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Jul

29

2016

A Step-by-Step Guide to Advertising on Instagram

Instagram_Ad.jpg

With 500 million active monthly users, Instagram offers a unique opportunity for marketers to reach their target audiences through ad campaigns.

The other perk of advertising on Instagram? The ads can look almost no different than regular posts, making them much less invasive than other ad types.

But setting up ads on any platform requires a lot of thought: What should your target audience look like? What should your copy say? What image should you use? Not to mention, the more technical aspects like what size your image needs to be or how long your ad should run for. Download our essential guide to Instagram advertising here.

To simplify the process, we’ve put together a checklist to help you set up a campaign, one step at a time.

How to Create Instagram Ads: A Step-by-Step Guide to Advertising on Instagram

If you’ve ever set up a Facebook ad, you’re about 75% of the way there. After Facebook acquired Instagram back in 2012, the platforms conveniently merged, making setting up Instagram and Facebook ads merely the difference of a couple clicks. So even though your intent is to run ads on Instagram, all of the ad setup, budgeting, scheduling, and creation is done through Facebook’s platform.

To start, log in to your company’s Facebook portal and select the account you wish to use. (Note: To run ads on Instagram you’ll need to use a Facebook Page. Pages are specifically for businesses, brands, and organizations, while regular Facebook accounts are for personal use.)

1) Select an editor and create your campaign.

You can create Instagram ads using a few different tools:

When choosing which tool to use, you’ll want to consider both your company size and the number of ads you plan to run at once. If you’re managing a large number of campaigns, or you’re looking for really precise control over your campaigns, you might want to lean towards the Power Editor. However, the Ad Manager suits most marketers’ needs, so that’s what we’ll use for the sake of this article. (For more on the Facebook Ads API option, check out this page.)

Once you’ve selected an editor, you’ll see an option to either view all campaigns, or create a new one. To get started with an Instagram ad, you’ll want to create a new campaign.

2) Choose an objective.

You’ll notice that there are several different campaign objective options to choose from here. However, in order for your ad to be eligible to appear on Instagram, you’ll have to choose from a slightly shorter list:

  • Boost your posts
  • Send people to your website
  • Increase conversions on your website
  • Get installs of your app
  • Increase engagement in your app
  • Get video views

Instagram_Ads_Objective.png

For this article, we’re going to select: “Send people to your website.”

When you select this option, you’ll be prompted to name your campaign. This may seem like a simple task (and it is) but it’s a good idea to have some sort of naming convention or set process within your company. This will make it easier for you to keep campaigns straight as you continue to create them.

Here at HubSpot, we like to name them in this format:

Company Department | Content/Offer/Asset Being Advertised | Date | Name of Creator

3) Choose your audience.

If you’re just starting out with Instagram advertising, odds are you won’t know exactly which audience you want to go after. This will come with time, and you may just have to play around with it at first. (If you want tips to help you choose the right audience, check out this page.)

During this step, you’ll find that the platform’s built-in targeting can be as simple or as extensive as you need it to be, with options such as:

  • Location
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Language
  • Relationship
  • Education
  • Work
  • Financial Status
  • Home
  • Ethnic Affinity
  • Generation
  • Parents
  • Politics (U.S. only)
  • Life Events
  • Interests
  • Behaviors
  • Connections

You can create what’s called a custom audience to reach people who’ve already interacted with your business, or a lookalike audience to reach new people on Facebook who are similar to your most valuable audiences.

Image_2-3.png

The ads platform also allows you to save the audience you create to be used again at a later time, which can be good if you’re experimenting and want to remember the exact audience you used for certain campaigns.

In terms of the objective we selected — “send people to your website” — we’ll want to target a more specific group of people: the type of people that are actually going to be interested in the content we present.

To do this, you’d jump down to the “Detailed Targeting” section, and search for different demographics, interests, or behaviors that apply to your target audience. Here’s an example of a (very small) audience, just to show you the different ways you can target certain people:

image_3-2.png

To give you a sense of the audience you’ve chosen, Facebook provides an “audience definition gauge.” This gives you immediate feedback on how narrow or broad your audience is, as well as the estimated reach number of your ad. Since we didn’t add very much criteria to our targeting, you’ll notice that the audience appears “fairly broad.”

FB_Audience_Details.png

4) Set your placement.

This step is the biggest differentiator between setting up Facebook ads vs. Instagram ads. To move forward with the Instagram ad, you’ll want to uncheck all the boxes except for “Instagram.”

