Manar Al Hinai: Three tips to get the most out of your Instagram ads

The National's entrepreneurship advocate Manar Al Hinai shares her insights on how small businesses can ensure their ads stand out on Instagram.

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The way products and services are advertised has completely changed. Many clients now ignore traditional media in favour of digital options, bloggers and promoting their wares on social media. From my experience, this can be effective and cost-efficient. It shows that your business is going with the flow.

Advertising on Instagram, for example, is something many of my clients consider. The platform announced last month it now has more than 500,000 advertisers – twice as many as six months ago. For someone who is passionate about advertising and marketing, I find Instagram a little on the overcrowded side when it comes to ads. Not only do I encounter ads as I scroll through my feed, but I run into more – either direct or indirect – from Instagram influencers, aka those with a high number of followers. But perhaps this shows its effectiveness as a channel.

Which takes me to an important point I often discuss with clients: how can a business make its own promotional material stand out? Ultimately, the goal is to have viewers follow your page, visit your website, and most importantly buy your product.

Here’s how to step up your game on Instagram:

Tailor your ad

If you are used to advertising on traditional platforms, such as magazines or newspapers, then the visuals you will use for Instagram must be completely different. What makes Instagram popular is its filters and how people use them to post about their “daily outings” or “daily workouts”. Instagram allows you to either upload a photo or a 60-second video. So as you plan your visual shoots, ensure they are shot in a way that fits the platform they will feature on. Avoid making the images too formal, or making it look as though it has been scanned from a magazine advertisement. Your goal is to have it blend in the feed, so that users actually look at it, and not skip it.

Target the right audience

As you plan your post, be specific about the audience you want to send your message to. Ads on Instagram can target specific users in certain countries who belong to a particular age group. Profile your audience beforehand and then determine those characteristics as you narrow down your audience. Doing this ensures your ad is aimed towards your potential clients, making the process more cost-effective. This takes us back to the first point: knowing who you are targeting and what kind of lifestyle they pursue will help you decide whether your visual ads should be artistic, silly, sophisticated or ultra-trendy. If you are going after teenagers, for example, then your videos should be fun, perhaps featuring a social media blogger they like and avoiding any heavy texts embodied in the video or under the post.

Get straight to the point

In a video, you only have 60 seconds. The first couple of seconds that appear as your users scroll down their feed and run into your ad will determine whether they stay to watch the full advertisement. I recommend skipping intro texts and getting straight to the point. Also ensure that the message can be received with or without audio. Many users may be checking their feed while they are in a meeting, at a conference or in a place where the background noise is too high. If you have important information, such as an offer or a discount, then embed text in the video rather than depend on the audio. This also takes us to the first two lines of your copy that appear under your post. Instagram only allows you to show a couple of lines until a “read more” link directs users to more content. So, ensure the essential message you want to communicate is at the top. Make it punchy and effective.

Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati writer and communications consultant based in Abu Dhabi. Twitter: @manar_alhinai.

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