Everything You Need to Know About Advertising on Instagram

If you’re a small business owner thinking of advertising on Instagram, the time is now. This year, with more people spending time at home,  48% of consumers increased their time on social media. Online content consumption is high, and small business owners should follow their audience’s attention.

How to use Instagram ads

Instagram definitely has the audience: more than 200 million users visit at least one business profile daily, and 60% of Instagram users say they discover new products on the app. That could be you!  Instagram ads may cost more than Facebook ads in terms of average cost-per-click (CPC) but are worth it when you consider better engagement and conversion possibilities.

The world of Instagram ads seems daunting at first. But we’re going to walk you through the process step by step and make it clearer to you.

Types of Instagram Ads

Instagram has different ad categories based on where you want them displayed in the app. Each one has different visual parameters and brings different benefits to your brand. It’s important to set campaign goals beforehand so you’ll have an easier time deciding which ad formats to use. Let’s take a dive into what’s available:

Photo and video ads for feed

You’ll see these ads most often on your Instagram feed because they’re placed in between regular posts by accounts you follow. These work best for driving attention and engagement to visual content you’re proud of—something that can really catch someone’s eye during their regular feed scrolling. Don’t overlook the carousel option, where you can place multiple images or videos in one post to showcase a series.

instagram feed ad

Source: BrandWatch

Instagram story ads

These are full-screen ads that appear when switching between viewing others’ Instagram Stories. They command attention throughout the whole space, making them great for driving traffic and ecommerce, but users can easily swipe out if they aren’t interested. The upside is that these types of ads also get access to all the visual assets Instagram provides any other story: filters, stickers, ads, product details, and more.

instagram ad example

Source: Hubspot

Collection ads

Perfect for small businesses focusing on ecommerce sales, collection ads allow users to shop directly from the ad. This minimizes the steps they’ll need to take to purchase your products, allowing a smoother user experience.

Collection Ads IG

Explore ads

This places your ad in the “explore” tab on the Instagram app, where users can browse through recommended content from accounts they don’t necessarily follow. This can improve customer experience and therefore lead to 3.5x more sales.


Source: TechCrunch

Determine which ad to run by examining your industry, competitor’s ads, your brand aesthetic, and marketing objectives. Once decided, you can either promote an existing Instagram post or create an entirely new one from scratch. Here’s how to set up your Instagram ads:

Promoting an existing Instagram post

If this is your first time trying out Instagram ads, you might want to start by simply promoting an existing post of yours! Thanks to this June 2020 Instagram update for making it simple for first-timers.

  • Step 1: Go to your Instagram profile and find the post you want to convert into an ad. Click the “Promote” button at the lower-right hand side of your post.
  • Step 2: Select one of three business goals: Instagram profile visits, website visits, or direct messages from users.
  • Step 3: Use the targeting options to decide on who you’ll be serving ads to. Choosing “Automatic” lets Instagram decide your target based on who’s similar to your current followers, while “Manual” allows you to select the location, age range, and interests of your audience.
  • Step 4: Pick a budget and how long your ad is going to run. Plan for a budget of around $0.80 – $1.30 CPC.
  • Step 5: It’s done! Now all you need to do is monitor its performance.

Creating a new Instagram ad from scratch

If you want to create an entirely new Instagram ad from scratch that is separate from your feed, you’ll still need to go through the Facebook ad ecosystem to do so.

creating new instagram ad

Source: Instagram

  • Step 1: Log in to the Facebook Page connected to your Instagram profile. If you don’t have one yet, create one now.
  • Step 2: Go to the Facebook Ads Manager
  • Step 3: Click “Create Ad.”
  • Step 4: Choose the goal you want your ad to achieve—brand awareness, engagement, or website traffic.
  • Step 5: Select the “New Ad Set” option on the left-hand side of the page and fill out the details in the page that appears: budget, schedule, and audience details. You can get an estimate of your ad’s performance on the right side—feel free to tweak so you can reach your desired amount!
  • Step 6: Scroll down to select “placement” and choose where you want your ad to appear on Instagram.
  • Step 7: Click “Next.” Now, you’ll be uploading the ad details themselves. Select the ad format you want and upload the visual graphics you want to include.
  • Step 8: Run your ad!

Tips for creating the best Instagram ads for small business

It’s natural for small businesses to be concerned about investing in ads, especially with tighter marketing budgets and more pressure to succeed. But maximizing budget isn’t just about selecting the perfect targeting options and ad placement. Everything depends on how you catch a potential customer’s eye. On Instagram, emphasizing the correct messaging and using the right photo editing app to achieve a balance between visuals and copy is everything.

Here are five quick tips to make standout ads:

1. Use bold typography to pitch your products and services. Incorporating bold fonts in your ad designs serves a dual purpose: to secure attention and amplify your messaging. That way, users know exactly what you’re offering—making them more likely to take the next step if you capture their interest.

Bold typography in instagram ads

Source: Sh1ftDigital

2. Make your product the star of the show. Want to make your products speak for themselves? Take great product images by shooting high-resolution images at different angles to give prospective customers an accurate, 360-degree look at what could be theirs.

3. For Instagram Stories ads, tell a story by emphasizing lifestyle imagery. To prevent users from swiping away from your ad, make it fit seamlessly into their Stories queue. As much as possible, use photos or videos focused on how actual people would experience your products or services.

ig stories example

Source: StrikeSocial

4. Stick to your brand tone and personality when writing copy. Don’t just list off your product’s features and benefits and call it a day. How does your small business actively use social media? What kinds of people do you want to connect with? Follow the tone you’ve set with all your previous non-advertised Instagram posts to build familiarity and consistency in branding.

5. Remember to include call-to-action phrases in your ad copy. Encourage users to take action by not just explaining what your small business is offering, but also leading them to where and how they can get it. Include words like “learn more,” “visit our website,” “click the link,” and similar phrasing to direct the viewer.

colorful instagram ads

Source: GetResponse


Time to get started with Instagram Ads

Start advertising on Instagram once you’re brand is ready for an additional boost. Maybe you want to push a specific product, are running a promotion, or have a campaign in mind. The backbone of your social media strategy is still consistent and engaging posts, so don’t neglect regular Instagram content creation! Continue analyzing what works and aim to balance both organic and paid social media content for small business success.

Get started today!

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