Ad_Placement_Instagram.png

5) Set your budget and schedule.

You have the option to select either a daily budget or a lifetime budget for your campaign. The difference is this:

  • Daily budget sets your ad up to run continuously throughout the day, meaning that the algorithm will automatically pace your spending per day. Keep in mind that there is a minimum daily budget depending on different factors in your campaign, usually around $1.00.
  • Lifetime budget sets your ad up to run for a specified length of time, meaning the ads algorithm paces your spending over that entire time period.

The other aspect to setting your budget is setting your schedule. You’ll need to choose exactly when you want your campaign to start and finish running, down to the minute. There are also options to set parameters so that your ad runs only during certain hours of the day or during specific days of the week. You can find these options in the “Ad Scheduling” section.

image_6-3.png

Set your optimization for ad delivery.

Here you have three options that will influence who sees your ads:

  1. Link Clicks (which is what the platform recommends): Your ads will be delivered accordingly to get the most clicks to your website at the lowest cost. This is all based on the platform’s algorithm.
  2. Impressions: Your ads will be delivered to people as many times as possible. Ever see the same ad on your newsfeed all day long? That company is most likely using this option.
  3. Daily Unique Reach: Your ad will be delivered to people up to once a day. People may see your ad multiple times, but at least not multiple times a day.

Set your bid amount.

This determines how effectively your ad is delivered. When you look “behind the scenes,” you’re competing with other advertisers trying to reach a similar audience in a constant auction.

You can choose either Manual or Automatic. Automatic leaves it up to Facebook’s algorithm to deliver your ad — ideally getting you the most clicks for the lowest cost. Manual allows you to set a price for link clicks. If a link click is worth a lot to you, try setting a higher than suggested bid, and your ad will be displayed over a competitor with a lower bid.

You can choose to pay based on impressions or link clicks. This is up to you.

Set your delivery schedule.

You have two options for the delivery of your ads:

  1. Standard: shows your ads throughout the day.
  2. Accelerated: helps you reach an audience quickly for time-sensitive ads.

(Note: the accelerated delivery option requires manual bid pricing.)

Name your ad set.

This step is for internal purposes. Simply give your ad set a name so that you can identify it later.

6) Set your ad creative.

Choose your format.

This is where your creativity comes in. Here you’ll decide what you want your ad to look like, which will depend on your original objective, of course.

On Instagram, you have a couple different options for your ad:

image_7-1.png

Single image, video, or slideshow.

Instagram_Ads.png

Image Credit: Marketing Land

 

Yes, they’re warm. Yes, they’re gooey. Yes, they’re delicious. Our new chocolate chip cookie is here! ??

A video posted by dunkindonuts (@dunkindonuts) on May 18, 2016 at 7:25am PDT

Multiple Images (also called “Carousel”).

Up to 5 images or videos for the viewer to scroll through, at no extra cost.

Instagram_Carousel.png

Image Credit: Instagram

We actually ran some tests to see which type of ad performed the best for different purposes. Check out the results in here.

Once you pick your ad type, click on it and you’ll be prompted to browse and upload your imagery, whether that be images or a video.

Upload your media.

For any ad type, the Facebook ads platform recommends you don’t include more than 20% of text. Previously, an ad with over 20% of text wouldn’t even be approved to run, but it has recently changed to more of a suggestion than anything. Learn more about the rules and guidelines here.

Some requirements for Instagram ad imagery:

File Type

  • .jpeg
  • .png

Text/Caption

  • Recommended: 125 characters
  • Maximum: 2,200 characters

For square of video Instagram ads …

  • Recommended Image Size: 1080 x 1080 pixels
  • Minimum Resolution Accepted: 600 x 600 pixels
  • Image Aspect Ratio: 1:1

For landscape image or video Instagram ads …

  • Recommended Image Size: 1200 x 628 pixels
  • Minimum Resolution Accepted: 600 x 600 pixels
  • Image Aspect Ratio: 1:1

7) Set your page & links.

Connect your Facebook Page and Instagram account.

Select the Facebook Page of the account you want your ads to come from, even if you’re not planning on running them on Facebook. (If you’ve made it this far in the Ads Manager, you are already logged into a Facebook account.)

However, since our intent is to post ads on Instagram, you’ll need to connect your Instagram account to your Facebook ad account. To do so, click “Add Account” (you’ll need your Instagram username and password to do so).

