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Instagram is fast becoming one of the most popular social media platforms — almost a third of adults in the U.S. who are active online now have a profile. Whereas this means that there are potentially more eyes for your content, it also means that you face greater competition. One of the best ways to ensure that your posts still reach users is to utilize ads.

As Instagram is owned by Facebook, it uses the same advertising system. This means that if you’re already advertising with Facebook, you’ll find it easy to create and monitor ads. However, there are some differences, including the fact that the platform is more visual than Facebook. To create successful ads, you need to remember that this is a separate platform with distinct requirements.

1. Are Instagram Ads Right for You?

Before you go any further, you need to determine whether Instagram ads would be right for your business. If you’ve decided to use the platform, it should be because your target audience is there. However, if you’re new to the platform, you’ll need to make an assessment.

Compare the demographics of Instagram users with those of your ideal customers. Consider if the topics you want to cover would be popular on Instagram. Think about whether you’ll be able to use visuals to tell your brand story.

2. Where to Create Instagram Ads

As you would expect, you can create Instagram ads within the Instagram app. In addition, you have a number of other options, each with their own set of advantages. For instance, if you’re already advertising on Facebook, you’ll likely find it more convenient to use Facebook Ads Manager. This also gives you more options for your ads than the Instagram app.

Other choices are Power Editor and Facebook’s Marketing API, both useful if you want to create a large number of ads to run at once. Finally, there’s Instagram Partners, which provides you with support from experts for creating and managing your ads.

3. Developing a Strategy

Before you can jump in and start creating ads, you need to decide why you want to advertise on Instagram. Each campaign needs its own goal, which you can define as an ad objective.

If you use the Instagram app to create your ads, you can only select the objectives “Visit your Website” or “Call or visit your business.” However, if you create ads in Facebook, you can choose between eight objectives. These are:

  • Brand awareness
  • Reach — If you choose this, you’ll need a Facebook page to be linked with your campaign.
  • Traffic — You’ll need to pick where you want to drive traffic, either “Website or Messenger” or “App (mobile or desktop app),” and enter the appropriate URL.
  • App installs — When you choose this goal, you have the opportunity to utilize A/B testing, enabling you to run different versions of your ad. You’ll need to select the app store you want (Apple, Google Play, or Facebook Canvas); you can only promote one platform per ad.
  • Engagement — To promote an existing Instagram post, you must set up the ad in the Instagram app. Otherwise, you can only promote an existing post from your Facebook page.
  • Video views
  • Lead generation — Like with reach, you’ll need to choose a Facebook page to be connected with the campaign.
  • Conversions — After choosing the website or app you want to promote through your app, you’ll need to set up a Facebook pixel or app event to track conversions.

4. Targeting the Right Audience

The next step is to choose who you want to target. If you’re already posting on Instagram, turn to your insights to learn more about the users who interact with your content. Otherwise, research your audience using data from elsewhere, such as analytics from other platforms.

Armed with this information, you can utilize targeting. Like with goals, you have more options for targeting when you create ads in Facebook. In the Instagram app, you’ll be able to specify location, age, gender, and interests. In Facebook Ads Manager, you can also target according to language, demographics, behaviors, and connections.

5. The Types of Instagram Ads

With your goal and target audience decided, it’s time to choose the type of ads to run. Ads on Instagram fall into four categories:

  • Photo ads. Just like organic posts, these feature a single picture. Use the ad to express your message in a visual format.
  • Video ads. If you have more to say, consider a video ad. As these are limited to 60 seconds, you’ll need to think carefully about how you can grab users’ attention.
  • Carousel ads. Another option that allows you to say more than is possible with a single picture is a carousel ad. These allow users to scroll through a sequence of images.
  • Slideshow ads. These ads are sort of a hybrid between video and carousel ads. You can use up to 10 pictures, which will roll automatically as a video. You can also add background music.

In addition to selecting the type of ad, you can choose where your ads appear. All the above are available for newsfeeds, but single photo and video ads can also appear in Stories feeds. Stories ads are full screen, having an immersive effect.

When you start using Instagram ads, it can be difficult to know what will work best. Monitor your results closely to adapt your target audience and the ads themselves accordingly. You’ll receive all the performance data for your ads in Facebook Ads Manager. The format is easy to understand and work with to improve campaigns.


About The Author

Laura Holton

Utilizing her knowledge of SEO and inbound marketing practices, Laura has gained significant attention for her articles and blog posts. Writing on a range of B2B topics, she helps entrepreneurs take their businesses to the next level, provides inspiration, and solves the most pressing problems small businesses face.


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