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Facebook and Instagram ads: The what, the how and the why

Red Marketing News

July 6, 2021

Are you wondering, “How much do Facebook and Instagram ads cost?”, “Are they worth it?” or, “Should I try advertising on Facebook or Instagram?” You’re not alone, and since you’re reading this blog post, you’re probably hoping that these two social media platforms will be an opportunity for your business. The good news is that over the last few years, both Facebook and Instagram have evolved into effective marketing platforms, offering an incredibly powerful and affordable way to promote your business online. Let’s dive a little deeper so you can decide how to allocate your social media budget…

Facebook and Instagram are two of the most popular mobile platforms, with every 1 in 5 minutes on mobile spent on either Facebook or Instagram. For context, that’s more than the next 10 most popular mobile platforms combined. When it comes to ads, Facebook and Instagram advertising go together like peanut butter and jelly. We recommend Facebook ads for detailed control over every aspect of the ad and Instagram ads for those who want an easy way to get into social media advertising in just a few taps. To wrap a bow around it, Facebook is better for visibility and makes it easier to funnel users to a third-party site like a website or online store. Instagram, on the other hand, remains the best for direct marketing – spreading awareness, engaging with customers, influencer marketing and showcasing new products or services – especially to the under 30 demographic and teens. However, there are advantages to running ads on both Facebook and Instagram.

The two platforms have overlapping users, but by running campaigns across both Facebook and Instagram, you’ll still reach more people because the specifics of demographics and interactions are different. The result? Better performance for website clicks, website conversions and video views. Furthermore, Facebook and Instagram differ significantly on content types. On Facebook, you have the option to advertise with single media (an image, video or slideshow of images), carousel (two or more scrollable images or videos) or existing posts (such as links you’ve shared). On Instagram, you have the same options, but without the ability to make any in-caption links clickable – something to keep in mind when you’re pinpointing your goals. Both Facebook and Instagram ads can be managed through Facebook Ads Manager, making it quick and easy for social media managers and marketers to select multiple audiences and placements with little added effort.

So, how much should you be spending on Facebook and Instagram ads? We can’t answer that – it depends on your social media advertising goal and if you have enough budget to play around with, so that you’re not going to be micromanaging how that budget is going to be spent. But if we could give the average person – say, someone enthusiastic about the potential of Facebook and Instagram ads, but oh-so-fearful of wasting their money – a single piece of spending advice, it would be to have a minimum threshold. Even if you’re a solo or smaller business, don’t go into social media advertising unless you’re willing to spend a minimum of R1 000 a month across Facebook and Instagram to do real advertising and empower you to get the data you need. On the other end of the spectrum, while it’s good to swing big and have big dreams, don’t overshoot it by picking numbers out of the sky. You can certainly spend larger numbers, but you should work up to them strategically.

Our top tip to maximise the effect of Facebook and Instagram advertising is to up the visual content – think brand awareness paired with eye-grabbing images or video. Not only do visuals outperform text on both platforms, but on Instagram ads have to look great to perform great. We also recommend investing in strong and original content, listing all the relevant hashtags (Instagram allows for 30 in the description, but you can add more in a comment on your own post), working on consistent themes and creating competitions for engagement spikes. One advantage of both Facebook and Instagram is the ability to tweak ads while they’re running. If one type of content is performing better than another for the same audience, end the poorly performing ad. Is a campaign going overboard on budget? Simply tone it down or end it early. As simple as that.

The bottom line is that yes, Facebook and Instagram ads are both 100% worth it – and there’s data to prove it. Social media advertising success all comes down to planning, analysis and perhaps a little luck. Keep an eye on our blog for more tips on this topic.

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