One of the most common complaints I hear about Instagram is that you can’t post links in the captions of your posts.
Instagram Network Study | Q4 2014
To be fair, I hear that complaint mainly from those of you who are likely to read this post: Marketers who use the network for brand purposes. When I detach myself from my profession, that’s probably one of the things I love most about Instagram. It’s a pure experience: Visual content, a little bit of copy, and no CTAs (calls to action).
Last week, Instagram unveiled a new ad type that will allow advertisers on the network to include links and multiple photos in one placement, without losing the Instagram aesthetic that we’ve all come to love. In a release on the company site, Instagram highlighted the importance of this:
We’ve heard from marketers that they want to tell sequenced stories in beautiful, compelling ways that lead to meaningful results for their businesses.
How Carousel Ads Work
The new ads offer a “carousel” feature that allow marketers to post more than one photo in an ad placement, that users can scroll through horizontally. This means that, just like the ads currently on Instagram, if a user wants to scroll past, they can simply keep scrolling vertically and it doesn’t take more space. The carousel ads also offer a linked button on the final image that drives users to an in-app browser, allowing further engagement on your website.
The design seems pretty intuitive, but Instagram says it’ll test the update with a limited release to make sure the final product focuses on aspects that users are most interested in.
Why Carousel Ads Matter to Marketers
There are many reasons that this ad update should matter to you as a marketer, the least of which is that, if you’re advertising on Instagram, this ties a direct line to your website and gives you a powerful new way to advertise and measure the results.
Even if you’re not an advertiser, this addition will only add to the rich visual content users expect on the network, and will continue to increase their receptivity to branded content. In our recent study of the top global brands on Instagram, we found that these top brands saw over 130 million Likes and comments on organic content during Q4.
Users on Instagram are there to experience engaging visual content. They’ve made it clear that – at least en masse – they aren’t averse to that content coming from their favorite brands, as long as it’s well-produced and visually captivating.
Finally, carousel ads with the ability to link to a website can provide insight to any marketer on the network. The advertisers using these ads during the coming months will be best-in-class visual storytellers that are hand-picked by the network. Learn from their tactics and study their ads for components that you can learn from. They’ll likely find innovative ways to use the carousel ads that you can implement in your organic content, and if the feature is opened to more brands, use as a framework for your own content. As Instagram’s post stated:
One way to look at it is carousel ads bring the potential of multi-page print campaigns to mobile phones – with the added benefit of taking people to a website to learn more. For instance, a fashion company could use the carousel to deconstruct the individual products in a ‘look.’ A car company might share an array of different features of a vehicle and provide a link to learn more about the new model. Or, an advertiser could showcase how multiple ingredients come together to make a delicious meal.
By learning from their creative ways to tell stories, you can develop richer campaigns that better reflect your own brand, product, or story.
To better equip yourself to tackle Instagram, be sure to download our full Instagram Marketing Strategy Kit below. The kit includes our most recent benchmarks and studies, the Complete Guide to Instagram Analytics, and several different blog posts that will help you understand your Instagram tactics.