Whether you’re a long-established, thriving business or are just getting your first brand off the ground, social media advertising is a brilliant way to build brand awareness and attract new customers and audiences to your products or services. But with so many social media platforms and advertising opportunities available, it can be tough to know where to start without relying on tried-and-tested Facebook and Instagram ads. In this article we’ll discuss the most popular Instagram ads alternatives out there so you can choose wisely.
What are Instagram Ads?
Instagram ads are paid-for posts or stories that you can publish on the platform to promote your brand. These usually look exactly the same as any other Instagram post but contain a “sponsored” label to let users know the post has been paid for.
Instagram ads also contain a Call to Action (CTA) to entice viewers to click and follow through with a specific task – this could be to book an appointment, check out the brand’s website, or buy a product.
There are five main types of Instagram advertising:
- Photo Ads: Create a “clean, simple, and beautiful” photo-based ad that appears on users’ Instagram feeds.
- Video Ads: Instagram videos can be a maximum of 60 seconds long and allow you to create a more engaging experience for your audience’s feed.
- Carousel Ads: Carousel ads let you “add another layer of depth” to Instagram ad campaigns as users can swipe to view multiple images and videos in a single post.
- Stories Ads: Instagram Stories showcase your ads in a creative, full-screen format with CTA possibilities.
- Ads in Explore: The Instagram Explore page is a unique way to get your feed ads in front of audiences looking to expand their interests. Post anything from shoppable ads to subject-orientated feeds.
What are the pros and cons of advertising on Instagram?
- Brand Awareness: Instagram adverts are a great way to build brand awareness by making your ads visible to users who aren’t following your page without feeling intrusive. Posts sit comfortably on users’ feeds, and Stories feature in between the Stories of pages your audience follows.
- Targeting Options: Like Facebook, advertisers on Instagram can set a budget, time limit, and detailed audience demographics for each marketing campaign. You can also utilize Instagram’s precise targeting options for a more automated campaign.
- CTAs and Shoppable Posts: Instagram allow you to embed CTAs in your campaigns. This can compel users to engage with your brand on the social media platform or drive traffic to your store or website.
- Visibility: Instagram is home to over 1 billion active monthly users, with 500 million daily active users viewing Stories and 200 million visiting at least one business profile per day.
- Facebook Ads Manager: Because Instagram is owned by Facebook, you can utilize the Facebook Ads Manager to streamline marketing across the two platforms, where many dropshippers and online stores have found success. You can also promote videos, photos, Stories, and other ad types directly from your Instagram Business account without using this tool.
- The average CPC is $0.50 - $1.00 compare to Facebook’s average CPC of $1.72.
- Lower engagement: Because Instagram is focused on attractive visual content, visitors are used to double-tapping to show they “like” a post but may not read the caption. This means if you’ve added a link to your post (only possible on sponsored posts), users may just tap and move on without seeing the link.
- Limited audience: Over half of Instagram’s global population is 34 years old or younger. While this is great if you’re targeting younger customers, businesses aiming for an older client base might not find their audience on Instagram.
- Competition: Because Instagram is so popular, millions of brands and business accounts compete for viewer attention, so it can be tough to make your campaigns stand out.
Top 10 Instagram ad alternatives:
Now you’ve taken a look at the pros and cons of advertising on Instagram, it’s time to consider some alternative online advertising options that might suit your brand’s goals.
While sixads is not technically an advertising platform, you can run ads on three different advertising platforms through sixads. It’s a Shopify app that helps entrepreneurs with little or no advertising experience run ads on Facebook, Google, and Instagram. Trusted by over 100k Shopify store owners, sixads automates the ad creation process to save your time, optimizes ad targeting, and helps cut budget waste. With sixads, Shopify store owners can start advertising their products on three different channels in minutes, reach potential buyers who want to purchase their products and analyze ad performance in the app’s dashboard.
- Ads on three different platforms: Google, Facebook, and Instagram.
- One dashboard. Manage all your ads on all platforms through a single dashboard.
- Discover products that sell best. Test your products with ads and find which ones are the most popular.
