The Rules of Successful Instagram Advertising

Instagram advertising has been open to the general brand public for several months, yet few marketers are deploying successful campaigns. In an environment where users feel the disruption of a paid post, the marriage between strategy and execution is key. Social media has all too sophisticated for brands to jump into established platforms and disregard the rules.

Successful campaigns on Instagram share one thing in common: they place the user (not the brand) at the center. That’s because users (not brands) drive ROI. Being unable to control the user experience of a social platform is no excuse for failing to strategize around it, and there are several ways to foolproof your ads so that they see more conversion and fewer complaints.

A successful Instagram ad delivers the right message, at the right time, to the right people.

This is a rule of marketing in general, but it’s often lost in the glow of Instagram’s appeal. Because Instagram ads operate on the same platform as Facebook advertising, there’s no excuse for sloppy targeting. Instagram users, more than those of other platforms, are sensitive to the weight of sponsored posts, and serving up an irrelevant ad bought with general targeting parameters won’t do your brand any favors. What’s more, the API allows for dayparting. Imagine how much more impactful a properly targeted ad is when served to people at the time of day they’re most likely to take action.

It respects its environment.

It’s hard to suggest that Instagram ads can blend into their surroundings when recalling the fury from users surrounding their release. However, posting an ad that looks like a flyer is going to do nothing but disrupt the newsfeed in all the wrong ways. Good creative is good creative, agnostic of platform. Instagram’s greatest strength is the power it grants its users to tell beautiful, visually-driven stories. Branded creative should follow suit, soliciting interest and emotion rather than an outright sale. And please, skip the logo bug at in the corner of your ads. Users can already see who made the post because it’s displayed from your profile!

It has a clear, actionable CTA that extends beyond the Instagram feed.

Advertisers often forget that their audience will encounter Instagram ads on a mobile device; driving them offsite to a page that isn’t optimized for mobile, or asks them to do something they’re unwilling (or unable) to do from their phone isn’t going to see a return on investment. If you’re asking someone to purchase something, for example, you should be sure they’re both able and willing to complete the transaction from a mobile device.

The secret to good advertising on Instagram isn’t about the filters you choose for your photos. When you do the homework on who your user is and what type of experience your ad will generate, you avoid wasting dollars. Looking to set up a campaign of your own? I’d recommend sketching out a few wireframes of how you’ll move people from platform to destination once you align on your strategy.