Instagram has become one of the best places to share your creative work, attract a following, and reach people beyond your immediate groups of friends and family.
But that could all change in just a couple of months.
The Facebook-owned social network is ready to make serious money, so I wanted to explore what this could mean for creative artists using Instagram as their primary web presence.
New Instagram ads
Instagram just announced plans that could have a very big impact on the user experience we know and love about Instagram.
“We’re focused on three key areas: Expanding ad offerings to include action-oriented formats, enabling more targeting capabilities, and making it easier for businesses large and small to buy ads on Instagram.” – Instagram
This is exactly what Facebook did a few years back.
And this is the reason I’m writing this post – a lot of creative artists and businesses were hurt when Facebook extended their ad offerings to everyone, because Facebook tightened their algorithm and reduced how much of your audience you could reach organically.
If you’re using Instagram to mange your web presence, social engagement, or sales, you’re at risk of being hurt like the those hurt on Facebook. Please understand, this isn’t a battle of right or wrong – Facebook and Instagram are companies, and companies have to make money. The only battle you can fight now is the battle for independence.
I strongly recommend you work on developing independence from Instagram within the next month.
If you’re not already interested in promoting content on Instagram, just consider this:
“Across more than 475 campaigns measured globally with Nielsen Brand Effect, ad recall from sponsored posts on Instagram was 2.9x higher than Nielsen’s norms for online advertising” – Instagram
Instagram ads are performing 2.9x higher than what’s considered normal for online advertising.
Now let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of the new Instagram ads.
The pros of Instagram ads
Instagram shared a few screenshots revealing the new “action-oriented formats” they’re developing. These ads are focused on going beyond the shallow click by providing a specific call to action.
Take a look at the bottom right-hand corner of the images in the screenshot below and you’ll see four distinct calls to action:
These action-oriented ads include the following ( from left to right ):
- Shop Now
- Install Now
- Sign Up
- Learn More
Advertisers may be able to manage their ads through Facebook’s ad management interfaces, which should keep things easy.
“To give all businesses the opportunity to reach the right people, we are working to make Instagram advertising available through an Instagram Ads API and Facebook ad buying interfaces over the coming months” – Instagram
In addition to being extremely easy to buy ads you’ll also have complete control over your promotional campaign. Looking at Facebook, we can imagine advertisers will be able to control the following from the user interface:
- Target audience
- Type of ad
- Display and positioning
- Target device
With the exception of “Shop Now”, these calls to action are unique from those available on Facebook, which is of significance considering Facebook aquired Instagram back in 2012.
Take a look at the action-oriented options from Facebook below.
If Instagram ad management isn’t integrated into the backend of Facebook, you can imagine it will look something like it – especially considering Instagram mentioned they’re working on Facebook ad buying interfaces.
Here’s what they might look like:
Much like Facebook, we can expect to control a variety of details from within one simple interface, including everything from the target audience, budget, duration, and payment options.
The cons of Instagram Ads
Instagram will probably filter content more aggressively in effort to drive ad sales, which means your content will no longer reach 100% of your following on Instagram.
As mentioned, it hurt a lot of people who managed pages on Facebook because it severed them from the respective audiences they spent a lot of time and energy building.
This may not happen on Instagram, but I it’s a good idea to prepare for the worst.
Instagram, like Facebook, is a business interested in making money, which means it could flex its algorithmic muscle in effort to “protect quality of the user experience” and encourage people to pay to reach their following.
The new Instagram ads could result in more algorithmic filtering, which may reduce our ability to reach our followers organically. If you haven’t already started building your independence through your own website and a diversified social activity strategy, it’s definitely time to get started. You don’t want to wake up one morning, as many Facebook users did a while back, and find that you’re organic reach has fallen to less than 5%.
Instangram is enormously popular among creative artists, so I’ll be sure to write more on this as it develops as well as explore ways to develop your independence so you never have to worry about stuff like this again.