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In my previous post, I talked about why it’s important to tailor your creative for each of your digital platforms to address user behavior and platform specs. Today we’ll talk about creative on arguably the most visual-friendly platform of all: Instagram.

Think beautiful imagery, inspiring photography, double taps, and scrolling down a never-ending feed. Users are flocking to Instagram for a dopamine release of addictive, eye-catching content. They are scrolling down their feed FAST, so you need to make sure you are catching their attention quickly with thumb-stopping content.

Some of the common mistakes I see advertisers making on Instagram are using tiny, landscape ratio pieces of creative that hardly fill the phone screen that Instagram users scroll to consume content. It’s also increasingly common to see teeny-tiny text that is hardly legible on the small phone screen (although it’s perfectly readable from the computer screen that the piece of creative was likely approved on).

Don’t be that advertiser. Catch the attention of your audience with bright colors, use nice lifestyle photography, make sure your ad takes up as much vertical cellphone real estate as possible, and make your text overlay easy to read on a mobile device.

Take this example from 3Q client Bealls,  a beachy department store that mostly operates in the Southern U.S. These assets incorporated product imagery that included a compelling offer that was clear and easy to read, and an eye-catching flat lay of product imagery, coupled with a bright pink background and yellow “Shop Now” CTA that both popped out on the Instagram feed. For Bealls, these compelling offer assets drove a 58% higher CTR, 51% lower CPC, and 47% higher ROAS compared to their previous creative, which included similar imagery but no text imagery, bright backgrounds, nor strong CTA.

Instagram Stories

While users are consuming more inspirational, eye-catching content on their Instagram feeds, it should come to no surprise that users are more likely to react positively to more authentic-feeling content on Instagram Stories. Audiences want to see real faces and native features like text overlay, GIFs, and polls. This means you should aim to have your Instagram Story ads look more like something that would naturally pop up while someone is tapping through their stories, versus non-native-looking advertisements that barely fit on the entire phone screen.

Users are tapping through quickly and will no doubt skip right past your ad if it appears to be a boring, highly produced advertisement. Ditch your brand guidelines when it comes to text overlay, and utilize the fun fonts Instagram Stories already has to offer! Here’s a great example from Windex that immediately caught my attention:

Imagery is bright and eye-catching, the platform’s native text overlay is used, we are seeing some lifestyle imagery, and it is properly sized to fill the entire Instagram Stories feed.

Another great example from a 3Q client  for Instagram Stories is from University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences, a higher education institution that started testing creative on Instagram Stories the same way most brands do: by launching the same piece of creative that was used for a Facebook ad on Instagram Stories within the same campaign. Once we considered the ineffectiveness of this placement, we resized the assets to fit Instagram Stories in a way that felt more natural for the platform.

These two examples show the exact same video, except the example from before the resize is smaller, includes a text-heavy caption that you have to click to read in full, and is lacking a strong CTA. After the Instagram Story specific resize, we see stronger text overlay, a slightly bigger frame, and a strong call to action that is bright orange and sticks out for the user to “Swipe Up to Learn More”. Using the exact same video, but with a few more best practices specifically formatted for Instagram Stories, we saw a 3% increase in CTRs in just a short amount of time. Small changes can really make a difference!