How to Advertise Your Business on Instagram

Social Media Advertising
  • Out of all social media platforms, Instagram has proved to be one of the best and most effective for audience engagement out of all social channel for businesses.
  • Here’s the secret about Instagram – it’s massively underutilised by most brands because they don’t understand it or they’ve not cracked the formula for success.
  • So here's our Instagram 101 to get started with advertising on the 'gram: Learn the different types of Insta ads, how to set goals and track the ROI of your advertising campaign.

Instagram has over 600 million users, making it a serious player in the social media world, which is not surprising seeing as it is owned by Facebook. However, the most impressive thing about Instagram from a marketing point of view is not that it has over half a billion users, but the quality and quantity of engagement you can get through the photo-sharing site.

Instagram outperforms Facebook for user engagement and wipes the floor with the rest.

Here’s the secret about Instagram – it’s massively underutilised by most brands because either they just don’t understand it or they’ve not cracked the formula for success.

Why Use Instagram Advertising?

Instagram advertising is still quite new and hasn’t quite replaced sponsored ads brands would normally negotiate with influencers.

Influencer marketing still works and is a great supplement to your digital marketing strategy but the audience can be a little limited. Sponsored posts are still beneficial as influencers are lending their advocacy and reputation to your brand but perhaps becoming more complementary.

With Instagram ads, your brand message is delivered directly to the people you want to see your products thanks to the intelligent and complex targeting algorithms you get with Facebook ads.

The 4 different types of ads on Instagram:

  1. Photo Ads — one photo
  2. Video Ads —up to 60 seconds of video
  3. Carousel Ads —up to 5 photos
  4. Stories Ads — photo or videos on Instagram stories.

Take these examples:

  • Audible used multiple graphics in their latest ad campaign to give the audience a choice of books to listen to for FREE (note the eye catching use of capitals) without overloading them - great carrousel ad example.
  • Brands like Apple, BuzzFeed Tasty and TechCrunch preferred to use videos for their ads. Video was the best medium because you could show potential customers how an Apple Watch could enhance their fitness regime, watch recipes with BuzzFeed and show people how previous attendees to the TechCrunch conference have benefited from that experience.
  • The North Face used stunning, on-brand visuals from a documentary about climbing Mount Meru. The North Face inserted their brand and their message into a compelling story creating a connection between their brand and the achievement of climbing a mountain.

instagram ads

How to Set Your Instagram Advertising Campaign Objectives

Instagram ads have the same targeting options as Facebook ads including location, demographics, interests, lookalike audiences, and automated targeting (let Facebook decide).

You can set campaign objectives from a list to optimise your ads. For example, paying for video views rather than clicks on your ad. If you use campaign objectives with Facebook ads this will be a familiar process to you. Setting these objectives will determine who sees your ad so they are of vital importance.

How to Plan Your Instagram Ad Campaign

Follow these four steps to plan a highly engaging Instagram ad campaign:

  1. Build a community around a hashtag because
  2. Think about the photos you’re going to post
  3. Engage with your audience
  4. Post wisely

1. Build a community around a hashtag because;

  • hashtags work across multiple social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest,
  • it’s a quick, easy and efficient way to engage your audience and start a movement,
  • you’re not as character limited as you are with Twitter so you can really complement your photos with engaging captions – still try to keep it concise if you want to be effective though!

2. Think about the photos you’re going to post

Try to mix it up by posting images that your audience would find interesting in addition to images directly relevant to your business but with a caption that’s tailored to you.

3. Engage with your audience

When you’ve got content ready to go you should follow up posting it with engaging with your audience and their posts. Search popular hashtags and get involved. Every time you leave a comment or a like you’ll be giving your audience a reason to click on your username and see your latest content. This is crucial to earning engagement on your posts which is the ultimate aim.

4. Post wisely

Finally, don’t overschedule your posts; 1-2 per day is ideal. You don’t want to lose your audience through overexposure any more than you want to lose them through underexposure.

How to Measure the ROI of Your Instagram Ads

When investing in any new marketing strategy you’ll want to know what sort of return you’re getting. With Instagram there are a few ways to measure your ROI.

The simplest is gaining new followers. One of the core aims of Instagram marketing is to grow your audience – if yours is growing then you’re on the right track. However, engagement and lead generation is more important than follower numbers. You can have hundreds of thousands of followers but poor ROI if your content isn’t getting the desired result whilst you can have a small audience with a huge click through and purchase rate.

Advertising on Instagram isn’t guaranteed to boost your bottom line and it may take some persistence to start seeing results but with the right strategy and innovative content, you’ll soon see why Instagram adverts are the next big thing in content marketing.

What are your tips for Instagram advertising?

Maria Bellissimo-Magrin

CEO at

Attitude isn’t everything. But it sure helps. Maria certainly wouldn’t have become a CEO of a full-service creative marketing agency without it. She started out in the industry 15 years ago and has done so well because she offers the perfect blend of design, PR and social media. Her aim? Her aim? To make marketing easy, so you can spend your time on more important stuff.