Running an online business can get tricky. Often, it’s the first hurdle that stumps most of us: the challenge of getting noticed in a sea of a billion users. And with Instagram, you’ve got well over that number to compete with as a brand.
But here’s where Instagram ads step in. One of the most valuable native features on the platform, Instagram ads cut through the needless effort and brainpower required to create and maintain an active, relevant, and memorable presence.
Instagram Ads are easily a “holy grail” tool for growing businesses on the platform, accelerating their brand exposure in ways manual marketing could take years to achieve.
So, What Are Instagram Ads – And How Do They Work?
Those who enjoy scrolling through their Instagram newsfeed will often stumble across a post from a seemingly random profile, likely advertising a product, service, or event.
If these posts have the tiny label “Sponsored” displayed under their username, you’ve found yourself an Instagram ad.
Instagram sponsored ads are regular posts promoted by their users, aimed to get in the eyes of their target consumers. These ads come with a clickthrough link that direct the viewer to the brand’s website, profile, or Instagram DM.
More often than not, these take on the form of a marketing campaign for a new product or sale, enticing users to tap on their profile (or post link) to find out more.
How Much Do Instagram Ads Cost?
Unlike most other Instagram marketing tools for new brands and businesses, creating an Instagram ad comes at a cost – but one that can be tweaked to fit your marketing goals and budget.
Simply put, the more you spend, the wider audience reach you’ll have.
When setting up your budget on Instagram, the app displays a default, suggested amount you can spend over a set number of days.
You can easily adjust this daily spend and duration of your ad, as we’ll discuss further below. Instagram ads cost a minimum of at least $1 per day.
We’ll also delve into how Instagram businesses with a connected Facebook page can successfully set up an ad through Facebook, and the extra budgeting options provided on their platform.
But first – how do you create an ad that grabs a casual viewer’s attention?
How to set up the perfect Instagram Ad
Before you start paying for extra views and exposure, take the time to map out your objectives, target audience, and the kind of product, service, or message you wish to promote.
This will take a bit of research and creativity, but with the right ideas and business direction, you’re sure to get more bang for your buck.
1. Determine your Instagram ad goal
What exactly are you aiming for with your Instagram sponsored ad? More visits to your profile? A chance for viewers to inquire on your business? Perhaps more clicks to your website?
Identifying your ad objectives can help you determine the look and message of your ad.
Those who wish to increase brand awareness, for example, can opt for a striking photo or video that captures the essence of your brand, leaves a memorable impression, and entices viewers to tap through for more information on your Instagram profile.
Perhaps you’re aiming to promote a sale, or a new launch of products – accounts with this advertising goal may lean towards a collection of carousel format for their ads, displaying more product images in a single post.
You can also then add a link to your company website, inviting viewers to browse your online store.
Knowing your business goals is the fundamental starting point of creating an Instagram ad, and will help you out in the following steps.
2. Define your audience
In this step, it’ll help to have a bit of background research on your consumer audience and your most responsive demographic.
Businesses who have maintained a presence on Instagram for some time may be able to determine this via their Instagram Insights.
This analytical data for Instagram business profiles presents information on the cities, countries, age ranges, and genders that interact with your brand the most.
This information can help you identify the target audience for your ad – ideally in line with your most engaged locations and types of people.
Those new to the platform may not have as much substantial data to work off of, but a little market research on your industry should do the job just as well. Find out the kinds of consumers who are likely to take interest in your product, and design your target ad group from there.
3. Have a captivating message and photo, video, or image gallery
Finally, you can’t have a successful Instagram ad campaign without eye-catching concepts and visuals.
Take time to come up with an image, video, or gallery idea that are sure to get a casual newsfeed scroller interested. Instagram accounts for movie studios, for example, upload trailers as Instagram video posts. They then promote these trailers as ads, effectively spreading the word of upcoming films and building up viewer hype.
Those sifting through their newsfeed are sure to stop and watch an exciting, fast-paced movie trailer, and may even tap through to view others on the studio’s Instagram profile.
Artists may create Instagram sponsored ads out of image carousels showcasing their work and illustrations, as is the case with therobosquid below.
Users are also recommended to keep their ads as native-looking as possible. The less your post looks like an obvious advertisement, the less likely people will mindlessly skip over it.
People generally don’t appreciate having a blatant ad shoved in their face, but if yours looks like a natural Instagram post of actual content quality; they may just be curious for more.
Instagram Ad idea: Try hosting a contest
One easy, popular method of getting your brand noticed through Instagram sponsored ads is through promoting competitions.
Not only are these sure to grab attention, but they’re effective in getting the viewer to engage with your business.
To successfully host a contest and promote it as an Instagram sponsored ad, be sure to have your incentive at the forefront of your post.
For example, Bhu Foods once hosted a competition where participants were able to win a six-month supply of protein bars for free.
This is the first piece of bold text you see on their ad, and the first line in their caption – along with a call-to-action that labels it as a “limited time offer”.
Lure your audience in with the prospect of winning a valuable prize, be it a free product, holiday trip, or a special opportunity.
This is sure to draw them in and encourage them to learn more about your campaign.
