The Do’s and Don’ts of Instagram Ad Creative

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[Image Via: iDownloadBlog.com]

One of the great things about the new Instagram ad platform is that it’s very compatible with what brands are already used to using Facebook ads. If your brand advertises on Facebook, you are at an advantage and the process of expanding into Instagram advertising should be a seamless process for you. You’ll have the ability to apply the same creative and target audience as you do with your Facebook ads. However, it’s important to remember that Instagram is all about high-quality visuals, so customized creative is key.

The Do’s:

Andrew Waber, Manager of Market Insights and Media Relations for Nanigans, discussed best practices for Instagram ad creative.

  1. Do utilize natural light and high resolution photos to not only fit in with the organic feed, but to stand out.
  2. Do remember that excessive branding can overpower content. In order to resemble organic content, display your logo subtly or showcase your brand’s signature color.
  3. Do let the visuals be the focal point and speak for the ad. Keep text to minimum or include it in the caption section.

Carolyn Berk, Content Marketing Associate for Nanigans, also weighed in on the matter by providing some noteworthy bonus tips:

  1. Do connect with your audience by showcasing real-life situations and objects. Increase your CTR (click-through rate) and to make your creative more memorable.
  2. Do stand out by using bright colors that will catch your audience’s eye.
  3. Do use content that hasn’t been seen by your audience before.
  4. Do dedicate each ad to just one of your products.

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The Don’ts

Blaise Lucey, Senior Content Strategist at Bitly, highlighted 7 reasons your ads are not converting and what to avoid when it comes to your Instagram ad creative:

  1. Don’t be too professional. The traditional corporate ad will stand out in a bad way. Try using candid shots or behind the scenes photos. Anything that is typical to what your audience is used to on Instagram.
  2. Don’t forget to tell a story with your ad. Connect with your audience by conveying a funny or inspirational message.  
  3. Don’t use loud call-outs and banners. Instagram ads already have a default call-to-action button so focus on the content and the click will come soon after. Banner ads on mobile screens are the equivalent to pop-up ads. Therefore they are not visually appealing to your audience and will be ignored.
  4. Don’t use shadowy or generic people. Avoid coming off like a stock photo by using generic images. Instead, try photographing an influencer!
  5. Don’t let you product just sit there against a blank backdrop. Immerse the product you are trying to sell into a lifestyle by adding a compelling background like a city skyline.
  6. Don’t use too much text or borders. This will draw away attention from what your ad is all about.
  7. Don’t forget to try video ads. Showcase your brand or product in motion using a video series, interviews, and action shots.

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The Do’s and Don’ts of Carousel Ads

In March, Instagram launched carousel ads which gives brands the ability to showcase multiple images within an ad. Users can experience a sequenced story by swiping through the images of a panorama or snippets of an action shot to tell a bigger story. There are universal style tips that should be considered when using carousel ads. Instagram’s creative strategist, Derek Eehevarria-Scott, walked AdWeek through some tips for how to build a carousel.

  1. Do make the initial image stand out on its own. It shouldn’t necessarily rely on the images to follow. After all, some users may not choose to continue swiping through the carousel.
  2. Do come up with creative ways to hint at what come next after the initial image.
  3. Don’t use long and dense captions.
  4. Do use a landing page for your call-to-action button that continues the tone of the ad creative and is a page that is mobile friendly.

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Final Thoughts

Creating compelling ad creatives is really in your brand’s best interest. It’s a big investment but a great way to drive traffic and revenue. By following these do’s and don’ts, your ads will have a better chance of performing well. One last rule of thumb is to always test your creatives before putting money behind them to ensure an adequate return on your investment. 

What tricks do you use when making Instagram ad creatives? Share with us below and don’t forge to follow us @hashtag4thegram!

Content Measurement

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Why Measure?

Have you ever felt like your business isn’t getting anywhere on Instagram? You are producing high quality content, engaging with customers, and keeping up with the latest trends. However, you aren’t achieving the digital presence you’d like for your brand. In reality, there is much more to understand about Instagram than just that. No marketer can have a complete understanding of their presence, audience, and opportunity on the platform without measuring specific metrics.

Identify Goals:

Before you begin to measure your metrics, it’s important to identify your goals and objectives. What do you want to discover? You may want to find trends in you’re posting frequency or how a promotion increased brand awareness. Comments, followers, and likes can be more meaningful than just showcasing your popularity. These metrics can help determine your leads and conversion rate from Instagram. Content measurement uncovers if you’ve met your goals and objectives or not. Being a data driven brand can tremendously set you apart from competitors. Don’t just do things for the sake of doing them — make data driven actions when it comes to your Instagram account.

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What to Measure?

Lisa Kalner Williams, Content Marketing Director of Agorapulse, outlined important metrics to monitor. Here are 5 that relate to followers, likes, comments, URLs, and the timing of posts.

