First insights cover the mechanics behind Instagram’s sponsored posts, the engagement it created, and the results towards the bottom line: gaining new followers.
[Note that this analysis focuses on social indicators, which are only part of the story about Instagram ads and do not directly correlate to ROI or ROAS for Brands having launched these campaigns.]
Looking at the spread of engagement over time, it appears the ad was shown once to a selected portion of US-based Instagram community members outside Michael Kors’ pre-exisintg audience. Unlike Twitter sponsored posts, which stay in users’ timelines before being pushed back by new tweets, Instagram likely displayed this sponsored post in the same way it does regular ones.
This graph shows the evolution of Likes over time on the promoted post:
The beginning of the post’s life wasn’t smooth. It’s plausible that it first went live only on Michael Kors’ page without a newsfeed publication, and that tweaks were made right after its publication (possibly by Instagram ?), explaining the flickering in early Likes counts.
Conclusion: The ad was displayed in-feed and only once, unlike what we’re used to on other networks.
218k Likes within 18 hours, a 370% increase
Engagement on the post was almost four times higher than what Michael Kors is used to seeing. We compared the ad’s engagement with that of the last 5 non-promoted posts made from the official @michaelkors account. An important note: all recent posts by Michael Kors were featured on Instagram’s popular page, while the sponsored one wasn’t.
Almost four times the usual number of likes
18 hours after having been shared, the promoted post had received 217,700 Likes, a 370% increase compared to the 46k the designer brand is used to seeing on average.
Estimation of Global Audience Reached: 6.15 million
The average Engagement Rate for Michael Kors’ five most recent posts is of 3.57%.
Assuming an equal engagement rate for the promoted post, we can estimate that the total audience for the ad was of 6.15 million users.
[Edit|November 6: Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom stated that "over 5% of the impression led to Likes" while speaking at GigaOm Roadmap conference, according to Techcrunch. This leads to an audience close to 4.4 million.]
A comment about Comments
While the number of Likes was high, not all engagement on the sponsored post was cheerful. This is no news: Instagram users took to the post’s comments to express their displeasure. 20% of comments were phrased with a negative structure while only a negligible amount of users showed their support. Amid this expected backlash, 1% of the comments or almost 20 people expressed a clear purchase intent.
33k new followers, or almost 16 times more than usual
18 hours after the ad was posted, @michaelkors totaled 33,985 new followers on Instagram, showing an increase of 16 times the 2,138 followers gained on average for recent posts that all made it to the popular page.
Increasing engagement and the official accounts’ follower base remains the main ROI metric for these branding advertisements on Instagram. The least we can derive from the Michael Kors experiment is that they are delivering results on both fronts, to the sweet tune of 4x and 16x what Brands achieve organically.
But how relevant is this acquired audience for Michael Kors? In other words: How targeted is Instagram’s ad network? That’s a question we’ll be able to answer by continually tracking the designer brand’s engagement rate.