Everybody loves Instagram, right? It’s social media without the rhetoric. Just the friends and brands you love the most, scrolling past you in a stream of visual loveliness. It’s not surprising then, that many businesses have figured out that Instagram is the place to develop their relationship with existing customers and to find new ones. In fact, over 200 million Instagrammers visit a business every day, with 72% of all users having made a purchase under the influence of what they’ve seen in those little square boxes. As a business, it doesn’t make much sense to not be on Instagram. But with these figures inevitably comes increasing competition for attention. That feed is a busy place to be these days and users are aware of being manipulated by brands. Figuring out how to provide valuable – and noticeable – content among the noise is key if you want to capitalize on the opportunities that Instagram ad or other marketing presents.
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Let’s take a closer look at how to make that difference.
What is an Instagram post?
Sounds like a simple question, right? And maybe five years ago it was. But today, Instagram has ‘unsimplified’ itself. Some users are disappointed that it’s become so noisy with videos, stories, new aspect ratios, and photo sets in addition to the classical single square image. For business marketers, however, it has multiplied the ways that you can connect with your audience.
That single photo format remains very useful. It doesn’t demand any more time from your customers than they’re willing to give. A straightforward eye-catching image that causes them to pause in wonder is a great way to become part of your audience’s day.
An out-and-out advert (for example, a stock image from your catalogue) will immediately be read as spam and scrolled past. Being inventive is a must. Show your product in action, or use imaginative imagery that relates to your message and branding, even if it doesn’t feature your actual product.
More complex posts
A video allows you to catch those scrollers with the power of the moving image. It shouldn’t be too complicated, and should function equally well with the sound turned off – or at least have powerful-enough visuals to convince viewers to turn the volume up! You can add a button to your video so that folk can instantly respond to your call-to-action.
The carousel option is more of a gamble. You choose a selection of related images and/or videos so that viewers can scroll horizontally through them. Think carefully whether you have the content to justify this approach, since your hard work will not be recognized if viewers fail to scroll past your first image. A step-by-step ‘How To’ or old-fashioned photo-story can work well in this format.
The slideshow is a nice alternative if you want to use dynamic material (that moves) without alienating customers with older devices. Rather than using video, you choose a handful of still images that scroll automatically accompanied by music.
A ‘collection’ allows you to combine several of the above styles in a browsable format with active links. And Instagram Stories Ads are a way of placing stills and videos between the flow of a user’s stories. These stories are viewed with sound more than half the time, so it’s a good opportunity to integrate voice or music with your content.
How to decide which Instagram ad to use
Choosing an appropriate format requires more than a good creative idea. You need to know the objective of your campaign, and the behavior patterns of your particular audience.
For example, if your aims are quite broad – to extend your brand awareness and reach – almost any format can work if you create the right content.
But to get conversions, you need to be more precise. Choose something like a video or slideshow ad where you can go into a bit more depth and provide a link to for your customers to follow.
To increase engagement, you need to be right in there with the regular Instagram posts rather than up in the Stories. A good old image or video ad will look more-or-less like your user’s friend’s posts, so they are more likely to comment, like, and tag, all of which powers-up the effectiveness of your campaign.
Think about precisely what action you want a user to take, and imagine their path through the process. If it’s too tricky with any particular ad style, you need to choose a more appropriate format.
How to get started on your Instagram ad
In case you hadn’t noticed, Instagram is now owned by Facebook. A key advantage to this is that you can use Facebook’s demographics and analysis tools to create a successful first-time campaign, and then gradually streamline your process.
It also means that you actually create your ad through Facebook. So from your Facebook homepage, begin by going to Create > Ad to get started. You will then be guided through the process according your objectives and your content. It’s pretty intuitive as Facebook/Instagram want these tools to be available to everyone.
Making your Instagram ad stand out
All of the under-the-hood stuff is essential for an effective campaign. But there are also a number of cosmetic and cultural elements to take into account and get head-and-shoulders above your rivals!
Study the best times to post: there are some general principles to apply, but you should also analyze campaign after campaign to see when your particular audience reacts most.
You should also use hashtags wisely and develop your imagery as you go in order to capitalize on what you learn from each campaign.
And remember that Instagram ads are part of users’ daily lives. Make your work down-to-Earth and approachable, even utilizing user-generated content, to land squarely in your customers’ daily lives.
Ready to post? Check through this step-by-step guide from HeadwayCapital to make the impact you need!