Top Tips for Instagram Sponsored Posts
Instagram is one of the best platforms to promote and advertise your business. Its focus on visual elements makes it different to the other social media platforms, so it stands apart from the likes of Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Instagram for Business boasts many useful features such as access to metrics, sponsored posts, ad campaigns, shoppable product tags, and more.
Instagram advertising on the platform can be tricky, especially with so many rules and regulations set by Facebook. There are many ways to advertise on Instagram, but one of the most popular forms of promoting on the social media platform is the Instagram sponsored post.
What is a sponsored post?
Instagram sponsored posts – also known as promoted posts – are posts that were originally shared on a business Instagram’s feed, that a company then pays to deliver to a larger and more diverse audience. Like Facebook sponsored posts, Instagram sponsored posts will stay on the business’ profile long after the promotion has finished. With some practice, you’ll get the hang of sponsored posts on Instagram in no time.
To promote a post on the Instagram mobile app, head to your business’ profile page, select the Promotions tab under your bio and choose a post to promote. A post may be recommended for you to promote based on engagement or reach, but you can also choose your own.
On desktop, head to Facebook Business Suite, go to Posts and stories and select the post you’d like to boost (aka promote or sponsor). Whichever way you decide to promote the post, your Instagram account must be connected to a Facebook business page to do so.
Rules and regulations
As Instagram uses the same policies and regulations as Facebook, you are limited as to what you can and can’t post. It’s important to read up on the guidelines that Facebook has provided to make sure you aren’t going against their rules. For example, posts that contain third-party infringement, personal attributes, and sensational content are all prohibited by Facebook.
Posts about political issues, alcohol, and subscription services are not banned but are restricted and come with extra rules you need to follow. Always stay up to date with the regulations too, as you not only risk your sponsored post getting rejected, but your whole ad account could be in danger as well.
Our top tips for Instagram sponsored posts
Only post high quality and interesting images
As Jeff Bullas states, “Instagram is becoming one of the top channels for marketers, likely due to the fact that visual media is far more useful for engaging audiences than other traditional marketing channels online.” Your audience does not want to see boring, repetitive images shared on their feeds every day, and they certainly do not want to see blurry, poor-quality photos. Ensure every image you share and promote is high resolution, relevant, and unique while remaining consistent with your branding.
If you’re stuck on time, money, or skill for creating jaw-dropping images, try using an alternative to Adobe Photoshop to get started with graphics. You’ll be amazed at what you can create using simple tools like Canva. If you’re going to use any pre-made templates from Canva or a similar site, make sure to at least change the colours and branding to your own to ensure your content is different from other brands.
Limit on-image text
Since it’s owned by Facebook, Instagram ads must also adhere to the same rules as Facebook ads in terms of text in images. Previously, Facebook penalised ad images with text covering ≥20% of the image (when divided into a grid of 25 squares/rectangles). You may have encountered the Facebook ‘text overlay tool’ for you to test your ad images before committing to ensure less than 20% text; this is no longer available.
Now, Facebook has relaxed its rules somewhat and moved away from the previous binary system of either run or reject. Facebook now categorises your ad’s image according to a tiered rating system:
- Image Text: OK – your ad will run normally,
- Image Text: Low – your ad’s reach may be slightly lower,
- Image Text: Medium – your ad’s reach may be much lower,
- Image Text: High – your ad may not run.
Despite the relaxation of the rules, it is still apparent that too much text will be detrimental to your promoted post. Stick to short words and/or phrases on-image to draw attention to the ad without overpowering it with text. Think along the lines of snappy call-to-actions (CTAs) and offer-focused phrases such as “free download,” “limited offer,” and “#% discount.”
Vary your content
Much like with your regular feed posts, people will ignore spam-like content and images they’ve seen tens of thousands of times. Make sure each sponsored post has different, unique creatives and copy. You could promote new events or projects happening in your business, new members joining the team, office days out, inspiring quotes, new products, or improved services. Try to vary the purpose and content of each promoted post so you can see what content works best with your target audience.
Consider running a competition to maximise the number of likes or engagements you’ll receive, too. Asking your audience to like, comment, tag a friend, and share to their stories is a great way to get the most out of your sponsored posts in terms of engagement. It will also help with your campaign reach, depending on the entry requirements you specify.
Hashtag the right way
Hashtags are a great way to find new audience members, but they are also useful for users to find you – especially since Instagram has introduced the feature that allows users to follow hashtags. You can conduct research and see what the most and least popular hashtags are in your industry – you can then aim for mid-tail hashtags that mean your posts are likely to be seen but won’t get lost in an array of images and videos.
Put your hashtags as the first comment on your post to keep the copy tidy for promotion, while still maximising the amount of engagement and reach it can get. This is now considered best practice on Instagram as captions no longer get clogged up with hashtags, improving the audience experience.
Use videos in your sponsored posts
Video content is a great asset to a business’s marketing strategy because of the engagement it can generate. Promoting video content through sponsored posts is a useful way to receive more engagement and interactions too! Remember to include subtitles on your videos and make them as silent-friendly as possible; around 85% of Facebook videos are viewed with the sound off.
Promote what works best
If you see a post working well organically, sponsor the post to give it a boost. The post is already working great with your audience so it’s likely to work well with similar audiences that you’d like to attract to your profile.
Add a call-to-action button
A sponsored post should be directing your audience to do something. A CTA button could be ‘Learn more’, ‘Get directions’ or ‘Shop now’, all of which will encourage users to click through to your website or a product description. The CTA, landing page, and overall purpose of the sponsored post should match the stage of the buyers’ journey that the intended audience is in. For example, targeting ‘shop now’ posts towards those in the Decision (ready-to-purchase) Stage.
You can add a CTA button at the last stage in the Ad Manager, so don’t forget to do it! It’s a nifty tool that will at least get potential customers to see what you have to offer and maximises the efficiency of your sponsored post.
Target specifically, but don’t limit your audience
Ad Manager will allow you to narrow down your target audience, but you don’t want to narrow people down so much that it barely reaches anyone. Keep an eye on the audience definition meter (pictured below) to ensure it doesn’t get too specific and not reach enough people, or too broad and go out to people who may not be interested in your products or services. Try to add enough interest targeting so the meter hits somewhere in the middle range.
Keep up to date with features
Always make sure you’re keeping on top of new updates and features that come out for Instagram that may help your Instagram sponsored posts. For example, Instagram Stories can help you boost more engagement on your post if you share the link to it as a story.
At Giraffe Social Media, we specialise in social media and have helped support over 300 businesses in achieving their goals. We’ve invested a lot of time and money into our own social ads, so we know what we’re doing! If you need any help with your Instagram advertising, Instagram sponsored posts, or want any more information on any of the topics discussed in this article, get in contact today.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in October 2019 and has been updated for accuracy and relevance in June 2021.