Marketing 101: Advertising on Instagram

December 06, 2016


There’s no doubt about it- Instagram is here to stay, and having a presence on this platform is as essential as those for Facebook or Twitter. As a purely visual representation of your business, Instagram is perfect for posting pictures, illustrations, and videos related to the regular, day-to-day life of your brand. In addition to the power of great visual content and a cohesive hashtagging campaign (we’ve compiled some great tips on getting started on Instagram before…), you can help increase followers and attention to your brand through Instagram advertising.

Paid advertising may seem intimidating since you need to lay money on the line, but can ultimately have immense benefits. You’ll see immediate and direct traffic to your site, target your product to specific audiences that will be likely to make a purchase, and increase the overall reach of your brand. Starting small isn’t a problem, either. Putting a small amount of money towards paid search to dip your toe in the water is always better than doing nothing at all.

Instagram Advertising 101

That being said, trying out paid advertising on Instagram is a definite. We’ve created a perfect, 101-guide to help you figure out the advertising platform of Instagram.

Type of Instagram Ads

Instagram offers three different ads on their platforms, all of which are extremely visual-based.

  • Photo: A still image that could be branded or simply sponsored
  • Video: A video similar to those allowed on the platform
  • Carousel: Multiple images with a call-to-action button

Depending on your advertising goal and budget, you’ll be able to choose the right design for you, based on your goals. For example, carousel ads are best to encourage a user to complete a specific action, like a purchase, while a well-made video can help rack up followers.

Determine Your Ideal Targeting

Helping you decide on which Instagram ad type you should be considering is your target audience. Think deeply about your business and who your ideal clientele is. Since Instagram is connected with Facebook, you can take both data from existing followers and connected Facebook accounts to begin targeting. Do you currently have an email list? Upload email addresses into Facebook to find people that may like your product, but not your social media accounts.

However, since Instagram is run through Facebook, Instagram ads should be set up through Facebook advertising. This means that you’ll need to have a connected Facebook account to run this data through. How should you do this?

  1. Create a Facebook business page for your business
  2. Get a Business Manager account to run ads
  3. Add your Instagram account details under “Business Settings”
  4. Connect your Instagram account with your Facebook ads account
  5. Create campaigns based on targeting!

Be sure to be placing the ads on Instagram rather than Facebook in this setup!

Determine Your Objective

If you’re exploring Instagram advertising, there’s a reason why. While Instagram’s focus is on beautiful imagery, there are ways to use this to your advantage in order to drive a certain goal. Are you sending people to your website? Simply driving awareness? Looking to drive sales? Your creative should match your eventual end goal – this is important as you keep designing in mind.

Create Your Design

Now that you’ve established the type of ad, your objective, and your target audience, you’re ready to begin designing the ad itself! If you have some graphic design expertise, you may want to consider creating your own custom image to post. If not, that’s okay too! You can use your phone’s camera to capture an image that will still rack up the likes and shares on Instagram.

Things you want your ads to be:

  • High-quality
  • Visually appealing
  • Beautiful
  • Creative
  • Branded
  • Consistent

Things you don’t want your ads to be:

  • Low-quality or blurry
  • Filled with clutter
  • Grammatically incorrect
  • Irrelevant

Importantly, no matter the image or video you ultimately choose to use as your advertisement, it needs to feel organic and authentic. Cliches, stock images, or vague posts won’t resonate and will likely cause viewers to trust your brand less than they would have. In short, make the post 100% yours and the complete embodiment of your business.