Instagram is joining the ranks of Tumblr and Pinterest by offering in-stream advertisements as a way to monetize its service.
So far, the reaction to the idea of ads cluttering the Instagram feed has been less-than-glowing. In a recent Mashable poll, more than 85% of responders said they were either furious or disappointed by the news. This isn’t exactly surprising. We’ve become used to ads either being a hindrance or ignored, and being angry over the introduction of ads isn’t new – the same happened for Facebook, Pinterest, and Tumblr. To find out brands now get access to the precious and small real-estate of the Instagram feed was never going to be met with much fanfare. However, with the selective content-first approach that Instagram is launching ads with, there is a real potential for them to do ads right.
If you’re beginning to look at how to create or source ads for Instagram, here are some tips to make sure they’re effective. If you’re currently not one of the few companies selected to begin the pilot program, these tips can also be used for any brand looking to develop an effective Instagram presence.
1. Tell a Story
For the most part, product shots are not inspiring. They tell no story. But a product in action? A product facilitating a true human experience? That’s impactful. Look at some of the best ads – from Expedia’s tear-jerking Find Your Understanding ad to the Carrie’s hilarious viral prank. Telling a story is the most important asset for marketers, and when it’s used effectively, the results can be truly inspiring.
Take a look at MTV’s Fern and Buzz, a Instagram-only sketch show featuring their office coffee pot and fern. The “show” both entertains MTV’s followers while also featuring celebrity guests and promoting their on-air shows.
2. Be Interesting
You know those people at a party everyone avoids because they only talk about themselves? Yeah, don’t be the equivalent on Instagram. There’s a whole world out there filled with pop culture, events, cute kittens and breaking news, and your company can acknowledge their existence while still being on-brand.
Already, brands like Oreo and Converse are following and responding to news, now this hyper-relevant content can become ads.
3. Don’t Set and Forget
So, you’re going to be creating Instagram ads and they’re now going to be the most stunning, engaging, story-filled ads the world has ever seen. Congrats. But what about your Instagram profile? Build it up to also be filled with content, and encourage your new ad-driven audience to stay engaged by interacting with them.
Lyft routinely looks at who’s tweeting and Instagramming about their service and will often leave personalized replies to customers.
The promoted photos and videos can quickly be hidden or marked as irrelevant. You can do more damage than good by posting bad content. Often, brands get excited about reposting content to all of their platforms, but with such a visually-driven audience, it’s important to note the differences between the expectations of Instagrammers versus Facebook or Twitter. The key for brands? Be genuine, be relevant, be respectful of the Instagram community.