– NOVEMBER 5, 2019
Let’s start with bit of background on Instagram promotions and the features open to businesses on Instagram.
What is an Instagram Promotion?
An Instagram promotion is similar to any other ad you my see online. It allows increased exposure on your brand’s content by targeting desired users that may be interested in your brand’s products or services.
In the last couple years Instagram has been rolling out bundles of features to help businesses utilize the massive reach on their social media platform. These include a plethora of new promotional ad features, analytics, and quality of life improvements.
This is especially helpful for businesses when you take into account what separates Instagram from other social media platforms.
As you can tell from this study done on user engagement with brands, Instagram blows other platforms out of the water when it comes to getting to know your audience. With a more attentive group of followers, you are much more likely to drive conversions on Instagram vs. other social media.
The first major change they rolled out was in 2016 with the addition of business profiles.
Instead of having to brand personal accounts, businesses who operate a Facebook page can now operate commercial accounts equipped with tools that go beyond your personal profile.
Instagram even gives you the ability to switch back to a personal account if you so desire. Some people claim that Facebook and subsequently Instagram’s algorithm ranks personal accounts higher than brands. But that has not been found to be the case while Instagram pushes business to convert.
Some of these include:
- A dedicated contact button instead of having to bury the information in your bio.
- Being able to designate a category/industry for your business
- Access to Instagram Insights. This a huge one. Instead of relying on likes/comments, you can see deeper analytics on your engagement, reach demographics, and impressions.
- The ability to post ads vs. simply ad style posts. These appear as sponsored posts in a feed/story and come with countless targeting specifications, ad styles, goals, and payment types.
- Influencer marketing integration. Since the FTC cracked down, influencers are required to disclose earnings from promotions they push. Business accounts can tie themselves to their paid posts with the ‘Paid Partnership’ tag so that they can remain compliant as well as get analytics on content they didn’t post themselves.
One of the features that we are going to dive into, that came alongside all of Instagram’s improvements, is the ability to promote your posts as well.
How do Instagram promotions work to make my business grow?
Have you ever heard of social proof?
It’s the concept that higher engagement through reviews, testimonials, shares, and other popularity metrics that contribute to your credibility as a business. This seems obvious, but it is the game that surrounds social media.
People look towards other people not only for validation, but also for the next big thing.
And that’s not a bad thing.
In the fast-paced, high-information world we live in today, how likely is it that quality content is going to get passed up by everybody unless technical execution is the pain point?
If you can get your post to receive traction through engagement, it turns into a snowball effect where more people are willing to like, comment, and convert if they see others are doing the same.
So how do Instagram promotions work on my social proof?
Instagram promotions’ biggest use case is creating brand awareness. By boosting a post, you can kickstart the snowball effect and get posts the traction they deserve. This helps skyrocket reach and is very effective if your primary goal is high visibility.
Instagram’s algorithm’s, much like other social media platforms, operates off of an acceleration/virality factor. This means that the quicker your posts get off to the right start, the higher the ranking algorithms will put you in the feed.
And how could you blame them? There are more than 800 posts made per second on Instagram across over 1 billion monthly active users as of 2018. People have their work cut out for them to get visibility, but it has been done time and time again.
Instagram is one of the fastest growing social media platforms. And since they launched business accounts in 2016, it has come to be expected for your business to have its own profile.
Instagram has found that 60% of users say they learn about new products or services on their platform. What’s even more astonishing is that 75% say that they will take action after seeing a posts. This includes visiting sites, purchasing products, or even sharing posts, what every business dreams of.
How do Instagram promotions work different than ads?
Instagram helps businesses get a little bit more juice out of their posts through their promotions feature. Much like Google or Facebook Ads, you can accelerate your reach through a pay to play system.
How Much Does It Cost to Promote on Instagram?
Instagram operates their ad/promotion structure on a Cost-Per-1000 Impressions (CPM) basis. This means that you pay the specified bid amount on your post for every 1,000 people that see it.
Other platforms like Google Ads operates on a Cost-Per-Click (CPC), where you receive free visibility and only pay for successful clicks. Because Instagram values visibility you will have to put work in to optimize posts so that you reach your goals without wasting too much money.
