Want to get more traction from your Instagram ads? Wondering what tactics have the most impact?
In this article, you'll learn five unique Instagram ad techniques that really work. You'll discover how to adjust your message, optimize placement, and leverage high-performing organic posts in your campaigns.
Why Instagram Ads?
Many marketers tend to view Instagram ads as nothing more than a subset of Facebook ads rather than as a solid platform that deserves its own strategy and content. This is actually pretty crazy when you consider the fact that Instagram is still among the top four most-used social platforms.
For starters, people don't use Instagram for the same reasons or in the same way they use Facebook. So treating your Instagram ads similarly to your Facebook ads could be resulting in higher cost per click and conversion on those ads.
Rather than approaching Instagram ads as an offshoot of your Facebook ads, you need to develop a strategy specific to the platform. Understanding how your audience on Instagram consumes and interacts with content and then creating ads that look native to the platform can add up to higher conversion rates, more efficient ads, and better overall results for your ad spend.
Here are five Instagram ad techniques that work.
#1: Develop Ad Messaging to Stand Out on Instagram
As with any social media channel, when it comes to targeting your ideal client, you have to start by focusing on your messaging and delivering relatable content. Brands can do this in a number of ways but one of the most effective is to talk about something that makes you different.
Chances are, regardless of the problem you're helping to solve or the offer you have, someone else is offering the same or a similar solution. So what makes you as a brand different from that other solution?
This isn't so much about convincing your ideal client that you're the best option or that you're better than your competition. On the contrary, this is about setting up a relationship with your ideal client in a way that makes your competition irrelevant. You want your ideal client to know that you're the one to go to for their solution—not because your solution is better than anyone else's, but because you're a good fit for them.
This might be something more personal about you such as your goals or part of your personality that comes out in your brand. There are actually four general buckets of messaging components to help you stand out on Instagram.
The first messaging component is your authority as a brand or company. This is probably the easiest bucket to recognize and it's the one that brands often rely on the most. Establishing your authority within your niche can be done through mentioning your credentials, talking about publications or other forms of recognition you've had, or even talking about reviews and testimonials from other people.
Authority-building is an important piece of your messaging because it helps establish trust with your ideal client; however, this is also the bucket that most brands get stuck in. They get so involved in building their authority that they never move through the other three buckets of messaging components to go deeper with their audience.
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The second bucket of messaging components is your personality bucket. These are the messages that really bring out the personal side of your company or brand. They can include anything quirky or personal about you; things like your other interests, your pets, or even your favorite hobbies outside of your business.
By sharing these pieces of your personality, you help establish a deeper and more personal connection with your audience. This connection takes you to being one of their best friends who resolves their needs. This personality bucket helps your audience decide whether they like you as a person and as a brand. This is not a bucket of content you want to ignore.
A lot of people think that being vulnerable means appearing weak or diminished to their audience. That doesn't have to be the case. Moments of vulnerability can include things you struggle with and have had to overcome. Being vulnerable just means being able to express authentically who you are regardless of where you came from.
Being vulnerable means being able to discuss such things as whether you were raised by a single mom, overcame addiction, failed at a different business venture, or anything that would show your audience what really makes you unique. It's not about exposing your weak side; rather it's about helping your audience understand your authentic self by helping them see deeper into you.
This is the ethos of your company or brand. The feel-good bucket tells your audience they can feel good about doing business with you and your brand.
Today's consumer is sophisticated and expects much more transparency than any other generation of consumer. We want to know where our money is going—not just the name of the company but how that company is using our money. Are they donating to a cause we care about, are they supporting issues we care about, do they treat their employees well?
This goes for smaller businesses, too. Are they using that sale to feed their family or put their kids through an art class? Do they support another business that we support? Do they give back to their community?
These are all things that consumers care about today. It's not just a matter of hiring a social media manager or an ads expert. Consumers want to know what happens once money has changed hands and that brand or that company is getting ready to spend that money itself.
Putting together content that discusses the issues and organizations you care about, your values, and how you take care of your employees or contractors who work with you can go a long way to helping your audience feel good about doing business with you.
And if they feel good about doing business with you, they'll feel compelled to not only close the deal but also recommend your business to others.
#2: Drive Purchases and Leads With Instagram Stories Ads
Facebook has really started to push the idea of automatic placements when you log in through Ads Manager to set up your Facebook and Instagram ads. Rather than relying on Facebook and Instagram to automatically place your ads, creating specific ads for specific placements can really help drive down your cost per click and overall ad spend.
