return on investment

Why are Instagram ads a good investment for small business owners?

Instagram is owned by Facebook, so it has the same targeting capabilities as Facebook and therefore as a business you can conveniently reach the specific target audience that you can filter by age, gender, interests, shopping behaviour and more.

Instagram has also launched shoppable tags which allows the brand to sell its products on the platform in a more convenient fashion. Instagram is also working on instant checkout which will allow consumers to buy products from brands without leaving the app.

Instagram offers ad templates, are they a good idea?

We don’t suggest using a template, unless a certain format of ads are doing really well.

advertising on Instagram

What mistakes do you see business owners make when running Instagram ads?

1. The first thing many business owners don’t get right is their creative – it’s usually very plain or boring or confusing, which in turn drives low engagement and very low results.

2. Many brands that do not understand the targeting capabilities of Instagram and Facebook and therefore don’t maximise it to the fullest potential, leaving them showing ads (messages) to the wrong audience or demographics.

3. 9 out of 10 times brands also make the mistake of having copy (text) that’s confusing and not to the point. It’s essential to ensure that you have a simple, clear message that speaks to the consumer and offers value.

What should they do instead?

1. Business owners should educate themselves on the psychology of the end-user and how they (the consumers) behave on their Instagram and Facebook platforms which in turn will allow entrepreneurs to improve their creative and messaging.

2. Business owners also need to educate themselves when it comes to the targeting capabilities of Instagram, focusing not only on your beginner capabilities but also the more advanced strategies.

advertising on Instagram

How important are hashtags?

If you are running an ad that is considered to be an existing post then you can use hashtags however when creating dark post, it won’t be necessary. A dark post is basically an ad that you’ve created manually that does not show up on your company’s business page or profile.

Is it better to use the automatic target audience?

[Automatic targeting allows advertisers to create an audience who might be interested in your business using a variety of signals, including location, demographics and interests.]

With regards to Instagram ad placements business owners can choose automatic placements however a close eye needs to be kept on the cost and engagement of each placement so that the necessary optimisations can be implemented in order to improve the heads performance.

With regards to the actual targeting on Instagram we suggest that business owners always choose their own interests based on what they know or believe would be the best suitable audience.

Give us your tips for small business owners to maximise their ROI when it comes to Instagram ads?

When it comes to getting a return from your ad spend it’s essential that business owners keep an eye on the count in the ads as well as their performance because return only comes when the ads get optimised, there should be no set-it-and-forget-it approach ever.

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