- Easy-to-understand analytics dashboard. Forget difficult Facebook ad lingo or hard-to-navigate Google’s interface. All the data you need is in one place.
- Auto-syncing. The app automatically syncs your products with the ads, so if the products run out of stock, ads stop running automatically.
- Businesses on a small budget.
- Businesses that want to continue advertising on Instagram and add two more advertising channels.
- Businesses that don’t want to navigate between multiple dashboards.
- Businesses with little or no advertising experience (although, advertising experts also find the app useful).
#2 TikTok for Business
TikTok for Business is an excellent opportunity to unleash your brand’s creative style with engaging and immersive photo and video ads. TikTok is one of the best and fastest-growing social media platforms, boasting over 26.5 million monthly active users in the USA alone. The platform grew a massive 5.5 times in its first 18 months (TikTok was only released in 2019, believe it or not), so there are plenty of people waiting for your content!
Although TikTok advertising is mainly centered around video, you can also benefit from sponsored posts that appear as part of a users’ feed, branded AR content, and more. Plus, there are the ever-popular TikTok challenges, influencer ads, and brand takeover options to take advantage of. (Learn how to maximize influencer marketing here.)
- Business accounts can create highly targeted ads, categorizing target audiences by demographics, interests, or even devices (55% of TikTok users use iPhones, for example).
- TikTok has a minimum spend of $20 per ad group or $50 per ad campaign. Branded hashtag challenges and brand takeovers range from $50K - $150K.
- Benefit from a wide range of different ad formats, including in-feed posts, brand takeovers, AR content, influencer ads, and hashtag challenges.
- Brands with a high advertising budget.
- Target audiences aged between 18-34.
- Brands with an engaging, creative, and interactive visual story to tell.
- E-Commerce businesses operating in China should be particularly interested in TikTok advertising.
#3 Twitter Ads
Twitter hosts over 187 “monetizable” daily active users and is a hugely popular social media platform. 68.7 million Twitter users are based in the US, and it has a surprisingly biased audience base of 70% male users to 30% female.
Twitter offers various advertising options, including Promoted Twitter Ads, Follower Ads, and Trend Takeovers. These Twitter ads allow audience interaction, including the ability to like, comment, retweet, or follow. Promoted Tweets are clearly marked and may include other interactive elements such as clickable visuals or extended character allowances.
One of the downsides to advertising on Twitter is the limited lifespan of posts and constantly changing algorithms that can make it hard for non-marketing professionals to keep up!
- No minimum ad spend; however, it costs $99 to benefit from automated ads.
- Twitter offers a wide variety of advertisement options and can help you find the right campaign for your objectives.
- Pick your target audience based on demographics, location, language, device, or even mobile network!
- Twitter has an advertising audience of 353 million in 2021 and is predicted to grow in 2022.
- More Twitter users are male (70%) than female (30%), although this is smaller in the US (54% male users, 43% female)
- Twitter’s biggest age demographic is 25-34-year-olds (28.9%), closely followed by 35-49-year-olds (28.2%).
- Twitter’s median CPC as of the last quarter of 2019 is $0.33 compared to Instagram’s average CPC of $0.50 - $1.0.
- Short and sweet ads: promoted Tweets under 100 characters get around 18% more engagement.
- Brands with a low advertising budget or newcomers to online advertising who want to benefit from the automated features.
- US-based businesses, targeting audiences aged 25-49.
This forum-based social network might not be your first thought when looking for alternatives to Facebook or Instagram. However, Reddit is one of the top 20 most visited websites globally and boasts over 430 million monthly active users worldwide.
The trick to using Reddit’s social network wisely is all about native ads. While the community will punish you for pushy sales pitch ads, sponsored content can go down well if you take the time to establish yourself as an expert in the field.
If you make sure your account is well respected as an authority on a given topic, then Reddit ads can be well worth your time and money, and you can use both promoted posts and video ads to help you get your message across. One user even made $28K in a single Reddit post, so there is definitely profit in this platform!
- Reddit has an opinionated audience with high engagement rates. Therefore, you need to make sure you’re respected as an authority in your subject area and focus on native ads.
