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How to Advertise on Instagram: A Complete Guide

Instagram advertising is a relatively new marketing practice that offers big opportunities. With more than one billion active users, the platform helps brands reach out to a broad audience and build a following.

We’ll explain how to use Instagram advertising, why it’s worth using, and how much ad campaigns cost. Plus, we’ll provide a step-by-step guide on Instagram advertising and the ad formats you can use.

Using the Facebook Ads Manager

There are two ways to use Instagram advertising — through the Instagram app or the Facebook Ads Manager.

Compared to the Instagram app, Facebook Ads Manager has more built-in advertising tools.

Despite being a bit more complicated, it gives you more control over your target demographics, ad formats, budget, and campaign length.

Step 1: Navigate to Facebook Ads Manager

After making sure your Facebook page is connected to your Instagram profile, log in to the Facebook Business Manager with your business page. Scroll down and click Add Ad Account.

You can integrate an existing ad account or create a new one if you don’t have one already. Having this account allows you to organize your ad campaigns, view their performance, and control the ad settings.

Once you set up the account, navigate to Ads Manager from the top-left three-line menu. Select +Create to start making the ad.

There are two methods to set up the ad campaign — Guided and Quick Creation. For this tutorial, we’ll show you how to create one using the Guided option.

Guided or Quick Ad Creation on Facebook Ads' Manager

Step 2: Set your primary objective

Your marketing objective will affect how Instagram broadcasts the ad across the platform. You must make your choice carefully.

For ads on Instagram, there are eight objectives to choose from:

  • Brand awareness — let your target market know about your brand
  • Reach — spread the word to the maximum number of users regardless of preferences
  • Traffic — direct users to your website or app store
  • Engagement — lead people to interact with your page or post
  • App installs — encourage users to download your app
  • Video views — promote video content
  • Lead generation — get information about people interested in your business
  • Conversions — drive people to perform specific actions on your site or app

After picking an objective, name your campaign and enable split testing to evaluate the effectiveness of your advertising strategies.

We recommend you to enable Campaign Budget Optimization as well:

  • This feature lets you allocate a Daily or Lifetime budget for the ad campaign.
  • With a Daily budget, the platform will spend up to a limit you set per day. This option is ideal for businesses with a fluctuating budget that determines the campaign duration based on its results.
  • On the other hand, the Lifetime budget allows you to set the campaign’s end date and lets the app spend funds during that period.

You can also change the Campaign Bid Strategy to determine how Facebook can make the most out of your budget.

First-timers can opt for the Lowest cost option as you have no data to develop your bid strategy yet. This prevents you from overspending or underspending.

Leave the Ad Scheduling and Delivery Type settings as they are, since we will customize them in the later steps.

Once everything is set, click Set Up Ad Account and adjust the ad campaign’s country, currency, and time zone.

The app will then redirect you to the Ad Set section, where you can move to the next step.

Brand Awareness Objective for Instagram Ads

Step 3: Define your target audience

Ads Manager lets you create a new audience group based on these targeting options:

  • Location — include or exclude people living in specific countries, cities, or addresses from your ad’s target market.
  • Age — pick an age demographic between 18-65 or over.
  • Gender — target only men, women, or both.
  • Languages — while the app will include the official language of the targeted locations, you can manually add other languages spoken by your target demographic if needed.
  • Detailed targeting — further narrow the audience by demographic group, interests, and user behavior.
  • Connections — look for people linked to your business.

When you modify the settings, Facebook will let you know if your audience base is too specific or too broad.

Once you find the right balance between each setting, select Save This Audience for future use.

Audience Size for Instagram Ads

As your business grows, consider using the Custom Audiences and Lookalike Audience features.

Custom Audiences helps you target people who have interacted with your business, while Lookalike Audience is useful for finding users that are similar to your existing audience.

Step 4: Configure ad placement

If you want to broadcast the ads on both Instagram and Facebook, simply select Automatic Placements and let the Ads Manager configure the settings for you.

