Instagram continues to court brands with its newly launched video ads. After months of testing and hands-on work with businesses, the new ad units are finally rolling out. But while this introduces a new way to connect companies and consumers, it also challenges brands to become better storytellers.
Traditionally, ads had beginnings and endings, they were told on a single page or within a 30-second time slot, and often relied on a slogan or jingle to hook consumers. Today, brands are tasked with creating higher quality videos in tighter timeframes, across multiple devices, and without sound.
Visual content drives engagement, so whether you’re designing a true sponsored video ad for the masses or just creating videos for your audience, here are a few tips to consider.
Be Careful Not to Over-Edit
Part of the appeal of Instagram is its authenticity. And even though sponsored content has been worked in well, you don’t want to upload anything that feels too commercial or inorganic.
Take advantage of the app’s editing tools, and even Hyperlapse’s stabilizing technology. But be careful not to edit out everything that gives your video character. Sometimes the sun’s glare or a team member’s laughter in the background can create personality and help to humanize your brand.
Take the Nonlinear Approach
Thanks to social media, consumers can discover content in so many different ways. As a result, marketers no longer know at which point a viewer will first encounter a campaign. To be successful, you have to build campaigns that make sense and hook viewers regardless of whether they see the first tweet, magazine ad, or the Instagram video.
The story is still important; a good story draws the viewer in, and that hasn’t changed. What has changed is how people discover, distribute, and engage with that story. Nonlinear storytelling enables brands to create high-quality content that can stand on its own, even if it’s part of a series.
A good example of this is the CW’s new Instagram video ad for its series The Flash. In it, the network offers viewers a quick clip of passengers in a plane who see a burst of light out the window followed by The Flash running by. It happens so quickly that if you blink you might miss it.
Viewers don’t have to know why those passengers are on the plane or where they’re going. What matters is that fraction of a second when they see the hero run by. Something like this will get people talking and could even result in significant replays.
Use Filters Consistently
Instagram offers a variety of filters that help you create unique and visually stunning videos. That said, since some of your videos will be made up of multiple shots, it’s recommended that you use only one filter while filming. Doing so will reduce the distraction of changing shades and tones while offering viewers a consistent visual experience.
An easy way to add dimension and variety to your 15-second video is to capture shots from different angles. Whether you’re sitting low, standing high, or panning left or right, these simple actions can give your videos a unique element that’ll help them stand out in members’ streams.
Don’t Rely On Sound
While music or narration can add another layer to your videos, there’s no guarantee that viewers will actually activate the sound component. Remember, Instagram videos are muted by default. In order for a video to be successful, it must be able to stand on its own without sound.
Consider these video ad examples from Disney and Banana Republic. Neither require sound to understand what’s happening — in fact, the latter doesn’t offer sound at all. Yet both videos manage to get their message across and appeal to specific target audiences.
Throughout the creation process, it’s important that you don’t forge ahead blindly. Find out how people feel about your existing photos and videos, and study that content to learn what’s working and what isn’t. This is key whether you’re launching a new campaign, introducing a hashtag, or designing your first piece of sponsored content on the social app.
Jennifer Beese: Jennifer Beese has worked as a community manager and social media strategist. When she’s not writing, you can find her studying anatomy and physiology—she literally has a skeleton in her closet—or under the stars with her telescope.