What Instagram Sponsored Ads Mean for Small Businesses

Instagram has finally rolled out sponsored ads on users’ timelines. I have to admit that unlike their parent company, Facebook, they have done a great job of seamless integration. Today, I liked a Ralph Lauren picture in my feed and then scrolled back up once I realized I don’t follow them. The post looked like other content that normally appears on my timeline and therefore was not disruptive. Now what do these sponsored ads mean for your small business? Nothing major.

I did not follow Ralph Lauren although I liked their post. I don’t buy Ralph Lauren and their Instagram pictures are not drastically different than other fashion brands I follow. Don’t be discouraged by that, but encouraged! As a small business that does not have the ad dollars to buy sponsored posts, there are a few things you can do to get traffic to your page, get more likes, and ultimately more followers.

1. Ask Your Audience for Action

The best way to get traffic to your page is to ask for and promote user generated content. This is done through #photochallenges or contests. These are cheap and simple to monitor and implement. You are asking people to post your content or pictures that link to your page on their own timelines.

2. Reward Consumer Action

After you have asked for action, reward your consumer for taking it. Consumers love when brands like or comment on their pictures. This is the simplest reward and an important form of digital flattery. Likes and comments are free. For better retention give product or monetary rewards for contest and photo challenge participation.

3. Show Your Product in a Unique Way

Whatever it is you sale or offer to consumers, show it in ways your competitors are not. Put your brand’s personal touch on each picture that you post. Make sure that your brand’s personality can be seen as people scroll through your timeline.

4. Take Instagram Everywhere

Insert your Instagram content in places other than the platform. Create a transmedia storytelling experience with your pictures. Make consumers think about snapping your brand when they see it in stores or use it at home.

Instagram has put out a great book with tips and tricks to engage and inspire your audience. I suggest small brands take a look at that. It has great case studies from successful brands. Remember in the world of social media, authenticity, uniqueness, creativity, and consumer alignment will always win over paid insertion. What do you think about the Instagram sponsored ads you have seen so far?

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Instagram Sponsored Ad from Ralph Lauren posted on 3/27/14

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