The most common question I get these days is how to advertise a business on Instagram. It seems like Instagram is gaining popularity again, thanks to Instagram Reels.
The first thing I want to say is that you can promote your business in an organic way on Instagram by making Instagram Reels. It takes time to master Instagram Reels, but you will save money in the long run.
Now, if you want to get leads or sales fast, and you have a budget, advertising on Instagram is a good choice.
Instagram ads can reach over 1.2 billion people, including 20% of the world’s population over the age of 13.
This is huge. And though I say that, advertising on Instagram can be a little tricky, because you have a variety of options to choose from.
Now, you could say that there is an easy way to do it: advertising is just clicking on “boost post” and that’s it. OK. Let’s tell the truth here. Meta (Facebook’s new name) wants you to spend money on its ads. But the easy way is not the right way.
What are Instagram ads or Instagram advertising?
Instagram ads are posts that you can promote to other Instagram users who do not follow you.
These posts can be already posted in your account, or you can make special posts to be promoted.
Instagram ads can appear throughout the app, including in users’ feeds, Stories, Explore page, and more.
A good advantage of Instagram ads is that you can add a call to action (CTA).
The CTA and the word “Sponsored” make the difference between an advert and a regular post.
Now the big question in advertising a business on Instagram is:
How much do Instagram ads cost to promote your company?
Ok, let’s see, and the cost of an Instagram ad is…
There isn’t an exact answer. The cost of an Instagram ad depends on many factors that you will find out after you read all this post.
To give you an example, let me tell you this. If you run Facebook or Instagram ads regularly, with a minimum budget of $500, every holiday season, a Meta representative will call you to tell you to increase your budget to compete with the big brands.
So, in short, every holiday season your Instagram ads will decrease because Meta will favor the big brands.
That is the reality.
For that reason, you need to know that there is not an exact answer to this question.
There are many different types of advertising formats on Instagram, including:
- Image ads
- Story ads
- Video ads
- Carousel ads
- Collection ads
- Explore ads
- Instagram in-stream video ads
- Shopping ads
- Reels ads
Now, I will explain every type of Instagram ad because you need to think strategically. Which type of ad is the best for your business or brand?
If you have a big budget, maybe you could play with up to three types of ads, but if your budget is not that big, choosing one type of ad will be the best for you.
In the beginning, Instagram was a photo sharing app. For that reason, promoting your business or services using an image is a good idea.
An image ad can appear on the feed and in Stories, and the best part is that you can link your photo to a landing page or a product page.
It would be a good idea for you to learn how to use Canva.
You normally use Stories on Instagram to interact with your community and to engage with them, but they can also be a powerful way of reaching more people as an ad.
An Instagram Story ad is immersed seamlessly into a user’s Stories viewing experience. You can check this by going to Instagram. After you watch three Stories, the fourth will be an ad, and the ad will be by a person or brand that you don’t follow.
I like to recommend Story ads because 500 million Instagram users view Stories every day.
You can create Story ads with photos and videos, and the best practice is to do a Story ad in just the same way as a normal Story that you make for your community.
A video ad is just like a photo ad. In-feed video ads can be up to 60 minutes long, but my recommendation is that the shorter the video is, the better.
Instagram carousel ads are slide shows in ad format, which allows Instagrammers to slide through multiple images or videos in one single post.
The advantage of this type of ad is that each slide can have a link to a landing page or to a product page.
You can use carousel ads to:
- Showcase a collection of related products
- Tell a multi-part Story
- Share up to ten images or videos
This type of ad is perfect for Ecommerce businesses, but sadly it isn’t very popular.
Collection ads are a combination of carousel ads and shopping ads. Collection ads showcase products directly from your product catalog.
When interacting with a collection ad, users can browse multiple products and have the option to purchase products directly from the ad.
When a user clicks on the ad, they’re directed to an Instant Experience storefront, where they can learn more about the product and proceed to make a purchase.
You can learn more about collection ads here.
I think these are quite new. Instagram’s Explore ads allow you to show sponsored content on the Explore page, where users go to browse images and videos that the app has curated based on their past behaviors and interests.
This is good because if you have fewer than 2000 followers, it is difficult to appear on the Explore tab. Usually, the content of accounts that have more than 3000 followers has more opportunities to appear on the Explore page.