  1. Follower Growth Rate: The rate at which you attain followers can indicate if your Instagram strategy is working. By simply tracking the amount of followers your brand has on an Excel document and using a simple formula, you can identify interesting trends that tie your follower rate rise or fall to your Instagram activities.
  2. Engagement as Percentage of Total Followers: Calculate your brand’s engagement percentage by adding your average likes and comments for the month and dividing it by the number of followers your brand has. Compare the rates between months and find out what worked and didn’t work.
  3. Engagement per Post: Add the number of likes and comments you received over the last seven posts. Divide that number by seven to calculate your average engagement per post. Compare this average to the previous seven days and determine why it might be lower or higher.
  4. Clickthroughs on URLs: When it comes to Instagram, the URL you want to monitor is the one in your bio. Use a bit.ly link to not only shorten your link but to track how many users visited your site from Instagram.
  5. Best Day/Time to post: One metric that is often overlooked and should be examined is when you are posting. Per request from The Huffington Post, an app called, Later, that schedules and manages Instagram posts, performed an analysis on more than 60,000 posts to see what time of day is the best time. It turns out that on average, the best time to post is 2:00p.m. and 5:00p.m. EST if you really want to get your audience’s attention. The team also discovered that 9:00a.m and 6:00p.m. EST are the worst times to post. Wednesdays beat out the other days of the week as the best day to post. Keeping this is mind when you post is easy and doesn’t cost a thing! 

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Getting Started:

All of these measurements may sound like a lot of work! The good news is that once you get organized and begin to track your brand’s metrics on Instagram, it will become second nature. Come up with a system that works for you. Try inputing data and formulas into an Excel document manually, or check out some popular, free Instagram analytical tools. Or do a combination of both! Pete Schauer from SocialMediaToday.com, outlined 5 of the best, free analytical tools for Instagram:

  1. Iconosquare
  2. Simply measured
  3. Instafollow
  4. Union Metrics
  5. Crowd Fire

What did you discover about your Instagram activities through content measurement? Let us know below and don’t forget to follow us @hashtag4thegram!

What The Latest Instagram Updates Means For Your Brand

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The only thing that is constant on social media is change. Instagram is always working on ways to improve their app. Luckily, you have us to keep you updated on the latest Instagram news and what it all means for your brand. Being able to stay relevant and up to date is key when it comes to promoting your brand on any platform.

  1. Notification Center on Desktop Version

This month, Instagram rolled out the first ever desktop notification center. You can finally see, in one place, who is liking and commenting on your photos when using Instagram’s desktop version. Simply click on the heart icon located on the top right hand corner of your screen. A drop down menu will appear and you can now access all of your Instagram activity in one place, no matter what device you are on! This is great news for marketers and will make managing your brand’s activity easier on the desktop version. It’s important to point out that this update does not exactly mirror the notification center we are used to on mobile devices. You will not be able to see your follower’s activity when using the desktop version. However, there’s a good chance we could see that in the future.

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  1. 3D Touch Feature

When Apple and then Android, came out with a 3D touch feature, Instagram was quick to incorporate the new feature in the app’s mobile version. 3D touch, referred to as “Peek and Pop,” is a pop-up window that appears when a user lightly presses on the screen. This allows users to get a glimpse of the content without having to wait for the entire page to load. This feature works for usernames on news feeds and photos and videos on the notification tab and explore tab. Once the pop-up window appears, the user is given options to like, view profile, and send content as message. Your followers can interact with your brand and share your content faster than ever! This will not only cut back on a lot of time for the user, but also means brands literally have a second to attract their audience. The glimpse of content the user sees will determine if they click through to your feed for more or move on to the next thing that catches their eye.

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  1. Landscape/Portrait Mode

Instagram finally took the hint and now supports posts in both landscape and portrait orientation. The days of using Instasize in order to fit more into the frame are over. You can finally say goodbye to using the square camera mode in order to maintain Instagram’s signature square limit. This update applies to both photos and videos. Making the option between landscape or portrait, is as easy as choosing a filter. But before you get too excited, beware that when viewing a profile grid, all photos are center-cropped to maintain consistency no matter what orientation it’s in. For this reason, your photos may get cut off when in thumbnail view. All and all, this update is great and will have your profile feed looking cleaner and more consistent than ever!

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  1. Revamped Explore and Search Page

The last Instagram update that helps your brand is the revamped explore and search page. Not only does the page have a new look, but you can now search trending hash tags, people, and locations in real-time. Jilly Badanes director of Marketing at Viraltag outlined 5 ways the new feature can help your brand.

