As far as social networks go, there are few better than Instagram. It’s an awesome mix of creative, in-the-moment photography, connections with our friends, and the ability to follow the people we don’t know but admire. In that way, it’s taken a bit of the best of Facebook (connect with who you know) and Twitter (follow people you wish you knew) and filled our spare time with its vertically-scrolling visual goodness.

Yesterday, they got those of us in the social advertising space at both excited and nervous at the same time. They released a post announcing Instagram’s new analytics and advertising dashboards.


Of course, the advertising side of our brains started spinning with ideas for promoting and building interest within the new ads opportunity, but at the same time the single-wide feed that forces just one post into your face at time means that ads are be so prominent and that they risk damaging the user experience at its core.

For now, however, we’ll have to relax both sides of our brains, because the post simply revealed the ads platform and dashboard that Instagram’s exclusive test-group now has access to while they run their ads in the States. The self-serve option looks like it will work similarly to the one that Twitter dropped in 2013.

The difference between Instagram and Twitter, for advertisers, is that a promoted tweet is just one of many in users’ feeds, even on the smallest mobile screen. In the one-post-at-a-time Instagram feed, the responsibility of advertisers to respect the users’ news feeds will never be higher.

On Facebook and Twitter we’ve already seen that the best ads are the ones that people are glad that they were exposed to. The only hope for success on Instagram is going to be to take that concept to another level, and use the square image boxes to make people smile, feel, laugh, or show their friends. If we look at it as a place to just push our products, we’ll risk killing the very thing makes Instagram great.

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