Your Instagram Ads Have Plateaued, And You Don’t Even Know It

Or at least that’s what happened to me.

Back in October, I launched a digital campaign for a new development in Blacksburg, VA. The campaign included photo and video ads on Facebook and Instagram. We have received so much buzz as a result! Hundreds of views and comments, and thousands of clicks! Despite this crazy activity, I had doubts about Instagram. I found myself wondering: Could we still be reaching new people on Instagram 3-4 months later?

I wasn’t concerned about Facebook – Facebook’s audience is massive – but I was concerned that Instagram’s audience might not be large enough for us to have impact over an extended period of time. I mean, how many 17 to 24 year-old Instagram users in Blacksburg that are interested in Virginia Tech, could there be? After 3-4 months, I’m sure they’ve all seen our ads. Wouldn’t you agree?

(Check out these 2015 social media usage statistics by the Pew Research Center.)

And not only does Facebook have a much larger audience, the network also offers more placement opportunities. Just think – when you log in to Facebook, you see ads in your news feed, and you see them on the right side of your page on your desktop computer. And each time you scroll of refresh your page, you are shown a different set of ads. On Instagram, the chances of seeing an ad are fewer because there’s only one placement option, and you can only view one ad at a time. With fewer users and fewer placement opportunities, I just knew our exposure was being limited.

So today, I was posting a new Instagram ad for the same Blacksburg project, and I just so happened to look at the data for our existing ads. The user interaction had completely flatlined!




(This is only data for one of the three Instagram ads. The other two ads mirrored this trend.)

The user interaction, in this case clicks, spiked at the beginning of the campaign, then died off after about a month on all 3 Instagram ads, including the video!

Shocked, I went over to look at the Facebook ads to see if they had the same effect. We had a Facebook video running, and also a series of photos and both were actually increasing in activity!

I should also add that our Facebook and Instagram ads targeted the same demographics. Also, our Instagram ads actually had a consistent reach over time, but the interaction continued to decline.

(Side note for anyone who is familiar with Facebook & Instagram ad setup: our Facebook and Instagram ads were setup as separate campaigns; they were not linked, so it was much easier to view the difference between the data. Now, we run single ads and select both the Facebook and Instagram placements under the same campaign. So if we want to view the data on these newer campaigns, we have to examine them under the Placements tab in the ad manager.)

In case you’re judging me, I want to say yes, you are right, I should be reviewing this data more often. But as I mentioned earlier, the results were crazy! I was constantly getting notifications about people commenting on our Facebook video ad so performance was not a major concern. At the same time, I sensed something was missing, and my intuition turned out to be right.

This is something you’ll want to look for if you’re running ads in smaller markets or if you have a very narrow target. Instagram ads can only get so much exposure so if you want to keep your audience engaged more than, say, three months, you should plan to provide new content every few months.

Good luck and thanks for reading!

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