Instagram is the social media platform where imagery and authenticity are the primary drivers of interaction. People spot amazing things in the world each day, and then decide to put the images of what they see on their profile to allow everyone else to share in the experience.
You will discover Instagram is unique from an advertising perspective because the drivers of this platform cause others to engage more often than they would on Facebook, Twitter, and the other areas of social media. Fast Company found that someone is 58 times more likely to comment, share, or like a brand’s post on Instagram compared to Facebook. When compared to Twitter, they are over 120 times more likely to engage the content.
Although advertising on social media is an outreach effort that every brand and business should consider, being on this platform isn’t right for everyone. There are several pros and cons of Instagram advertising to review before you begin designing your first campaign.
List of the Pros of Instagram Advertising
1. Instagram allows you to be ultra-specific with your targeting.
Because Instagram falls under the Facebook family of companies (they paid $1 billion for it in 2012), you will get to access the same demographic targeting mechanisms when advertising on each platform. Your company can target individuals based on their behavior, location, or interest. Some people can be added because they are on a current customer list. There are even about a dozen different campaign goals that you can follow on this platform to ensure that you’re maximizing every amount that you spend.
2. Instagram provides unique ad formatting.
Instead of providing a dreaded image or post that scrolls by on someone’s timeline, advertising on Instagram allows you to maximize the extent of your visual content. You can upload videos and photos that serve as a sponsored posit. Stories are a possibility when you choose this platform. You can even opt for the carousel.
If these options don’t seem right for your outreach needs, then influencer marketing on Instagram is a possibility as well. You can pay specific accounts to promote your products or services as a way to extend the reach of your brand.
3. Instagram provides you with a one-click experience.
This platform is a driver of sales. Because of the formatting that occurs on Instagram, you can have potential customers click once to access your sales page to begin the checkout process. It is a one-click convenience that reduces the number of obstacles that get in the way of the typical online sale. The odds are in your favor because of this design. About 1 in 3 Instagram users say that they have used this social media platform to purchase something, and 75% of them take some type of action after exposure to your campaign.
People on Instagram are also 70% more likely to make a purchase because of your advertising campaign compared to those who are not using this platform.
4. Instagram provides you with access to meaningful analytics.
The structure of the information your advertising generates is similar to what you will find on Facebook as well. The dashboard that Instagram provides allows you to view all of your critical data points in one convenient location. It offers information about turning your leads to conversions, monitoring the cost per result, and seeing what your website action conversion value is compared to the amount that you spent. This process makes it much easier to determine your ROI for each effort that you make.
5. Instagram distinguishes commercial profiles from personal ones.
This advantage is another benefit to your Instagram advertising effort thanks to the presence of Facebook. The platform is able to determine which accounts are personal and those that are business accounts. Moving your brand toward a commercial account allows you to add several different features that were unavailable before, including a call-to-action button, the chance to promote, and access to insights about your account.
Although this seems like a minor advantage, it is not unusual for brands to try promoting themselves through personal pages or by using the profiles of their employees. You will gain access to a lot more value by ensuring that your account is of the commercial variety.
6. Instagram allows you to reach interested people you haven’t met yet.
One of the most significant advantages of Instagram advertising is that you can target specific demographics that you already know are interested in what you offer. Over 200 million people on this platform at any given time could purchase something through the app because it resolves one of their pain points. Your presence with sponsored content will reach them on their mobile device in real-time, send an ultra-specific message that offers a value proposition, and then encourage them to click.
In many ways, the processes involved with Instagram advertising become an extension of your brand. When you are consistently present on this platform, then your engagement levels will be robust.
7. Instagram allows you to drive organic traffic to your website.
One of the biggest differences between Facebook and Instagram is the way that you build a following for your account. Your efforts on Instagram occur naturally because each person is interacting naturally with the various forms of media that you share. People want to get involved with your business because they were attracted to what you provided for them to see in the first place. You don’t need to follow the same processes of page building as you do on Facebook.