Explore ads allow businesses to be shown alongside culturally relevant and trending content.
The tricky part is that your ad won’t be shown right on the Explore page. What is going to happen is:
The user clicks on some content on the Explore page, and then your ad will appear immediately.
Instagram in-stream video ads are short video ads (15 seconds long) that are shown to audiences browsing IGTV or opening IGTV videos in their feed. They can be shown pre-roll, mid-roll, or post-roll.
These ads work just like YouTube ads.
Creators can opt in to having ads shown in their IGTV videos, and receive 55% of the advertising revenue generated from each view.
People can now shop directly from Instagram without leaving the app.
Instagram Shopping ads take users directly to a product description page within the Instagram app. They can then make a purchase through your mobile website.
The only thing you have to do is set up your Instagram Shopping catalog.
Reels are short videos to which you can add audio tracks and special effects. They can be created from existing videos or shot in the moment.
Reel ads can be up to 30 seconds long and they can only be created on a desktop, not on mobile.
Now the question is:
Which type of Instagram advertising is the best for my business?
That is a good question, but to get a good answer you will need three things:
- To understand your business
- To know who your ideal customer is
- To have a clear goal
Let’s talk a little bit about these three points.
What I want to say here is: you have a product or service to sell, but do you have a clear vision of your market? Of your competitors?
Before starting an ad campaign you need to understand what is working and what isn’t in your business.
You need to know your ideal customer so you can understand how they engage with your products or services.
One ideal way to get to know your customers is through the empathy map. You can read about that here: Customer Empathy Map. How to answer the 7 questions.
It’s important to know your customer because you need to understand how they interact with Instagram, and what they like to consume on Instagram.
Have a clear goal
Finally, you need to decide what you want to achieve with your ad campaign. It could be:
- Getting reach
- Getting sales
- Getting leads
Remember that on Instagram you cannot make a campaign to get followers like you can on Facebook.
You need to have a clear goal so you can choose the best type of ad for your campaign.
Now, here are my recommendations:
If you want to get reach, use Reels
If you want to get sales, use Carousel ads or Story ads
If you want to get leads, use video ads, image ads or Story ads
How to advertise a business on Instagram? 2 options
Like I told you before there are two ways to advertise: the easy way and the optimal way.
When you make a new post on Instagram you will have the option to promote that post.
By clicking that button, you’ll be prompted to choose your preferred audience, destination, budget, and the duration for your ad to run.
Meta will then review your ad to check that everything is OK.
The problem with this option is that you don’t have the option to target your ideal customers.
In order to have this option, you’ll need to have a business or creator account on Instagram. You’ll also need to have a Facebook business page connected to your Instagram account.
The optimal way is to create your ads in the Meta Ad Manager
You have to click Create.
Then, choose your objective for the campaign.
Here’s a quick breakdown of what each of these objectives aims to achieve:
- Brand awareness: Increase awareness of your business or products among users who haven’t heard of you yet.
- Reach: Show your ad to as many people as possible in your target audience.
- Traffic: Drive clicks to your website, app, or any other URL.
- App installs: Get users to download your app.
- Engagement: Increase comments, likes, shares, event responses, and offer claims on your ad.
- Video views: Get video views from users most likely to watch it.
- Lead generation: Gather personal info from interested users (i.e. email signups).
- Messages: Get users to send a message to your brand account.
- Conversions: Drive sales or sign-up conversions on your website or app.
- Catalog sales: Promote sales from your online store catalog.
- Store traffic: Direct users to your brick-and-mortar location.
After selecting your objective you will have to name your campaign.
Finally, you’ll have the option to turn on campaign budget optimization. This option allows Facebook’s algorithm to determine how to spend your budget across ad sets.
Here you will have to tell Facebook what your budget for your campaign is, and how long the campaign will run.
For your budget, you’ll have two options:
- Daily budget: Set a maximum daily spend, useful for always-on ads.
- Lifetime budget: Set a maximum spend for your whole campaign, useful for ads with a clear end date.
Then, under Ad Scheduling,you can select how long your ad will be. This depends on your budget.
My recommendation is that you choose a start date and a day to finish your campaign.
That recommendation is the best to control your budget.
