How to Advertise on Instagram and Win New Business

Businesses can gain followers, increase engagement, and expand their reach on Instagram solely through organic means without spending a dime. But if you want to achieve significant growth, adding paid advertising to your marketing mix has the potential of yielding amazing results. 

Ever since Facebook acquired Instagram in 2012, the social platform has been ramping up its ad offerings, providing more options, features, metrics and campaign styles. For those businesses that haven’t yet experimented with advertising on Instagram, the good news is that it’s easy to start and not cost prohibitive. And as you get more experienced, you’ll be able to create an ad strategy that’s ever more sophisticated to reach your desired target audience. 

Use Facebook Ads Manager

Before you can start advertising on Instagram, you’ll need to create a business account and link it to a Facebook Page. Once you do that, you’ll have several options for how to create your ads and campaigns. One option is to create your ad using the Facebook Ads Manager. First, click on the Campaigns tab and then on the + Create button. Next, you’ll choose between doing a Guided Creation, which is helpful to newbies because it walks you through the process, or Quick Creation, which is good for more experienced people because it provides more control over the process.

Choose a campaign objective

The next step to figuring out how to advertise on Instagram is choosing a campaign objective, which will help the Ads Manager recommend the right options, optimize your campaign, and determine how you pay for your ads. Here are your choices for campaign objective:

  • Brand awareness – Increase awareness of your business and whatever products or services you provide.

  • Local awareness – Focus on a specific geographical target.

  • Reach – Increase awareness but also reach an expanded audience that might not know anything about your brand.

  • Traffic – Drive people to your website, online store, or app.

  • Engagement – Promote offers, your account, or your posts.

  • App installs – Get people to download your app.

  • Video views – Use a video ad to drive awareness of your brand, products, or services.

  • Lead generation – Collect information such as email addresses from people.

  • Conversions – Get people to perform a specific action, such as making a purchase.

  • Product catalog sales – Sell products from your online store, which must be integrated with Facebook.

  • Store visits – Use people’s geographic location to get them to go to your business.

Identify your audience

Here is where you choose the audience you want to target. You can define by geographic location, age, gender, and language, as well as more precise items such as those who have engaged with your content, visited your website, followed a certain Facebook page, downloaded your app, watched your video, and subscribed to your newsletter. Targeting goes far beyond typical demographics, including people’s interests, online behaviors, purchase histories and more. 

Audience targeting is a critical part of the process because you need to focus on reaching the people who are likely to be interested in your business and not waste precious time and money getting in front of those who are not potential customers or clients. For example, if your cupcake store is located in a specific location, you’ll want to set up a target audience based on that geographical area. Or if you know that teenage boys make up the primary target for your skateboard business, you’ll want to define your audience accordingly.

Define your budget, schedule, and bids

There are lots of estimates out there about the cost of an Instagram ad, but in general, it’s about $0.80 per click. That said, your cost will vary depending on how you define your audience and what it is that you’re advertising. Also keep in mind that while Instagram’s average cost per click is high compared to that of other social sites, its conversion rate is also higher, making those clicks worth the money. 

Because you must define a budget for your ad campaign, you’re guaranteed not to spend more than you want. Still, try to select an amount that isn’t too low and will yield the best results. The Ads Manager allows you to set a daily budget, which is the amount you want Instagram to spend on delivering your ads every day on average, or a lifetime budget, which is the amount you want to spend over the entire life of the campaign. You’ll also be asked to choose how long you want your ad to run for.

Ads Manager gives you the option of using Manual or Automatic bidding. Unless you are a fairly proficient online advertiser, it’s best if you go the automatic route, since Facebook and Instagram have the knowledge, experience, and algorithms to suggest an appropriate bid amount that keeps your costs down while delivering optimal results. Of course, if you feel the suggested bid amount is too high, you can always take it down to an amount that feels more comfortable for you. 

Select delivery optimization

This is where you tell the Ads Manager what to optimize for based on your objectives. Here are the optimization options you have to choose from: 

  • Conversions – Deliver ads to those who are most likely to convert (i.e., perform a specific action like making a purchase).

  • Post engagement – Show ads to those most likely to comment, like, or share your ad.

  • Impressions – Get ads seen by as many people as possible.

  • Link clicks – Deliver ads to those most likely to click.

  • Daily unique reach – Show ads to a certain audience once a day.

  • Brand awareness – Get your ads seen by those who are most likely to be interested in your brand, product, service, or offer.

Create your Instagram ads

Finally, you’ll get the chance to choose the ad format you want and create the headline, text, and call-to-action button. Here are the ad types you have to choose from:

  • Single image – A versatile ad that consists of one image, copy, and a call-to-action button; images can be various sizes and the caption is limited to 125 characters.

  • Carousel – Allows you to present a series of up to 10 images or videos in a single ad; good for showing multiple products, telling a story, or showing a process.

  • Video – A video ad is a great way to catch people’s attention and tell a story about your brand, product, or service.

  • Slideshow – Similar to a video, this is a series of still images that transition or fade and can be set to music.

  • Lead – Sends those who click to a page where they are asked to provide personal information such as name, email address, and phone number.

  • Stories image – A collection of up to six images that tells a story about your brand, product, or service and appears in the Stories feed.

  • Stories video – A video of up to 15 seconds that appears in the Stories feed.

After you fill in the details of your ad, including text and imagery, you’ll be able to use the preview tool to make sure it looks just right. When you’re ready, click the Place Order button to send the ad for review and publishing. 

Promote an Instagram Post

Another option is to create your ad from within the Instagram app by promoting one of your already-created posts. Just go to your profile, tap Promotions, tap Create Promotions, then choose which post you want to promote. You’ll then get the opportunity to define your goal, audience, budget, and schedule, as well as choose a call-to-action button to add to the post. 

This is a great way to begin advertising on Instagram because it’s super easy to do and takes some of the guesswork out of the process. Because you’ll be using an existing post as your ad, you’ll be able to choose one that has already performed well and gotten a lot of engagement. 

Adhere to Instagram’s aesthetic

Advertising on Instagram is similar to other types of digital advertising in many ways. You’ll need to have a good sense of who your audience is and what they’ll respond to. You’ll need to choose your words and images wisely and you should ideally test out different creative to see what works best. You should experiment with hashtags and different calls to action to try and draw people in and get them to engage.

But keep in mind that Insta advertising is also different from other types of advertising. Instagram has a particular aesthetic that should be considered, both when you post and when you advertise. It’s a platform that emphasizes beautiful imagery, inspiration, and authentic connections with people and brands. So if you’re promoting a product, you should avoid generic, drab shots that lack context and fail to connect with your audience. Instead, consider using photography that puts your product in a specific setting and tells a story. The more your target audience is able to imagine themselves within that story and with that product, the more likely they’ll want to buy.

Of course, even those Instagrammers who adhere to the platform’s aesthetic will develop their own unique style within it. When it comes to learning how to advertise on Instagram, the important thing is to create your style with care and be consistent in everything you post.

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Molly Shapiro

Before joining the PicMonkey editorial team as a senior writer, Molly wrote about topics as varied as politics, finance, global health, and online dating. As a fiction writer, she’s published two books, both available on Amazon through totally non-sketchy retailers. A midwestern transplant who now calls Seattle home, Molly firmly believes that the Space Needle is way cooler than the Eiffel Tower.