The Complete Beginner’s Guide to Instagram Advertising
Since 2015, Instagram has offered two types of posts on its platform. The first type is the usual post that anyone with an Instagram account can create. The other form is paid or sponsored posts called Instagram ads that run on Facebook’s well-known advertising platform. These posts offer a unique kind of opportunity that all businesses with an online presence should tightly grip.
Like Facebook ads, Instagram ads are very different from regular posts on the platform and to properly execute Instagram marketing strategy you will need to know what you are getting into.
In the following lines, we will guide you through the mist that surrounds advertising on Instagram and we will provide you with all the information you may need to get started.
In the complete beginner’s guide to Instagram Advertising or guide for Instagram ads, we will share tips and advice from our own experience with the platform.
For Starters, What Are Instagram Ads?
Ads on Instagram are paid posts and a hugely effective marketing tool that lets companies and brands reach directly to a very specific target group. You have probably browsed your feed and encountered posts that are marked as “Sponsored” by companies that you do not follow. That’s exactly what an Instagram ad is.
The main advantage of advertising on Instagram is that you have control over exactly what the post will look like, but above all who the post will appear for.
Also, you are able to choose a goal for each ad so that you can easily achieve exactly the results you are looking for.
As you probably understand, this is a great way to increase your brand’s publicity while reaching a very specific target audience on one of the world’s highest converting marketing platforms.
For those brands that are successful at mastering ads on Instagram, it is just the imagination that limits what they can achieve and if you want to stick out from the rest with your marketing strategy there needs to be a lot of work involved.
How Do Instagram Ads Work?
Before we get started with our detailed step-by-step guide to advertising on Instagram, you would like to share some background information.
First, it is important that you understand that Instagram does not have its own advertising platform without sharing it with Facebook.
In other words, you will manage your ads through Facebook Ads Manager and all you need is an account on both Instagram and Facebook. We understand that it may seem complicated at first glance but the fact is that it is very practical, especially since you don’t have to learn how to manage two different advertising platforms.
You should also prepare yourself for creating the entire ad campaign and adjusting all settings to suit your imagined specifications including who it is you want to target, what your goal is, how long you want to advertise, and so on.
In addition, you need to create the content you want to share and it is therefore important that you have a plan before you start.
But don’t worry since we will go into more detail about planning soon and Facebook’s command center is easy to use.
On top of that, it’s not hard to get started with your first Instagram ad and with the help of the guide below you will start advertising as a professional before you know it.
A Step-By-Step Guide to Advertising on Instagram
Facebook Ads Manager is a practical and innovative tool that facilitates the work of marketers around the world, although all features and settings can sometimes be perceived as messy by beginners.
The best part of it is that you can finish the process with five relatively easy steps. Here are the steps on how to create Instagram ads:
1. Open Ad Manager
The first step is to log in to Instagram and open Facebook Ad Manager. Make sure you are logged in to the correct accounts and that your Facebook account is linked to the Instagram account on which you want to run the ad.
If this is by any chance your first time using the platform, we suggest you take a moment to look at the interface and the various features offered.
2. Choose a Goal
The second and possibly most important step is to choose why you want to advertise. Instagram offers a list of different goals and your choice here will influence how the ad looks and works later.
You can choose the following goals:
Brand awareness –
This goal was developed for people who want to spread their brand to newly engaged customers. The algorithm behind the process is still unknown but it is an effective tool and one of the most popular choices.
If you only want to reach more potential customers then this is all you need. Simple, effective and practical.
This choice is also very popular and perfect for anyone who wants to drive more traffic to a website or online store with the goal of encouraging sales. In other words, the goal is for brands that want to increase their sales or boost the number of downloaded apps, for example.
Many brands use advertising on Instagram to improve engagement levels in their accounts and this is the goal. If you choose to engage with your ad, Instagram will help you get as many likes, comments, and shares as possible.
App Installs –
Companies that want to run app installs have two choices. Either you choose traffic as we mentioned above or you take it a step further and choose app installation. Note that your app must be available in one of the app stores for this feature to work.
Video views –
This goal is obvious: if you have a video you want to distribute, this is the best solution.
Lead Generation –
Getting more leads and potential customers is essential for any company that wants to grow. If you are a broker, lifestyle coach or just looking for new customers, an Instagram ad with the goal of Lead Generation can be just what you need. Just be aware that Instagram’s lead generation is not as well-developed as Facebook’s; at least not yet.
Inspire people to take a precise action on your business’s site, such as having them to add items to a cart, download your app, register for your site, or make a purchase.
Catalog Sales –
Display products from your eCommerce store’s catalog to generate sales.
Store Traffic –
Promote your traditional street-based business locations to people that are nearby.
3. Specify your target audience
The most important thing to succeed with Instagram ads is that you know your target audience. This is what your entire ad will rest on and without enough information, your ad will be so nonspecific that it will not even reach your customers.