- Over 450 million people use Reddit monthly, and it’s one of the world’s top 20 most visited websites.
- Nearly one in four US adults aged 25-29 use Reddit, with 58% aged 18-34. Over half of the platform’s desktop traffic comes from the US.
- The Reddit platform uses a CPC (Cost per click) pricing model, with a minimum daily ad spend of $5.
- Businesses that are already on Reddit or are committed to building an expert reputation.
- Brands with experience in digital marketing who can utilize native ads.
- Brands with high-quality, informative, useful content.
#5 Pinterest Ads
Unusually for a social media platform, Pinterest actually welcomes branded and sponsored content, making the platform one of the best alternatives to Facebook or Instagram for advertisers.
Over 300 million people use Pinterest: 89% use the platform to inspire shopping and purchase decisions, and 83% of US “Pinners” have made a purchase based on brands’ sponsored Pins. What’s more, according to Oberlo, the average order value of a Pinterest-ad-inspired purchase is around $50 – higher than any other major social platform, including Facebook!
Pinterest ads are usually ‘Promoted Pins,’ which appear in feeds and search results like any other. These Pins are highly targeted and boosted to increase visibility.
Promoted Pins will be clearly labeled; however, if a Pinner shares your content, this label disappears, and other rePins or engagement is considered “earned media.”
- Over 300 million people use the site monthly, and 83% of US Pinners make a purchase based on sponsored Pins from brands.
- Pinterest saw a 300% increase in add-to-cart and checkout conversions between January and August 2020.
- In 2020, various new features were released to make shopping on the platform easier.
- In January 2021, Pinterest was the world’s 14th largest social platform: this puts it ahead of Twitter, although it’s below Facebook and Instagram.
- 30.4% of Pinterest’s ad audience is women aged 25-34, with women outranking men and non-binary users in every age group.
- The average CPC for ads on Pinterest can be between $0.10 and $1.50 compared to Instagram’s average CPC of $0.50 - $1.0.
- eCommerce businesses and entrepreneurs with something tangible to sell.
- Beautiful, inspiring, visual ads.
- Advertisers who are familiar with Pinterest and have undertaken detailed market research.
- Experts in SEO and creating engaging content.
#6 Amazon Advertisements
Amazon is a great place for advertisers to promote products and makes an excellent alternative to social media sites like those owned by Facebook. Just like Google is the place to go if you have a query, Amazon is the place for shoppers to find whatever they want to buy.
There are over 300 million worldwide active user accounts on Amazon, and Amazon Advertising offers a wide range of methods for advertisers to connect with their audiences.
Advertisers on Amazon can produce sponsored products or brands that feature higher in a shopper’s search results. Sponsored displays enable you to create ads that will be displayed based on a shopper’s interests and purchase history. Amazon also offers exciting advertising options: audio ads, video ads, and custom advertising that appear/play on connected apps and devices, such as Amazon Music, Echo and Fire TV, and even publisher channels such as IMDb.
- “Amazon Advertising” was launched in 2018. This combined Amazon Marketing Services, Amazon Media Group, and the Amazon Advertising Platform.
- There are loads of ways to advertise on Amazon, including Sponsored Ads, Headline Search Ads, Product Display Ads, Native Ads, Video Ads, and Amazon Stores.
- Advertisers can benefit from flexible budgets, with CPCs sitting around $0.35.
- In addition to ads appearing on Amazon search results, you can also create audio and video content to reach audiences even when they’re not shopping. These connect with Amazon-associated apps, devices, and partner and publisher websites.
- Businesses selling tangible goods online.
- B2C businesses.
- Brands that are already selling on Amazon get a head start, and any current seller ratings increase when you use the service.
#7 Quora for Business
Quora is another popular Q&A forum where users can search for insightful questions and answers to almost any problem. Like Reddit, you must establish yourself as an authority. Native ads offer the best results, and it’s a great way to build credibility for your brand.
Quora boasts that its ‘For Business‘ platform enables businesses to reach over 300 million people per day and ads can be launched “in minutes.” You need a minimum daily budget of $5 though.
