These days in just about everything we do, we’re just about accustomed to seeing a commercial, banner, popup, or some type of advertisement trying to get our attention. Even if the attention is only for a few seconds, winning our eyes for just those seconds can change our buying patters and perceptions to brands in a big way. While I won’t get into the science of marketing and mind control, I’ll keep this on topic for social media and the landscape.

I don’t think any social network can solicit ads better than Facebook. They’ve integrated targeted ads at the bottom of images, post threads, and the sidebars. While to most avid users of Facebook, one can train themselves to continue to use the social network and easily ignore the ads. Today I noticed my first sponsored ad in my stream of Instagram. I was a little shocked because I pretty much know all the people I follow and used to the normal content. That all changed when I saw this ad for a TV show that took my by complete surprise.

There have been plans for incorporating ads into IG I think before the Facebook buyout, but with Facebook doing what they already do well, I think ads were inevitable. Anyways, so the ad (see the screenshot below) was a high resolution photo with a TNT logo embedded and that was my first tip off. While a bit subtle it was noticed. There wasn’t enough for me to get a real gist of the program but there was a hashtag and a time and date for the next show on the network.

Instagram Screenshot of Ad

There was about 42 comments and I think there is where all the comedy was.  Some people were complaining for seeing the add, some identified the actor with praise, and of course plenty of sarcasm.

But What Does All This Mean for Avid Instagram Users?

Will you entertain paying big money to advertise your brand, services, products on the powerhouse that is IG? I’ll ask you a better question, how are you currently selling or reselling your brand to your existing audience? Your website is your information stream. People come to it daily for information, there should be subtle ways for you to turn something into revenue. Whether that stream comes from eyes to your website, then a call to action, then an email to buy something at a discount, there should be something in place. Especially if your business is structured to have reoccurring or frequent users – you have their eyes at attention that should be introduced (softly) to strategically placed similar products, well placed ads, or something that encourages an emotion to further engage with your business.

Why You Shouldn’t Be Afraid

Sure I mentioned earlier that most of us are trained to ignore ads and commercial offerings, you must remember why people are using a service, website, or app in the first place. They’ve already been sold on it. So unless something comes around offering a better experience all around, and everyone they know have moved, they’re not going anywhere. Sure some will complain but they’ll continue to use it because all of their friends and coworkers still use it.

I remember when the threat of photo ownership was at risk in IG and people had a mass exodus from the site deleting photos and terminating accounts like it was an Occupy Wall Street protest. I was in the number by the way – (no shame). Then I came back with a new handle and a new perspective on what I decide to post and what I’ll reserve for my own publishing.


You can’t be obnoxious with your offerings and sales pitches. You’ve gotta slide them in there in a real subtle and non-obtrusive way. You also have to make it something that will spark engagement. Even if some it will be negative. Some of the negative will serve as good feedback on how to do better.

How Can You Tell If It Is Working?

Google Analytics is your best friend. Use it. Setup a benchmark for when you’re going to launch your new campaigns and compare that to what was happening on your website a month prior. Even to the week before, see what your numbers look like. See what your sign ups look like. See what your sales are like. See what your emails are like.

Sales Trigger Ideas?

Here are some ideas you can use:

  • A call to action with a form
  • A popup window on entry or exit of your website tied to your mailing list (I would suggest MailChimp)
  • Create new and keyword rich landing pages
  • Once a day try offering a special deal to one of your more engaged followers on each of your social media accounts. (tell them they one a free something or discounted something)
  • Create a timed sale or discount. One that has to be used within a certain period of time that day or within the next 24 hours. This will create a sense of urgency
  • Cross promote your brand with an associated business or service
  • Invite your followers to post pictures on their social apps with your products (something branded) and tag/mention you
  • Create your own ads that are linked back to your products when sending out emails

These are just a few ideas, there are plenty more out there. Why not share your efforts and ideas in the comments below and lets have a discussion!