So you want to run Instagram ads?
You’ve been scrolling through your feed seeing all these brands post sponsored content promoting their products and finally decided it’s your turn.
It’s your turn to take over the Instagram feed.
It’s your turn to build a following that would make your competitors jealous.
It’s your turn to flip your faithful followers into lifetime customers.
I’m here to make that happen, one Instagram ad at a time.
Here’s everything you need to know about running successful Instagram ad campaigns from start to finish. By the time you’re done reading this, you’re going to be armed with the perfect strategy to win on social media.
Let’s get into it…
What Are Instagram Ads? How do they work?
Instagram ads are paid pieces of content that brands and businesses share on Instagram that promote their products and services. Think of them like digital advertisements that show up on your Instagram feed.
Instagram ads help brands advertise their products to social media users in a way that feels less like a lousy billboard and more like organic content helping them target new audiences, develop digital relationships, and move followers one step closer to purchasing.
Before I get into the weeds about the variety of different Instagram ads, and how you can set up a new Instagram ad campaign, let’s talk about how these ads work and why they’re so effective.
How Do Instagram Ads Work?
Instagram ads work in various ways, all of which achieve one of five goals: brand awareness, website traffic, audience engagement, customer leads, app promotion, or product/service sales.
Based on your desired outcome from these goals, your brand can start developing a set of Instagram ads that help you identify core audiences and create compelling ads that convert followers into cold, hard cash.
Instagram ads are an effective tool for brands of all sizes. Whether you’re a new eCommerce brand fresh to the Instagram feed, or an established company looking to expand your audience and find new customers, you can use Instagram ads to test out different campaigns and find what resonates with your people.
From there, you can double down on the strategies and campaign styles that work, let go of the ones that don’t, and invest your time and energy in a more efficient manner.
As I said earlier, Instagram ads work in a variety of ways, but what’s important to understand is that it takes time to test out different campaigns and gather data to support your overall marketing strategy.
In my experience working with clients at Ubiquitous, the standard testing period for an Instagram Ad campaign ranges somewhere between 7-10 days. This is enough time for your campaign to hit a larger audience and gather information about performance, giving you everything you need to know about whether or not that specific campaign will be successful in the future.
To give you a better understanding of what Instagram ads are available, let’s walk through the different types of Instagram ad styles and talk about how they work.
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What Types Of Instagram Ads Are Available?
These Instagram ads use a single image to showcase your brand, product, or service. They are best suited for brands driven by imagery that can convey a message or idea in one photo. For lifestyle and fashion brands, this is a great entry-level Instagram ad that allows you to leverage your established photography catalog and create content that highlights your products. An important item to note here is that you should limit the amount of text on these images to comply with accessibility standards. This will ensure that your campaign doesn’t get flagged by Instagram and never see the light of day.
These Instagram ads use video content to do one of three things: show how your product works, highlight unique attributes of your product, or tell your brand story. While these videos can be up to 60 minutes long, I recommend making them less than 60 seconds. Instagram users have a short attention span, thus, you want to share videos that convey your message clearly and concisely to capture their eyes.
Instagram Story Ads
These are one of the most popular types of Instagram ads right now. They are full-screen images or videos that are displayed between users’ organic stories. Chances are you’ve seen these on your own feed intermingled between the people and brands you already follow. Instagram stories ads are some of the highest-performing ads because over 500 million users interact with stories daily. The secret to their success is that Instagram stories ads look like an organic story, not a brand promotion. What’s great about these ads is that you can take your best-performing organic Instagram stories and convert them into ads helping you capitalize on already established performance.
Carousel Ads are a series of images that come in a swipeable gallery. They can appear in the regular Instagram feed or as Instagram stories. If you’re a brand with a wide range of products, these ads can be used to show off a full collection of products, up to 10 images. For fashion and beauty brands, these ads help your audience view everything you have to offer in one simple gallery.
A Collection Ad is a combination of carousel ads and Instagram shopping ads. These ads show products directly from your product catalog on a simple landing page. If you’re an eCommerce brand, these types of ads will help users get directly to a product within the Instagram app. By clicking the CTA, users are moved to your Instagram Instant Experience Storefront where they can make purchases. Note here that you must have your Instagram account and store connected to your product catalog.
Explore ads are images or video content shared on the Explore tab of the Instagram feed. If you go to your Explore tab right now, you’ll see a handful of explore ads that promote a brand’s product or service. These ads are only shown when a user clicks on them, where they can then be directed to your website. What’s advantageous about these ads is that they allow your brand to be shown across industry-relevant content or trending topics helping you connect with new potential customers with shared interests.
Instagram Reels Ads are videos shared between organic Instagram reels. These ads can be up to 60 seconds long just like any other Instagram reel. From experience crafting reels, I highly recommend using music in these ads as it will make them feel like a regular Instagram reel. Users will see the words “sponsored” next to your brand username letting them know that this is an advertisement.
Instagram Shopping Ads are images or videos that take users directly to a product description page within the Instagram app. Think of these like your very own store inside of Instagram. In order to share these ads, you have to have Instagram Checkout enabled and connected to your online store. This can be done by setting up your Instagram Shopping Catalog where you can create different collections, product description pages, and even allow users to checkout inside Instagram instead of on your website.