To make sure your ads get to the people who matter, Quora offers four types of targeting: contextual, audience, behavioral, and broad. This goes beyond many demographics offered by alternative ad platforms and enables you to target ads based on user behavior or interests.
A significant benefit of this social network is that you can sign up for a Quora for Business account without running an ad to check whether your target market is using the site. This ensures you’re not wasting time marketing in places your customers aren’t… That said, 35% of Americans use Quora, according to Alexa.com, so there’s a high chance your audience is on the platform.
- Set various business goals, targeting options, and ad types with Quora, including text, image, and promoted answers.
- You need a minimum CPC budget of $5 per day but will only be charged when you hit the spending thresholds: $25, $50, $250, $500, and $750.
- Over 300 million people use Quora monthly, with 54% more likely to report an annual household income of over $100K, 37% more likely to be in a management position, and 65% more likely to report having a college degree.
- 75% of members access the platform via a smartphone, and 34.9% are based in the US.
- According to the website, Quora incorporates an easy-to-use ad service, with ads capable of launching in minutes.
- Businesses looking to attract people in management positions or with high household incomes.
- Brands who are new to digital advertising.
- Brands aiming to build credibility with valuable content.
#8 Google Ads
Although it’s not a social media platform, Google Ads (formally Google Adwords) offers an invaluable opportunity for advertisers to share their products and services with a vast audience. Like Facebook, Google is one of the most well-known websites in the world. In fact, it’s the #1 most visited website in the world (Facebook is only #7).
Google Ads allows you to develop your ads to suit three main objectives:
- Driving traffic to your website.
- Getting people to call you.
- Increasing visits to your physical store.
Advertisers can bid on keywords with monthly budgets for high search result rankings. The CPC bidding structure is a little complicated, but there are a lot of resources online to help you understand the process.
- Google processes over 4.5 billion queries every day and 70,000 searches every second, so there’s plenty of potential customers using this platform.
- Google has a relatively complicated CPC system, which means it’s not suitable for brands new to online marketing.
- Tailor ads based on three objectives: website traffic, phone calls, or physical store visits.
- Google Ads can run on any of Google’s partner networks, including the Google app store, YouTube, Gmail, Blogger, and more.
- Depending on your chosen keywords and targeting options, Google Ads can be incredibly affordable or really expensive but generally offer a high ROI. It’s all based on competition and a bidding system.
- Google Display network’s average CPC is $0.63 and Instagram’s average CPC is $0.50 - $1.0
- Brands with digital marketing experience who can understand Google’s complicated keyword bidding system.
- Small merchants and local stores looking to increase foot traffic, phone calls, or website visits using niche keywords and smaller geographical areas.
- Larger companies that can afford high-value keywords.
- Brands with quality content that adds value to customers’ lives (this will be favored in the bidding process).
Another excellent advertising alternative to Instagram and Facebook is YouTube. Owned by Google, this video streaming service is the world’s second most visited website and has over 2 billion logged-in monthly users, including 74% of US adults!
Google offers four types of YouTube ads:
- Skippable in-stream ads
- Non-skippable in-stream ads
- Native video discovery ads
- Non-video ads (for example, overlays and banners)
These can be displayed as a sidebar or “TrueView,” or a full-screen moving image that will disrupt the video viewers are watching. Depending on your advertising goals (and how long your videos are), the advertising campaign you want will vary.
- Because YouTube is owned by Google, it has a similarly complicated CPC system.
- You only pay for YouTube ads when someone watches at least 30 seconds of the advertisement or clicks on your TrueView link, and the free video builder tool is incredibly useful for new advertisers.
- YouTube provides real-time insights into your video and ad campaigns’ performance.
- 74% of US adults use YouTube, with over 2 billion monthly logged-in users.
- 70% of YouTube watchers aged 18-64 made a purchase after seeing a brand advertised on the platform (based on a study from February 2020).
- YouTube ads have an average cost-per-view of $0.01 - $0.03.
- Incredibly visual, image and video orientated ad campaigns.
- Advertisers who are experienced in running alternative advertising campaigns via Google Ads and partner platforms.
