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When Instagram first announced it was going to open its doors to all advertisers, my mobile marketing agency was extremely enthusiastic about the new mobile marketing platform that’s become available and went straight to work. Here’s what we learned from our first campaign on the social network.

Our very first lesson was that if you’re a mobile app that aims to use Instagram to generate traffic to your app, you’re better off using sponsored posts over influencers. This is due to the simple fact that sponsored posts let you share a link to the app store — the ultimate purpose of app advertising.  This might not be an intuitive choice for brands used to promoting products on Instagram via influencers (turning to widely-followed personalities for paid product placement opportunities).

Another amazing lesson we learned is that Instagram users are extremely active. Apparently, the double tap is used more loosely than the good old Facebook Like. Similar ads that generated between 15-30 likes on Facebook, reached between 300-500 likes on Instagram. Additionally, we noticed a large number of comments on the Instagram creatives, many of which even mentioned other users within the comments. This was an interesting find, since it paves the way for a two-way channel between marketers and audiences.

From the engagement on our ads we learned that Instagram users take in-depth interest in images, try to interpret the messages they transmit, and notice the tiniest details. For example, on one of the ads we ran, which featured a camera, a user remarked on the type of camera in the photo — this would rarely happen with a Facebook ad. The fact that users now pay close attention to detail may have marketers rethinking the content they’ve been putting out there.

Since advertising on Instagram is 50 percent more expensive than advertising on Facebook, marketers might be hesitant to choose Instagram. But Instagram’s two-way channel means more engagement, and more engagement means more organic exposure. The extra money you spend is worth it if you manage to generate a substantial “second wave” of viewers to your ad, thanks to likes and comments made by those you were targeting in the first place.

This said, it’s also important to remember what Instagram is all about. The platform is changing the way brands think about advertising. Ads no longer feature perfectly positioned actors and products — it’s all about the candid shot, a snap out of real life that simply happens to feature a certain product. Due to Instagram, brands are now all about promoting products through authentic ideals and messages. Until now, this has been done by reaching out to influencers, but there is a way to translate these ideals into sponsored posts without them seeming like ads.

Instagram ads should be colorful, vibrant, and eye-catching. They should showcase thought-provoking, short, and sharp text. In general, they should not seem like ads at first glance. This especially applies when you’re advertising a mobile app. If the image states that there’s an app to be downloaded, it’s going to reek of publicity. However, if the image remains clean, and only the caption mentions the app (with a download link), you can expect better conversion rates.

Have you had a chance to experience with Instagram advertising in the past few days? We’d love to hear about your insights!

Lior Eldan is the cofounder and COO of Moburst, a global mobile marketing agency.


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