Not only that, but different placements seem to have different click-through rates. For example, most users have become so used to seeing Instagram ads on the feed that they tune out and scroll past ads unless they're scroll-stopping ads that demand the audience's attention.
But ads inside Instagram Stories or Reels tend to garner more attention and clicks. These are ads that are first and foremost created in a different format. They're typically vertical videos, versus the square videos or square images you find on the feed. To deliver a less obtrusive experience, often these ads are more entertaining and fit with the overall vibe and content of their respective places.
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In some cases, only the sponsored label sets the ad apart from other entertaining content that the audience is consuming.
And with the swipe-up version for Instagram Stories, conversions for a lot of businesses have increased when they link directly to their product from their story, which delivers an instant experience to their audience.
The Stories ad placement has been extremely efficient for any in-app conversion goal, whether it's shopping from a connected eCommerce collection or generating leads. Instead of sending the audience away to a different website, swiping up to fill out a lead form inside Instagram has decreased the friction that ads place on the user experience, increased conversion, and lowered the cost per click.
This is also invaluable as companies such as Apple and Google have worked hard to protect their users' data, making it harder for brands to track their audience once they leave an app. Creating an experience that keeps the audience on a single app helps you recover some tracking ability and data lost through privacy changes.
#3: Get in Front of New Audiences With Instagram Reels Ads
Anytime a social media platform releases something new like Instagram Reels, some marketers are scared to jump onto it or spend any money advertising on it. Because of this, ads in new areas tend to be slow-growing. You can scroll through dozens of Instagram reels before seeing your first ad, whereas on the primary Instagram feed, you find an ad every three to four posts.
For marketers, this means there's much more room for your ad to be shown and interacted with in these newer areas. In fact, ads that have been placed with Instagram Reels have seen up to four times the conversion rate as ads in the Instagram feed.
One thing that scares marketers about Reels is its reputation for relying on trending music and dances. But trendy music and dances aren't the only things that help your reels succeed. You can also do slideshows, tips, pointing at various words on your screen, basically anything that doesn't involve dancing to trendy music will work. Although, if you like to dance to trendy music, there's that as well.
At the bottom of your Instagram Reels ad, you'll see a call-to-action button right in the middle of your screen. And the ad will say “Sponsored,” just as any other ad placement is labeled. Other than that, you can be as creative with an Instagram reel ad as you like. Any ad 30 seconds in length or shorter seems to be performing very well.
If you're panicking about creating a video 30 seconds or shorter, remember that your video doesn't have to tell your entire story. The ad itself doesn't need to convince people to purchase your product right away. It can provide value by being a short, fun, and entertaining way to bring people into your ecosystem.
Another advantage to advertising on Instagram Reels is that by design Reels places your content in front of a brand-new audience whenever it can. Because the Instagram Reels experience is so immersive, a lot of users aren't swiping past the ads. Instead, they actually watch it, sometimes more than once, as part of their Reels experience.
#4: Turn Your Best Organic Content Into Instagram Ads
One powerful technique for staying top of mind with your audience is turning your Instagram organic content into ads that can follow your audience as they explore the cyberworld. This really goes back to the four buckets of messaging: authority, personality, vulnerability, and feel good.
Obviously, you can't place all four pieces of your message in a single ad—it would be an extremely long ad. And a sales page isn't exactly the spot to talk about which charities you'll donate to or which causes you'll advocate for.
However, by taking these other pieces of content from around your social media ecosystem and turning them into evergreen ads, people can start to get to know you. They'll go to your landing page to check out your challenge or lead magnet, and then the next time they're scrolling on Facebook, they'll see an ad where you talk about your values or express your vulnerability.
This is an underused but powerful method of staying in front of your audience.
If you're going to use this hack, make sure you convert your highest-performing organic posts into ads because they've already proven that they work for your audience.
#5: Grab Attention With GIFs
Another powerful way to grab someone's attention on Instagram, especially in a crowded feed, is through shorter animated images and GIFs. A quick, 3- to 5-second looping GIF that has a simple animation, even something as simple as a rainbow swishing across the background, can be enough to grab your audience's attention and hold it while they review your offer.
Courtney Tarrant is an Instagram ads expert and the chief strategist and co-owner of The Ad Girls. Her agency helps women grow their businesses from six to seven figures, and her course is Everywhere AF.
Other Notes From This Episode
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