How to Promote an Instagram Post Like a Pro

[Originally published on the Dash Hudson blog.]

So, your brand wants to run a paid social campaign? If you’re in the research phase, you’ve probably come across a few different terms so far: sponsor, promote, and boost. The real tea is that most people use them interchangeably, but they are actually channel-specific. Promote an Instagram post, boost a Facebook post.

Preferred terms aside, when it’s time to drop that dough you need to have a solid strategy in place to make it go as far as possible.

Bibbidi-bobbidi-boo, good thing the fai-ROI godmother is here to turn your pumpkin posts into KPI-driven carriages.

What is a Promoted Post?

To better understand promoted Instagram posts, let’s take a step back in time. It’s November 1st, 2013, and you’re scrolling through IG. Nothing seems out of the ordinary — selfies, cats, and brunch buffets still heavily dominate your feed. Suddenly, an image appears that you might not have anticipated: a Michael Kors watch.

As the platform’s first piece of sponsored content, it was met with mixed reviews. Many users were frustrated to see an advertisement in what was once a purely social space. Despite this, the post got 370% more likes than the brand’s last five organic posts and garnered 34,000 new followers. Clearly the paid method was working — but would it remain effective?

Two years later, with powerful new infrastructure courtesy of Facebook, Instagram opens its advertising tool to all businesses. Now, users can see ads from cafes they already frequent or local shops looking for new foot traffic. The social marketplace is more refined, targeted, and customized, which improves the experience for both brands and consumers.

Crafting a traditional ad from scratch can be costly, with no guarantee of ROI. That’s where promoted posts come into play. Instead of creating new paid content, you can pay to promote the photos and videos that resonate with your organic audience the most. Essentially, you give your best posts a boost to reach new audiences and target specific demographics.

The Perks of Pressing Promote

Promoting an Instagram post is all about growth — whether it be brand awareness, audience development, or conversions. With a CPM (cost-per-thousand impressions) bidding model, aligning your paid and organic social media strategy is seamless. You’re maximizing impressions, likes, comments, and follows to generate more leads and conversions down the line. You get the best of both worlds.

When content is working organically, sprinkling a few coins into the mix gives it a chance to wow an even larger audience — one you can either choose yourself or have Instagram decide for you based on age, location, and interests. A higher engagement rate means the algorithm is already on your side and the potential for further brand awareness in key demographics is much bigger.

Another bonus is your promoted post doesn’t start at zero like a traditional ad — the original post with all its engagement is what the boosted audience sees. Hello, social proof! Crowds draw more crowds, so introducing your brand to potential new customers when it already has support from their like-minded peers is crucial to the success of your promoted campaigns.

Choosing the Right Post

Post selection is at the heart of Instagram promotion. Cash won’t translate into clicks if the content itself is lacking. The right image or video should feel like a natural fit in your target audience’s feed. Sure, there are cute photos floating around from that photoshoot you did six months ago, but this is not the time to bring them back. You want eye-catching content that is up to date and relevant to your target audience to maximize ROI.

In this case, let data be your main decision maker. Dash Hudson’s Insights feature is a quick, easy way to measure the impact of your photos and videos with your audience. Focus on the engagement and effectiveness rates first. Top-performing social content has the greatest number of likes and comments, but also reaches the greatest number of followers. Vision, another Dash Hudson tool, uses predictive visual technology to help you understand what types of images will have the most impact with your unique audience before they hit your feed.

No two brands are exactly the same, which means the formula for success with promoted posts won’t look the same for every brand either. The most important part of this process is paying attention to the KPIs that matter. This will give you insight into what types of photos and videos are resonating with your organic audience to fuel your paid strategy. When you find what works best for you, roll with it all the way to the Instagram boosted ball.

Header image: @mon_purse

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Dash Hudson

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Visual marketing platform built for and used by the world’s most discerning brands and publishers.

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