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Instagram introduces adverts for brands

Instagram, the online platform that allows users to explore and create through photos, has recently introduced adverts into their newsfeed.

Globally, Instagram has over 300 million active users (People that log on once during a month.) This makes Instagram bigger than Twitter, and looking at the engagement that Instagram produces, it has a higher brand affiliation. Within South Africa, Instagram is one of the big three social networking sites, and is continuing to grow. With 680 000 users in 2013, this photo sharing giant has continued with massive growth, and now services over 2.68 million South African users, a growth of 133%. This means that Instagram now has more active users that Mxit.

This exceptional growth led to the acquisition of the platform by Facebook for $1 billion in 2012, and since then the platform has been scaling up with improved functionalities, as well as a commercialised advertising strategy. These ads, which were launched in 2015, were at first only available to large brands. However, as of late November, Instagram launched ad capabilities for all brands.

But, are Instagram ads the right platform for Shopping centres and the retail industry?

Absolutely, YES!

Instagram, by its very nature, is a visual platform, which drives views and engagements around high quality, creative images. This means that before you even ponder the possibilities of advertising through Instagram, you need to have produced a strategic and measurable content plan that drives awareness of your shopping centre. Ask yourself these questions before committing additional budget and resources

  • Do we have an established content plan?
  • Do we make use of in-centre shopping centre products and tenant offerings?
  • Is there a measurable objective that additional advertising can impact?
  • Can you curate or create content that is visual, and of a high quality?
  • Is Instagram a channel that we focus on? (For retailers, this answer should always be yes!)

If, after answering the above, you believe that you can generate business impact through Instagram, then it’s time to begin Instagram advertising your shopping centre!


Here’s a quick run-down of how to create Instagram Ads:

Connect your Instagram Page to Facebook

Connect your existing page to Instagram, or create one from within Facebook.

Choose the correct Ad type

Instagram ads give you 3 choices, based on your objectives. Choose from Clicks to Website, Mobile App Installs, and Video views (Up to 30 seconds)

Within these objectives, you can choose the execution types: Image, Carousel Ads or video. 

      Square Format                        Landscape Format

Know your communities, niche and broad:

Instagram uses the same audience preferences as Facebook, so if you’re familiar with Facebook Ad set ups and custom audiences, you’ll know exactly how to position the ads. Make sure you understand the communities that sit within your shopping centre, and create ads that suit them.

Curated, creative visuals

As one of the most important aspects of Instagram, your visuals must tell the story. Think of inventive executions that do the story telling without text. Stay away from Stock photography, and curate your own, from your shopping centre!

Focus on one Call to Action

Although Instagram doesn’t have a limit on text like Facebook’s 20% rule, be wary of including copy heavy Call-to-actions. Rather focus on one specific need, e.g. Take a Selfie with your BFF!’ rather than explaining the entire campaign. Your visuals must take care of the rest.

Exploit popular hashtags

Tracking popular hashtags, and being on top of current trends like #MotivationMonday and #ThrowbackThursday, will keep your brand in the limelight and service the niche or broad communities you have. This aspect should be tied into your overall social media strategy and content strategy, and service to highlight your shopping centre’s unique selling points.

As you can see from the above, Instagram Ads should not just be used as an additional platform, just because everyone else is doing it. However, if you are willing to allocate the necessary budgets and resources, you can highlight and showcase your retail outlet or mall in new and exciting ways, prompting additional communities, brand loyalty and desired actions that support your business objectives.

Chat to the FGX if you’d like help setting up your Instagram ads