Instagram is one of the biggest social media networks in existence today. It has over 1.2 billion active monthly users, and that number is still growing. Forecasts predict that by 2025, the platform will have over 1.44 billion active users. 

The 200 million businesses currently on Instagram are seeing activity on their accounts regularly as they interact with their customers. With this many people interacting with companies, it has become one of the best places to start running ads.

With Instagram’s growth and Meta’s takeover of the platform, their advertising platform has expanded. Instagram advertising now lets you control how you place your ads and who you reach with the ads. It lets you decide who you’re marketing to and how much money to spend on your ads daily. 

If you’re considering Instagram ads for your business, read on to see how you can make them work for you.

Define your target audience

Let’s dive into the exciting part first: choosing who you want to market to in your Instagram advertising campaign. If this is your first time marketing on Instagram, you may not know exactly who your target audience is. That’s okay. Experience is the best teacher, so get started and make changes as you go. 

As you go through the process, you’ll find it can be quite simple, or you can make it extremely extensive. With practice, you’ll get more detailed with your audience. 

First, avoid the pitfall of aiming at a broad audience and draining your budget. Narrow it down. Analyze any data you have available to you to determine customer behavior, interests, and key demographics. 

Use your data to try to answer some of the following questions:

  • What age group are you trying to reach?
  • Where do your customers live?
  • Are they male, female, or both?
  • What do they do for work?
  • Are they married or single?
  • Do they have kids?
  • What is their financial status?

If you can’t answer all the questions immediately, that’s okay. After you’ve run a few ads, use the additional data you collect to keep adding answers to the questions.

When you’re placing your Instagram ads, you’ll be able to use the answers to these questions to narrow down the people who see your ads. This detailed targeting will help you reach those people who are most likely to buy your product. By taking time to do this, you won’t waste money on ads by showing them to people who will never buy. 

Once you’ve defined your audience, Instagram allows you to save it. This can streamline your process in the future, and you’ll still be able to make changes as needed.

Develop a strategy for Instagram advertising

Once you know who you want to start marketing to, it’s time to create a strategy for advertising on Instagram. Ask yourself what goals you are trying to reach with this ad. The ultimate end goal, of course, is to make a sale, but what do you want this ad to do specifically?

Perhaps you are trying to:

  • Reach people and grow your audience network;
  • Get traffic to your website or store;
  • Create brand awareness;
  • Get people to install your app;
  • Find leads;
  • Get event responses;
  • Get people to message you, etc.

Instagram has all these campaign objective options and a few more. Your goals have to make sense with your ad. You don’t want to send people to your website (get traffic) if you really want app installs for your new app.

Once you’ve determined your goal, you can create a content strategy for your ads. Consider who you’re trying to target and what your goals are. You’ll want to create an ad that speaks to both of these items.

You’ll also want to decide which types of Instagram ad formats are right for your business. 

You can choose from the following alternatives when you create ads:

  • Photo ads – Includes a single image for your ad;
  • Video ads – A video ad that showcases your product or service;
  • Carousel ads – Highlighting multiple products at one time through images or videos;
  • Slideshow ads – Includes multiple images for your ad.

This will determine how your ads appear when you advertise on Instagram. Consider what content you want in your ads to go with your images or videos. What is important to you? What is important to your customers?

And don’t forget your call to action in your content strategy. You need to tell your customers exactly what you want them to do so they know the next step in the process.

Create visually appealing content

To catch attention with your Instagram advertising, your content must be visually appealing. Images need to be crisp and clean. They also need to be something your specific audience will want to look at

Your visuals will want to reach your targeted audience. Keep in mind their demographics. If you advertise a new desk chair and show Grandma’s old-fashioned chair, your audience will scroll right by. 

Also, use high-quality images for your photo ads, and make sure your editing is on point for your video ads. Sloppy editing can turn people away from your brand quickly.

Check your branding

Another item to consider is your branding. Your images and videos must match your brand identity. The visuals don’t need to match exactly, but having something that aligns with your goals and values is a good idea. 

Have fun with your visuals. Mix things up. Just keep the overall appeal toward what your brand intends to portray to your customers.

Make sure you’re marketing to your audience

High-quality, visually appealing images are super important to your ad. But remember, you are still marketing to your targeted customers. They must be clever and create a selling point that people want to learn more about

Your visuals need to compel your audience to take the next step. Make them snappy and engaging so they stand out among all the images on Instagram.