However there is a difference between ads made through the Facebook Ads manager and promotions (ads) made through the Instagram app. That is an important distinction to make.
Before you can understand the answer to how do Instagram promotions work, you first have to understand what an Insta promo is. Instagram Promotions are normal, non-advertisement posts that you would like to convert to a sponsored post with elevated reach. They can appear in the same spot with the same ‘Sponsored’ tag, but Instagram treats them differently in their algorithm.
This is because there is a nuance in each of their purposes. While each are there to increase visibility and engagement. An Ad has many more preferences for targeting and customization because the leading purpose is to convert. A promotion serves to take a well performing post to the next level in terms of profile views, likes, comments, and shares.
If visibility, reach, and engagement are your goals, then think about opting for the boosted promotional.
Take a look at the interfaces that Instagram provides for promotions (left) vs. ads (right).
You may be asking yourself, why would I use promotions over ads?
Remember, the purpose of boosting an Instagram post is to receive the maximum amount of visibility and reach as possible. It is not always necessary to launch an entire ad campaign every time you want to spike brand awareness.
Instagram knows this, which is why they offer it as a feature. Its purpose is to convert quality posts into mainstream, targeted ads so that you can share its value with people beyond your normal audience.
While sales and lead generation remain paramount, social media accounts require nurturing through a variety of posts. Too much of the same is never good for anyone or any business. An effective social media marketing strategy will incorporate a healthy mix of both promotions and ads.
Are Instagram Promotions More Expensive or Cheaper than Ads?
There actually isn’t any conclusive data that states that ads are cheaper than promotions. However, AdEspresso reported that CPC values range between $.70 and $.80. This figure was concluded based on two demographics. Users between the ages of 25-34 years can cost as much as $1.23 per click. On the other hand, the younger group aged between 13-17 years, came in at $.47.
How Do Instagram Promotions Work and How Can I Start?
If you’re reading this, you are probably a business owner looking to jump start your social media accounts, or you want to know how to get more out of your posts by understanding how do Instagram promotions work.
Instagram promotions start with a business account. You probably already have one, but if not, don’t worry. Any personal account can become a business in a few simple taps.
- Go into your Instagram Settings and halfway down the page tap on Switch to Business Account.
- If you do not already own a Facebook page tied to your business, it will make one for it. If you don’t have one it would be in your best interest to make one first and populate it with company info.
- Customize your profile with custom buttons, such as a contact button or a link to your website. Be sure to put in all your contact information before finishing up.
Once you have transitioned to a business account, you are all set to promote your first post.
How To Start an Instagram Promotion
To get started, navigate to your profile and tap the Promotions button. You will then be prompted with a screen that looks like this.
Choose which post of yours you would like to convert into a promotion and proceed forward.
Next you will be prompted with a screen where you get to decide on your post’s Call to Action (CTA). These are your Call Now’s and Learn More’s. This part is highly dependent on your goals with this promotion. So take the time to evaluate your options.
You opt for something simple like directing people towards your profile or direct messages. Or you can redirect them to your website. If you choose storefront, you have the options to send them to a phone number or physical address. If you choose your website, you have more flexibility because you can assign different CTA’s like Learn More, Contact Us, Book Now, and Sign Up.
After you decide on your CTA, Instagram asks you to select your target audience. They give you the option to choose between Automatic or Create Your Own. If you choose to manually define your audience, you will be presented with this screen.
This is where you get to define demographic presets to use in the future. As you can see, Instagram provides basic parameters such as location, age, gender. But you also are given the ability to target certain interests.
Instagram allows you to choose up to 10 interests that you think accurately represents your intended audience. This is where you can make the magic happen and really maximize your audience targeting capabilities. Interests range anywhere from hobbies, movies, events, to people.
So after you have solidified age, gender, location, and interests, you now have a working demographic of people to promote to.
After everything is said in done, Instagram prompts you with one last page. This is where you get to decide on your budget, duration, and distribution.
Instagram gives you a loose estimation of your reach depending on your daily budget and how long you would like to run your promotion. Instagram also decides if stories or the feed would be better for your selected audience.
