How To Run An Instagram Promotion & What Can I Expect?

Instagram promotion
Wondering how Instagram promotions work compared to Instagram ads? We got you covered.

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If you run a business doing social media marketing as a digital marketing strategy, you are probably wondering how you can improve your social media strategy with Instagram? Instagram promotions are a great way to do that and they have a lot of benefits.

In the last couple of years, Instagram has given a lot of features to business accounts to help them generate better results. A lot of advertising features account for analytics and tons of small improvements such as Instagram shopping.

The important thing to keep in mind with Instagram is that interactions are quite high compared to other platforms. In fact, it’s currently the social media platform with the highest engagement rate. We’re talking about a median of 1.22% compared to 0.09% on Facebook according to a study by Rival IQ.

This simple Instagram metric shows how amazing Instagram is compared to other platforms for generating engagement which makes it much more likely for your brand to generate conversions in the long run.

The big changes to Instagram for businesses started in 2016. It’s the big moment where brand accounts, which were personal before, could finally become business accounts with tons of awesome features such as analytics dashboards, access to Instagram ads and much more.

For instance, you can now switch from a business account to a personal account and vice versa. With Facebook’s algorithm completely diminishing the reach of the brand’s account a lot of brands were scared that Facebook would do the same to Instagram business accounts.

Luckily, most brands have been able to generate a high engagement rate on Instagram and thus generate sales. This somewhat restored the faith in social media for most brands who weren’t pleased with the latest Facebook algorithmic changes. The changes made for businesses on Instagram included the following:

  • Being able to add a contact button instead of adding all your information in your Instagram bio
  • Selecting a category & industry on your business Instagram account
  • Access to Instagram insights which would enable businesses to know the demographics of the audience following them as well as the best time of the day to post, their posts ranked in terms of engagement rate and much more.
  • Creating Instagram ads compared to just boosting posts. Instagram ads, just like Facebook ads, have an almost infinite amount of options when it comes to targeting, budget optimization, ad visual, and much more.
  • Influencers now have to disclose that they are doing a partnership and they are being paid to promote certain products thanks to the FTC. This feature is called a “paid partnership” tag on Instagram.

In this article, we’ll put more focus on Instagram ads because they are simply awesome and can truly generate a lot of results for your brand. If you are already using Instagram successfully, then this can be an amazing addition.

How can I use Instagram promotions to grow my business?

Boosting your Instagram posts by doing an Instagram promotion can be a very valuable tactic because it enhances your social proof. Social proof is about improving your brand’s image by having a lot of engagement on your Instagram profile such as having a lot of comments, likes, shares, reviews, testimonials and other metrics that contribute to elevating your brand.

To summarize it, people are much more likely to click on a post if it has a lot of likes rather than a post that only has 1 or 2 likes. It works because people are insecure about making decisions but when they see others being interested in something, they generally tend to be more excited.

It’s a good thing for brands on social media because engagement is not hard to generate if you know how to do it. With the thousands of ads and posts being created every day on Instagram, it’s very likely that without engagement your brand won’t be able to stand out in the Instagram news feed.

As you get your initial likes, comments & shares, it’s much easier to get even more likes and comments because people aren’t afraid to join the circle. It somewhat resembles a snowball effect. You might ask how Instagram promotions can help you gain more social proof and here’s why.

Instagram promotions can allow you to take your best posts on Instagram, the ones that already have the most engagement, and target exactly who you want to generate even more engagement. Having a lot of engagement is very important because social media platforms such as Instagram want to keep users engaged.

This would in turn truly increase your Instagram account reach, visibility and notoriety on the platform. Instagram’s algorithm focuses on acceleration & virality which means when you post, how fast you get interactions determines the likeliness of your promotion being successful.

It’s why getting off the right foot is crucial. You might make two posts with different people seeing them initially and choosing not to like them and you would get 100 likes vs 2 likes.

With over 1,000 posts made every second on Instagram, they need to make sure that their users see the right type of content which is content that they are likely to engage with. Even though they have a large number of users, not everyone spends 24 hours on the platform.

Instagram is now a really important platform for businesses and most brands are expected to have an Instagram profile with all the relevant information. Even SH1FT has it’s own Instagram account, don’t forget to follow us!