  1. Find people to follow, recommended to you, based on your Instagram Activity
  2. Find trending hash tags that relate to your brand and participate in the conversation
  3. Explore what is being shared connected to your location
  4. Find inspiration in top posts and replicate what has proven to work well
  5. Use “search” to find the best tags to drive traffic

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In some ways, Instagram is becoming more and more desktop friendly, much like the app’s owner, Facebook. On the other hand, new updates are enhancing the way we experiencing the photo-sharing app on mobile devices. I have a feeling there’s a lot more in store to enhance our experience with the app on all devices! Be on the lookout for more Instagram updates!

Let us know in the comments sections how these updates have been useful for your brand and don’t forget to follow us on our own Instagram @hashtag4thegram!

5 Steps to Achieve a Professional Instagram Feed

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[Image via: graphicsheat.com]

Haven’t you always dreamed of having the perfect instagram feed for your brand? Your brand has already decided on a uniform theme based on our previous post #instathemes, now its time to create quality content with a professional touch. Having a theme means you have identified your brand’s personality and target audience on Instagram. Now, all you need to do is make sure your content is as high quality as possible in order to attract your potential customers. After all, Instagram is all about high quality visuals.

A professional looking feed will give your brand more credibility. Unfortunately, not all of us are professional photographers and it can be costly to hire one. A platform like Instagram is free, therefore you shouldn’t have to spend money in order to use it well. Luckily, Instagram has been around long enough that people have discovered tips and tricks to give your photos and videos a professional feel without the dollar sign. Supplementary apps are a great way to enhance your photos and videos even more. This post will take a deeper look into how to perfectly capture and edit your photos and videos like a professional. Us marketing gurus here at #doitforthegram have compiled 5 steps to take your content to the next level.

Step 1: Lighting

If available, natural light should always be utilized even if it means shooting by the window or outside in the cold. The following picture was taken in freezing weather but the lighting was worth it. As you can see the subject is wearing two outfits in this picture. This savvy photo edit couldn’t have been done without natural light. Lighting is very important to keep in mind especially if you plan on altering your photo. In general, when using any light, make sure the source of light hits your subject directly. This step will make the following steps turn out better!

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[Image via: akpsiluc.org]

Step 2: Filters

When it comes to filters, remember, more does not necessarily mean better. Sometimes pictures appear more professional when less filters are used. According to a report by TrackMaven, most brands do not use filters at all. According to the chart below, the brands that do use filters tend to stick with Lo-fi and X-Pro II, probably because they give photos a warm look with the use of saturated tones. Although these filters make photos pop, they do not generate the most interactions. Mayfair and Inkwell actually generate the most interactions on Instagram in the form of likes and comments. Next time you choose a filter, make sure it is getting the right attention from your audience. The last thing you want is for your visuals to turn potential customers away.

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[Image via: Track Maven]

Step 3: White Background

There is nothing like a blank background to really make your subject stand out. Busy backgrounds distract your audience and clutters your feed. It seems that more and more brands are using white or plain backgrounds to showcase their products. Whether it is a model against a white wall or cosmetic products arranged on a white marble bathroom counter, this trick gives your photos a simple yet professional appearance. J. Crew does a wonderful job of using white space to give their feed a chic feel and a little breathing room.

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Step 4: Angles

There are many ways to play around with angles in order to capture the perfect moment in creative ways. Angles can either accentuate or disguise certain aspects of your subject matter depending on what you need. Vogue outlined how angles can enhance your photos. When taking pictures of objects, try taking the picture from the top down perspective. This will allow you to fit many objects into the frame and you can arrange them in ways to show the proportions of your objects. If you are taking pictures of food and drinks, it’s usually best to take the picture from side angles so show dimension and texture. If your subject is a person and you’d like to elongate legs, try an upward angle. On the other hand, if you want slim down certain features, try a downward angle. The picture below, posted by National Geographic, shows how switching up angles can really capture something special.

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Step 5: Boomerang

Now you know how to make your photos look professional, but what about your video content? That’s where supplementary apps come into play. Boomerang is a video app recently launched by instagram. It essentially takes bursts of photos and combines them into a mini video that plays forward and backward over and over again. Using this app will not only enhance your videos, but it will keep your brand relevant. Benefit was quick to incorporate boomerang into their feed and used the app to perfectly showcase their mascara. Check it out below!

Nudge, nudge, wink, wink 😉 Who else is playing with #boomerang today!? #benefit

A video posted by Benefit Cosmetics US (@benefitcosmetics) on Oct 22, 2015 at 4:20pm PDT

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Conclusion

So there you have it! Five easy steps to give your feed a professional feel without the high price tag! If you follow these steps, you will find that it is not anything revolutionary. In fact, it’s all about bringing your feed back to the basics. Simplicity is key when trying to achieve a professional look. As long as you keep keep your theme consistent with your target audience in mind, these tricks are sure to attract the right attention!