Instagram’s maximum limits are set at $1,000 ad spend daily and up to 30 days in duration for a maximum possible reach of 400k-1 million people. Of course promotions come with diminishing returns, so you need to look towards your analytics to determine the worthwhile-ness.
Thankfully Instagram breaks down your promotion analytics in their Insights feature available to (as you’ve guessed it) only business accounts.
Instagram recommends spending at least $10 to promote your post. But ultimately it is up to you to decide what the value of these promotions are for your business.
Instagram Insights lets you keep tabs on all types of engagement people are having with your profile, including those attributed to your promotions.
You can track anything like:
- Profile visits
- Website clicks
- Number of people who got directions
- Number of people who contacted you
- How many people discovered you
The list is very comprehensive and even breaks down the timeline and demographics on all of these types of engagements and impressions.
Nailing down your audience is where most of your market research is going to be directed towards outside of creating compelling content.
On the Insights screen, find where your posts are located. You should be presented with a screen that shows all of them in a grid with numbers overlaid like the one above.
Here you can apply filters to segment the data for each of your posts for a specified time period. This will give you the quick run down on your best and worst performing types of content as well as the levels of engagement you are getting.
If you would like even more detailed analytics, find the View Insights button on the respective post and you can find a breakdown of the actions taken from the post such as:
- Profile Visits
- Website Clicks
You can also get a similar breakdown of actions taken from Instagram stories such as:
- Forward taps
- Backward Taps
- Swipes Away
Instagram also generates an in-depth report on the sources of impressions as well, like:
- How many peoples’ feed you appeared on
- People who found you through a hashtag search
- Views from your profile page
- People who discovered you on the explore feed or through organic keywords
- Location Feed
- People who found you through tags, shares, and mentions.
Putting It All to Use
While this is all helpful for analyzing your posts, lets focus on promotions.
When looking at insights for promotions, Instagram actually gives you a more stripped down overview where visits, impressions, engagement, money spent, and audience demographics are the only factors they provide to you.
It is more or less up to you to decide whether or not the promotions are beneficial. One of the ways you can accomplish this is to track the data yourself and generate cost breakdowns.
Some intrinsic metrics you should keep track of are:
- The ratio of engagement to reach. This will let you know how compelling your content is and if it leads to conversions.
- Your CPC. This isn’t directly provided by Instagram, but you should be conscious of how much is being spent on promotions and specifically how much it costs per website visit, contact information shared, conversions, etc.
Although posts receive a bit more analysis, you can use them to your advantage when tuning your promotions. After all, promotions are just boosted posts.
One of the first things you should analyze is your audience. Are you reaching your intended demographic? Is there consistency in your demographics from post to post to promotion?
Next you should consider what actions people are taking when they see your promotion. Does your promotion have the intended effect?
Much like a website, bounce rate is a key metric to determine your content effectiveness. Low reach and low engagement would be indicative of ineffective content. Decent reach with low engagement means that although you are reaching the intended audience, your CTA’s are ineffective, or the content is not conducive to engagement.
Polishing Your Content
But how do Instagram promotions work using your content?
Instagram promotions are a great way to get that boost in reach that your posts need. But if the content is unrefined, its message will fall on deaf ears.
Insights and other forms of analytics will definitely help guide your content and highlight pain points. However, creating content that will resonate with your audience is a different beast and will need a more holistic approach.
Effective content needs to be interesting, memorable, and actionable. To achieve this, you need to be mindful of commonalities in your consumer base. One of the best ways to take the guesswork out of content creation is to employ social listening.
Social listening is putting your ear to the ground to hear what people are saying and finding what trends are hot in your industry.
There are countless software out there to help you keep track of the conversation. In essence, you are trying to nail down consumer sentiment when it comes to your brand, certain types of products, and even your competition.
Social listening can aid your Instagram promotions by:
- Trailing consumer sentiment following a new promotion campaign
- Identify common consumer pain points to target
- Discovering gaps in the services/products offered in your industry (not just your brand)
- Finding demographics that have yet to be targeted in a smart fashion
- Helping incorporate consumer lingo/buzzwords that speak to your audience
- Weeding out ineffective content or mistakes in your strategy