If you can craft eye-popping ads that draw people in, Instagram’s visually driven format may help give your content a competitive edge.

As Instagram gains ground on Snapchat, the platform has become an increasingly enticing outlet for short-form brand advertising. With a user base numbering over 800 million and a visual format that can help businesses put their products and services front and center, Facebook’s photo-friendly cousin offers the reach marketers need to tailor campaigns for just the right audiences.

A large audience doesn’t always equate to a captive one, however. As the platform becomes increasingly inundated with branded ads, users have responded by habitually scrolling past sponsored content without a second thought. Accordingly, brands need to invest in innovative, attention-grabbing marketing that genuinely draws users in and stops them mid-scroll.

Figuring out how to make your ad spend go the distance, however, is easier said than done. To get the most value out of your Instagram advertising campaign, follow these seven helpful tips.

1. Make It Relatable

Instagram is a hub for lifestyle bloggers everywhere, so the best branded content speaks to users in the language of influencers. By creating ads that feel natural — take this Levi’s ad, which looks like one of your friends could be posting it, as an example — you’ll draw people in naturally, stoke their curiosity, and prompt them to imagine what their lives would look like should they purchase your product.

tips insta ads

2. Include Animation

In this Lactaid advertisement, milk pours from one post to the next. The dynamism of this movement coupled with the illusion of interaction between two separate posts is understandably eye-catching. If there’s anything you can do to get people to slow down the forever-scroll, by all means, do it!

tips insta ads

3. Get Artistic

Consumers are so used to ads that have the singular goal of selling them something that it can be refreshing to see branded content that is, first and foremost, visually appealing. This L’Occitane ad is a prime example: the soothing symmetry draws on our instinctive love of orderly design to create an ad that’s genuinely compelling.

tips insta ads

4. Play It Cool

A central contradiction of Instagram is how hard people work to make their posts look natural. In order to play into the prevailing zeitgeist, brands may want to follow suit. Take this ad from Yogabed. Even though a considerable advertising budget was probably required to craft the final product, the imagery looks candid and captures a relaxed feel — perfectly complementing this mattress company’s core messaging.

tips insta ads

5. Match Goals with CTAs

Just because you’re serving ads on Instagram doesn’t mean each needs to have the same end goal. With the platform’s customizable CTAs, you can prompt users to purchase your product, install your app, or download premium content. This ad from Aaptiv gets that crucial moment just right. By grabbing attention with a message that we can all relate to, the post then directs users to install an app that responds directly to that sentiment.

tips insta ads

6. Prioritize Brand Recognition

Instagram users have come to expect ads on their feeds and in their stories, and that puts the pressure on brands to stand out from the rest of the pack. This Instagram Story advertisement from Sonos features an entire music video broken up into bite-sized pieces — a novel strategy that’s intriguing, fun, and ultimately unique. Plus, putting the company’s name front and center ensures that users know who’s behind this content from the get-go. 

tips insta ads

7. Be Helpful

However you choose to serve your ads on Instagram, it helps to position your brand as a real resource to users. Instead of pushing your products with the singular goal of moving them into consumers’ checkout carts, position your brand as a solution to a problem they may have. With this ad, Madewell addresses a common conundrum — finding the right gift during the holiday season — and offers an easy solution in the form of an upward swipe that leads users to their gift guide.

tips insta ads

Author Madeline Killen

A senior at Dartmouth College, Madeline will join L&T full-time after her June graduation but currently works remotely as a staff writer. An English major, Madeline is completing her senior honors thesis on the temporal loops in Emily Dickinson’s fascicles but, as an Italian minor, also works as a language TA and tutor. Outside of class, she just wrapped up her fifth quarter as the arts section editor for The Dartmouth newspaper. When she graduates, she’s going to miss Hanover’s fall foliage, running trails, and constant supply of maple syrup, but she’s looking forward to returning to civilization nonetheless.

More posts by Madeline Killen