Another social media platform has tossed its hat into the advertising ring. You can now purchase ads on Instagram. After a year of testing, the Facebook-owned company is now offering carousel ads.

“Carousel ads bring the potential of multi-page print campaigns to mobile phones,” claims Instagram in a recent post.

There’s a lot of buzz surrounding these ads, and many marketers are ready to give them a try. Before you jump in, here are four things you should know before creating your first ad:

1. How Instagram ads work
When customers come across a sponsored ad on Instagram, they can swipe left and see up to four additional images and a link to a website of the brand’s choice.

For example, a clothing retailer could use the carousel to breakdown a look. The first image could show a model wearing a trendy outfit and the subsequent images, which customers can see by swiping their screen, show the individual pieces of clothing.

Showtime used an Instagram ad to promote its hit show, Penny Dreadful. Each swipe gave viewers an inside look at a specific cast member.

Instagram has an example of an ad it ran for non-profit Pencils of Promise on its blog.

If people that aren’t interested in the ad, they can just scroll on by.

2. Early case studies show promising results
How will Instagram ads improve your business? Statistics show these ads have a great reach, and can increase ad recall and brand awareness.

Before launching ads to the public, several big brands tested them out. Instagram measured results across 400 global campaigns and found sponsored ads provide a 2.8x higher ad recall than normal online advertising, as measure by the Nielson Brand Effect.

Ben & Jerry’s, for example, used Instagram to advertise its Scotchy Scotch Scotch ice cream. The ad reached 9.8 million users and increased brand awareness by 17 percent, according to a recent case study.

3. More calls to action to choose from
You won’t just have a “Shop Now” button to choose from for your call to action. There are four choices: Learn More, Install Now, Sign Up and Shop Now.

Each button opens a browser that takes the customer to a page on a website or to a specific location within an app.

To get back to Instagram, customers simply tap the back button or an X.

4. Tips to make an effective Instagram ad
To help you create your first Instagram ad, we asked several marketers to offer tips to get you started:

Pick visuals that pop
It goes without saying that visuals are important on Instagram, but you’ll be paying for these ads so imagery is even more vital.

“A standard product shot won’t do if brand’s are looking to engage,” says Chris Smith, Director of Strategy at idfive. “Brands need to give users what they come to Instagram for in the first place – captivating images that tell a story.”

Make the most of your links
When including a link in your ad, give it some thought, says social media marketer Alayna Frankenberry.

“Don’t just link to your company’s homepage — link to a specific sale or section of your site,” she says. “Users are more likely to follow a link that promises something out of the ordinary like a sneak peek at a new fashion line or free samples of beauty products, than they are to just check out your homepage.”

Learn from your past
Before creating your ad, do a little homework. Take a look at your analytics and see which pictures have engaged your followers. Next, do some research on the kind of content that your target market responds to, says Dallas McLaughlin, digital marketing strategist at The James Agency.

“What type of content does your target market engage with? How do they engage with it?” he asks. “Learn how to leverage these behavioral signals to bring attention to your ads by creating content that is native to the platform it lives on.”

Have you created an Instagram ad yet? Share you knowledge in the comment section below.

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