SH1FT Instagram account

With over 60% of Instagram’s audience saying they have learned about a new product or service from the platform, it seems wrong to not be on the platform. According to Facebook, 75% of Instagram users say they will take action after seeing a post on social media. Actions can be buying, entering their contact information and such.

Instagram Promotions vs Instagram Ads

Instagram promotions enable Instagram accounts to push their Instagram posts in front of more people than they could organically. It enables brands to choose a budget and target an audience to reach more people with your posts.

The cost of your ads works under a CPM system which stands for cost per million impressions. For instance, if you have a CPM of $20, it means you are paying $20 to get a thousand impressions.

Not all platforms work in that way, in Google for instance, you pay for the clicks you received. The cost-per-click system (CPC) allows you to get free visibility but only pay for when people click on your ad.

Why does Instagram make you pay for CPM’s? Instagram has a platform that focuses on visuals and visibility while Google is where people search for information. Being seeing Google’s search result doesn’t bring anything to business while having your images or videos seen on Instagram does have value.

Let’s dive deeper into the difference between Instagram promotions and Instagram ads. Instagram promotions are made directly in the Instagram app while Instagram ads are made through the Facebook business manager.

Instagram ads are essentially a placement you can choose when starting your Facebook ads. It’s very important to understand this distinction because, of course, the Facebook business manager is much more powerful than running promotions only in the Instagram app.

What are Instagram promotions? Instagram promotions are promotions of the Instagram posts made on your profile that would then appear as “sponsored” in the news feed of the audience targeted. They allow brands to generate more reach by paying for their visibility.

The main difference between an Instagram promotion and an Instagram ad is that an Instagram promotion has less options when it comes to objectives. Instagram promotions allow brands to gain more visibility and generate more engagement but it stops there.

On the flip side, Instagram ads allow for a lot of different ad objectives. You can optimize for clicks, video views, conversions, reach, engagement and more.

Why starting an Instagram promotion then? If you want to reach more people and generate engagement it’s extremely easy, fast & effective to run an Instagram promotion compared to an Instagram ad. More options mean more confusion and a lot more time. In business, time is money.

Instagram promotion vs ads
Instagram promotion vs Instagram ad

As you can see, the options for objectives for Instagram promotions on the left are quite more simple than the Instagram ads objective possibilities. It’s why if your goals are fulfilled by the Instagram promotion options then it might not be necessary to go through the tedious process of launching an Instagram advertising campaign.

It’s the main reason why Instagram decided to let brands run Instagram promotions instead of ads. Sometimes, you need to get quick visibility and reach and don’t have the time to launch a campaign. By starting an Instagram promotion, you could reach your goals with way less effort.

While almost every brand is first and foremost looking to generate revenue from their marketing efforts, sometimes running a promotion that gives you visibility and reach can have a similar effect than a conversion campaign.

A mix of multiple objectives in your social media campaign can have a tremendous effect on your results. Optimizing for conversions can have a big effect on your sales but so does adding social proof to your Instagram profile and posts.

When it comes to pricing, Instagram promotions are not necessarily more expensive or cheaper than Instagram ads. The two are simply used for different situations. Your Instagram cost depends on a lot of factors such as how many people like your post after seeing it. The more people interact with your post, the cheaper you’ll pay for your reach and impressions.

Ad Stage says that the median CPC and CPM for the year of 2018 and 2019 combined were respectively of $0.83 and $4.80. If you compare those to Facebook, which as a CPC median of $0.57 and a CPM median of $8.35, it’s quite good. It means you can get more visibility for cheaper on Instagram but a higher cost per click.

How can I create my first Instagram promotion?

If you already have a business Instagram account, it’s quite simple and you can skip this initial phase. I would at least recommend that you have an Instagram account for your brand in place. I’ll help you convert your Instagram account to a business Instagram account.

Here’s how to switch your Instagram personal account to business Instagram account:

  1. Go inside your Instagram account and click on Settings
  2. Find Switch to Business Account and click on it
  3. You’ll then be prompted to link your Instagram business account to a Facebook business page. If you don’t already have one, then you can create one from this step automatically.
  4. The final step is to polish your Instagram business account’s new contact info buttons, add a link to your website and make sure your bio is complete!

After having successfully switched your Instagram account to a business account, it’s time to get down to brass tacks and promote your first Instagram post.

The first thing you need to do is visit your Instagram profile and click on the Promotions button. You should then be able to see the following screen:

Instagram promotion
Instagram promotion

From there, it’s time to select the post you want to spend your money on. We always recommend taking your most engaging post to generate better results, but we know it’s not always possible.