If your business doesn’t have an Instagram account, you can still run ads on Instagram — they’ll just come from your business’ Facebook Page instead. In other words, your Facebook Page name and profile picture will be used to represent your business within your ad as it runs on Instagram.

Add the website URL.

Next is a very important step: putting in the website URL to which you’re trying to drive more traffic. If you’re using marketing automation software, be sure to create a unique tracking URL with UTM parameters for this to ensure that you’ll be able to keep track of traffic and conversions from this ad.

(HubSpot customers: Learn more about creating a tracking URL here.)

image_8-1.png

Add a headline.

This is not usually displayed to viewers of your ad on Instagram, but it’s always a good idea to complete it just in case. Enter a brief headline describing where people will visit.

Create a caption.

You have up to 2,200 characters — but don’t go crazy. Facebook recommends you keep your text under 125 characters, which is the amount that’s displayed without needing to click “more.” (Read this for tips on how to write good Instagram captions.)

Select a Call-to-Action.

There are several different options for your CTA button, depending on what the page you’re taking visitors to looks like. You can choose to have no button, or select any of the following:

  • Learn More
  • Apply Now
  • Book Now
  • Contact Us
  • Download
  • Hope Now
  • Sign Up
  • Watch More

For our sake, we’ll stick with “Learn More,” as we’re just driving people to our website.

Once your image is uploaded and your text is set, check out the preview of your ad to make sure everything looks right.

At this point, you’ll have the option to edit the “Advanced Options,” but only if you wish to. Advanced Options include adding tags, changing your display link, entering URL parameters, setting up sponsors, and opting in or out of pixel tracking.

8) Place the order.

Once everything is all set, you’re ready to place your order. Doing so is pretty easy: Just click the big green button in the bottom left corner.

place-order-final-image.png

As always, be sure to check over everything — especially since your ads have the potential to be seen by a large audience. If you want someone else on your team to take a look at them before they go live, set your schedule to include a delay, but still place your order.

You run the risk of losing all the work you’ve done if you don’t place the order right away so we’d encourage you to place it first, and then go back and adjust the timing if need be.

9) Report on the performance.

Once your ads are up and running on Instagram, it’s important to keep an eye on how they’re doing. You can go back in and tweak most aspects of the ad, so if you catch a mistake you made or your image isn’t doing as well as you’d like it to, you can go in and alter these things.

You can look at results of your ads in two places:

  1. The Facebook Ads Manager
  2. Your marketing software

In the Ads Manager:

There’s a sophisticated and extensive dashboard that provides users with an overview of all their campaigns. Without customizing any settings, you’ll find data on reach, cost per result, and amount spent.

In the upper right-hand corner, you’ll see a button that says “Columns: Performance.” If you click the drop down menu, there’s an option to customize columns, which allows you to choose the specific data you want to see. There’s data ranging from CPC or CTR, to things much more specific like “Adds to Cart” for ecommerce stores.

Here are the categories that the available metrics fall into:

  • Performance (reach, results, frequency, etc.)
  • Engagement (post likes, post comments, post shares, etc.)
  • Videos (video views, average percent of video viewed, etc.)
  • Website (checkouts, payment details, adds to cart, etc.)
  • Apps (installs, engagement, cost per app engagement, etc.)
  • Events (event responses, cost per event response, etc.)
  • Clicks (unique clicks, social clicks, CTR, CPC)
  • Settings (start date, end date, ad set name, delivery, bit, ad ID, and objective)

image_9-1.png

With your marketing software:

With so many metrics to track, it can be easy to lose sight of the big picture. To truly track your success, take advantage of your marketing software and the UTM codes you used in your ads to measure your ads’ full-funnel effectiveness.

Looking at the specific tracking codes through your marketing software will help you keep track of how many leads (or better yet, customers) you actually generated through your Instagram advertising campaign. This ROI information can then be used to inform other campaigns down the line.

If you’re a HubSpot customer, you can create unique tracking codes for your Instagram campaign by following the instructions here. All you’ll need to do is plug in the URL, attach a campaign, and choose the source you want the URL to be attributed to in your Sources Report.

Once your ad launches and you start getting traffic and conversions to your website, you’ll be able to easily track how many visits, contacts, and customers you’re generating.

Have you seen success with Instagram ads? Let us know in the comments section below.

free guide to advertising on Instagram

Jul

29

2016

A Step-by-Step Guide to Advertising on Instagram

Instagram_Ad.jpg

With 500 million active monthly users, Instagram offers a unique opportunity for marketers to reach their target audiences through ad campaigns.

