Over 300 million people spend time on Instagram every day. And for advertisers, this tap-happy space is a godsend.
According to Selfstartr, 68% of Instagram users directly follow accounts for businesses and many directly engage with brands through comment.
Customers that spend time on your Instagram profile are more likely to click on your referral links. This makes the sales conversion potential huge.
Your brand can take advantage of Instagram’s massive user base.
By using these five subtle visual cues, backed up by human psychology, you can also start collecting likes and customers.
1. Connect Through Eye Contact
Eye contact is so powerful it can make us fall in love. Results of a study published in the Journal of Research in Personality showed that eye contact can foster deep intimacy even in strangers. When we lock the gaze of another pair of eyes, synapses in our brains fire off. You can use this basic reaction to hack your advertising on Instagram.
This post from MTV promoting their Hip Hop Honors television event is dramatic. The steady look that music legend Missy Elliott holds with the user is enough to make them stop scrolling and read the caption about the event.
Eye contact doesn’t have to be intense or direct either. This photo from McDonald’s softens the gaze by putting the subject farther back in the shot. And she’s obviously smiling, causing us to automatically feel like smiling back. This picture successfully plays on a set of involuntary responses.
2. Use Red and Blue to Grab Attention and Win Customers’ Trust
Did you know that 90% of snap judgments about brands are based on color alone? Researchers found colors can enhance our moods, alter our appetites, and even affect our sense of time passing. And the two most powerful colors that alter our perceptions? Red and blue.
Psychologists have been studying the color red for decades. Red has always been used in nature as a warning sign so our brains are specially tuned to watch out for it. If red pops up in our vision, we have an instant and obvious reaction to it. Red can even arouse us. Using red lips, blushing cheeks, or even just red text in your Instagram posts can make users stop and stare.
But make sure you use other colors besides red too. Research shows that when red is paired with other colors, it’s more effective than when it’s used alone. Like in this cover for Vogue:
Comedian Amy Schumer is eye-catching and seductive in her red dress. As pretty as she is, we see the dress before we even notice who’s wearing it. The red forms a strong contrast with the green grass, making this picture pop out on Vogue’s customers’ feed.
Blue, on the other hand, suggests to customers that your brand is competent. Companies like Facebook and GE who famously use blue in their branding cash in on this color association. Blue creates trust, like in this ad from cloud computing company Digital Ocean:
This announcement about the expansion of Digital Ocean’s product includes striking contrasts between the blue and the yellow. The blue monument feels like an inviting, calm space.
3. Tap into Sexy Symmetry
Our entire concept of beauty is based on symmetry. In the 20th century, the Harvard mathematician George David Birkhoff found that a piece of art is more beautiful the more symmetric it is. We look for even proportions in the bodies of our romantic partners because we subconsciously associate symmetry with good health.
We find symmetry so attractive that scientists are concerned our natural inclination for it might get in the way of collecting unbiased data. You can grab customers if you harness the power of symmetry.
The above picture from vase designer Lovestar uses symmetry by putting the product directly in the middle of the shot. It also has the double whammy of creating eye contact with users through Beyoncé’s powerful stare. As you can see to the side of the picture, followers are tagging their friends and promising to buy the vase. Mission: accomplished.
You don’t have to just post pictures of pretty people to tap into our love of symmetry either. It can be more subtle than that. Pictures that play with symmetry by tilting the shot or keeping the subject slightly off center are naturally interesting. Try creating pictures that are not perfectly symmetrical, like this one from the British department store Harrods:
In this photo, the repetition of patterns and soft colors pull us in and relax us. And now we’re thinking of cake and where we can get one. It has to be tea time somewhere.
4. Involve Your Audience
Various studies have demonstrated that our brains show an immediate excited response when we see and hear our own names. This is the “cocktail party effect” at work. Basically, we’re really good at tuning other people out to focus on one person who’s talking, especially when we hear our own name.
Using the word “you” in your photo, or in your captions, helps you capture the cocktail party effect. By asking your followers questions or inviting them to share their opinion, you can encourage interaction with your brand.
Lay’s chips knows how to grab their followers. By asking a question using the word “you,” they are able to instantly attract attention and hold it. Their followers have filled the comments with their votes. Asking your followers to vote on something can increase engagement and sharing.
Soap company Lush has posted a fairly unexciting photo of their product but their caption is pure gold. By asking followers to tag their friends in the comments they can ensure they have tons of people looking at their post.
5. Create a Members Only Space
Everyone wants to be part of the cool crowd. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs says self-esteem is our ultimate goal. We want, more than anything, to feel like we’re special. Feeling like we have something valuable makes us feel better about ourselves. Use this urge to grab your audience by promising something elite and scarce. Be inclusively exclusive.
You can utilize our need to be special through offering rare deals in your Instagram ads. Limited editions, deals that are running out of time, and stock that’s almost sold out are all like the last cookie in the jar. And we want it.
Banana Republic is offering customers exclusive first dibs on their new collection in addition to a limited addition look. There’s so much happening here that customers will feel an urgency to click through to the store’s site just so they don’t miss out on something good.
You can even give your customers an exclusive peek behind the curtain through stripped down “behind the scenes” posts. Fashion brands like Chanel and Michael Kors do this all the time when they take pictures behind the scenes at runway shows. It makes them look professional even when they’re casual and it invites users into something that feels secret. This is a place not many people go, but your special customers can.
Charity: Water’s pretty picture of their design team at work fits in well with the Instagram landscape. This behind the scenes shot feels intimate and exclusive. It also shows a less polished side to the organization, making them seem hip and edgy.
Making a human connection through your advertising is easy with the use of basic visual cues that hit on our psychology. These are just some tips to help you get started.
Find even more tips for successful Instagram ad campaigns in our guide to Instagram best practices.