However, if you only want to run the ad campaign on Instagram, choose Edit Placements and uncheck the other platform.

You can also choose to show your ads on the Instagram Feed, Explore, and Story.

Edit Placements for Instagram Ads

Step 5: Control your budget and schedule

In this step, you decide how the app spends your money and shows your ads.

Optimizing Budget for Instagram Ads

Here are the advanced settings that you can modify:

  • Optimization for Ad Delivery — define how the platform delivers your ads. For instance, the Ad Recall Lift method lets Facebook display your ad to users who ought to remember seeing it after two days.
  • Cost Control — depending on the chosen campaign bid strategy, you can set a maximum bid for each auction or control the average cost of the ad. However, selecting the Lowest Cost strategy from step two will disable this setting.
  • Schedule — select the date and time range to run your ad.
  • Ad Set Spend Limits — use this feature if you have specific budget requirements concerning the ad campaign.
  • When You Get Charged — depending on your objectives, the app may charge you based on the CPC or CPM pricing models.

Some objectives have additional settings you can customize for better ad performance.

For instance, choosing the Reach objective allows you to modify the Frequency Cap — stopping the app from overplaying your ad to the same user within a specific time frame.

Once you’re done, click Continue and go to the Ad section to finish your ad creation.

Step 6: Create your Instagram ad

Before customizing your ad’s appearance, you need to choose which Facebook and Instagram account to represent the ads.

Next, determine whether you want to feature an existing or new post.

If you use an existing post, simply select one from your feed and preview the ad. Make sure to include an appropriate call-to-action button.

Existing Instagram Post Used as an Ad

To create a new ad, pick a format — Carousel, Single image or video, or Collection.

If you’re not sure which ad format to choose, take a peek at the next section where we explore this topic.

Formats for Instagram Ads

If you want to show the ad in both Instagram Feed and Story, you can upload one media for each placement. After adding the file, click Edit to customize the image or video’s appearance.

In the Text & Links section, you can fill in the ad copy and links.

Write an attention-grabbing copy on the Primary Text box, as it will appear on all placements. Don’t forget to choose a fitting call-to-action.

Previewing Text and Links for Instagram Ads

You may also include a translation of your ad in the Languages textbox if needed.

Click Review to double-check the ad campaign details, then press Confirm to submit your ad for review.

Using the Instagram app

While advertising directly on the app is relatively easy, you only get basic control over your ad campaigns.

For better campaign management, connect the account with your Facebook Business Page via Facebook Ads Manager.

Step 1: Create a professional profile

To run Instagram ads, you need to set up a professional Instagram account. This type of account gives you access to business-related features for marketing purposes.

When setting up the Instagram account, you can opt for using a Creator or Business profile:

  • The Creator profile is ideal for public figures like celebrities, influencers, and content creators.
  • The Business profile is suitable for organizations and companies with a traditional business model.
  • While both profiles offer promotional tools, there are specific features that may be more useful depending on your user demographics.
  • For instance, Business profiles have contact buttons that redirect users to call or email the company.

Another essential thing you should do is prepare a Facebook page.

Connecting your account to this page will give you access to all the business and cross-app tools on both platforms.

Not to worry — the app will prompt you to create a page if you don’t have one already.

To set up an Instagram professional account, you need to sign up for a personal one first, then follow these steps:

  1. Go to Settings from the three-line menu on your profile.
  2. Select Account -> Switch to Professional Account.
  3. Pick the type of professional profile that best describes you — Creator or Business.
  4. Select your business category.
  5. For Business accounts, fill in the contact details for your Public Business Information.
  6. The app will ask you to connect the account to a Facebook page. You can either log in to an existing Facebook account or create a new one.
  7. Fill in the Page Title and Choose a Category details for your Facebook page, then press Done.
  8. Congratulations, you have completed the account setup process!