What tricks do you use to give your feed a professional look? Let us know in the comments below, and be sure to follow us on Instagram @hashtag4thegram.

The Art of Influence Marketing

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[Image via: Spiceworks.com]

What is Influence Marketing?

Also known as, influencer marketing, influence marketing is a marketing topic that is gaining importance to marketers. Most people, however, don’t know what it is and might not even realize it exists. According to Forbes.com, it “can be loosely defined as a form of marketing that identifies and targets individuals with influence over potential buyers.”

There are nearly 50,000 influencers on Instagram whose interests lie in many industries such as, fashion, sports, health, fitness, beauty, food and more. Using influencer marketing on Instagram is a great way to target your ideal customer. Influencers on instagram understand their audience and your customers better than any brand could.  They know what will drive engagement and interest. The fact that there are people with a substantial following who have the power to impact their audience’s purchase decisions is something that should be utilized by all marketers.

Famous Sponsors

Whether it’s a famous celebrity or someone who is #instafamous, there are many accounts that have mastered the art of brand sponsorship on Instagram and it’s worth taking a tip or two from them.

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Kylie Jenner has become a standard when it comes to celebrity brand endorsement on Instagram. It’s no wonder when she has a following of almost 53 million people on Instagram. Recently, she showcased the product @FitTea on Instagram commenting that, “the results are worth it!” Kylie has been known to sponsor many products from beauty, fitness, and the fashion industry. Celebrities sponsors are the most common and expensive form of influencer marketing. Potential customers are extremely impacted by celebrities like Kylie Jenner and open to the suggestion to buy what they buy.

Before you judge me for promoting a tea company please keep in mind that this is not a weight loss product and my review is 100% Honest. Since I’m already skinny i did not want to promote anything that promises you to loose weight, which is why I decided to try @Teamiblends Alive. It promises you a more energetic and alert body. I’ve used this multiple times because I often go to sleep late and wake up early which results in me not having the proper amount of energy to start the day so I started drinking this and I have to say it does the job.. The taste is very spicy and gingery but also sweet and lemony at the same time. I do find my self adding honey to it so it can taste sweeter. I am 17 years old and I’ve been drinking coffee for the longest time and it took me a while to choose tea over coffee but now that I’m starting to appreciate the taste of teas, I hope I continue to choose teas over coffee because i feel like I’m more alert when I drink the Alive Tea and i have noticed my skin glowing even more! If you want to purchase any Teami Blends tea @teamiblends , you can use my code: BRETMAN for 10% off your purchase, which is not an affiliation code you can choose whether or not you wanna use it #thankyouteami #teamiblends

A photo posted by Bretman Rock (@bretmanrock) on Jan 7, 2016 at 6:00pm PST

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Similar to Kylie Jenner, Bretman Rock, recently posed with a different fitness tea called, @Teamiblends. Rock is what we like to call someone who is #instafamous. He may not have as many followers as Kylie, but almost 5 million is more than enough to be a great sponsor. Rock showcases the product in a different way than Kylie. He captions the picture with a lengthy but real explanation of why he drinks Teami. His story is relatable to followers and, therefore, has a huge impact on their purchase decisions.

Contests, Campaigns, and Giveaways

It can be costly to use influencers as sponsors. Luckily, there are easy and inexpensive ways for brands to interact with their influencers. Common strategies used in influence marketing include contests, campaigns, and giveaways. There are even ways for customers to create content for your brand which also expands your brand awareness.

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GoPro is a great example of a brand which has mastered Instagram influencer marketing and incorporates all of these strategies into their account operations.  Their #PhotoOfTheDay campaign is a contest where GoPro will showcase one user’s photo everyday on their account. They took it one step further by launching their #GoProAwards campaign in which participants are awarded for the best content and win up to five million dollars. While it’s true GoPro is a camera company and Instagram is all about taking pictures, they are doing the best job at mastering the art of influence marketing of any other camera brand out there.

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@DogsofInstagram
, an account that showcases the best pictures of dogs on Instagram, recently launched a giveaway. Dogs of Instagram uses their account and large following to promote many businesses including the online shop, @Lucyand.Co For their most recent giveaway, two winners will be able to select their favorite item out of the most popular items from the shop. All you need to do to enter the contest is to comment on your favorite item below a picture of it. This is a great example of an account that uses giveaways to promote another account.

The Future of Influence Marketing

The future of influence marketing is unknown, but it’s likely we’ll see a shift from celebrity sponsors to micro-influencers, a social media trend that is gaining popularity. They are the people who have close relationships with your customers and therefore have a great influence on their buying decisions. Targeting Instagram users who might not have a huge following, could have a huge impact on your potential customer. We will most likely see more #TagAFriend campaigns which allows for those micro-influencers to influence their friends’ buying decisions.

How does your brand utilize the power of influence marketing? Comment below!