The Facebook Marketer’s Guide To Advertising On Instagram

By: Unified

Prior to last month, advertising on Instagram was a little like getting into Harvard—many applied, but only a chosen few actually got the chance to run campaigns. A lot of the excitement has to do with the viability and potential of the channel, as it is one of the fastest growing social platforms that also happens to be backed by the world’s largest network, Facebook. You may be thinking: I’m a Facebook ads master, so running campaigns on Instagram will be a piece of marketing cake. But while they are technically the same company, there are a few differences you should know before you jump headfirst into strategy and planning. We’ve collected some of the most significant areas below:

API Partners

If you find yourself running a large amount of campaigns, or allocating a larger budget to social advertising, you may want to consider partnering with a vendor that has API access and custom tools.

The Facebook Marketing Partner Program has two main categories related to advertising:

Ad Technology: There are 20 companies in this self-serve category for the US

Media Buying: There are 10 companies that will manage your campaigns for you
Instagram, who recently announced their Ads API Partner Program in August 2015, currently has 8 company partners

Community Traits

Although both social sites are owned by the same company, each has slightly different trait, growth and activity.

Audience: 1.5B users

Culture: Users use the platform to stay connected with family and friends, keep up with news and share content

Growth: Facebook growth is slow but steady, at a 13% increase in YoY active users

Loyalty: Users tend to stay with a page once followed

Activity: Facebook processes 500X the amount of data as the NYSE, including 4B video views per day
Audience: 300MM users

Culture: Users are passionate about sharing a love for fashion, pop culture, design and inspirational content

Growth: One of the fastest growing, with a 46% increase in YoY active users

Loyalty: Users aren’t afraid to follow or unfollow

Activity: 70MM photos uploaded daily

Ad Types

Facebook and Instagram present different benefits here, which depend on the type of media you want to use, the size and time limit.

Link: Photo or video ad with a 90 character text limit, 25 character headline, and a 20% text overlay rule

Video: Video ad with a 45 minute limit, maximum size of 1.79 GB, and a 3 second view

Mobile: Mobile app install or engagement ad with with a recommended size of 1200x628, 90 character text limit and a 20% text overlay rule

Carousel: Up to 5 link ads that are auto-optimized by engagement, have a minimum size of 600x600, 90 character maximum and a 20% overlay rule

Page Link: A photo or video ad to drive page likes with a 90 character maximum and a 20% overlay rule

Text: Text only ads with a 150 character limit

Event: Link ad to drive sign ups, with a 90 character maximum and a 20% overlay rule

Offer: Link ad to entice offer redemption, with a 90 character maximum and a 20% overlay rule
Link: Photo ad with a minimum size of 600x600, 175 character limit and a 20% text overlay rule

Video: Auto-play videos with a 15 second limit, maximum size of 1 GB and a 3 second view

Mobile: Mobile app install ad with a minimum size of 600x600, 175 character limit and a 20% text overlay rule

Photo: Slightly different from a link ad in that it doesn’t have a call-to-action button or a link in the copy. Marked with a “Sponsored by” indicator at the top


It goes without saying that creative is essential to getting users to pay attention to your messaging. While all ads should have the basics like strong messaging, a clear voice and call-to-action, there are some key differences when it comes to timing and imagery.

Images:It may sound simple, but make sure your image not only reflects your brand’s personality, and that the message is focused. Make sure your ad also has a strong call-to-action, as photo ads can be particularly effective in generating conversions

Video:There’s slightly more time here to engage users, however the message still needs to be conveyed within the first 15 seconds assuming that sound will not be on
Images:Ads should not “look like ads”. Images should be dynamic, bright and artistic to stand out from others in a feed that focuses on trends and fashion. Additionally, images with a full view of a person’s face tends to perform more strongly than those that don’t

Video:Given the 15 second maximum, videos should grab the user’s attention in the first 5 seconds. Additionally, gifs can be used instead of traditional video with great results


Retargeting:Retarget users on Facebook who have watched past videos, visited your website, or completed a conversion

Interests and Events: Target by demo, hobbies and event interests

Brands and Competitors:Target the fans of complementary or competitive brands

Look-a-Like:Target users who look like your fans or customers

Customer Audiences:Upload CRM lists, newsletter subscribers, website visitors or users who’ve completed key conversions to target them on Facebook
Instagram has the same targeting options as Facebook with one main difference—you can only reach users that have both Facebook and Instagram. You will not be able to target users that only have an Instagram account.

Call to Action

Ah, calls-to-action—the gateway to conversions. Facebook and Instagram have buttons advertisers can add to link or video ads to prompt specific actions, and for the most part they are identical. Both have Book Now, Contact Us, Download, Learn More, Shop Now, Sign Up, Watch More and Install App, but only Facebook has Play Now which is to encourage users to engage with mobile apps.

Advertising on Instagram, if done thoughtfully can produce extraordinary results for marketers. Whether or not you decide to add Instagram to your social advertising strategy right away, it is important to note the differences to truly craft a successful campaign. Visit our complete social advertising solutions page for more info.

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