Did you know that over 50% of the world’s population is younger than 30 years old? As Generation Z grows up and millennials rise to positions of power, the business world as we know it is changing, and marketers need to be paying attention. This changing world has caused Generation Z and millennials to be brought up in completely different ways than their elders, and it takes fresh marketing tactics to catch their eye. Where do you start? The perfect place would be where these young generations are spending approximately 32 minutes a day: Instagram.

Instagram + Young Adults = Increased Sales

Instagram is so incredibly crucial to businesses today. In fact, there are over 25 million business accounts on the “Gram.” Additionally, 71% of the app’s users are under 35 years old. If you were looking for where Generation Z and millennials are hiding, you just found them. One thing worth noting about these generations is that they are very easily influenced. The question, “If your friends jumped off a bridge, would you?” really speaks volumes here (and the answer is yes, they would).

Marketers have an amazing opportunity to influence the minds of impressionable teenagers and young adults who are practically dying to be cool and make impulsive decisions. If you spend even a tiny fraction of the amount of time I spend on Instagram, you’ve most likely come across a “Sponsored” post. Companies pay for these posts to pop up on your feed and advertise their products to you… and they’re influencing who and what we want to be.

What are Sponsored Posts?

Put yourself in the mindset of a millennial or Gen Z and picture this: You’re scrolling through your Instagram feed, double tapping away on all the pictures of your friends living their best lives. Then you see a picture of a girl you don’t know. She’s wearing the coolest workout outfit, and she looks like she’s in the midst of an intense session at the gym. You don’t know her, but you can’t stop thinking that you totally want to be her. You look at the user wondering just who she is and why you follow her, but you see the word “Sponsored” along with the handle of an athletic apparel company. Odds are you click on the account to do some stalking. You are now immersed in the image the company is trying to portray through their Instagram account.

Most likely, your next course of action is to purchase the trendy clothes you’re seeing and you may even make plans to hit up your local gym this weekend so you can try to emulate that sporty girl you just saw… and Instagram has done it again. They just influenced your personal style and your plans for the weekend. They just influenced who and what you want to be.

This so often is the case for many Instagram users. To be exact, 75% of them are taking action, meaning visiting the website or making a purchase, after viewing a brand’s Instagram post or profile. Allowing potential customers to see products in action and witness a brand’s image has proven to generate sales. Users can purchase the products being promoted with just a few taps of the index finger. Does it really get better than that?

How do you claim your spot in the minds of these impressionable younger generations? Create your own sponsored posts! There are 5 different Instagram ad formats, which I’ll break down for you now.

Photo Ads

The example I described above included a photo ad: a brand using a captivating image of their product to entice scrollers. This type of ad features one image and allows you to add a call-to-action button, such as “Shop Now,” “Book Now,” or “Learn More.”

Video Ads

Video ads are especially compelling, as videos account for 80% of our mobile consumption. A video offers users the ability to see your product in use, prompting them to click those call-to-action buttons available at the bottom of your sponsored post.

Carousel Ads

If you have multiple pictures you want to highlight in an advertisement, a carousel ad is your perfect solution. These ads allow users to swipe through multiple pictures, each image featuring the call-to-action button at the bottom.

Collection Ads

The newest type of Instagram ad provides the most convenient user experience. Displaying pictures or videos, collection ads allow users to purchase the featured products directly from the ad. Instagram actually did a case study with a Brazilian company called Zattini where they discovered that using the collection ad format increased conversions by 6.3%.

Stories Ads

Unlike the other formats, stories ads take up an entire screen. They appear as a user is tapping through the stories of accounts they follow. 500 million users view stories every day, so this ad format provides an enormous potential audience. You can make use of fun effects, stickers, or colorful text to personalize your ad and further drive home the image your brand is trying to create. This ad format is only visible for 24 hours, just like a regular Instagram story, and utilizes a swipe-up feature that can link users directly to your website or to a certain product.

How Do I Choose the Best One?

In any form of advertising, it is important to identify your desired goal. The goal you have in mind will lead you to the appropriate Instagram ad format. If you’re looking to increase sales, a collection ad where users can purchase products directly from the ad will probably benefit you the most. However, if you’re just trying to get your name out there, photo and video ads could prove to be the most useful. If you have a handful of new products that you want to show off, try a carousel ad. If you’re offering a special sale or promotion for a limited time, creating a stories ad could be the best option as the ad will disappear in 24 hours.

How Do I Create a Sponsored Post?

Within the Instagram app, you can choose to promote a particular post as long as you have a business profile simply by clicking the blue “Promote” button on the post. You can also create a sponsored post using the Business Manager on Facebook by going to Ads Manager. Be sure to use hashtags, as they are proven to increase engagement by 12.6%! Once created, your sponsored post will begin reaching the target audience you designated in setup, regardless of whether those users actually follow your account.


Instagram’s impact on the business world is truly amazing. Social media marketing is a field that is trendy and happening, growing every second when someone creates an Instagram account.

If you’re not using Instagram, you should be. You need to be. 1 billion Instagram users are just waiting for you to tell them how you can be a part of their lives.

About the Author

Gina Lizzo

Gina is one of our Social Media Coordinators. She graduated from La Salle University in 3 years and is a huge Yankees fan!

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