Instagram began as an IOS-only photo sharing app in 2010. It has since evolved into a massive social network with a large Web and Android presence involving a total user base over 200 million. It’s therefore no surprise that Instagram has developed new advertising opportunities for businesses by introducing sponsored posts for brands to better reach their ever-expanding user base. Sponsored posts have been launched on a test basis a number of times, but the results are promising for the future of paid marketing on Instagram.

The first brands to try paid marketing on Instagram saw great success in terms of engagement and awareness. One of the guinea pig brands, Ben & Jerry’s, reached 9.8 million people with its sponsored post in an eight day period. Another brand, Lexus, gained 3,862 new followers on the day of the ad campaign.
A sponsored post has the trendy look of a typical Instagram post, but is marked by a “sponsored” badge above the top right of the post. These posts are designed to blend in with the content on a user’s feed, but they have yet to go unnoticed. As with any platform introducing ads, Instagram has received somewhat of a backlash from non-business users. There is no question that the sponsored posts generate buzz and engagement, but how much of it is actually negative? In the case of Lexus, 9% of the comments were positive and 64% were negative comments directed at both Instagram and Lexus.

While the number of negative comments is a concern, the increased engagement levels after the campaign make sponsored posts a positive marketing strategy. For Lexus, the average total engagement per post grew by 60% for content posted after the ad campaign. This means that the campaign lifted the account’s non-paid engagement, which is an extremely valuable result that may potentially outweigh the cost of the negative comments.

Sponsored posts on Instagram provide home market brands with a platform to showcase the visual strengths of a product to the masses. Instead of professional product images, photos of the products being used in a real-life setting can be posted to inspire engagement among users as they begin to imagine themselves interacting with the product. Another advantage Instagram provides to home market brands is all photos are stored together chronologically, which provides a brand with a space to post photos throughout a project involving their products. This could include step-by-step instructions to further inspire users to interact with posts and products.

The concept of sponsored posts on Instagram is relatively new, presently drawing little marketing competition on the network; in contrast to the highly competitive advertising environment on Facebook and Twitter. This opens the door for brands looking for engagement that are not finding it difficult to secure on other social networks. On the other hand, because Instagram is growing and maturing so quickly, this high rate of engagement may not last. Its users will eventually have more information and ads to sort through which will make it harder for brands that arrive late to the game, to be noticed.  Now is the time to utilize this platform to create a stable network of engaging users before competition increases, and more and more marketing-savvy businesses agree!

~ Elizabeth Daniell, guest blogger

About Kleber & Associates
Kleber & Associates is an Atlanta-based integrated marketing communications agency serving the home and building products industry for 27 years. Visit the Kleber & Associates website for the latest news and information about marketing for home and building products for consumers, architects, builders, remodelers, designers and manufacturers. Through our marketing, advertising, public relations and digital marketing expertise — we build better brands that build a better home.