Step 2: Pick a post you want to promote

Upload a new Instagram post or choose an existing one to promote, then hit the Promote button.

If you want more opinions, access the Promotions menu on your profile to see which post will perform the best. Select Promote Top Post to go with the app’s recommendation.

Step 3: Choose your objective

When choosing the promotion objective, you get to determine where the ad will send people to — your profile, website, or direct messages.

Destination of the Instagram Ads

If you want to generate more user engagement on your account, it’s best to go with the Your Profile option.

For online business owners, choosing Your Website allows you to turn the promoted post into a gateway to your business website or eCommerce store.

You can also set up a CTA button like: Learn More, Shop Now, or Watch More.

Pro tip — if you don’t have a website yet, use the Zyro Website Builder to create one for free.

With our ready-to-use website templates and AI-driven features, you’ll have a professional business website in no time.

Meanwhile, Your Direct Messages option is best for prompting users to contact you directly.

This choice is ideal for businesses with customizable products or services as customers are more likely to submit their preferences before making a purchase.

Step 4: Set your target audience

Instagram provides two ways to define your audience — Automatic and Create Your Own.

The Automatic option lets the app analyze your followers and reaches out to users with similar profiles and preferences.

For better control over your target market, you can opt for the Create Your Own option and determine the targeted audience groups based on the following metrics:

  • Location — target particular regions or local areas within a maximum 30 miles radius
  • Interests — match users’ preferences with your business’ niche
  • Age & Gender — select the desired age and gender demographics
Create Audience for Instagram Ads

As you modify the settings, Instagram will calculate the number of potential people the ad can reach.

Once you’re done, name the new audience group for future use.

Repeat the previous steps to create multiple audience groups as needed, then proceed to the next step.

Step 5: Set your budget and duration of your campaign

You can adjust your ad’s daily spending by dragging the Budget and Duration sliders. The app will tell you the number of users you can reach based on your budget.

If you don’t know how much to allocate, feel free to follow Instagram’s recommended budget shown in the Learn about budget, duration & distribution section on the bottom.

The app won’t spend more than your budget limit.

Step 6: Publish your Instagram ad

The last step before publishing your ad is to review all the data from previous steps.

Make sure you’ve added the right information to optimize the ad campaign’s results.

Complete the process by making payment, then wait for Instagram to approve your ad.

Why should you advertise on Instagram?

Despite mainly serving as a social media platform, Instagram helps businesses via paid advertising thanks to its massive following.

A huge 90% of its users follow at least one business profile — as if looking for a reason to make a purchase there.

Credibility-wise, researchers predict the app’s ad sales growth and a 46.6% revenue increase in 2020. This data shows that the app is a top player in digital ads, and will remain so for a long time.

If you already run ad campaigns on Facebook, Instagram lets you use its parent company’s user data to set up your target audience.

This feature helps you make a highly targeted marketing strategy, and saves you time by not having to start from scratch — this means higher conversion and engagement rates.

While you can choose the ads’ target market, Instagram also broadcasts them based on users’ preferences.

By tailoring their online shopping experience, it gives your ads a better chance of influencing buying decisions.

How much does Instagram advertising cost?

As Instagram advertising runs through Facebook Business Manager, the platform uses similar pricing models as its parent company — cost-per-click (CPC) and impression (CPM).

The CPC model calculates the cost based on the number of clicks your ad gets. The CPM model requires you to pay per thousand impressions the ad generates.

The median average cost for Instagram ads is $0.83 per click and $4.80 per thousand impressions. Meanwhile, the median clickthrough rate (CTR) reached 0.55% in 2019.

Advertisers buy their ad placements through a bidding system.

The auction takes place each time the platform sees a chance of showing an ad. It regulates which ads Instagram should broadcast to a particular audience.

The following factors determine the winner of the auction:

  • Bid — the amount you’re willing to pay for the advertising service.
  • Estimated action rates — the chances of an ad causing engagements or conversions.
  • Ad quality — the ad’s ability to attract attention and generate clicks.