The process itself is similar to the one used for Facebook ads and here you can, for example, choose where your target group lives and add more specific requirements such as life events, education, a form of living, etc.
4. Customize the placement
If you plan to advertise only on Instagram, you have two choices regarding placement, feed or story. The story format is slightly more limited than ads that appear in the user’s regular feed, but the two formats offer different benefits.
If you want to run the same ad on both Facebook and Instagram you have the opportunity to choose this. Remember that Facebook’s preset settings are set so that all ads are published on both Facebook and Instagram by default, so if you just want to post on Instagram you have to change the settings in this step.
5. Decide on budget and duration before pressing publish
Unless you have your content planned, the final step is to decide on a budget and how long the ad should be active. At first, this step is the most difficult for many and we advise you not to stress.
However, it may be good to know that you have the opportunity to adjust your budget and duration even after the ad is live. Although it is always good to have a plan for what you expect to spend and we offer more tips on this matter further down.
Fortunately, the process itself is relatively simple and you only have two choices: budget and length. And that was it. After making the final settings, you will be redirected to a page where you can upload your content, write a caption, add call-to-action buttons and finally publish the ad.
It’s Time To Think About Before Your First AD on Instagram
By now, you should have a better idea of what it takes to advertise on Instagram and hopefully, you agree that it doesn’t seem too difficult.
You can also expect to get better and faster at planning and publishing ads the more times you do it. Although if you’re preparing for your first Instagram ad, there are a few things you should plan and think about before you even get started.
What Kind of Content Suits You?
Instagram today offers a couple of different types of content formats for ads. The two most common and most commonly used are the traditional image and video formats that are similar to regular posts on Instagram though with the ability to add call-to-action such as Contact Us, Book Now, Download, Show Now and so on. You also have the option of choosing a carousel version where you can upload multiple images and let users browse through them on their own.
We would also like to add that more and more businesses choose to advertise in the immensely popular Story format even though it is more restrictive than the aforementioned formats. For example, you do not have access to the same number of goals and call-to-action opportunities.
Last but not least, Instagram has developed a new and customizable format that only supports mobile devices. The format is called Canvas ads and offers almost infinite settings. Due to the technical characteristics of the format, we advise beginners to wait until they have a better look at the simpler formats.
What Does Your Budget Look Like?
Many brands are unsure how big their budget should be for the ads, but there is nothing you need to spend too much time on. You probably have an available budget and by comparing it to how long you want to advertise, you can quickly figure out what you can spend per day.
A good rule of thumb for beginners is to start low and then increase the budget if needed. If you want to advertise over a weekend, 40 – 60$ can be good enough for the entire period and as for longer ads, a 20-30$ a day is usually appropriate.
But, as I said, it’s up to you to test and see what works best for your particular needs as it usually takes a few tries before you get to the perfect budget.
What Does Your Target Audience Look Like?
We know that we have already mentioned this a couple of times but it is so very important to get it right on the target group that we have to mention it again.
Besides being good at knowing who your target audience consists of, it’s also the only way for Instagram (Facebook) to know who it is you want to reach and why or if you’re not clear enough, your ad will reach out to people who have no interest in what you have to offer.
For example, it is different to target your ad to middle-aged small business owners with a university education and home loan than it is to target 20-year-old girls with an interest in beauty products.
Our point is that what requires the most careful planning for an ad is your target audience and once you hit the nail on the head you can expect amazing results.
A Few Last Important Tips
Before we send you off so you can start planning your next Instagram ad, we have a few tips to keep in mind.
First, you need to emphasize using only high quality and relevant content. The same rules apply to ads as for regular Instagram posts and the focus is always on images and videos; so you don’t have to focus too much on the other parts of your ad. Many times, a well-produced image or video with a sentence or two gives the magic results.
Next, you may want to consider using hashtags, but there is no constraint since your ad will already be targeted, some people believe that hashtags can have the opposite effect on ads so be careful.
Most ad formats on Instagram allow you to use 30 hashtags but try not to fill the entire quota. Instead, 3-5 smart hashtags can give your ad extra impact.
Finally, we advise you to take it easy and calmly. It will take work and several attempts before you get your first really good Instagram ad, but it’s something you get better and better at.
Therefore, it doesn’t have to feel hopeless if your first advertising on Instagram did not go as planned since that means that you just have to try again.
As long as you have a plan and know your target audience, you have every opportunity in the world to take advantage of Instagram’s innovative advertising system.
Aleksandar is a writer for Play Media marketing agency and an avid marketing and sociology enthusiast. He is committed to exploring how time and different circumstances change people in various social conditions. He has written many texts, articles, and blog posts on interpersonal matters which he believes shape us more than we give them credit.
One of his passions is to bring understanding to personality fundamentals, such as individuality, humor, intuition, empathy, and common sense. He finds the greatest passion in writing from different points of view while reviewing historical moments and what led to certain circumstances that create our reality.