How to Take Advantage of Instagram’s Unique Engagement Rates to Boost Your Ads to the Next Level.


Facebook has always been one of the top destinations for advertisers, with numerous creative formats all optimised to find the perfect delivery for the audience. However, recently the trend is that advertisers (especially direct to consumer brands) are shifting their budgets away from Facebook and focusing on Instagram- with some shifting by up to 30%.

From its earliest days, Instagram has always been seen to have potential, shown by the $1bn purchase by Facebook in 2012. But since the investment, the platform has exploded in users- from an estimated 90m number of users in Jan 2013 it has since increased to over 1bn in June 2018). This is also matched in a large ad spend increases since 2013.

So, there’s a huge audience which seems to be growing faster and faster on this platform which from the outside seems to have great potential, but why is it the most engaging?


  • It’s a mobile & tablet only platform- mobile is often easier to engage with the audience as people are in the mindset of having fun, messaging friends and generally being relaxed whilst desktop is often more associated with work and harder to for people to fully relax on desktops. As Instagram is built for mobile, and the vast majority of traffic through the app comes through the app. There’s an estimated 47% access via mobile phone and 53% via tablet– meaning virtually 0% of the traffic is through desktop). This means that you’ll be delivering your ads to people in the perfect mindset to engage in your ad rather than whiz by it and take little notice on a desktop.


  • The visual characteristics. Instagram, is a highly visual platform. As only pictures and videos can be posted, it can invoke much greater emotional responses from the audience rather than a plain chunk of text about Barbera from HR moaning about the weather (aside from annoyance of course). Visual content is stimulating and much much more interesting to see. All of this content is provided in an instant when opening the app, and there’s little lag (unless the connection is slow) which means people aren’t irritated when they finally do see your ad.


  • It’s simple. There’s no complexity to the app unlike others, it’s not bloated with money making opportunities (not yet at least) which means people are more in tune with the ads and pay more attention to them as they appear less intrusive and blend into the background.


The results speak for themselves, Rival IQ‘s 2018 Social Media Benchmark Report shows the average engagement rate for a selection of industries across both Facebook and Instagram.

On average, the increase in engagement on Instagram was 1.57% higher than across Facebook, and when we’re dealing with potentially thousands of engagements that can add up to a huge positive impact on your brand.

So now we get to it- there’s this great platform which, on paper has got impressive attributes for advertisers to provoke a reaction with their audience, and should, in theory, be a great platform for advertisers to advertise on.

So how can this potential goldmine for engagement be taken advantage of?


The tone is the key

A good rule of thumb is that more often than not, keep it light-hearted.

As usual, it depends on your audience and your brand but in general people on Instagram usually go on it to relax, so ads should reflect that feeling. In any form of advertising, you have to reach the audience in the right frame of mind and if your audience is seeing a dreary looking ad whilst scrolling through their friend’s summer holiday pictures- your ad will certainly stand out but it’ll never be able to provide the captivating, attention-grabbing requirements that are so necessary these days. What they want to see is a captivating, funny image which wants to make them click on the ad, keeping with a relaxed tone.

There are some ads which perfectly execute this, such as the one below.


Using an animal is kind of cheating (and a sure-fire way to get engagement) but animal aside this post is an example of how using a light-hearted tone is demonstrated perfectly.

This post clearly pronounces the CTA which contrasts with the colour in the background to make it stand out, with the copy of the ad also repeating the CTA. As the picture draws them in, the light-hearted tone of both the image and copy means that the audience will want to keep reading as it’s essentially ‘an easy read’.

With this post, the image your brand is promoting is perfectly aligned with the mindset of what your target audience will be in- meaning they will pay more attention to it and by default remember, and interact with it more.

There’s always the risk of seemingly being over light-hearted which can immediately put off people as it appears fake and ‘trying too hard’ which will instead of skyrocketing your engagement, be detrimental and cause it to plummet down so always keep in mind how your ad comes across to your audience.

Be visual

There’s a reason why visual content marketing and infographics are becoming much more popular these days- they’re a great way to send a message in seconds and invoke an emotional response from the reader.

The type of image can influence the audience- research by Nielson Norman Group shows that images deemed as decorative, or big overly feel-good images are often ignored as they’re seen as boring whilst images which contain the products, or people are often more scrutinised by audiences.

So what does this mean for maximising the returns from Instagram advertising? In terms of images, there should be a carousel ad with a clear, (light-hearted) image of the product and people using the product. If it’s a service you offer, the most effective photos would represent people benefitting from the product. This sounds easy, but the number of ads shown without these simple, yet effective guidelines are staggering.

Without sounding like a small budget Rom-Com, Instagram is an emotional platform, much more than Facebook or Twitter. By tapping into these emotions you can make your audience take action on your ad rather than just take notice and being visual is a great way to do it.

Don’t tell a tale, tell a trilogy

Bad title yes, but the point still stands. Instead of just throwing a single ad and moving onto the next one, why not draw your audience into your brand and make them really care about it?

As we know that people are coming on Instagram to create an emotional response for themselves so what’s another way we can tap into their mindset and promote ourselves in the right way?

Alongside your normal ads, you should be running a set of ads which tell a story.

But why? People like stories, they like a beginning, middle, and end, they want something they believe matters to them, and what better to get someone hooked into your brand than tell a story in your ads?

Facebook has some great examples of successful sequenced storytelling ads here.

In this funnel-based approach, by the end of the sequenced ads, your audience would’ve engaged in all of them and now your brand would be forefront in their mind, with them as loyal followers to you.

If you haven’t created ad sequences before Facebook’s guide gives all that you need to know.

Supported with social media activity it could easily be turned into little quirk which could garner the attention of large sections of your audience and make you different from everyone else.

Another way to do this on a cheaper budget & keep reach high could be to place the images (or videos) in a carousel and tell the story across the carousel.

It’s time to draw to a close

So there we are- just a few easy and quick ways in which Instagram could be a highly effective platform for you to start advertising from and how you can utilise a few shortcuts to boost your engagement levels to record high levels. So remember whenever you create Instagram ads you should always be: lighthearted, visual and telling a story and the success should follow!

Like this? Read our blog on our thoughts on voice search and what the future holds for that.

Voice Advertising