The other perk of advertising on Instagram? The ads can look almost no different than regular posts, making them much less invasive than other ad types.

But setting up ads on any platform requires a lot of thought: What should your target audience look like? What should your copy say? What image should you use? Not to mention, the more technical aspects like what size your image needs to be or how long your ad should run for. Download our essential guide to Instagram advertising here.

To simplify the process, we’ve put together a checklist to help you set up a campaign, one step at a time.

How to Create Instagram Ads: A Step-by-Step Guide to Advertising on Instagram

If you’ve ever set up a Facebook ad, you’re about 75% of the way there. After Facebook acquired Instagram back in 2012, the platforms conveniently merged, making setting up Instagram and Facebook ads merely the difference of a couple clicks. So even though your intent is to run ads on Instagram, all of the ad setup, budgeting, scheduling, and creation is done through Facebook’s platform.

To start, log in to your company’s Facebook portal and select the account you wish to use. (Note: To run ads on Instagram you’ll need to use a Facebook Page. Pages are specifically for businesses, brands, and organizations, while regular Facebook accounts are for personal use.)

1) Select an editor and create your campaign.

You can create Instagram ads using a few different tools:

When choosing which tool to use, you’ll want to consider both your company size and the number of ads you plan to run at once. If you’re managing a large number of campaigns, or you’re looking for really precise control over your campaigns, you might want to lean towards the Power Editor. However, the Ad Manager suits most marketers’ needs, so that’s what we’ll use for the sake of this article. (For more on the Facebook Ads API option, check out this page.)

Once you’ve selected an editor, you’ll see an option to either view all campaigns, or create a new one. To get started with an Instagram ad, you’ll want to create a new campaign.

2) Choose an objective.

You’ll notice that there are several different campaign objective options to choose from here. However, in order for your ad to be eligible to appear on Instagram, you’ll have to choose from a slightly shorter list:

  • Boost your posts
  • Send people to your website
  • Increase conversions on your website
  • Get installs of your app
  • Increase engagement in your app
  • Get video views

Instagram_Ads_Objective.png

For this article, we’re going to select: “Send people to your website.”

When you select this option, you’ll be prompted to name your campaign. This may seem like a simple task (and it is) but it’s a good idea to have some sort of naming convention or set process within your company. This will make it easier for you to keep campaigns straight as you continue to create them.

Here at HubSpot, we like to name them in this format:

Company Department | Content/Offer/Asset Being Advertised | Date | Name of Creator

3) Choose your audience.

If you’re just starting out with Instagram advertising, odds are you won’t know exactly which audience you want to go after. This will come with time, and you may just have to play around with it at first. (If you want tips to help you choose the right audience, check out this page.)

During this step, you’ll find that the platform’s built-in targeting can be as simple or as extensive as you need it to be, with options such as:

  • Location
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Language
  • Relationship
  • Education
  • Work
  • Financial Status
  • Home
  • Ethnic Affinity
  • Generation
  • Parents
  • Politics (U.S. only)
  • Life Events
  • Interests
  • Behaviors
  • Connections

You can create what’s called a custom audience to reach people who’ve already interacted with your business, or a lookalike audience to reach new people on Facebook who are similar to your most valuable audiences.

Image_2-3.png

The ads platform also allows you to save the audience you create to be used again at a later time, which can be good if you’re experimenting and want to remember the exact audience you used for certain campaigns.

In terms of the objective we selected — “send people to your website” — we’ll want to target a more specific group of people: the type of people that are actually going to be interested in the content we present.

To do this, you’d jump down to the “Detailed Targeting” section, and search for different demographics, interests, or behaviors that apply to your target audience. Here’s an example of a (very small) audience, just to show you the different ways you can target certain people:

image_3-2.png

To give you a sense of the audience you’ve chosen, Facebook provides an “audience definition gauge.” This gives you immediate feedback on how narrow or broad your audience is, as well as the estimated reach number of your ad. Since we didn’t add very much criteria to our targeting, you’ll notice that the audience appears “fairly broad.”

FB_Audience_Details.png

4) Set your placement.

This step is the biggest differentiator between setting up Facebook ads vs. Instagram ads. To move forward with the Instagram ad, you’ll want to uncheck all the boxes except for “Instagram.”

Ad_Placement_Instagram.png

5) Set your budget and schedule.