This design is very similar to a grassroots political movement. Once you have a few people who begin to engage with your brand, then more begin to follow. It is a way for your message to gain extra exposure without putting pressure on your community. Then there is the fact that half of all Instagram users follow brands anyway. People are interested in what you have to say if you’re willing to say it.
8. Instagram allows you to see what your demographics prefer.
When you begin to advertise on Instagram for the first time, you will discover that you may not know as much as you think you do about your targeted demographics. What are the images that would turn them off from a potential sale? Are there specific ideas that they find to be humorous that other groups would find to be repulsive?
When you start this journey on Instagram, you will discover that there is always room to begin learning more about your future customers. This process makes it possible to refine your message to encourage even more interaction with your company in the future.
9. Instagram takes advantage of the visual nature of human memory.
When you listen to a radio advertisement, there is one unique feature that tends to occur. The narrator will repeat the phone number several times in an effort to help listeners remember how to contact the company. The business website will receive numerous mentions. If email is preferred, then the address gets several mentions in the spot. This structure is necessary because people remember better through visual media when compared to audio media.
That is why Instagram is such an advantageous platform to so many businesses. People remember 80% of what they see, but they only recall 10% of what they hear. Viewing a text-based campaign isn’t much better, since the retention rate there is only 20%. When you can put together an advertising campaign that speaks visually to a person’s preferences, then there is an excellent chance that you will obtain engagement.
10. Instagram allows you to cross-promote.
Once you begin to collect information about your Instagram campaign, then you can use it to help add fuel to your other advertising efforts. All of the traffic you send from Instagram can then be retargeted on other social media platforms if you wish. You can even choose to promote your other brand outreach efforts by cross-promoting your channels. This process makes it easier to create more touch points for the consumer, making it easier for them to remember you over time.
11. Instagram allows you to stay in control of your budget.
When you advertise on Instagram, then you can always make sure that your marketing budget stays where it needs to be. You can set the limits on what you spend each day when your campaign is active. Although some industries may need to spend several hundred dollars per day to generate results because of a high CPC rate, many small businesses offer niche products can experience the advantages of advertising here for $10 per day or less.
12. Instagram makes it easy to find your sponsored content through search.
When you post content on Instagram for your followers to see, then you will likely use a variety of hashtags to create a description for your post. These items also make it easier to search for content in specific areas. Adding 10+ different hashtags to your post will make it easier to extend the reach of your advertising dollars because it increases the chances that you’ll be found organically.
Even location tagging is possible on this platform, allowing you to use Instagram as part of an optimization effort to improve your engagement and search rankings. When your ad includes at least one location tag, it will average almost 80% more engagement compared to the posts that do not include this information.
13. Instagram satisfies the craving for instant gratification.
When you post a new campaign on Instagram (or update your profile with an image), then a vast majority of the interactions that you’ll receive from this content will occur within the first six hours of it going live. That means you can know with relative certainty how well your outreach efforts are working when you choose to advertise on this platform. When a post does well, then it can become a candidate for future sponsorship. If not, then you know what to avoid in the future.
14. Instagram is experiencing a reduction in cost per impressions.
Even though the number of advertisers using Instagram is rising rapidly, with over 2 million brands reportedly active at any given time, the average cost of impressions is going down on this platform. Advertisers in 2015 were averaging a $6.73 CPM in 2015. In 2016, that rate fell to a CPM of $5.17. The first half of 2018 showed that companies were experiencing a CPM of $4.91. You may have more competition on this platform today than in previous years, but it also comes at a cheaper price.
15. Instagram stories create a new way to engage with consumers.
Although Instagram stories aren’t a great outreach effort for brands on this platform, the consumers who engage with one are more likely to play it all of the way through. Companies that are using this feature are experiencing a 72% completion rate, which is 8% higher than it was in 2017. Although posts that are not Stories generate triple the average reach compared to those that are, the people who do engage have the branded content take over their entire screen. More importantly, 68% of followers who consume Stories each month are Millennials, which is a higher rate than what other platforms experience.