Incorporate a call to action

We touched on this above, but it’s important enough to mention again. The call to action is what gets your audience to engage with you. It takes them from a scroller to an active participant with your ad

While including a call to action in your text is a must, it’s a good idea to include one in your images as well. “Shop Now” or “Learn More About…” are fantastic ways to catch the eye of your custom audience and spur them into action.

Use targeted messaging

When you run ads on Instagram, you’ll want your text to resonate with your target audience. Sometimes, that may mean crafting a funny, engaging post. Or it may need to be informational and full of value. Whatever your message is, it must be human, or it won’t reach your audience and get the engagement you are hoping for. 

People go to social media to be amused and entertained, so appealing to the emotional side of humanity is almost always a good option. No one wants to read a boring advertisement or get into something too deep.

Keep your text relevant to Instagram users

Every social media platform is different, and what works on Facebook and LinkedIn won’t necessarily work on Instagram. Put yourself in the shoes of your target audience, and be aware of their intentions on the platform

Sometimes, you may want to share a funny or heartwarming story that will engage users and get them to respond. In other cases, your content may want to be short and sweet. Since Instagram is not a sales or business platform, ensure your copy is not too sales-driven. It will turn people away from your ads since users don’t typically go to Instagram to be sold to.

Use hashtags appropriately

Hashtags are great. They really are. But get creative with your hashtags. Find ones that people are likely to search, and use them to draw attention to your brand. 

Before you run your Instagram campaign, do your research to see what is trending and what your audience is engaging with. And don’t overdo the hashtags. Between 5 and 10 are good. More than that, it makes your company look sloppy and desperate.

Test your copy

Instagram has options to set up different ads. Try rewording your copy. Make an extended version and a short version. Test your different options of the same ad to see which one performs better with your crowd. 

Every audience is different, so keep playing with your copy until you find a message that truly resonates with yours.

Optimize ad placements and targeting

Before discussing ad placement, we should mention just a couple of items. If you’re placing your first Instagram ad campaign, you’ll need to have access to Facebook Ads Manager and a Facebook Ad Account. All Instagram ads are placed through this ad manager since Meta owns both platforms.

We mention this because as you begin placing your ads, you’ll be able to go into here to visualize the different placements we’ll discuss below.

Instagram has six different ad placement possibilities, so you can show your ads where your audience will most likely see them. They appear throughout the Instagram stories and Instagram feed while a user is in the app.

Your options are:

  • Image Feed – This is the standard format you’re used to seeing on social media. These ads contain a single image and appear between Instagram posts on your feed. When done well, a photo ad doesn’t feel like an ad at all, but blends in with the feed.
  • Video Feed – These also appear throughout the feed, just like the above. The difference is that these ads contain a video instead of an image. Make sure you use a good-quality video for these ads.
  • Carousel Feed Ads – This ad format lets you have a group of scrollable images in your ad. You can include up to 10 images or short videos, each with its own link to a specific page of your website.
  • Image Story Ads – Instagram stories ads use single images to catch your audience’s attention in the stories section of the Instagram app.
  • Video Story Ads – Stories are the perfect place to put your video ads since users expect to see videos here. A good Instagram story ad doesn’t feel forced or like it is trying to “sell” something, so it blends right into the stories.
  • Canvas Story Ads – This Instagram ad format works with images, videos, and carousels and gives the user a 360 VR experience within the ad. These show up in the story section.
  • Reels – Reel ads are full-screen vertical ads. They are excellent for reaching people who don’t follow you or are unfamiliar with your brand since these ads appear as videos in the Reels section. They tend to blend in and not scream “ad,” so they get plenty of views.

Step into your audience’s shoes for a minute. Are they most likely to be in the feed or in Stories? Use this to determine where to place your ads and which ad format to use. 

Double-check your targeting options to make sure you are showing your ads to the right people. From there, Facebook’s algorithm will determine the best people and times to show your ads to your audience.

Monitor and optimize ad performance

Once your ad campaign is running, you’ll want to track your metrics and see how your ads are doing. Make little changes to optimize your ads as needed until you get the desired results. Try a new copy, a new image, or a different call to action if you need to. 

By using the Facebook Ads Manager platform, you can track impressions, link click counts, conversions, engagements, and more. You’ll also be able to keep an eye on your daily ad spend, daily or lifetime budget to stay on track with your Instagram ads cost.

Once you’re in the ad manager, you can customize reports to get a complete breakdown of the items most important to you. Use this data to determine what works well for your ads and what you need to update. 