You have the option to select either a daily budget or a lifetime budget for your campaign. The difference is this:

  • Daily budget sets your ad up to run continuously throughout the day, meaning that the algorithm will automatically pace your spending per day. Keep in mind that there is a minimum daily budget depending on different factors in your campaign, usually around $1.00.
  • Lifetime budget sets your ad up to run for a specified length of time, meaning the ads algorithm paces your spending over that entire time period.

The other aspect to setting your budget is setting your schedule. You’ll need to choose exactly when you want your campaign to start and finish running, down to the minute. There are also options to set parameters so that your ad runs only during certain hours of the day or during specific days of the week. You can find these options in the “Ad Scheduling” section.

image_6-3.png

Set your optimization for ad delivery.

Here you have three options that will influence who sees your ads:

  1. Link Clicks (which is what the platform recommends): Your ads will be delivered accordingly to get the most clicks to your website at the lowest cost. This is all based on the platform’s algorithm.
  2. Impressions: Your ads will be delivered to people as many times as possible. Ever see the same ad on your newsfeed all day long? That company is most likely using this option.
  3. Daily Unique Reach: Your ad will be delivered to people up to once a day. People may see your ad multiple times, but at least not multiple times a day.

Set your bid amount.

This determines how effectively your ad is delivered. When you look “behind the scenes,” you’re competing with other advertisers trying to reach a similar audience in a constant auction.

You can choose either Manual or Automatic. Automatic leaves it up to Facebook’s algorithm to deliver your ad — ideally getting you the most clicks for the lowest cost. Manual allows you to set a price for link clicks. If a link click is worth a lot to you, try setting a higher than suggested bid, and your ad will be displayed over a competitor with a lower bid.

You can choose to pay based on impressions or link clicks. This is up to you.

Set your delivery schedule.

You have two options for the delivery of your ads:

  1. Standard: shows your ads throughout the day.
  2. Accelerated: helps you reach an audience quickly for time-sensitive ads.

(Note: the accelerated delivery option requires manual bid pricing.)

Name your ad set.

This step is for internal purposes. Simply give your ad set a name so that you can identify it later.

6) Set your ad creative.

Choose your format.

This is where your creativity comes in. Here you’ll decide what you want your ad to look like, which will depend on your original objective, of course.

On Instagram, you have a couple different options for your ad:

image_7-1.png

Single image, video, or slideshow.

Instagram_Ads.png

Image Credit: Marketing Land

 

Yes, they’re warm. Yes, they’re gooey. Yes, they’re delicious. Our new chocolate chip cookie is here! ??

A video posted by dunkindonuts (@dunkindonuts) on May 18, 2016 at 7:25am PDT

Multiple Images (also called “Carousel”).

Up to 5 images or videos for the viewer to scroll through, at no extra cost.

Instagram_Carousel.png

Image Credit: Instagram

We actually ran some tests to see which type of ad performed the best for different purposes. Check out the results in here.

Once you pick your ad type, click on it and you’ll be prompted to browse and upload your imagery, whether that be images or a video.

Upload your media.

For any ad type, the Facebook ads platform recommends you don’t include more than 20% of text. Previously, an ad with over 20% of text wouldn’t even be approved to run, but it has recently changed to more of a suggestion than anything. Learn more about the rules and guidelines here.

Some requirements for Instagram ad imagery:

File Type

  • .jpeg
  • .png

Text/Caption

  • Recommended: 125 characters
  • Maximum: 2,200 characters

For square of video Instagram ads …

  • Recommended Image Size: 1080 x 1080 pixels
  • Minimum Resolution Accepted: 600 x 600 pixels
  • Image Aspect Ratio: 1:1

For landscape image or video Instagram ads …

  • Recommended Image Size: 1200 x 628 pixels
  • Minimum Resolution Accepted: 600 x 600 pixels
  • Image Aspect Ratio: 1:1

7) Set your page & links.

Connect your Facebook Page and Instagram account.

Select the Facebook Page of the account you want your ads to come from, even if you’re not planning on running them on Facebook. (If you’ve made it this far in the Ads Manager, you are already logged into a Facebook account.)

However, since our intent is to post ads on Instagram, you’ll need to connect your Instagram account to your Facebook ad account. To do so, click “Add Account” (you’ll need your Instagram username and password to do so).

If your business doesn’t have an Instagram account, you can still run ads on Instagram — they’ll just come from your business’ Facebook Page instead. In other words, your Facebook Page name and profile picture will be used to represent your business within your ad as it runs on Instagram.

Add the website URL.

