Your ultimate guide to Instagram ads

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Instagram is often associated with selfies, influencers, and pictures of avocado toast. But it’s so much more than that. Businesses around the world are using the platform to advertise, and they’re getting serious results. From major brands to family-run shops, anyone can advertise on Instagram and should, especially when you consider the numbers.

Instagram by the numbers:

  • One billion+ users
  • 90% follow a business
  • 500 million use stories every day

Yes, is a powerful platform when it comes to driving awareness, increasing customers and sharing your brand story.

In the article below, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about Instagram ads, and how to get the maximum results for your ads.

Table of contents: Your ultimate guide to Instagram ads

What is Instagram advertising?

Image by Georgia de Lotz via Unsplash

Instagram ads show up on a user’s Instagram feed. The person or brand advertising pays to post the sponsored message, which appears in the form of a still image or video. The aim is to reach a specific audience of people, known as a target audience, and this group will be defined by you.

Interestingly, Instagram was bought by Facebook in 2012 and as a result, Instagram uses Facebook’s advertising platform to set up and run ads, so you will need to have a Facebook account to get started.

How to create Instagram ads

Anyone can create an Instagram ad. And while there are professional services you can enlist, doing it yourself means you’re in control and you get an understanding of how it all works. When making ads yourself, there are two key ways to buy, run and track ads on Instagram.

Within the app

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The easiest way to run ads is by promoting posts that you've shared on Instagram. Just select the post you want to promote, and then track how many people are seeing and interacting with your promoted post by tapping.

Instagram Ads Manager

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Image via Instagram. To create customized ad campaigns, Facebook’s Ads Manager is recommended, and what we’ll be focussing on in this article. Here, you can set up ads, publish ads, and see results for all your campaigns. If you’re serious about getting results, Ads Manager is essential.

Instagram ad format

There are multiple ad formats to choose from, and selecting the one that worlds best for you depends on your product or the type of content you have available. The great news is, whatever format you choose, there are templates available to help you achieve a high-quality look, even with video.

Instagram Photo ads

Get your message across in a clean and simple way. Your image can be either a square or landscape format.

Instagram Video ads

Video ads can be up to 120 seconds long but to maintain interest, you may want to keep it short. They can be in landscape or square format and when viewed in the app, will play on an endless loop.

Instagram Story ads

These are full-screen, vertical format ads appearing among other Instagram Stories. Though they have a “sponsored” tag, Story ads are meant to blend in.

Instagram Carousel ads

With carousel ads, users swipe to view up to 10 photos or videos. This means you can highlight different products, focus on specific details of one product, or tell a story that develops on each swipe.

Instagram Collection ads

Collections are ad formats with a primary video or image accompanied by four smaller images below in a grid-like layout. Customers who tap your collection ad to are taken to a fast-loading visual post-click experience, all without leaving Instagram.

Instagram Explore Ads

Explore is where users go to discover new content and expand their interests beyond the accounts they already follow. It’s a great opportunity to be part of what's culturally relevant and trending.

How much does Instagram advertising cost?

Image by Georgia de Lotz via Unsplash

You can run ads on pretty much any budget, so it really depends on how much you want to spend. There is no set price per ad but before we get into figures, it helps to understand how ads are charged.

Each ad is purchased through an online auction, which determines the price. You set your budget, so you never spend more than you want to, and the platform will try to get as many results as possible for that amount.

Bids represent the maximum amount you’re willing to pay to achieve your desired result. This cost per result is part of your bid strategy and if you're not sure what to bid, it will be automatically done for you with the intent of spending your budget evenly throughout your ad's run time.

In terms of actual figures, the Influencer Marketing Hub reports, “you can expect to pay somewhere between 20 cents and $2 per click (CPC) on an Instagram campaign. If you prefer to run your ads on a cost per mille (CPM) basis, focusing on impressions, then you are likely to pay around $5 per 1,000 visitors on average.”

Is Instagram right for your business?

According to a Statista report, 13 percent of global active Instagram users are women between the ages of 18 and 24 years old, and more than half of the global Instagram population worldwide is aged 34 years or younger. But even if your product isn’t aimed at young adults, you can still find an older audience or niche audiences among the 1 billion users. While we can’t say definitely if it’s right for your business, you can test it out with a low advertising spend to see if it works for you.

Getting started with Instagram ads

Advertising on Instagram can seem overwhelming, so here’s a step-by-step guide to getting your first ad or campaign out there.

Step 1: Create a Facebook Page and Business Account

Before you can create ads, you first need a Facebook Page as well as a free Business Account on Instagram., which you can read about here.

