What’s Better: Instagram Ads or Influencer Marketing?

June 26, 2016

The pros and cons of Instagram ads and Influencer campaigns

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What’s This?

Instagram is known today as one of the most popular social networking platforms because of its unique take on internet-based interaction and sharing. There are close to a billion users on Instagram which has turned it into both a stable networking application and an obvious marketing platform for business owners. Because many brands have chosen to use Instagram to boost their online presence, Instagram developers have released new advertisement features that maximize entrepreneurs’ efforts to reach prospects on the site. While there are numerous advantages to these newly released functions, the question remains – is it smart to use ads in place of influencer marketing?

Understanding The Differences

Before discussing the advantages and/or disadvantages between Instagram ads and influencer marketing, let’s explore the difference. Instagram ads fall under the category of native advertising.

Native Advertising

In a nutshell, native advertising consists of ads in the form of articles, infographics, or videos that can only be bought and displayed on one platform, such as Instagram Sponsored Ads, Twitter’s Promoted Tweets, and Facebook’s Sponsored Stories. BuzzFeed, and Eater have developed native ad formats for their sites.

Influencer Marketing




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Influencer marketing focuses on specific key individuals rather than the target market as a whole. In this case, Social media influencers create and publish content on their respective platforms. Influencer content may be in the form of a testimonial or third parties, such as retailers or manufacturers. Budgets for paid influencer marketing can vary and are based on audience reach. But unpaid influencer marketing can exist from relationships with influencers to further their own personal social growth. One very important thing about working with influencers, is being able to recognize who is truly an influencer. Who is actually able to drive actions, not someone who “has a lot of fans”, but someone who can convert their audience into an action for your brand. You can read more about how to find real Instagram influencers here.

Benefits & Disadvantages of Instagram Ads VS Influencer Marketing

So thrilled with my @nutribuddyuk Starter Kit! Time for a fit & healthy summer! #nutribuddy #spon #healthy

A photo posted by Zara Holland (@zaraholland) on

1. Improved Brand Identity VS Authenticity – One of the biggest benefits of using Instagram ads is that it allows brands to improve their brand identity across the entire Instagram user base. Although this is advantageous for business owners who want to reach more audiences, a lot of Instagram users have complained that they don’t want ads showing up on their feed, especially if they’re nor particularly interested in the products or services advertised. Influencer marketing on the other hand offers a much more authentic user interaction without forcing products and services on users. If a user doesn’t follow an influencer, they’re not likely to cross paths which works best for those who want to maintain a feed that’s free of irrelevant content. The above partnership between Zara Holland and Nutribuddy works incredibly well. She has a large following of over 136k people, but she also has high engagement. As of the moment, the post has almost 8,000 likes and 72 comments. That means people are interested in what she has to say, and her personal brand aligns properly with her sponsor.

2. Expenses Associated with Ads Vs Influencers – To avail of the advertisement services that Instagram offers, a brand will have to pay up. Regardless of how little the fees might be, there is no denying that an extra expense will still be an expense. For brands seeking to cut back on fees, collaborating with an influencer might be a more reasonable choice. This is because influencers usually charge very little and sometimes, would be satisfied with nothing more than a freebie or two of your amazing product.

3. The Algorithm Is Coming – Another thing to keep in mind when deciding is that Instagram has recently implemented a “Facebook-Like” algorithm. Facebook’s algorithm change in 2013 dropped organic reach from 16% in 2012 to 11% in 2015 (at least that’s what Facebook reported). That’s pretty significant. This could affect your reach (as well as that of your influencers). This may give an unfair advantage to running ads versus Influencer marketing when it comes to your marketing dollars. But then again, if your influencer has a truly dedicated community, this should be minimal. Make sure to discuss your influencer’s engagement prior to engaging in a relationship. 

How to Decide If You Should Go For Instagram Ads or Influencer Marketing?

If you want to find out which of these two strategies would be best for your business, it’s vital that you understand what your goals are. Do you want to reach a wider audience? Are you seeking to improve your online reputation? Do you want to lead prospects to making a purchase by driving traffic to the right places? Considering all of these questions will help you identify which strategy would be most ideal for you. We suggest you run tests for both and see what works best for your particular brand and business. After all, marketing is not a one all solution. Every business is different and will have success with different strategies. Once you are ready to work with an influencer, check out our guide on best practices on how to Collaborate with an Instagram inflluencer.

How to Manage Your Instagram Accounts

Socialdraft is an all-in-one Social Media Dashboard that helps you manage Instagram. It is the most robust and simple tool for agencies and teams to effectively handle social media. With Socialdraft you can:

Schedule posts to Facebook pages, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn Business Pages (and one LinkedIn account) and Pinterest Boards
Schedule posts individually, as recurring posts, or bulk upload them as CSV
Easily re-schedule with a drag & drop action
Schedule GIFs to Facebook and Twitter
Download content calendars as PDF
Keep an eye on your online reputation and easily share the good news to social
Find content on Instagram and easily schedule reposts not just to Instagram but to all other social networks
Engage on Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin
Download Facebook and Twitter reports
and tons more…

If you are curious about Socialdraft, take it for a risk-free trial. You’ll get to try out all the features and decide if Socialdraft is right for you.

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