Next is a very important step: putting in the website URL to which you’re trying to drive more traffic. If you’re using marketing automation software, be sure to create a unique tracking URL with UTM parameters for this to ensure that you’ll be able to keep track of traffic and conversions from this ad.

(HubSpot customers: Learn more about creating a tracking URL here.)

image_8-1.png

Add a headline.

This is not usually displayed to viewers of your ad on Instagram, but it’s always a good idea to complete it just in case. Enter a brief headline describing where people will visit.

Create a caption.

You have up to 2,200 characters — but don’t go crazy. Facebook recommends you keep your text under 125 characters, which is the amount that’s displayed without needing to click “more.” (Read this for tips on how to write good Instagram captions.)

Select a Call-to-Action.

There are several different options for your CTA button, depending on what the page you’re taking visitors to looks like. You can choose to have no button, or select any of the following:

  • Learn More
  • Apply Now
  • Book Now
  • Contact Us
  • Download
  • Hope Now
  • Sign Up
  • Watch More

For our sake, we’ll stick with “Learn More,” as we’re just driving people to our website.

Once your image is uploaded and your text is set, check out the preview of your ad to make sure everything looks right.

At this point, you’ll have the option to edit the “Advanced Options,” but only if you wish to. Advanced Options include adding tags, changing your display link, entering URL parameters, setting up sponsors, and opting in or out of pixel tracking.

8) Place the order.

Once everything is all set, you’re ready to place your order. Doing so is pretty easy: Just click the big green button in the bottom left corner.

place-order-final-image.png

As always, be sure to check over everything — especially since your ads have the potential to be seen by a large audience. If you want someone else on your team to take a look at them before they go live, set your schedule to include a delay, but still place your order.

You run the risk of losing all the work you’ve done if you don’t place the order right away so we’d encourage you to place it first, and then go back and adjust the timing if need be.

9) Report on the performance.

Once your ads are up and running on Instagram, it’s important to keep an eye on how they’re doing. You can go back in and tweak most aspects of the ad, so if you catch a mistake you made or your image isn’t doing as well as you’d like it to, you can go in and alter these things.

You can look at results of your ads in two places:

  1. The Facebook Ads Manager
  2. Your marketing software

In the Ads Manager:

There’s a sophisticated and extensive dashboard that provides users with an overview of all their campaigns. Without customizing any settings, you’ll find data on reach, cost per result, and amount spent.

In the upper right-hand corner, you’ll see a button that says “Columns: Performance.” If you click the drop down menu, there’s an option to customize columns, which allows you to choose the specific data you want to see. There’s data ranging from CPC or CTR, to things much more specific like “Adds to Cart” for ecommerce stores.

Here are the categories that the available metrics fall into:

  • Performance (reach, results, frequency, etc.)
  • Engagement (post likes, post comments, post shares, etc.)
  • Videos (video views, average percent of video viewed, etc.)
  • Website (checkouts, payment details, adds to cart, etc.)
  • Apps (installs, engagement, cost per app engagement, etc.)
  • Events (event responses, cost per event response, etc.)
  • Clicks (unique clicks, social clicks, CTR, CPC)
  • Settings (start date, end date, ad set name, delivery, bit, ad ID, and objective)

image_9-1.png

With your marketing software:

With so many metrics to track, it can be easy to lose sight of the big picture. To truly track your success, take advantage of your marketing software and the UTM codes you used in your ads to measure your ads’ full-funnel effectiveness.

Looking at the specific tracking codes through your marketing software will help you keep track of how many leads (or better yet, customers) you actually generated through your Instagram advertising campaign. This ROI information can then be used to inform other campaigns down the line.

If you’re a HubSpot customer, you can create unique tracking codes for your Instagram campaign by following the instructions here. All you’ll need to do is plug in the URL, attach a campaign, and choose the source you want the URL to be attributed to in your Sources Report.

Once your ad launches and you start getting traffic and conversions to your website, you’ll be able to easily track how many visits, contacts, and customers you’re generating.

Have you seen success with Instagram ads? Let us know in the comments section below.

free guide to advertising on Instagram

Dec

3

2015

How Homebuilders Can Leverage Houzz, Pinterest and Instagram to Generate More Business

homebuilders.jpgThe odds are you or someone you know has searched for a home recently. Something magical happens when you find the right one. Your heart starts racing, your palms get clammy. Are you about to buy a house?