Are you getting engagement (likes and shares) but no link clicks? Then, you may need to make your call to action more prominent. The more adjustments you make, the better your ad performance will be.

Leverage user-generated content

Not all advertising on Instagram comes in the form of paid advertising. Your best customers can be some of your best salespeople as well. 

Encourage your customers to create and share content related to your brand or products. This acts as a customer testimonial and goes a long way toward building trust with your brand. Potential customers will interact with others who have used your products, and word will get around.

Search your Facebook page and Instagram account for posts from others. Often, your customers will tag your company. Repost content that showcases experiences with your product, service, or company. This social proof is more valuable than any Instagram ad set you can create.

Another great way to use social proof is to get videos of your customers using your products. If they are excited about using the product, it will show. Use these videos in your Instagram ad campaigns to create interest in your brand. So many of your potential customers will be able to relate to your current ones. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box when creating ads for your brand.

Engage and build relationships with Instagram followers

One of the best ways to create brand trust and loyalty is to engage with your followers on your social media platforms. Instagram is no different. 

Keep an eye on your feed and respond to comments and messages in a timely manner. Answer questions about your company and products or services. Have some fun with your followers. Even through social media, a human touch can go a long way toward creating brand loyalty.

Create valuable content

Give your followers the content that they are craving. Create valuable blog posts introducing your brand, letting them know what you’re about and how you can help them. Use your posts to help them solve their biggest problems. If you give them valuable content, your audience will share it with friends. 

Instagram has a Relevance Score that it uses for ads. This same score can help you determine how good your content is for your target audience. 

Here is what they look for when giving you a score:

  • Is your content high quality? Does it contain valuable information that is relevant to your followers?
  • Does your content produce conversations between you and your followers? What about between your followers?
  • Does your content spur interest? Is it liked and shared?
  • Are you creating controversial content? Or clickbait? Or is your content wholesome?

Ask yourself these same questions each time you produce a piece of content for the platform.

By taking the time to build relationships with your followers, you can continue to grow your brand. Customers get excited when they can interact and engage with their favorite brands online. And if you give them a reason to talk about you and share your message, they will. 

They can help you in your mission to create a loyal following for your brand.

The bottom line

In the ever-expanding realm of social media, Instagram has emerged as a formidable force. It’s grown bigger than anyone ever expected and shows no signs of slowing down. With people and businesses interacting on the platform daily, the allure of Instagram advertising has never been stronger. 

The social media giant has the power to finely tailor ads and pinpoint target demographics, allowing businesses to reach millions of people each day. Your ads and posts can now receive immense app engagement and reach, showcasing your brand to people you could not reach before. 

From crafting a precise audience profile to selecting optimal ad formats, the journey toward successful Instagram advertising requires meticulous planning and execution. Embracing captivating visuals, strategic branding, compelling calls to action, and relevant messaging lays the foundation for ads that capture attention and inspire action

Effective ad placement and adept monitoring further refine the strategy, enabling adjustments that amplify performance. 

In addition to the power of Instagram ads, harnessing the potency of user-generated content, fostering genuine interactions, and consistently offering value to followers ensures the establishment of brand loyalty and trust. 

In this dynamic landscape, mastering Instagram advertising equips businesses with a potent tool to connect, engage, and flourish within a vast and ever-scrolling audience. Take advantage of this opportunity to start reaching out to your target audience now. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I run the same ads on Facebook and Instagram? Or different ones?

Choosing where to run your ads and which ads to run will largely depend on where your target audience is most active. If you have an audience on both platforms, then it definitely makes sense to run your ads on both. You may want to adjust your ads for each platform based on the demographics of the audience on that platform.

I’m a small business. Can I create Instagram ads without having an Instagram account?

Yes. Instagram ads can be set up through your Facebook Business Page. We highly recommend having an Instagram account though so you can interact with your audience and have a stronger presence on the social media platform.

How much should I spend advertising on Instagram?

This depends on your business goals. An Instagram ad CPC (cost per click) is between $.20 and $2.00 per click. Or, on average, $6.70 for 1,000 impressions. You can spend as little as $10/day or as much as $1,000 (or more)/day, depending on your goals and daily budget.

Are Instagram advertising campaigns worth the time and money?

Yes. With over 1 billion people — and growing — on the platform, social media marketing is one of the best ways to put your brand in front of your audience. Creating ad campaigns on Instagram is well worth the time and money.