Ok, now that you have your budget and your scheduling set up, you will see the Audience Definition and Estimated Daily Results modules in the right-hand column, which will give you an idea of the expected reach for your chosen budget. Try to choose settings so that your ad set falls in the middle of the green range.
If this is your first time making a campaign, you will have to choose the option: Create a New Audience. Creating a new audience is based on demographics, interests, and behavioral targeting.
The option Saved Audience is there in case you have a list of emails or if you have your own custom audience data (i.e. past website visitors) or past audiences from previous campaigns that performed well.
In the placements section, you can decide where your ads will appear.
There are two options:
Automatic Placements: Ads will be shown to your audience wherever they’re likely to perform best.
Manual Placements: You can choose specifically where your ad will appear (or not appear). If you want to limit your ads to showing only on Instagram (not Facebook), you can choose this using manual placements.
Here you have to select your fan page and your Instagram account, and choose a format.
Then, proceed to fill out the rest of the details under Ad Creative:
- Choose your pictures or videos (unless you’re using an existing post)
- Input your ad copy
- Select a payment option
- Review your ad
- Click confirm
At this step, you will also choose the call-to-action button and enter the URL where you want to send people who click on your ad.
If you want to learn how to advertise a business on Instagram, always think of your target audience. This is because you are advertising to show your product or services to a new audience.
And remember, this audience needs a solution to their problem.
Make your ads thinking about mobile first. 98.8% of users access social media via a mobile device, so it’s vital to design your creation for mobile viewing, and not desktop.
If you have the time and budget, make a video. You will have more engagement with your ad if it’s a video.
Keep your video short, and straight to the point.
If not, make a carousel. People on Instagram love carousels.
Learning how to advertise a business on Instagram takes time and practice. Just be patient and remember that you won’t find an option to advertise to gain followers.
For that reason, your ad has to be good enough to:
- Make sales
- Gain new followers
LEVERAGE HASHTAG CAMPAIGNS
Hashtags have been instrumental in the social media ecosystem.
To use hashtags effectively and efficiently, you need to conduct the proper research, as it involves much more than just adding a pound sign in front of words or phrases that merely seem relevant.
It’s easy to add a hashtag to your posts, but it’s far more difficult to create one that drives new customers and boosts your brand’s awareness.
A good place to start is by analyzing your competitor’s strategy and learning about trending topics in your industry. From there, you can start brainstorming ideas after looking at the traction of existing hashtags on Instagram.
You’ll also want to enlist the aid of some hashtag-specific tools like Hashtagify to help uncover the most popular hashtags in each industry.
While a winning hashtag varies from industry to industry, a universal rule of thumb is to keep it short and sweet, preferably three words or less. It’s tough enough to type on a tiny smartphone keyboard, and a longer hashtag is far more susceptible to misspellings.
The great thing about hashtags is that they appear across other social networks like Twitter and Facebook.
DON’T OVERUSE HASHTAGS
Too much of anything is too much. And that’s true for hashtags.
So don’t go overboard. Doing so can be detrimental to your hashtag strategy.
Reports show you should limit hashtags to 11 per post. Using excessive hashtags will backfire and lead to varying degrees in audience engagement.
With Instagram becoming an increasingly crowded social media platform, keep in mind that one of the best ways to cut through the noise is by artfully curating and creating branded hashtags to increase your reach.
TELL YOUR BRAND’S STORY
Because Instagram is a visual medium that boasts features such as Instagram Stories, Instagram Live, and video uploads, it provides the perfect opportunity for your business to convey a clear voice and connect with your target audience.
Start by crafting a killer Instagram bio. From there, you need to build a strategy based on telling your brand’s story.
Not sure how to do that? Look at this article for a little inspiration.
The part of your brand’s story you want to share and the format you choose to share it in is up to you. But, to stand out from the competition, the more creative you can be, the better.
Don’t be afraid to be bold and make a statement. However, your storyshould be cohesive from post to post.
Be an Active Participant on the Platform
Rule #1 of any social media strategy is to be more than just a publisher of content. You need to be involved.
On Instagram, that means a few things:
Follow other people, brands and influencers
Engage in the comment section of your posts and other’s
Publish the awesome content of prospective customers and @mention them