Instagram #ad Work - The Basics for Creating Branded Content

Ellery Kemner
July 15, 2019

We’ve all seen those Instagram pages. The ones that turn us into real life heart-eye emojis. 

Each photo they post is perfectly married to the one on either side of it. 

The composition of each shot is eye-catching. 

Their captions, no matter how long, have us hanging on every word. 

Every brand they praise immediately garners a site visit from us as we click ourselves into the depths of Instagram. 

While much of what draws us to a page is personal taste (the underground art page that makes me drool isn’t the editorial sensation you might prefer), there is also a lot of strategy behind getting people to stop scrolling, look, and read what you post. And when you take on #ad work, you shouldn’t have to sacrifice the aspects of your page you love to get the results you and your brand partners deserve. Keeping your page organized and your messages clear with the below tips will ensure that you have the highest rates of success. 

Welcome to Lumanu’s Branded Content Best Practices. Reworded, welcome to an article about what we’ve seen work and what we believe will stand the test of time when it comes to creating imagery and copy for Instagram advertisements. If you want to be one of those Instagram pages while taking on brand collaborations, then this article was written for you. 

Brand Selection

When it comes to branded content, it all starts with the brands you choose to work with. It sounds obvious, but this foundational aspect of creating great Instagram ads is often overlooked: just because someone will pay you doesn’t mean you should take the job. Your brand collaborations need to make sense on your page, and make sense to your followers. That means that the brands you work with should align with your overall vision, beliefs, and audience. This really does matter; every brand collaboration you do will have an impact on how effective your posts will be going forward, as well as which brand collaborations are available to you in the future. For example, an Instagram feed filled with houseplants and health tips might throw off its followers with an ad for an electronic cigarette. Furthermore, that cigarette ad might scare away a future collaboration with a health and wellness brand. Being picky about who you work with increases the likelihood that your brand partners are satisfied with what you produce, making long-term collaborations more likely.


Once you commit to working with brands that align with your established aesthetic, it’s time to focus on making standout images to match. Here are Lumanu’s top 3 tips for creating awesome product imagery that keep you, your brand partners, and your followers happy. 

1. Make sure there is a strong figure-ground separation between the product and the scene around it (for the photographers reading, this means you’ll want a wide f-stop, lowering your depth of field). This will de-clutter the image and make certain that people truly see and remember the product you’re endorsing. 

2. Closely following the above, make your product the star of the image. If it is shoes, don’t hide them at the bottom of the image. If it’s pants, don’t wear shoes that distract from them. You want the product you’re advertising to be the most noticeable thing in the photo.

Take a look at the following examples. All four images are branded content for jewelry brands. Can you guess which ones performed best?  They are all pretty pictures, but the first two images performed an incredible 200% better in regards to link clicks. Product visibility is a key component when encouraging your followers to interact with what you post and buy what you advertise in the future.

3. Stay true to your personal aesthetic. It can be tempting to look at photos the brand has used in their marketing and base your imagery off that. Don’t. They hired you for a reason; keep your style!


Creating great images often comes naturally to creators, but then you have to think of something interesting to say about them - and preferably something that will also drive conversions. Writing the caption can often be the hardest part! Here are our top 3 tips for writing engaging copy for branded content. 

1. Mention the brand in the first 3 lines of text. Instagram often hides full captions, offering the reader a “...more” button if they want to read on, so make sure to put the important parts right at the top!

2. Echoing our third tip for imagery: don’t think that you have to imitate the brand’s voice in your copy. Changing your voice dramatically will be a shock to your audience, while speaking as you usually do will allow them to absorb your message clearly.

3. Include a Call To Action (CTA). You’ve found the right brand, created the perfect image, and written a glorious caption. Don’t leave your audience wondering, “Now what?” Seal the deal by encouraging them to click the link in your bio, visit the brand’s page, Shop Now, comment, etc. 

Bonus! Ask for a unique discount code from your brand partner (ideally with your name in the code). It’s is a great way to further persuade your audience to follow through on “Shop Now” CTAs.

Your Instagram shouldn’t be negatively impacted by making sponsored content. Following these guidelines is a great way to keep your style and deliver exactly what your brand partners want as well. 

Communications for Lumanu, model, blogger