Is Instagram Marketing Right For A Small Business?

Does Instagram offer a good return on the investment for small businesses?

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For most businesses, there are a certain number of places they are sure they will advertise. Trade journals, local papers, and local public transportation may all make the cut for physical marketing; online, most companies have found Facebook to be a worthwhile investment.

But while companies may choose to maintain social media profiles on other sites, like Instagram and Twitter, is it worthwhile to advertise on them? Specifically, does Instagram offer a good return on the investment for small businesses?

Targeted and Cost-effective

Now that Instagram’s advertising is available to all users, businesses can use their Facebook profile to access the ads section. Like Facebook, Instagram advertisers have the ability to target who sees their ads based on certain demographics and location information. This is especially useful to brick-and-mortar users who want to target their ads within their region.

Users like Cherry Kwan of Techwyse have written about the cost-effectiveness of their ad campaigns on Instagram, finding that her ads ultimately cost her business less than $0.50 CPC. She found them to be roughly as effective as her Facebook advertisements and counted being able to use the same ads on both platforms as a bonus.

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

Despite the growing popularity of text communication in our digitally connected society, human beings still process visual images more quickly than text. So when you are trying to grab users who are scrolling through a feed, engaging images are key to catching their attention. Interestingly, some of the most effective marketing lessons can be learned from children, who naturally know how to grab attention and engage people; this is a skill that can be invaluable when crafting Instagram ads that resonate

While Facebook also encourages advertisers to use images, they place any text from the advertising post above the image. Users will often read your text before they see your image, and if the text doesn’t catch their attention, they are more likely to scroll past.

Instagram, however, places the image first, and any text afterward, which means that viewers have the opportunity to take in your picture before they move along. This can offer better engagement for many businesses but also shows how carefully businesses must choose an image that is relevant to their business and interesting to the viewer.

Unobtrusive Advertising

One of the big benefits of advertising on Instagram is that the shared images look like all the other pictures in the user’s stream. There is a small “sponsored” tag in the upper corner, but otherwise, they’re just looking at another picture that someone has been shared.

This type of equal footing lets the user approach the image with the same mental setting as they’re using for the rest of their Instagram feed. They may feel less guarded towards your ad and more receptive to your message.

How To Make Instagram Advertising Work For You
Should your business advertise on Instagram? Before I suggest that anyone spend money on an advertising platform, it’s a good idea to create a free account and see what kind of engagement you generate there.

To be successful on Instagram, you need to be able to share photo images, so a highly technical business that mostly involves people sitting at their computers and working on code might need to get creative before leaping into the fray.

When you’re ready to go ahead and create ads to share on Instagram, there are a few tips that will help you make the most of your advertising dollars.

  • Create a strong profile and “free” stream before creating ads. Just like every other social media platform, the goal is to create social contacts. Advertising needs to be a secondary priority.
  • Mix very professional images with very casual ones. Some of your photos should be carefully posed and well edited. Some of them should be more casual, feel more like snapshots, and show “slice of life” moments that engage users.
  • Respond to comments. Since Instagram ads are basically boosted Instagram posts, users can comment on your posts the same way that they would comment on anything else in your stream. Make sure to respond to their comments and questions to generate social engagement. Remember that if you don’t @ the user, they will not see that you have responded.
  • Use industry-relevant hashtags. One of the major ways to get noticed on Instagram is to use hashtags. While you generally want to use only a few major hashtags in your post, many users will comment below their original post with a variety of different hashtags.

Just like Twitter, this is a primary way that users discover new accounts to follow. Use them to your benefit.

But Instagram has rapidly surpassed Twitter for a number of users, and is poised to continue to grow. A company that can leverage the power of Instagram to grow its business is well poised to continue to connect with Millennial buyers.


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