For artists who use social media as part of their marketing, staying up to speed on what Meta (formerly Facebook) is doing across their properties including Instagram is important.
A number of updates to advertising options for brands were announced. So what should artists be aware of? A new feature is Instagram profile feed ads.
For many artists getting started, Instagram may be part of their marketing or even an artist’s entire digital footprint, in large part because they use the profile feed as their catalog so this feature is worth understanding.
Instagram’s Business Model
Like other social network platforms that Mark Zuckerberg has purchased and added to Meta’s offerings, Instagram’s business model is to get users to sign over rights to their data and incentivize them to produce content.
Meta then uses that data to help advertising departments purchase ads that hopefully are more relevant to those who purchase them.
What are the results? Historically, amazing in terms of how Facebook/Meta has become one of the world’s most valuable companies.
Unlike network TV channels that pay millions of dollars to produce each show and then receive money from advertisers who buy commercials, Facebook’s social media platforms pay nothing for content. Artists and other users create posts that their contacts see and Meta inserts advertisements from shoe brands, Amazon, etc. into the content.
The amount of advertisements shown as a percentage of other content is often1 referred to as “Ad Load.” If you haven’t noticed, the ad load on Instagram has been steadily rising. Why?
Tech Crunch’s Sarah Perez says it might be due to a number of factors:
- “Another quarter that saw marketers pull back on their ad spending” means the company has to create new inventory.
- Meta (who often copies competitors’ features when they can’t buy a company) “is introducing new Instagram ad placements as a way to increase the surface for ads as it struggles to monetize its TikTok competitor, Reels.”
- Meta as a company has seen its revenue shrinking while daily active users are in decline as well.
All of the above plus the macro-economic approach to curbing inflation via interest rate hikes has seen Meta’s value decline massively.
In other words, Meta has to try to get revenue growing again so they need to sell more ads.
What Instagram Profile Feed Ads Mean for Artists
An artist’s job on social media is to post in such a way that another user, preferably a stranger, pauses long enough to register what the post is and then perhaps interact.
Likes and shares are great. Comments are better and clicking through to see an individual profile where multiple pieces of art are shown is the best outcome within the social media app.
A single artist’s post has always been competing with paid advertisements on Instagram in a follower’s home feed. Scroll Instagram and you’ll see a few posts from people you know and then an ad, and sometimes Instagram tries to get you to follow an influencer’s profile as well.
However, if an artist gets lucky and a post catch’s a stranger’s attention, they may click over to see a feed of just the artist’s posts in a 3-wide grid. In the past, that series of posts would have been 100% the artist’s content.
Now, those single thumbnails will be interrupted by a 2×2 Instagram profile feed ad for a brand that is paying for the advertisement space.
So after you’ve gotten a potential purchaser’s attention focused on you, Instagram will now give them another distraction.
Should You Stop Using Instagram?
This probably doesn’t mean you should abandon Instagram if you enjoy posting to it and are sure you’re getting at least some attention from strangers on it.
After all, you don’t have to pay Instagram to create content on it. It’s simply a question of whether or not your time could be better spent elsewhere creating your art or building your art business. Crista Cloutier agrees you may find social media useful in building your audience.
Just understand that Instagram will likely be less effective for you after this change, which means you’ll need to put more effort into it to get the same results.
Be Sure to Use Social Media as Top-to-Mid Sales Funnel
So now that you understand how Instagram profile feed ads impact your marketing, use the same tactics the advertisers who pay Instagram are using:
Take every opportunity to direct anyone seeing your posts off of Instagram and to your website.
Paid ads on Instagram take the user to an advertiser’s website. Your posts and Instagram profile need to do the same.
Point your Instagram profile at your website and use “Visit my website to…” liberally in your post captions to help your potential fans move to a page that’s all about you.
The top of your sales funnel is where you introduce your art to strangers and attempt to get that stranger to explore your work further. Social media works for that as long as you have enough free time. But once you have someone interested, be selfish. Don’t encourage them to stay where there are so many competitors for their attention.
Guide them to your website (where you have their full attention)!
If you don’t already have an artist website, it takes seconds to set up through ETChster, and you won’t be trying to sell your fine art in the middle of an open-air market (social media platform full of ads).