How to Advertise on Instagram – A Beginner’s Guide

With over one billion active monthly users and higher engagement numbers than Facebook and Twitter, advertising on Instagram makes all the sense in the world. Even though Instagram isn’t as big or as established Facebook, people seem to enjoy it more. One of the reasons why Instagram is becoming everyone’s preferred social media platform could be its image-based format. Imaged-based social media apps are growing faster than text-based ones.

The platform is very popular with users in the 18-29 age range who are accustomed to shopping online. This means that your targeted ads could achieve better sales numbers than on other platforms. However, Instagram is great for virtually any type of business – from clothing brands to software solutions. As long as you use high-quality targeted ads, you stand to benefit immensely from engaging prospects on Instagram. In fact, over 70% of Instagram users claim that they made a purchase based on content they saw as they were browsing. 80% of Instagram accounts follow at least one business, and 60% of users report discovering new products/services on the app. Compared to users on Facebook and Twitter, Instagram users are more engaged. Therefore, you can’t afford not to utilize this tool!

Instagram Stats

When Instagram was acquired by Facebook in 2013, it started to offer ad services. However, it was only in 2015 that Instagram gave businesses of all sizes the ability to advertise on the app. Since Instagram is owned by Facebook, you have Facebook Ad Manager’s treasure trove of user information to help you reach your target audience. You can target people based on their age, location or even their engagement with your company’s Facebook page.

Even though Instagram is a fun and popular app, launching a marketing initiative can be a little overwhelming in the beginning. This is why we go over the necessary information to help you hit the ground running.

Instagram Marketing Goals

The first thing you need to do is define your marketing goals. Why are you posting content on Instagram? There are several possible reasons: you want to raise brand awareness, gather new leads, or reach out to satisfied customers to make brand ambassadors. Before you dedicate resources to Instagram advertising you should look at the demographics of the platform see if your audience is well represented.

Instagram users who are under 30 make up 55% of total users. Users in the 30 – 49 age range account for 28%. Only 11% of users are in the 50-64 age range. Also, the majority of users live in urban areas with only 18% of users living in the country. If you think that Instagram users are too young and don’t fit your target audience, don’t automatically discard the idea of advertising on the platform. Increasing more adults will join Instagram as the platform gains popularity. After all, this is what happened with Facebook.

Cost of Instagram Ads

Many factors impact the cost of Instagram ads, including your target audience and ad feedback. While the cost of advertising on Instagram largely depends on your campaign, the average cost typically comes down to $0.70 – $0.80. Keep in mind that costs will continue to rise as time goes by. Of course, you could easily spend more or less than the average. One of the factors that influence the cost of ad is the age group your ad targets. Take look at how much the costs vary according to age:

Instagram CPC by Age Range

According to Leverag Consulting, Instagram ads are a little pricier than Facebook, and since they are especially targeted, you might be looking at $5 per CPM. However, marketers can always decide how large their budget will be. Instagram gives you flexibility in deciding how much you want to spend on ads. You have the option of determining how much you’ll spend per day or you can set up a lifetime budget which would allow you to show ads as long as your budget is drained.

Getting Started with Instagram Marketing

If you have experience with advertising on Facebook, then transitioning to Instagram will be seamless. You can actually configure Instagram ads directly from Facebook Ad Manager. If you’re new to social media marketing, don’t worry. We will outline how you can advertise on Instagram using the intuitive Facebook Ad Manager. Marketers typically prefer to use this method because you have more options to customize your ads than within Instagram.

Advertising on Instagram Using Facebook Ad Manager

In order to use Facebook’s Ad Manager, you’ll have to log into the app and click on this link. Once you’ve done that, you now have to decide what you wish to achieve with your campaign. The goals are clearly listed for you:

Campaign Objective

While choosing your marketing goals is simple enough, some of these objectives need a couple of extra steps. Let’s take a closer look at each of these goals.

Brand Awareness

There are no additional steps needed here. Increasing brand awareness among Instagram users who might be your customer is one of the most common objectives. Nobody knows exactly how the app determines who your potential customers are, but your brand will spread the message.

Reach

If you are looking to expose your brand to the largest amount of users, then select the reach objective. For this goal, ensure that you’ve selected your Instagram account when you make the ad. A useful feature that comes with this objective is that you can split test your Instagram ads to find out which one performs better.

Ad Split Testing

Attract Visitors to Your Webpage or App

As the title suggests, select this goal if you want people coming to your website or app. Choose which one you want, add the URL and let Instagram do its magic. Simple as that!