List of the Cons of Instagram Advertising
1. Instagram provides you with a limited audience.
Although this social media platform offers a massive monthly user base of over 800 million people, 67% of them are between the ages of 18 to 34. One out of every five Instagram users is under the age of 18. When your product wants to target someone above the age of 35, then you will be reaching just 13% of the community. If your business knows that it needs to target an older audience because of what your product or service provides, then it can be challenging to find ways to make this effort pay off over time.
2. Instagram is not the best platform to reach men.
Guys are on Instagram, but it is not at a level that you would see on most other social media platforms. About 32% of the active monthly users on this social media platform are men. That means if your product targets them because of what it can do and women are not included in your outreach effort, then this platform may not maximize the reach that your brand would have elsewhere.
3. Instagram takes time to update to keep it relevant.
Although this disadvantage of Instagram applies to almost every advertising campaign, it is highly relevant here because of the authenticity drivers that are in place. If you are recycling your content as a way to generate posts, then your audience will begin to notice. You must be constantly vigilant about responding to comments, posting new content, and incorporating as many visual elements as you can to encourage interaction. If your time is limited and you’re already active on other platforms, then adding this one to your portfolio might not be the right move to make.
4. Instagram doesn’t always focus on e-commerce.
There are numerous reasons why someone might find themselves using Instagram today. They might want to share images of their life with their family and friends. Some create an account because it is a way to follow their favorite celebrities. You can find people who are interested in shopping (and some are ready to buy!), but that is sometimes more of the exception than the rule on this platform. You will still find scrollers that breeze right on by your sponsored content because they’re killing time or are looking for a specific post that they want to revisit.
5. Instagram advertising is not always affordable.
According to the 2017 report from Nanigan’s Instagram Advertising Performance, the average CPC (cost-per-click) of an Instagram ad campaign was $0.61. The costs vary by industry, with some having rates that are significantly higher than others. If your business is in the technology or telecommunications industry, then your average CPC was $6.55 – which was even higher than the $6.44 that the media and entertainment industry experienced on the platform.
You need to spend money to make it when you operate on this platform, so brands that are on a limited budget may find that what they can afford to promote will not build their audience very quickly.
6. Instagram requires you to work through a mobile platform.
If you want to be active on Instagram, then you will need to have your business become mobile. You can access the platform in a limited fashion through your web browser, but it will require you to upload images from a smartphone or tablet for the best possible results. Once you have the image on the platform to begin advertising, then it is easy to share with your other campaigns. For companies that don’t have a mobile-friendly environment, this social media option may not be the right chose to make with this obstacle in the way.
7. Instagram doesn’t offer much room for additional content.
Advertising on Instagram relies on the visual component of your uploads for it to be a successful experience. You can add text and other elements to the image that will help you convey an immediate message to the viewer that can result in a click. If you want to add more content to your image as part of the description, then you will discover that there isn’t a lot of space available to make that happen – especially since the image is what takes up a significant majority of the space in the app when viewers see your sponsored content.
8. Instagram does not allow for clickable links.
Although you can use your Instagram advertising campaign to pursue clicks for sales, likes, or comments, it is not possible to add a specific clickable link to your post as a way to send people to a specific landing page. You do have some options that allow you to add this element to your profile, but not necessarily your posts. This limitation could be a struggle for some businesses who depend on an informational landing page to close the deal on a sale. You can add the specific URL in the description of your image if you want so that your followers can paste it in their browser for a visit, but this obstacle can get in the way of a successful experience.
The pros and cons of Instagram advertising suggest that this platform can be highly advantageous if your goods or services target people in the 18-34 age demographic. You can engage them with visual content that they will remember with a significant opportunity to have them click if they like what they see. Although every marketing effort involves some level of risk, you may discover that if your target audience falls outside of the primary groups that use this platform this option may not meet your needs as effectively as other forms of advertising.
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