You may not realize it from the consumer side of this deal, but there is an enormous amount of heavy-lifting that comes from the homebuilder side, especially with the availability of social media at consumers’ fingertips.

Imagine the complexity behind drawing in people from all walks of life who are about to make one of the largest purchase decisions of their lives. Maybe they’re newlyweds, looking for their first home purchase ever. Maybe they found out their family is growing and they need a bigger home, but they’re conscious of the energy efficiency and want to be near particular landmarks. Maybe they’re retiring and are looking to downsize or buy a vacation home in another state. 

How can homebuilders speak to all of these people at once effectively? Social media done right. 

Houzz is an increasingly effective tool to speak to home buyers 

boyer-houzz.png

There are several aspects of Houzz that allow a homebuilder to communicate directly with interested home buyers. For example, homebuilders can post pictures and statistics of projects they are working on or have completed. This gives the home buyer a taste for what a project could look like when the idea of building a new home seems very daunting.

Homebuilders can also use what Houzz refers to as Ideabooks, allowing them to collaborate with home buyers online. They can post images of their own designs, décor, or floor plans allowing a potential client to transition from collecting their own ideas to actually seeing what options could be viable.

Houzz also allows  the home builder to accumulate comments and reviews, encouraging past customers to engage with potential clients who are in the process of looking. According to a Zendesk survey, 90% of customers say buying decisions are influenced by online reviews, making this aspect of Houzz undeniably critical.

Pinterest can be used in innovative ways to aid homebuilders in selling

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At conception, Pinterest seemed to be the land of fitspiration, recipes, crafting, DIY ideas, and other visually motivating ideas. Now, Pinterest is accessible to anyone, including people like me who end up with dyed skin or glitter stained clothes just by looking at a crafty project. For homebuilders, Pinterest is an avenue to reach those who are searching for specific keywords related to their industry and then engaging this audience with related boards.

Pinterest allows for users to invite other users to share a board and “pin” ideas to it together. While similar to the Houzz Ideabook function, Pinterest takes this interaction to the next level by allowing “pinners” to add their own information, including images and blogs from their website.

Pinterest also creates the opportunity to build boards and pin trending topics, catching any viewers who may be interested in related topics but are currently searching trends. For example, plenty of home-makers could be interested in remodeling their kitchens, but as the holidays are approaching they are more interested in searching for “creative table settings for Christmas.” By building a board around “decorating for the holidays,” a homebuilder could catch the eye of anyone who is looking for ideas on how to decorate their own homes for the holidays.

While building SEO through social media and gaining credibility for resonant and relevant posts a homebuilder can greatly increase traffic and potentially sales on their website. In a world where 88% of pinners purchase something they have pinned and 49% purchase 5 or more products they pinned, homebuilders must join the movement.

Instagram offers more than just pretty pictures for homebuilders and home buyers

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Instagram has a lot more to offer than initially meets the eye. Its initial use was as a platform for pushing pictures with relevant and trending hashtags to sort conversations. Those discovering these pictures through hashtags can then like the pictures and, in a sense, organize the feed they subscribe to with certain images that they want to see.

Now, Instagram is an opportunity for homebuilders to follow up on those who are interested in their posts and then to follow them and see what else they are interested in. Using information like this and collecting personas can be very helpful data in the long run. Discovering, from lead to customer, what a typical BUYER persona is on social media can greatly alter the strategy a homebuilder can use to target the right audience.

Instagram also offers the unique opportunity to post short video clips. For example, new home builders can use this option to give a tour of a new build or a walk through a construction zone as led by the president of the company herself. These kinds of insider looks help build integrity and emotional connections with those who are serious about their home buying search and are evaluating their options of brands. It is a well-known fact that “[people] are not thinking machines…[but] are feeling machines that think” – so cater to the emotional side of a big decision.

Are you more likely to buy a new home from a builder who has a 10 second video of a woman buying a new house, getting help from the builders to make it just right, and then ending with a soldier in uniform walking up to the door finally seeing his new home or from a brand that isn’t even on Instagram?

These three social media channels have changed the strategy of selling over the past couple of years. Cold calls won’t cut it when your competitor is researching buyer personas based on trends on their own social media sites and is interacting directly with interested consumers from the comfort of their own homes and smartphones.

It’s time to change your strategy and find what works for you. The biggest risk you can take in 2016 is to keep doing what you were doing in 2015.