Engagement

This refers to the number of times that a user interacts with your content. This is typically represented in the number of likes, comments or likes a post garners. Since Instagram introduced new features such as Stories and IGTV, you can measure engagement in terms of views and direct messages.

Instagram only lets you pay per post engagement.

App Installs

Instagram is great for sending people to the store to download your app. It’s a straightforward process:

App Installation

Video Views

If you want to achieve the absolute maximum amount of engagement, then you should use video format. Videos generally get twice the number of likes than other post formats. Videos also attract a lot more comments than other post types.

Therefore, posting compelling videos on Instagram is a powerful marketing strategy. The length of a video ranges between 3 – 60 seconds and can be uploaded from your phone.

Lead Generation

Companies of all sizes rely on lead generation ads to find new customers. Lead ads on Instagram only come with the following information:

  • Email
  • Full name
  • Phone Number
  • Gender

The ads aren’t as seamless as on Facebook. Here, when someone clicks on the ad, they’ll need to click through until they’re able to give their personal information. You’ll need to create a lead generation form.

Conversions

Finally, the conversion objective pushes your leads to convert by performing an action either on your website or app. Conversion- based goals which include remarketing campaigns for people who’ve visited your webpage rely on Facebook pixel. You’ll have to set up a Facebook pixel in order to keep tabs on your conversion rate.

Identify the Target Audience

Instagram offers you a wealth of targeting options to help you zero in on your ideal customers. Remember, you have Facebook’s extensive demographic library at your disposal, so make sure that you take full advantage of it.

If you have experience with advertising on Facebook, then this part should be easy to do. You first select a location which you will target. You get down to the nitty-gritty details and target everything from countries to zip codes if you wish!

Audience

Then, select the age range and gender of your prospects. Next, you’ll find the “detailed targeting” option which contains several useful subsections.

Audience Interest & Behaviour

You target prospects according to their level of education or you can choose what sort of drinks or movies the like. Or you can select prospects based on whether they donate to charity. The options are endless.

Audience Interests

If you have already done your research on your leads and have all the necessary data, then you can upload your list and target them on Instagram. Once you’ve targeted everyone on your list, you can target people who are similar to your customers using the Lookalike Audience feature. Ads generally do well with this group of people because they closely resemble your customers.

Facebook notices shared characteristics of your audience, such as gender or location, and identifies people who also share the traits in your country of choice. Once you’ve settled on your audience, you’ll have to select how precise or extensive your target audience is. Choose carefully here because you want to hit the sweet spot that isn’t too broad which won’t be targeted enough or too narrow which won’t have enough prospects.

Audience Size

Where to Place the Ads

Once you’ve decided on your audience, you now have to choose where your ads will show. However, before we proceed there is one important step to complete if you only want to advertise on Instagram.

Ad Placement Options

Once you select “Edit Placements”, click on Instagram where you can choose to display the ads in the app’s feed or in the stories feature. If you don’t do this, then your ads will be shown on both Facebook and Instagram.

Instagram Ad Placement

Budget and Schedule

Setting up a budget on Instagram doesn’t differ greatly from other digital advertising platforms like Google Adwords. However, if you’re a newcomer you should expect to go tinker with the budget until you learn how much to allocate to your budget. The great thing is that you can stop your campaign at any point if you think that you’re not getting an adequate ROI.

Campaign Budget
Campaign Schedule

If you are new to advertising, I’d recommend selecting a daily schedule because it’s easier to track how much money is spent and the budget won’t be drained too quickly.

You can run ads during a specific time period. However, you can only choose this option if you select the lifetime budget.

Campaign Duration

Create Your Instagram Ads

Finally it’s time to make the actual ads. Instagram comes with 6 different ad formats: 4 ad formats are made for app’s feed and 2 are stories format which appear play at the top of the feed. Let’s go over each ad format so that you’ll know which ones are best suited for your campaign.

Photo Ads

These are the most common ads that are perfect displaying your product/service in a crisp manner. The great thing about image ads is that they integrate seamlessly into the feed, so they don’t look like ads when properly put together. Use this format for all objectives except Video Traffic.

Note that these are some additional technical requirements for this ad format:

  • File: jpg or png
  • Size: 30MB max
  • Width: 600 pixels min
  • Ratio: 16:9 max and 4:5 min
  • Text: While 2,200 is the maximum, try to stay below 90 for optimal results

Video Ads

Video posts attract more engagement than other formats on Instagram. However, videos can present a more detailed and comprehensive presentation of a product/service than an image. You should use videos if you want to present your brand’s story to your audience.

