Instagram has 1 billion monthly active users. 500 million of those users are engaging daily on the platform.
And they’re not just engaging with their very best of friends.
They’re engaging with brands, too, 10x more than they do on Facebook.
In this post, we’re going to go over exactly how to use Instagram sponsored posts for your business, including tutorials on how to create them, when you should use them, and how they’re different from other types of Instagram Ads.
Unsurprisingly, Instagram is an outstanding platform for brand awareness, and getting more followers means that you could get more engagement, more traffic, and yep, you guessed it, more sales.
Utilizing any kinds of strategies to get more reach can help you get more of those results, and Instagram’s sponsored posts are a fantastic way to get more reach, build your followers, and establish brand awareness.
What Are Instagram Sponsored Posts?
Instagram sponsored posts (which are sometimes used to refer to “promoted” posts) are organic posts on-platform that you then pay to promote.
When you do this, you aren’t creating an entirely new ad with the same creative but actually having that exact post– engagement and all– to be shown to more users.
They look exactly like other types of Instagram Ads.
Like the rest of your Instagram ad options, you’ll still get to choose some targeting criteria.
If you’re utilizing the true Promoted Posts that happen in-app, you can boost a post and select targeting criteria of age, location, and interests. This is slightly more limited, but it’s also simplified.
These posts will only appear on Instagram, but you can have the goal of driving traffic to your site and adding in the URL of your choice along with an action button.
If you’re running engagement-oriented sponsored posts while using the Ads Manager tool, you can choose a past Instagram post from your profile and then utilize all the targeting and placement options available to typical Facebook and Instagram Ads.
In this case, all engagement that you get on and off-Instagram will be transferred to the organic post as the campaign runs.
It’s a pretty sweet deal; someone comments on a Facebook Ad and that comment is accumulated on the organic Instagram post to help garner more UGC.
Which Should You Choose?
Both options can be good.
- Promoted posts allow you to have links and action buttons, and is a simplified version of the create-an-ads tool for anything feeling overwhelmed. That being said, their targeting is more narrow and you don’t have retargeting capabilities, so it’s a better fit for brands with large, general audiences (including local brands) than those with super niche targeting needs.
- Sponsored posts through the ads system give you more range, cross-platform reach if you choose, and targeting capabilities, and you still can add an actionable button and a URL. The creation process takes a tiny bit more time and isn’t done within the app, but all advantages and reason suggest that sponsored posts are going to be the way to go for most businesses.
As an added bonus with sponsored posts, if you’re using multiple placement types, you may see an overall decrease in CPC costs, too.
How Are They Different From Other Types of Instagram Ads?
Both the promoted posts and the cross-platform sponsored posts are focusing on promoting already-existing posts as they currently exist (UGC and all).
Other types of Instagram Ads, however, are going to prioritize other specific actions. Brand awareness. Lead generation. Traffic and conversions.
And, most significantly, they’re going to be optimizing for these goals with new creatives.
Even if you use the exact same image and text in other types of Instagram Ads as you have in an existing post, you aren’t actually utilizing the existing post.
This means that engagement will be born and then die on that ad, and that you won’t be able to capitalize on any of the engagement you already have.
There’s one more big change with other types of Instagram Ads.
The objective that you choose– engagement, traffic, lead generation, etc.– can affect who sees your ad.
Facebook and Instagram show your ads to people most likely to take the desired action, so using sponsored posts isn’t exactly a permanent get-out-of-jail-free card to just get more engagement forever while trying to get leads on the same ad, too.
How to Create Instagram Sponsored Posts In Ads Manager
Creating sponsored posts in the Ads Manager is incredibly easy.
First, head to Facebook’s Create an Ad page and then choose “Engagement” as your objective.
Next, you’ll choose your targeting.
You can be strategic here, targeting lookalike audiences off high-value audiences or getting specific with niche targeting if your post will appeal to certain specific groups of people. If you want to, you can also keep your audiences broad and general.
That’s the beauty of engagement posts– they can do well with any audience as long as the post is relevant to them.
Now you’ll choose your placements and then your budget.
When it comes to placements, keep in mind that if you want to gather engagement or use it to your benefit, you’ll want to choose platforms where people can actually view those likes, comments, and shares.
Side column ads, for example, won’t give you that.
Then it’s time for the creatives.
Fortunately for you, sponsored posts on Instagram are the absolute easiest creatives to make because you’re just choosing a creative you’ve already made.
Make sure to choose the Instagram version of your post if you have a Facebook lookalike, and add action buttons if you choose.
Last, review your ad, and submit it.
When To Create Instagram Sponsored Posts
Sometimes, your best bet for getting results is going to be using the traditional ads system in all it’s glory to focus on driving conversions or local store traffic, or anything else you can dream of.
There are certain cases, however, when sponsored posts can really shine.
A few of the very best use cases for sponsored stories include:
When you want to promote Shoppable Instagram posts.
Shopping on Instagram lets businesses tag products in their images, and when users click, they’ll see product details and can click again to head to the product page and purchase immediately.
They only work on mobile and Instagram, so use promoted posts or sponsored posts with Instagram-only placements to get more views (and hopefully sales) on that content.
When you want to leverage your existing UGC.
If you have posts that are doing really well, use them to get more results in a sponsored campaign.
I use this strategy all the time, because:
1) it will likely perform well with other audiences
2) the already-accumulated UGC will work in your favor.
People pretty much have #FOMO to stop when they see long lists of comments, because they want to know what’s being said and all that.
When you want to accumulate more UGC.
Having user-generated content on your ads is great, but having them on your organic posts is even better. When users see bananas-high engagement rates, they’re going to take notice.
Creating sponsored posts in order to capture more UGC on the original organic post is a solid strategy for this, and it doesn’t involve any sort of sketchy bots or unethical practices.
When you just want more visibility and brand awareness.
If you are not e-commerce businesses, and you just need to raise general awareness of your business and products, you can use sponsored posts to heighten visibility and brand awareness, and to start to nurture those relationships.
We’ve seen big increases in followers, engagement, and people stepping into stores and saying “hey I saw on you on Instagram.”
When used at the right time and for the right use cases, Instagram sponsored posts can be a huge asset for brands.
It’s typically most beneficial for the majority of brands to use a combination of traditional, link/traffic/sales-focused Instagram Ads and Instagram sponsored posts for different purposes and to most effectively accomplish a diverse set of goals.
Sponsored posts are ideal for boosting the momentum of organic posts, while ads are great for driving more specific actions overall.
Don’t be afraid to test out both, and see what works best for your business.
There’s a good chance that you may see differences in CPC and CPM between the two, so keep that in mind when running your tests to see how your audience responds.
What do you think? Which do you prefer using- Instagram’s sponsored posts or Instagram ads? When do you use sponsored posts? Share your thoughts and questions in the comments section below!