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Feb

6

2015

Instagram Photography Tips for Beginners

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Are you new to Instagram and perhaps a little intimidated by where and how to start sharing your photos? You probably started on Instagram by looking around at some of the big brands that are really active (Nike, GoPro, Starbucks), and developed a little case of “social media analysis paralysis”. “SMAP” is what happens when you want to post something that is noteworthy, sharable and will possibly “go viral”. You spend so much time analyzing and trying to get “just the right shot”, that you end up doing nothing at all. 

It’s not rocket science. Besides, Instagram makes it even easier by giving you some great tools right at your fingertips to make you look like a pro.  Here are a few basic tips to keep in mind when you’re framing your shot for sharing on Instagram.

For demonstration purposes, I’m using a photo of Helo, who happens to be one of my favorite subjects. The example below is the unedited photo directly from my photo library uploaded into Instagram. Though it’s centered within the grid, it’s pretty uninteresting.

Basic Composition

Remember the “rule of thirds”. Think of your photo as a grid with nine squares (See photo below). If you’re shooting your photo directly in Instagram, it takes care of this for you so you don’t have to imagine it. Position your subject matter along these lines and you’ll get a much more dramatic shot. 

If you’re loading a photo into Instagram (as I did) that wasn’t taken within the app itself, never fear. When you select the photo you want to use, the grid is overlaid automatically.

Use the grid to position, scale and crop your subject along the lines and create the drama that way. For example, when I enlarged and repositioned Helo’s face I used the upper, right two thirds of the grid.

Lighting

Pay attention to where the light source is in your image. If you’re shooting outdoors, having the sun behind you is great unless your subjects are people. They may be squinting to keep the sun out of their eyes if they are facing you directly.

By the same token, you don’t want the sun behind them either. Shooting directly into the sun makes it difficult to properly light the faces of your subjects.  Early morning and late afternoon sun can create interesting impact with a lot of contrast.

If you’re shooting indoors, you may or may not want to use your flash. You have the option to play around with it if you’re using the camera app on your phone instead of using Instagram. In other words, to select and post only your best photos on your IG profile, try taking the same shot with and without a flash with just your phone’s camera.   

Using the same example, the lighting was good and I loved the angle. It just needed a little tweaking.

Fun with Filters

Possibly the coolest thing about Instagram is the filter feature. Here is where you will want to experiment and find your favorites – there are over 20 to choose from.

When you’re using this feature, once you have selected the filter you want to apply, tap it twice and you can change the degree to which the filter is applied if you want something a little more subtle. This is also the area to select a frame for your image by clicking on the box.

Here are a few of my personal favorites that you may want to try (left to right):

  • Lo-Fi – Creates a really dramatic image without any other adjustments.
  • Earlybird – Great for a TBT (Throw Back Thursday) image; looks like an old Polaroid.
  • Inkwell – Nothing quite like a classic black and white image.  You may want to play with the contrast a bit to get just the right look.
  • Nashville – If you use this one, definitely apply the frame. It will give your image the look of an old piece of film. 

Try the Tools

If you prefer to “do it yourself” when creating images for your followers, then skip the filters and try out the tools. IG has quite an array of editing tools. For example, if you have items in the background that you can’t remove by cropping, use the “tilt shift” tool to blur everything except what you want to be in focus. For this tool, choose either “radial” or “linear” and use your fingers to change the area that you want in focus. You can also use “vignette” in the same manner; to direct focus to the part of the image that you want to be noticed.

Mind your Settings

One rather important thing to remember about Instagram: if you are taking photos within the app itself (not just uploading them there), filtered photos are only saved to your camera roll or gallery AFTER you have shared them. To make certain that the original photo is saved, go to Options under your Instagram profile and turn on “Save Original Photos”. 

Leverage your Content

When you’re ready to post your posts, you have the option to cross post in other social channels such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr, and Foursquare. If you have a larger audience on any of these, it’s a great way to let them know to find you on Instagram.

Important note: In order to post Instagram photos to Twitter and have them show up in your feed, you’ll need to use a tool called “If This Then That” (IFTTT.com). This handy little tool will bypass Instagram turning off Twitter cards when you post a photo. (Without this tool, your Instagram photos will simply show up in your tweet as a link to the Instagram site.)

Scheduling your Posts

If you’re using Instagram to build engagement as you are with other social media channels, there may be times when you need to schedule a few posts ahead of time. Here are a few schedulers out there specifically for Instagram that you may want to check out:

Now you have all the basics. Grab your phone and get started. I can’t wait to see what you come up with. If you want to see more pictures of my crew, you can follow me on Instagram.

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