However, make sure that videos are concise and not laden with too much information.

The technical requirements of videos are the following:

  • File: Even though most file types are supported, try to use MP4 or MOV.
  • Size: 4GB max Length: 1 – 120 seconds
  • Aspect ratio: 1.19:1 min and a 4:5 max
  • Caption text: Two rows of text is optimal, which amounts to 125 characters. The max is 2,200 characters.

Videos can be used for all objectives.

Story Ads

Instagram claims that 500 million Instagram accounts use Stories daily. Many brands have successfully incorporated stories ads into their marketing strategy. Your stories shouldn’t be too polished because they’ll come off as inauthentic. This is because users are accustomed to watching laid-back stories which their friends post. Therefore if they see some shiny content, they will instinctively disregard it because it’ll be blatantly obvious that it’s an ad.

Also, be sure to include a short and pithy message that’s easy to absorb:

Instagram Stories

You can use stories for all objectives except store traffic, messages and catalogue sales.

Technical requirements:

  • Resolution: at least 1080 x 1920 pixels
  • Size: Max 4GB
  • Ratio: 9:16 max
  • Length: 15 seconds max

Carousel Ads

As the name implies, this fun format allows you to show a series of images instead of only one image. Users can swipe to see more images or videos and tap on a call-to-action if they found something interesting.

Instagram Carousel Ads

You can add up to 10 images or videos within a single ad along with a link. Make sure that the images follow a certain theme and are engaging. These ads are great for food brands, clothing shops or travel agency. Basically, they’re perfect for any field where the visual aspect is important.

Technical requirements:

  • File: both jpg or png
  • Size: 30 MB max
  • Width: 600 pixels min
  • Ratio: 4:5 min, and 16:9 max
  • Videos: max 60 seconds

The minimum width is 400 pixels and the minimum height is 150 pixels.

Canvas Ads

The last format we will cover is an exciting and interactive full screen ad format referred to as Canvas ads. You can create a 360 virtual reality experience within their story. This visually appealing format gives brands the ability to make a single image, video or slideshow ads.

You will need to be a little technical savvy before getting a handle on the format. Use them for all your objectives.

Before You Go

You now have an overview of all the options Instagram offers marketers. The best way to attain a desired level of engagement is to infuse your ads with character. No one wants to look at bland corporate ads. So, make sure that your ad is able to strike an emotional chord, is funny, or interesting.

Also, use #hashtags. Hashtags are generally placed either in the caption or comments of a post in order to organize content according to topics. Users can use hashtags as keywords to find particular posts. They are a great way of spreading your content to users who are interested in your industry. But be careful not to overdo it – using more hashtags lowers engagement rates. Too many hashtags can seem as if you’re trying too hard. So, include so no more than 5 relevant hashtags per post.

To get the most out of your Instagram advertising you have to constantly work on improving your campaign by testing out different ad formats and ad copy. Test out different calls-to-action. Does “Buy now” convert more users than “Learn more”? Do some ads perform better with particular images?

  • Even though Instagram isn’t as big or as established Facebook, people seem to enjoy it more. One of the reasons why Instagram is becoming everyone’s preferred social media platform could be its image-based format. Imaged-based social media apps are growing faster than text-based ones.
  • Instagram is very popular with users in the 18-29 age range who are accustomed to shopping online. This means that your targeted ads could achieve better sales numbers than on other platforms. However, Instagram is great for virtually any type of business – from clothing brands to software solutions.
  • Over 70% of Instagram users claim that they made a purchase based on content they saw as they were browsing. 80% of Instagram accounts follow at least one business, and 60% of users report discovering new products/services on the app. Compared to users on Facebook and Twitter, Instagram users are more engaged.
  • If you want to achieve the absolute maximum amount of engagement, then you should use video format. Videos generally get twice the number of likes than other post formats. Videos also attract a lot more comments than other post types.
  • Your Instagram stories shouldn’t be too polished because they’ll come off as inauthentic. This is because users are accustomed to watching laid-back stories which their friends post. Therefore if they see some shiny content, they will instinctively disregard it because it’ll be blatantly obvious you’re trying sell something.
  • Also, use #hashtags. Hashtags are generally placed either in the caption or comments of a post in order to organize content according to topics. Users can they use hashtags as keywords to find particular posts. They are a great way of spreading your content to users who are interested in your industry. But be careful not to overdo it – using more hashtags lowers engagement rates. Too many hashtags can seem as if you’re trying too hard. So, include no more than 5 relevant hashtags per post.