While the bid size plays a big part in the system, ads that are relevant to their audience’s preferences have better odds of winning the auction.

Therefore, all advertisers have an equal chance of having their ads broadcasted regardless of their budget.

Additional factors that may influence the cost include the audience demographics, ad placement, and ad scheduling.

Because of this, ads with popular target markets tend to cost more due to the competitive bidding process.

The best way to reduce the costs is by creating compelling ads and making sure they are relevant to your target market.

First-time users may also want to use the automatic bidding strategy, which lets Facebook manage your budget for the best results.

Instagram ad formats

Depending on your ad’s content and goals, some ad formats may suit better than others. Here are the five Instagram ad formats you can choose from.

Image ads

Image

This format shows a single image showcasing your product or service on your audience’s Instagram feed. You can choose one of three formats:

  • Square — with a minimum resolution of 600 x 500 pixels
  • Landscape — the resolution must be higher than 600 x 315 pixels
  • Vertical — ideal for images with at least 600 x 750 pixels

You can add text to the image if needed, but make sure it passes the Text Overlay test. As a rule of thumb, the text shouldn’t distract users’ attention from the image.

Since you only have one image to display, make sure you pick a compelling picture to maximize your chances of getting clicks.

Video ads

Video

For single video ads, you can upload a maximum of 120-second video file smaller than 4 GB.

Facebook recommends keeping the video length below 15 seconds for better engagement.

Similar to image ads, this ad type has three different formats based on the aspect ratio — square (1:1), landscape (16:9), and vertical (4:5).

You can also create a slideshow out of multiple images with a 15 seconds limit.

If your audience uses more than one language, consider adding an SRT file for subtitles and captions.

Adding these texts will greatly benefit users with hearing loss and those who watch your ads in public places without headphones.

Carousel

Carousel

The Carousel format can display up to ten images or videos within a single ad.

It’s best for showing off product details from different angles, telling a story, or explaining actions.

The image and video specifications are the same as the ones applied to previous ad formats.

While you can include different-sized images and videos in the same carousel, it’s better to keep the same aspect ratio and theme of the entire thing.

Stories

Story

Ads in Story format are videos or images that appear as users tap through the stories in their Feed or Explore sections.

Since stories use the entire device screen, they create an immersive and distraction-free ad viewing experience.

When using this ad format, make sure that the visual content is shot vertically in full-screen mode, and has a 9:16 aspect ratio for optimal display performance.

The maximum duration of an Instagram video-based story is 15 seconds. For longer videos, Instagram will break them down into 15-second parts.

Collection

Collection

The Collection is Instagram’s newest ad format.

It displays an image or video as the ad’s hero shot, followed by a product catalog at the bottom.

The hero shot can be in either photo or video form.

As the audience clicks on the post, the ad will enter full-screen mode — creating an immersive mobile experience.

You can include more than 12 images within the ad, with up to four products displayed under the hero shot.

Make sure you pick compelling media content for prompting users to explore your ad collection.

Instagram advertising recap

Instagram advertising is simple yet effective. With the right ad campaign, you can take advantage of the platform’s massive audience to grow your brand.

There are two methods of advertising on the platform — using the Instagram app or the Facebook Ads Manager.

With the Instagram app, you need to:

  1. Create a professional profile
  2. Pick the post you want to promote
  3. Choose the ad’s objective
  4. Set the audience base
  5. Determine the ad campaign’s budget and length
  6. Submit your ad for review

If you use the Facebook Ads Manager, you need to:

  1. Navigate to Facebook Ads Manager and set up an Ad Account
  2. Pick the primary objective best suits your ad
  3. Define your target demographic
  4. Configure the ad placement
  5. Set up the ad campaign’s budget and schedule
  6. Create the ad

When making Instagram ads, be sure to follow the required specifications to optimize its appearance and performance.

We hope this article has given you the confidence to try Instagram advertising for yourself.

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