How To Set Up Instagram Ad Campaigns
Now that we’ve covered all the different types of Instagram ads you can choose from, let’s talk about how to set up your very own Instagram Ad Campaign. There are two different ways to run Instagram ads: Boosting Content or Starting A New Ad Campaign.
Boosting Content is an easy way to get started on your first Instagram Ad Campaign. Boosting allows you to take the content you’ve already posted and turn it into an ad with the click of a button.
This type of ad strategy is great for brands just starting with Instagram ads because you can take your best-performing posts and simply convert them into ads. While these kinds of ads don’t allow for in-depth analytics or tracking, they can be an effective way to start sharing ads and get an understanding of what content resonates with your audience.
Here’s how to boost an Instagram Post
First, set up an Instagram Business Account. This requires that you have a Facebook (Meta) Business account. It’s easy to set up in less than 2 minutes and will help you scale your Instagram ad efforts as you continue to grow.
Once you’ve got your business accounts set up, collect your highest-performing organic Instagram posts that represent your brand best. From there, all you have to do is select the “boost” button that appears on the post.
You will be prompted to choose your goal—more profile visits, more website visits, or more messages—then define your audience. Instagram can do this for you or you can manually set up an audience, though I suggest letting Instagram do the work for you.
After these prompts are selected, you will be asked to choose a daily budget and duration—this can be a set timeframe or you can manually turn it off when you choose—then you simply push “boost” and off it goes!
To view the performance of your post, just click into your Instagram analytics and you’ll see how your boosted post is doing.
Now, let’s talk about setting up a new Instagram Ad Campaign.
Setting Up A New Instagram Ad Campaign
The first thing you need to know about setting up a new Instagram Ad campaign is that doing this allows you to get the most out of your effort. These kinds of ads have more direct targeting, a variety of creative elements, and in-depth reporting.
From my experience, if you’re going to get into Instagram ads, I encourage clients to start here because you get more information and data to support future ad campaigns. While it’s a little more work up front, doing so will set you up for success as you continue to grow and develop your audience.
Ok, here’s how you can get started.
Just like boosting, you will need to have an Instagram business account set up that is attached to a Meta Ads Manager. Once logged into Meta Ads Manager, select “create”.
Choose your objective—awareness, traffic, engagement, leads, app promotion, or sales. Then name your campaign. I recommend picking a specific name and date that way it’s easier to track as you make more campaigns.
Then choose your budget and schedule. You will have two options: daily budget and lifetime budget. Daily budget works for campaigns that are ongoing, while lifetime works better for campaigns with a specific end date.
Under ad scheduling you will be asked to choose “running continuously” or “certain times of the day”. The best practice here is to run continuous campaigns.
This will prompt a window that shows “audience definition and estimated daily results” which indicates how many people you will reach and if your audience is too specific or broad.
From here, you will be asked to identify your audience. There will be two options: select “saved audience” (if you’ve run campaigns before) or “create a new audience”. When selecting “create new audience” you have the option to target by location, age range, gender, demographics, interests, behaviors, and languages.
Then you are going to choose your Instagram ad placement. Your options will be Advantage+ placements or Manual placements. Advantage+ uses Meta’s data to determine what platforms you content will perform best. Manual allows you to select where you want it to go such as Instagram or stories only.
You will then select “create new Instagram Ad” where you will edit your ad name, choose from different Instagram ad types (like we talked about before), and add creative elements like images, videos, headlines, and CTAs.
You can also add copy, website links, and tracking here. Make sure that you have Facebook Pixel set up if you want to track where users go when they click on your ad campaign.
Once you’ve made all your creative selections and put a compelling call to action on your advertisement, it’s time to publish. Just select “publish” and your campaign will be sent to Instagram for review. Once it’s reviewed and approved, it will be set live for your audience!
From there, you can check ad performance inside Meta Ads Manager or Instagram Analytics to see how it does.
3 Helpful Instagram Ad Tips
Before I let you run your first Instagram ads campaign, I want to give you a few helpful tips that will get you off to a hot start.
One: Make Mobile-First Content.
Users are most likely going to see your post on their phone so make sure you are putting up content that works for mobile devices. This means vertical video, minimal text, short videos, and adding animations and motion graphics to capture viewers.
Two: Be Brand Forward
When I say this I’m talking about keeping your message in the front of your content making sure that it’s clear who you are and what you offer. Our attention spans are short, so it’s important to make your content clear to the audience in the first few seconds.
Three: Test, Test, Test
Instagram ads are not the silver bullet for your brand. They are an important component of your overall marketing strategy, but require testing and trial to find what works best for you. Do not limit yourself to one type of Instagram ad. Try all the ones I listed above and review the performance to find the right recipe for your brand. By doing so, you’ll hone your audience and become more effective with your campaigns over time.
Looking For Some Help with Instagram Ad Marketing?
We’ve got you covered. Our team of marketing experts is always looking for new brands who want to get started with Instagram ads. We’re eager to help you build a strategy that drives growth and turns those followers into faithful lifetime customers.
Drop us a line right here and we’ll get started on your project today!