- Brands with less digital marketing experience can still utilize YouTube adverts thanks to the free ad building tool.
Despite an average of 265 million people using Snapchat daily, this social media network is still massively misunderstood and underutilized by businesses. This is probably because Snapchat posts only last 24 hours before disappearing, and there’s no feed to scroll. However, despite your posts’ short lifespan, this social media tool is a really effective way to spend your ad dollars.
Snapchat lets you tailor your ads based on various goals:
- Building brand awareness.
- Increasing video views.
- Boosting web views and conversions.
- Lead generation.
- Improving engagement rates.
- Encouraging people to download an app.
To achieve these goals, you can use various Snapchat ad formats and combine image, video, and text campaigns – you can even create branded AR lenses!
- Approximately 265 million people use Snapchat daily, with campaigns able to reach up to 75% of Millennials and Gen Z users.
- You can launch a Snapchat marketing campaign with a daily budget of $5. Set daily and lifetime spending budgets and spend caps to control your campaigns.
- Instant create lets you create an ad in under 5 minutes. Advanced create provides more detailed targeting and bidding capabilities.
Allows goal-based bidding and marketing, plus plenty of advertising options to engage customers.
- Businesses who want to target younger audiences.
- Experienced marketers who can utilize various content types to engage with a more modern way of thinking.
- Short, time-based campaigns with quality CTAs.
#11 LinkedIn Ads
LinkedIn is a valuable social media platform aimed at professionals. The site is dedicated to networking, education, and business promotion and makes an excellent alternative to Facebook or Instagram, particularly for B2B marketers or people promoting their self-employed services.
LinkedIn hosts over 740 million users. Nearly 40 million people use the social media network to search for a job, and 51% have a college degree or higher education. Four out of five LinkedIn users are decision-makers at their workplace, making this platform an excellent location for targeting high earners and making B2B connections.
LinkedIn Ads are a valuable resource, particularly for B2B companies who want to reach professional customers, influencers, decision-makers, and executives. The all-in-one advertising platform is designed to make it easy for advertisers to set up LinkedIn ads accounts, run campaigns, and control budgets from one convenient location.
- LinkedIn ads offer various marketing solutions, including post boosting and personalized messages sent directly to members’ inboxes.
- Target customers based on various demographics, including job title, which isn’t a targetable feature offered by alternative social media marketing platforms.
- Run campaigns across desktop, mobile, and tablet devices for a seamless operation.
- LinkedIn Ads require a minimum bid of $2 for CPC and CPM campaigns, with most businesses paying an average of $5.26 per click and $6.59 per 1,000 impressions. Sponsored InMail campaigns cost around $0.80 per send.
- Professional businesses in the B2B sector.
- SaaS businesses.
- Event advertising and self-promotion.
Conclusion: What are the best alternatives to Instagram advertising?
No matter the size of your business, setting aside plenty of time and budget to focus on your digital marketing campaigns is essential if you want to attract new customers and take your business to the next level.
Hopefully, this guide has given you valuable insight into some of the alternatives to Facebook-owned social media platforms like Instagram, so you can better utilize a range of video, image, and native advertising to connect with your customers in new and exciting ways, plus drive more traffic to your store or website
To help you make the best possible advertising decisions, here’s a quick recap of the best alternatives to Instagram for your brand:
- For small businesses: sixads, LinkedIn, Twitter, Reddit, Quora, Pinterest, Google, Pinterest, YouTube
- For e-commerce businesses: sixads, Amazon, Google, Reddit, TikTok, Pinterest, YouTube, Snapchat.
- For B2B businesses: Quora, Google, LinkedIn.
- For brands with small ad budgets: sixads, Twitter, Pinterest, Google (depending on your keywords and market).
Remember, the best ad campaigns won’t use a single platform to connect with its target audience.
Your potential customers are using a range of search engines, social media alternatives, and other websites, so you’ll want to make yourself available anywhere and everywhere your customers are: Instagram and beyond. For that, sixads app might be what you’re looking for. It’s great if you already advertise on Instagram and want to expand to Google and Facebook.