If you’re on Instagram and you’re anything like us, you probably find yourself getting overwhelmed — at least occasionally — with the sheer amount of content making its way to your feed. Who are these people? Did you actually opt in to follow these accounts? Why are they posting so many photos of their food and their Apple Watch and the way they arrange their notebooks on their desk? And what about all the ads? Where did those even come from?
Ads have increasingly become a fixture across social media platforms, and Instagram is no exception. While the platform once served primarily as a safe space for users to share their personal photos, we all know that cash is king, and the ‘gram has been monetized in recent years. Influencers partner with companies to share content promoting their products and ads now appear unsolicited in your feed based on your search history and demographics. You’ve got promo codes and affiliate links and swipe ups — basically, there are a lot of ways for brands and individuals to encourage you to give their products a try via IG.
You may have noticed a particular uptick in Instagram ads for products in the health and wellness space. We definitely have! Everyone seems to have the key to long life and the perfect bod in the form of a tea, a workout regimen, a diet, or a meal subscription service. So how can you navigate allllll of the promises that are being made to you in these ads? What’s true and what’s false? Which offers are worth trying and which are total bull(dog)?
Keep scrolling for five tips that will help you be a smart consumer of these Insta ads.
1. Consider the company — not the influencer. It’s that much easier to be tempted to try a product when you consistently see your favorite reality TV celebs or YouTube stars talking it up online (that’s why brands call in influencers!), but you shouldn’t be swayed too quickly simply because you like the person in the cute photo with the promo code. Remember that these ‘grammers are being paid to share positive experiences with these products! Their claims might be legit, but we encourage you to do your research on the company that actually makes the product in question before you open your wallet. Make your choice based on the company, not the influencer.
2. Do your research. Check out the brand’s Instagram feed. Since it’s bound to be tagged in the ad, this is an easy next step! Does it look legit? Are there lots of followers on the account — and, more importantly, lots of followers actually engaging with the content by liking and commenting on it? Is someone keeping up with posts on a regular basis? Take an extra step with a Google search. Look for testimonials on the brand’s Web site and scan the search results for reviews about the product on other sites.
3. Don’t be a victim of unrealistic sales strategies. We all want to feel good. We all want to look good! We all want to be fit and healthy and strong. But we all also know that getting all of those things shouldn’t be easy or quick. If an Instagram ad promises that you’ll lose a certain number of pounds after just a few days or that you’ll immediately see an increase in muscle mass, it should raise some red flags. These sales strategies are not realistic! If companies are relying on seemingly impossible guarantees to move their products, it might just be because they don’t have something more real to offer. Think about it!
4. Look closely at the actual cost of a product. Many social media ads offer great deals and promotions for first-time customers — and it’s nice to be able to take advantage of those! — but before you commit, you should spend some time working out a company’s real price tag. Are you going to be locked into a monthly subscription after just one low-cost month? Are you going to find yourself sucked into something that’s wayyyyy out of your budget after a single affordable purchase? Don’t allow a great deal to blind you to a long-term investment that you’re not ready to make.
5. Follow your gut. When you take all of these factors together, you’re probably going to get a pretty strong gut feeling about whether or not it’s a smart move to buy based on an Instagram ad. Trust that gut feeling! There’s a good chance that these heavily-advertised brands are going to continue to run similar offers on a regular basis, so you don’t need to make a purchase right now. Give it some time! Those influencers will give you another shot.
Have you ever purchased a health, fitness, or wellness product from an Instagram ad? Tell us about the experience on Facebook + Twitter!
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Featured image: Paul Hanaoka/Unsplash; Phone image: Timi David/Unsplash