How to Create the Perfect Instagram Advertisement

How can you use Instagram to market your products and services?

Well, create a display advertisement!

Before you start visualizing all the horrendous spammy ads you’ve seen from hard-sell hell, consider the fact that people are following you on Instagram because you are providing something of value to them. As a branded Instagram account, your job isn’t just to cultivate fans but to gently nudge and cajole them to give you the sale.

So what makes a good Instagram ad?

#1 Rare But Awesome

Yes, you read me right. Don’t kill the Instagram goose by shilling your followers non-stop about your products and services. That is no different from the zillions of annoying ads that you see everywhere.

Instead, make every advertisement a work of art which respects and delights your followers. Keep them as infrequent as possible, and only advertise when you have something special to announce – an exclusive promotion, a new product, a store opening, or festive sales.

#2 People Love People

Do you know that people respond better to images of “people like us”? We humans like our own likenesses and ads which showcase people belonging to the same demographic or psychographic groups as ourselves are likely to resonate better.

#3 Make it Funny

Humour is huge on the social web. Just look at all the outrageously funny stuff that goes viral on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Instagram is no exception. Humourous advertisements not only help to entertain, they also lower the natural “anti-ad” defences which most humans have.

#4 Share Brand Stories

These days, advertisements that rock are those deeply rooted in storytelling. This is especially true on social networks where people are perpetually reading, viewing and listening to the life stories of individuals and brands alike.

In similar fashion, keep your ads true to your brand story. Make it a fresh chapter of your brand story rather than an abrupt and unwanted interruption to your regular programming. Your followers will love you for it.

#5 Be Dramatic

What is the one thing about effective advertisements? They all employ elements of drama.

On Instagram, the same rules apply. Craft Instagram ads that appeal to the emotions of your fans – love, desire, sense of belonging, nostalgia, or whatever other feelings your brand is known for. Make your ads the climax of your visual content.

#6 Be Interesting

Being boring on Instagram is a huge no-no. Not especially when you are hoping to move in for the kill via a sales-generating ad!

Banish mediocrity by doing the following:

  • Photograph your product in unique and unconventional ways
  • Craft copy that is crisp and compelling
  • Aim to surprise (and maybe even stun) in a positive manner

#7 Avoid Cliches

No, not all stepmothers are wicked. And housewives do not always wear an apron in the kitchen.

Time and again, we have been assailed by tired words, phrases, and images. Predictable stereotypes are littered across our advertising landscapes – if you are a girl, you are always striving to be better than the boys, yadda yadda.

To break out of the box, be bold enough to use fresh and daring images. Benetton has set the bar here. Although some of their ads may be risqué, you can bet that they are memorable.

#8 Be Simple

Clutter is the killer ad. On the tiny 640 by 640 pixels of an Instagram image, you need to whittle down your messages to the bare minimum.

Use one hero image if possible, and make it a powerful picture. Include just a couple of lines of text, plonk your logo and voila! Marketing magic is made (almost).

#9 Include a Call To Action

Don’t forget that the purpose of any advertisement is to trigger action.

Create a simple call to action and include it in your caption copy. If space permits on your image, you can jot down a few words like “In stores 25 May!”

To trigger your followers’ sense of urgency, include an expiry date and an Instagram promotion. One way to do so is to weave in a hashtag and a line in your caption like “Quote #InstagramAds and enjoy 15% off – only till 1 June!”

#10 Test and Experiment Repeatedly

Finally, remember to test different elements until you get the right formula. Despite what all the pundits tell you (including this one!), it is hard to predict which ads work better than others.

The beauty of advertisements on Instagram is that you can mix and match different combinations of the following until you hit the sweet spot:

  • Image (composition, colour, filter)
  • Copy (on image and off image)
  • Timing of Posts (which day of the week works better?)
  • Hashtags


What other strategies would you adopt to create that perfect Instagram ad?



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