Instagram promotion
Call-to-action Instagram

Following that, you’ll need to select your call-to-action button (CTA). You can choose from a variety of options such as call now, learn more, etc. We recommend looking at all the options before choosing your call-to-action to find the most relevant one based on your goals.

You’ll also have to select where you’ll want to send people after they click on your call-to-action. You can send people to your Instagram profile in hopes that they follow you, to your website, your storefront or even try to get direct messages. By selecting storefront, you’ll be able to allow them to call you and find your physical address.

After choosing the right call-to-action based on your goals and where you want to send people after they click on it, it’s time to choose who you want to target with your Instagram promotion.

You can choose to let Instagram pick an automatic audience or create your own audience. We always recommend picking to create my own audience, but an automatic audience can also be a good place to start.

Automatic audience is an audience that resembles the people who are already following you. It might a good strategy but it depends on your campaign and how fast you need to start your Instagram promotion.

Automatic audience Instagram
Automatic audience Instagram

If you select “create audience”, then you should see location, interests and age & gender. We also recommend adding an audience name you will remember because you might need to use this Instagram audience again.

Instagram promotion audience
Instagram promotion audience

In this section of your demographic, it’s important to take your time to select the right demographics because targeting the wrong audience would give you bad results no matter how amazing your post is. You can gather the demographics information of your Instagram account to use them here.

In terms of interests, you can select up to 10 interests through your Instagram promotion. Interests aren’t as accurate as demographics data, but they usually work pretty well. What I mean is that you might target golf lovers and have a few people in there that don’t care about golf at all. Don’t worry, overall interest targeting is quite accurate!

Here a few examples of interests so you understand what they are:

  • Golf
  • Shopping & fashion
  • Prada
  • Runners

After having carefully selected your age & gender, location & interests, it’s now time to select the budget you want to spend on that Instagram promotion. This step is very important because the more you spend, the more results you’ll get. Figuring out the right budget for your brand depends largely on your company’s budget.

On the budget page, you’ll be able to select your budget and the duration of your promotion. You might want to select a number of days below 7 days, but you can choose longer Instagram promotions if you want.

As you can see, you’ll also have the option to see an estimate of the people you will be able to reach with your selected budget. It’s interesting to keep this in mind, but their estimates have often a very large difference which makes them somewhat inaccurate.

Instagram promotion budget
Instagram promotion budget

On a side note, Instagram decides if they think your Instagram promotion should be distributed in the stories or the feed based on the audience you selected. Also, the maximum budget allowed is $1,000 for 30 days which means you’ll most likely be able to reach 400,000 to 1,000,000 people. Not bad, but again your results can really vary.

It’s important to realize that the more you spend, the higher you are likely to pay for your reach. Why? Because Instagram will show your ads first to the best people in your audience and then the people that are less likely to care.

Instagram create promotion
Instagram create promotion

After you start your promotions, you’ll be able to see the analytics of how many people you’ve reached and what were their demographics. This is really valuable information you should keep to use during your next Instagram promotion!

How can I leverage Instagram Insights?

According to Instagram, you should spend at least $10 a day to promote your post. Choosing the right marketing budget truly depends on your companies goal and actual budget set aside for marketing purposes.

The Instagram Insight tab is extremely valuable for many reasons but the main one is access to data that can be used in so many different situations. For instance, to choose the audience you want to target for your Instagram promotion, you can take a look at your insights.

Here’s a list of things you might find valuable inside your Instagram insights tab:

  • Follows
  • Comments
  • Impressions
  • Profile visits
  • Website site clicks
  • Number of people who discovered you
  • People who asked for directions
  • Amount of people who contacted your business

This information can be very valuable when it comes to finding the right audience for your business. As you see which demographics tend to interact more with your brand, you can spend more time researching that audience and create more compelling content.

When going in your Insights dashboard, you should be able to see your posts ranked by how well they performed with your audience with multiple available filters.

You can choose to see your posts from a certain period in order of engagement. Here are the main filters that can affect the order of the posts: comments, likes, reach, impressions and engagement.

Additionally, you can click on an individual post to see even more insights. After clicking on your Instagram posts, you’ll see how many Instagram profile visits, follows and website clicks the post brought you.

