Nine Tips for Powerful Instagram Ads

If you’re ready to try Instagram ads for yourself, here are nine things to consider to help you make the most of your marketing dollars.

1. Keep your images clean.
If you’ve ever advertised on Facebook, then you know the 20% text rule. If you haven’t, it basically means that they will reduce the reach or reject your ad if you have text on more than 20% of your image. On Instagram this is even more of a no-no. People love Instagram because it is a visual social platform and while we’re talking about how best to advertise, your ads shouldn’t look like ads. They should feature your products in a compelling way and that means, not covered with text. (They should also be 1080 x 1080 so they fill the space accordingly).

2. Use your most beautiful images (and lots of them).
You’ve probably invested money in taking product images for your store that you can re-purpose on Instagram. Make sure they are truly beautiful. And if they aren’t, find a free editing tool to touch them up.

In addition, this is a great opportunity to show your products in a bunch of different lights by using carousel ads that feature multiple images of your products in the real world. Forget the shots of your products with a white background, that’s for a catalog not for an Instagram ad.

3. Ditch the branding on your images.
To continue on this theme, don’t throw your branding on top of your product image. Your ad will be seen next to your Instagram icon and handle, so you don’t need it on the image.

4. Choose your text wisely.
You only get 300 characters for your caption (that’s what Instagram calls the words in your post), so make the most of them. Tell people what’s awesome about your products. Include any special offers. Make sure to have a clear call to action. And if you’re funny, Instagram is a great place to get your brand’s humor across.

Just don’t try too hard or do something that feels off-brand compared to the rest of your online presence.

5. Forget the hashtags in your ads.
While hashtags can improve your reach with organic posts, ads won’t show up in hashtag search results. If you have extra space in your text you could use them to point people to other related products and posts, but I’d skip it it if I were you.

6. Don’t forget the videos.
Instagram is an awesome place to post short videos that show your products off, offer some how-to tips, or even just showcase related entertaining clips.

The quality doesn’t need to be perfect, but make sure it formats correctly (no black space on either side), has at least 72px minimum resolution and is between three and 30 seconds long.

7. Don’t require sound on your videos.
Don’t forget that Instagram is a mobile experience for consumers. While people love videos they often have the sound off on their mobile device to not bother their neighbors (or tip off that they are watching videos instead of doing something else).

Instead, add closed captions to your video or text breaks so your target audience gets your message.

8. Ease into your budget.
When you are just getting started, you’ll want to get a feel for what people respond to and what they don’t. Start by spending a few dollars a day to learn before you jump into the deep end of the pool.

9. Support your ads with other posts.
While it's easy to invest only in ads on Instagram that you can pay to get in front of people, don't forget to post on your own as well. The more you post, the more you will be seen as a real "social" brand that people want to connect with.

And you have a lot more flexibility in what you can post. Try "behind the scenes" images that feature your employees or quotes by people you admire. (And use those hashtags here to expand your reach.)