Your contest instructions should also spur some type of engagement on your post or profile. Many require participants to like or comment (boosting its engagement, potentially ranking it higher among other related posts on Instagram), while others encourage users to post their own content while tagging their account and using a brand-specific hashtag.
This successfully gets the company’s brand name out there, while driving positive user interaction on your profile, at the same time.
How to promote your post as an Instagram sponsored Ad
Once you’ve decided on an ad idea and have published it as a standard post, it’s time to promote it as an Instagram ad.
To do this, tap on the blue “Promote” button on the right-hand corner of your post.
1. Select your call-to-action
Your first step is to determine where you want to drive your viewers. You have three option: sending them to your profile, your website, or your direct messages.
When directing them to your company website, you’re prompted to enter your website address, and choose from a selection of call-to-action buttons, including “Learn More”, “Shop Now”, and “Watch more”.
2. Identify your target audience
Your second step is to then determine your target audience. You can select your demographic options by tapping on “Create Your Own”, where you can then choose the locations you wish to target, the specific interests you want your audience to have, along with their age group and gender.
Once that’s done, label this audience group and save it for future purposes.
Alternatively, you can allow Instagram to do automatic targeting for you. The app pulls information from your existing followers, sending your ad to people with similar interests and demographic information.
3. Select your Instagram Ad budget
Once you’re done identifying your audience, it’s time to set the budget for your ad.
As previously discussed, you can tailor the daily amount you spend and the duration of your campaign to suit you and your marketing needs.
Simply move the toggle for “Budget” and “Duration” as necessary. As you adjust these, the page calculates the estimated amount of people your Instagram sponsored ad can potentially reach; the more you spend, the higher this number gets.
4. Submit your Instagram Ad, and wait for approval
Now that you’ve laid out your call-to-actions, target audience, and budget – you can then send your ad over to Instagram for approval.
The time it takes to “approve” your ad may vary for different posts (though is usually completed within a 24-hour time frame), but once it passes the review stage, you’ll find it instantly displayed on the newsfeeds of potential customers. Hello, new likes, comments, and followers!
However, it’s important to be aware of the types of content that go against Instagram’s Advertising Guidelines.
Among others, any posts that consist of sexually explicit imagery, exhibit discriminatory practices and promote drug-related or illegal products are strictly prohibited and instantly rejected by the reviewal process.
Users can always choose to edit their ad if disapproved; or can appeal Instagram’s decision if necessary.
Publishing Instagram Ads Via Facebook
Creating Instagram sponsored ads can also be easily done through Facebook’s “Ads Manager”.
This platform provides a convenient overview of all the advertising campaigns you’ve run on both Facebook and Instagram, along with their current status, budget spent, and results.
To create your Instagram ad from scratch, click on the green “+Create” button under the Campaigns tab.
Similarly to the Instagram app interface, you’ll then be asked to select your ad objectives and the types of results you’re after.
Then, you can set the budget for your Instagram ad, and label your campaign accordingly.
Once that’s done, you’ll be asked to identify your target audience, and where you want to drive your traffic.
Keep an eye on the “Audience Size” meter on the right-hand side of your screen – this will determine whether your selected audience is either too narrow or too broad to fully optimize your ad.
A significant customization option that users have with Facebook’s Ads Manager is the ability to edit where your ad is placed.
Under the “Placements” section, select “Edit Placements”, and tick off the specific platforms (and areas within those platforms) you’d like your ad to display.
Brands who also wish to advertise themselves via Instagram Stories can easily achieve this selecting “Stories” as an ad placement.
The final stage of the process involves uploading your specific media for the ad and adding in your accompanying text.
You can also include your desired links and a call-to-action button at this stage.
When you’ve finished and previewed your ad (both a mobile app and desktop preview are available at this section) hit the green “Confirm” button at the bottom of the page to send your ad over for approval.
Turning existing Instagram posts into Ads via Facebook
If you wish to promote an existing Instagram post into an ad, select the drop-down menu located at the top of your Ads Manager page.
Select “Page Posts”.
You will then be directed to a page displaying all of your existing Instagram and Facebook posts. Select the checkmark box next to the post you want to promote, and under “Actions”, select “Create Ad”.
You can choose to add this post to an existing advertising campaign or create a new one.
Fill in the necessary details regarding your budget and ad objectives, and hit the “Save Draft” button. This saves your ad as a draft under Ads Manager.
Select this draft from your existing campaigns, and click Edit from the available Campaign options.
You’ll then be given a chance to review your ad information, before hitting the green “Publish” button to confirm your submission.
And that’s it! Your post will now be seen as an Instagram sponsored ad on the newsfeeds of your target audience.
Editing and publishing ads via Facebook provide users with plenty of more flexible customization options, ensuring their content is delivered in the best manner possible.
Grow your reach and revenue with Instagram Ads
Let’s face it: growing your brand visibility with manual marketing schemes can take forever in the quest for online social media success.
It’s time to optimize your time and creativity by simply making use of automated, online marketing tools at your disposal.
With Instagram Ads, brand exposure becomes an easy, step-by-step process – and you needn’t even leave the platform.
Speed up your brand growth and get on board this valuable tool; that extra boost in sales, conversions, and followers is only a few taps away.
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