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Why Your Instagram Ads Are Not Converting or Working

21 April 2019 | 0 comments | Posted by Che Kohler in nichemarket Advice

why your instagram ads fail


The boom of the Instagram generation has naturally caught the eye of many advertisers who are flocking to the platform to try and reach the sites active user base. Instagram has become the premier platform for sharing lifestyle content and many brands are taking full advantage while others have missed the mark. The mobile social media giant continues to attract advertisers as it expands its advertising options and while they can be effective very few brands are taking full advantage and as a result wasting budget on campaigns that have little or no impact.

In a bid to help brands improve their Instagram ad performance, I've put together my top reasons why Instagram ad campaigns don't work.

1. You haven't differentiated

The most successful examples of Instagram marketing are businesses and individuals who have something unique to post. You are competing with thousands of brands on Instagram, and many of them are directly competing with you in terms of industry and target audience. So what is it that you’re going to post that sets you apart from everyone else? You need a unique angle here, or you’ll never build an audience through consistent engagement.

2. You're not using basic photography best practices

Instagram is a visual platform but has a relatively approachable learning curve. So you’ll need to know at least the basics of photography if you want to be successful. Learn how to use each of Instagram’s filters and editing tools, and frame your shot appropriately. Develop an eye for good shots, review your audience interactions and improve your skills over time.

3. Your posts are just part of the newsfeed white noise

A perfect Instagram post is one that stands out in the “white noise” that fills a user’s newsfeeds. Feeds are usually clogged up with stereotypical pictures of sunsets, or selfies in typical poses. Which makes it’s easy for images to go unseen when users are blindly scrolling by—so choose images and videos that capture users’ attention immediately. Find a way to edit or capture photos stand out with colour or your unique subject matter.

4. You aren't interacting with your followers

The most successful Instagram content strategies are always focused on the end users. Your Instagram profile shouldn’t be an exclusively product-centred tool. Most brands make the mistake of using Instagram as a mass marketing tool dedicated purely to promote your own material with more often than not, you campaign falling flat.

Instagram is not a marketing tool, it's a social media platform. It is designed for you to get closer to your users, engage with them. Listen to what your users have to say. Respond to their comments. Engage with their material. The more interactive you are on Instagram, the more followers you’ll get and the longer your followers will want to stick around and perhaps turn into customers.

5. Your ads don't offer any practical value

Though not always required, at least some of your posts should have some practical value associated with them. Can you teach your users something new? Can you give them something? Make it worth their while to follow you instead of just having sales and product shoved down their throat. Give your followers a real reason to take note of you and why they should follow you.

6. You have no strategy

Instagram is a fun platform. It’s a place to find cool images to engage with light-hearted content, and there’s a thrill you get when you attract a lot of likes. But how do these likes equate to meaningful revenue for your company? Therein lies the difficulty for most brands. You’ll have to tie your campaign back to some kind of goal or value—whether that’s facilitating more brand trust or funnelling more people to your website, pick your end goal and tailor your content to encouraging that specfic user behaviour.

7. The ad looks too professional

Instagram, like YouTube, is filled with a mass of user-generated content and anything with a corporate facelift is bound to stick out. The traditional clean, white look of an airbrushed advert isn’t visually compelling. On Instagram, where colours and motion pop off the screen, users are looking for the extraordinary.

Usually, “extraordinary” and branded colours don’t mix. Create ads that look like the pictures that your audience’s best friend took. Natural lighting, candid shots and behind-the-scenes pictures all go a long way to building a connection.

8. Your ad doesn’t tell a story

A lot of Instagram Ads just have the brand name, a catchy tagline and a picture that almost looks like a stock photo. In other words, a banner ad. Instagram users aren’t just looking at pictures. They’re looking for pictures that tell stories. The story can be funny, aspirational or action-packed.

This is really the art of Instagram: transforming photography into stories that have a deeper meaning for the viewer. National Geographic and Humans of New York are two Instagram accounts that really capture the emotional impact of images and engage people for longer than just a swipe.

9. Loud call-outs & banners

Just like with other social channels, Instagram users are coming to the app looking to be entertained, connect with friends and learn. If you really want them to ignore you, you can break their immersion by slapping a big red banner onto their screen.

On a mobile screen, a banner is the equivalent of a pop-up ad. With Instagram’s default call-to-action buttons, brands should focus more on content and less on driving people to tap. When you genuinely engage a user with the right content, their eye will naturally drift to the “Buy Now” or “Learn More” button at the bottom of the ad.

10. You feature shadowy and/or generic people

Big, anonymous hands. The shadowy back of a shadowy person. A woman with no facial expression. If your Instagram Ad has any of these, delete it and try again. Even more than on Facebook, brands are competing for attention with puppies, motorcycles, jewellery, the Kardashians, concerts, Hollywood and more.

If you’re trying to create compelling images, you should either find an influencer who can bring his or her own audience to the content or focus on something that isn’t just the brand logo or bold text announcing a sale. If your Instagram Ad looks like a stock photo, it’s going to fail.

11. Your product is just sitting there

I’ve bought two watches from companies I found on Instagram. Neither was through an ad. So I know that commerce and Instagram can comfortably coexist. People follow aspirational luxury brands, and they like to see those products.

But, more importantly, they want to see those products in the context of that world. Luxury watches are set against the backdrops of city skylines. Energy drinks are seen in the context of dirt bikes and hang gliding. Fashion brands show off fashion tips, and the models are featured in beautiful urban and natural settings. Your Instagram Ad needs to be about lifestyle first and product second.

12. Too much text

Text is the natural enemy of the mobile user. Research shows that when we look at our phones, our eyes gravitate toward the centre of the screen. We notice images first and foremost. So if you’re depending on text to get your image across, you’ve already lost a good chunk of your audience. While big, bold quotes can work as organic content, they fall flat if no one has heard of your brand before.

13. You’re not trying video

Instagram has added more media options and allows for 60-second videos which have really started to become their big push as they look to take on YouTube. If you come up with a good way to show your brand or product in motion, you can easily catch people’s attention. Even as users scroll, the videos will auto-play. So that could be the difference between someone moving past the ad or taking the time to look at it.

In regard to content for your brand, you could look at starting a video series, interviews and action shots can go a long way toward establishing your brand as a leader in great Instagram content.

Instagram doesn't guarantee instant success

Have you been using Instagram advertising? How has it worked for you? Do you have any tips or stories you would like to share? Let us know in the comments.

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If you want to know more about social media for your business, don’t be shy we’re happy to assist. Simply contact us

Recommended reading

If you want to know more about growing your Instagram and have time to dive deeper down the rabbit hole, then we suggest you check out the following articles:

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