To create a Facebook Page

  • Go to facebook.com/pages/create.
  • Click to choose a Page type.
  • Fill out the required information.
  • Click Continue and follow the on-screen instructions

To switch your Instagram profile to a business account:

  • Go to your profile and tap in the upper right corner.
  • Tap Settings.
  • Tap Account.
  • Tap Switch to Professional Account.
  • Tap Business.

Make sure you follow the steps to connect your business account to your Facebook Page, making it easier to use all of the features available for businesses across the Facebook family of apps. At this time, only one Facebook Page can be connected to your business account. Add details, like your business category and contact information. Tap ‘Done’.

Step 2: Set up Ad Manager

For full control over your campaign, set your ad objectives, target audience, and ad formats. Ad Manager is also the place where you will monitor the success of your ads.

Setting up your Ad Manager Account

Ad Manager is accessed from your Facebook Page from the ‘Settings’ menu. When you first navigate to your Ads Manager settings, you'll be presented with the ad account setup.

  • Select Time Zone and Currency
  • Add your business information and advertising purpose

Image via Facebook

Using Ad Manager Account

Define your marketing objectives:

  • Awareness: Drive awareness of your business, product, app, or service through, reach, reach and frequency, brand awareness, and local awareness.
  • Consideration: Make potential customers more aware of your products or services through website clicks, video views, or reach and frequency.
  • Conversion: Increase product sales, mobile app downloads, and visitors to your shop, through website conversions, dynamic ads on Instagram, mobile app installs, or mobile app engagement.

Identify your target audience by:

  • Demographics. Narrow your audience based on information such as age, gender, and languages.
  • Location. Target people based in specific locations such as counties, regions, cities, or countries.
  • Interests. Reach people based on interests such as the apps they use, ads they click on, and accounts they follow.
  • Behaviors. Define your audience by activities they do on and off Instagram and Facebook. Custom Audiences. Run ads to customers you already know based on their email addresses or phone numbers.
  • Lookalike Audiences. Find new people who are similar to your existing customers. Automated targeting. Create an audience who might be interested in your business using a variety of signals including location, demographics, and interests.

Select your ad format

There are a few to choose from including photo ads, video ads, story ads, carousel ads, collection ads, or ads in Explore.

Canva has templates for almost every format, using a mix of still images and animations. For story formats, try the Purple Gradient Electronics Facebook Story Ad or Red and White Coffee Machine Electronics Story Ad.

Step 3: Determine your budget

Decide how long your ads will run for and what budget you're comfortable with spending. As mentioned this is completely up to you.

Step 4: Publishing Instagram ads

When your ads are ready to go, click ‘Publish’. You'll receive a notification when your ads have been approved and they are ready to run.

Step 5: Tracking Instagram ad performance

As soon as your ad is up and running, you can monitor its performance to see if it is getting the results you want.

To view your ad metrics:

  • Go to ‘Ads Manager’
  • Click on the campaign name that contains the ad that you'd like to view.
  • Click ‘View charts’ to see a section at the top that includes performance, demographics, placement and delivery data.

Instagram tips and tricks

There are some things you can do to make your ad even more impactful.

Build a visually compelling campaign in line with your brand identity

All your ads must reference your brand and each other by using the same color palette, photographic style, or by utilizing the same design elements. You want to establish consistency between any kind of material you put out.

Use compelling calls-to-action (CTA)

A strong CTA helps the audience engage with your ad. They also pave the path for actions they can take and show clear avenues they can follow. Instagram lets you easily include CTAs— simply select the one that best aligns with your goals and what you wish viewers to do when they see your ad.

Include a hashtag

Hashtags make it easy for you to identify or categorize your product, making it extremely easy for your audience to share information or drive others to discover your product or brand. You can also take advantage of popular hashtags to insert yourself into popular feeds and increase brand awareness. Just be sure that the different associations around these hashtags match the ones you want to be associated with your brand.

Enable purchases directly from your ad

Customers can now shop directly from your Instagram ad. To enable the ability to feature products from the Instagram App:

  • Go to your profile and tap ‘Settings’
  • Tap ‘Business’
  • Tap ‘Shopping’. Note: The option to tap Shopping is only available to accounts that have been approved for Instagram Shopping.
  • Tap ‘Continue’
  • Select a product catalog to connect to your professional account.
  • Tap ‘Done’

If you don't see Shopping, your account is probably still under review or it hasn't been approved for Instagram Shopping. This review process can take up to a few days.

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