For Instagram stories, you’ll also be able to gain relevant insights about their performance. These performance metrics would be forward & backward taps, replies, swipes away and exits.

You can also find more metrics such as:

  • Amount of people who found you through shares, mentions or tags
  • Views on your profile page
  • When you were found through hashtag research
  • On how many people’s feed you appeared
  • If you were found on an Instagram location feed

Knowing what you can learn from your Instagram insights is one thing but using it to deliver better results is another.

Instagram promotion insights
Instagram promotion insights

When you take a look at your Instagram insights for your promotions, you should get a broad overview of your impressions, money spent, visit and demographics. Not only do Instagram promotions bring more visibility and popularity to your brand but they also allow you to learn about your audience.

We also recommend making your own metrics to compare with other forms of advertising. For example, you could measure these two Instagram promotion metrics:

  • Engagement / Reach: this should tell you how many people engaged with your post based on how many people you’ve reached.
  • Cost per click: by seeing how many clicks you have received you can divide it by the amount of money you spent to see how much you spent per click. You can measure the same metric for the number of people who visited your Instagram profile and much more.

Even if your Instagram posts aren’t promotions, they do have a lot of information about your audiences that can be leveraged in your Instagram promotions.

You can gather information such as the age, gender and cities where most of your audience is coming from. This way, when you launch your promotion you are taping in the audience that already likes your brand.

By taking a look at your engagement ratio, you should be able to tell if you’ve promoted the right content to the right audience. Social media is made to create engagement amongst the community of your followers. If they aren’t interacting with your post, then your content to audience match is bad.

Why would that happen? It could be that your call-to-action is inaccurate or your content doesn’t look native enough? A social media expert could surely answer all those questions for you.

Crafting The Right Content for Instagram 🔨

Which type of content should you use for your Instagram promotions? Should you use videos or images?

Instagram are a great add-on to posts you’ve made on your profile that have generated higher engagement than others. They help you reach more relevant people with full control.

Here’s an example of an Instagram promotion we did for a client recently that turned out pretty well!

Instagram promotion insights

Leveraging your Instagram insights to target the right audience and truly joining the conversion already happening in your head is very important, but it’s not everything. Creating the right content for your Instagram promotion is an art that takes a lot of research & experience.

Quality Instagram content needs to be aesthetic, easy-to-understand yet mysterious. To create such a piece of content, you need to fully understand what your audience likes and responds well to. We usually recommend doing something called social listening, which involves a lot of research.

Social listening allows you to fully understand what your audience is interacting with right now and what is trendy. It’s about truly understanding your audience by putting yourself in their shoes.

They are a lot of software allowing you to see conversions happening in real-time inside your target audience. By doing active social listening, you’ll be able to see and understand what captivates your audience currently and what they are looking for.

By doing social listening before your Instagram promotion, you’ll be able to see trends within your audience, identify current problems they understand, understand better which problems your customers are facing, find new demographics that could benefit from your product, use the same language as your audience and also see what doesn’t work.

With all that in mind, it’s fair to say that social listening is a great advantage for your brand. We can also call it deep-dive research into your audience. No matter what you call it, research is an important step in creating highly successful Instagram ads.

If you want to dive deeper in social listening for your Facebook ads, you might want to read “34 Facebook ads examples you’ll want to steal in 2020“.

What’s Next For You?

I hope this article covered everything you wanted to know about Instagram promotions. If not, don’t hesitate to reach out with your question here and it’ll be our pleasure to help you out!

Instagram promotions can be awesome to reach more people efficiently and gain more visibility and popularity for your brand. If you want to create Instagram ads, you might like our article “The Best 30 Instagram Ads of 2019“.

Creating Instagram promotions that deliver the results you want can be quite time-consuming. Doing social listening, to analyzing and choosing your audience, to crafting the right content, can be very exhaustive.

Most small businesses end up working with an agency or a social media expert to get them started on the right foot. It’s nice to have someone with experience guide across the narrow sea of social media.

As you can tell, SH1FT loves social media marketing and we love gaining new experiences and creating new success stories. If you want to generate results, we’d love to help you become successful an reach your goal with our knowledge. Together, we could maybe collaborate.

If you want to skip the learning curve and reach your goal, don’t hesitate to hit the get proposal button below. We are always excited to start new projects and get even more challenging goals. Don’t hesitate to take a look at our other services!

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