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The Beginner’s Guide On How To Run Ads On Instagram

Posted by Gary Henderson on May 14, 2020 11:30:00 AM

Instagram and Facebook ads have a lot to offer to business owners of all shapes and sizes, from the CEOs of huge multinational companies to small businesses operating out of someone’s living room.

That’s because it enables you to tap into a more native type of advertising that still benefits from the huge pool of users who are active on Instagram and Facebook.

The good news is that you don’t need to be some sort of marketing genius to take advantage of an Instagram ad campaign.

The self-service platform is designed to be easy for just about anyone to pick up, and the hard part is understanding the underlying theory and best practices.

You don’t need a degree to advertise on Instagram, but it does help to know the basics if you want to make the most of your budget and to keep Instagram advertising costs as low as possible. That’s why we’ve written this article.

Don’t worry if you’re a total newcomer to advertising on Instagram, though. This is, after all, a beginner’s guide, and you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to follow the tips in this article.

Here’s what you need to know.

How to run ads on instagram

The Different Types Of Instagram Ads

One of the benefits of advertising on Instagram is that there are so many different types of Instagram ads for you to choose from.

In fact, the key to running a successful Instagram ads campaign is to understand the different types of ads that are available to you, to identify your target audience and then to hit them with exactly the right message.

Here’s what you need to know about the different types of Instagram ads.

Stories Ads

Instagram story ads are a good call when you’re already getting large amounts of engagement on your stories and you want to reach more people with them.

Because of their ephemeral nature, Instagram story ads usually run for shorter periods of time and are designed to act as a boost for any story that’s already performing well organically.

Stories ads can also be effective if you couple them with some sort of creative marketing campaign, such as a sweepstakes or a giveaway.

Alternatively, while it’s true that they’re best at generating short-term engagement and building communities, they can also be a useful tool when you’re looking to sell on Instagram.

Photo Ads

Photo ads are a powerful tool because they allow you to dramatically increase the reach of your visual assets while accompanying them with suitable calls-to-action, whether that’s to like the post or whether it’s to navigate through to your website.

Visual content has always been a powerful tool for marketers who are looking to increase engagement, and the same things that get people talking in a regular post can also make your Instagram and Facebook ads more engaging and ultimately more effective.

Don’t believe us?

Run a text ad on Facebook and then run the same ad with an image and see which one does better.


👉Want to know the best photo-editing apps for your photos on Instagram? Here's a list of our top 7 photo-editing apps 👈


Video Ads

If a picture tells a thousand words, video clocks in at 60,000 words per second if you count each of the frames as an image.

Where else can your brand reach its target audience with the equivalent of a novel in as much time as it takes to say two Mississippis?

If you’re planning on using Instagram video ads, one thing to bear in mind is that it’s better to show faces than products. If possible, tap into the power of user-generated content and social proof to post videos that show real customers.

By running these types of Instagram video ads, you can show off your products in their natural habitats and tell stories about your brand and its community.

Carousel Ads

Carousel ads are like an updated version of regular photo ads, allowing you to group multiple visual assets together into a single post.

You can use this to create photo galleries or to combine Instagram video with images to create a more dynamic ad campaign.

One of the advantages of creating a carousel ad set is that it allows users to swipe through content and to click on calls-to-action that link offsite.

If you’re looking to sell on Instagram, carousel ads are great because you can basically create a shoppeable gallery that you can push out into people’s news feeds.

Collection Ads

Collection ads are similar to carousel ads in that they’re designed to allow you to showcase multiple products or services in a single place.

It also comes with a useful “post-click” interface that shows off your Instagram ads campaign in full-screen mode.

If you decide to run with a collection ad campaign, you’ll want to pay particular attention to whichever piece of content you select as your “hero” content.

This is the image or video that will display first and which will draw people into your collection. A collection ad campaign can be designed to boost traffic, conversions, sales, store visits and more.

Explore Ads

Instagram’s Explore section is designed to help users to serendipitously discover content and information that might be of interest to them.

By running Instagram ads that display in the Explore section, you can boost your odds of success simply because people are already in the mood for content discovery.

According to Instagram, over 50% of its users are harnessing the Explore functionality on a monthly basis, which means that you have a huge target audience to tap into.

At the same time, because this functionality is still relatively new, there’s less competition and fewer people running Instagram ads. That can make it easier (and cheaper) for you to cut through the noise.

How To Get Started With Instagram Ads

how to get likes on Instagram

Now that you know what some of the different options are when you advertise on Instagram, it’s time to take a look at how to get started.

Like most forms of digital advertising, Instagram’s ads manager is designed to be self-service and easy-to-use, no matter what your level of expertise might be.

Here’s how to get started.

👉 Do you want to get verified on Instagram? Read Next: How To Get Verified On Instagram 👈

1. Create a business page and profile

When you create an Instagram account, the default setting is for you to create a personal account, and indeed you’ll have to follow the same steps to begin with by downloading the app, opening it up and following the steps to fill out your profile with a bio, a photo, a website address and other key information.

Setting up a personal account is only the beginning, though.

The next step is to switch over to an Instagram business profile, which will allow you to access Instagram’s ad manager and its advanced analytical tools.

To do this, simply:

  • Go to your profile and tap the menu button

  • Open settings

  • Tap account

  • Click switch to professional account

  • Click business

  • Optionally link your Instagram page to your Facebook page

  • Update other information such as category and contact details

  • Click done

2. Set up an ad

Now that you have an Instagram business profile, you’re able to access advanced analytical tools and to start creating Instagram ads in Instagram’s ads manager.

The first thing to do is to create the visual and written assets that you plan to promote.

With these assets in hand, you’re ready to open up ads manager and to hit the “create” button.

You’ll be prompted to enter the details for your ad set, including the visual and written content and your target audience.

How to set up an Instagram ad

Note that if you’re planning on running stories ads, photo ads or video ads, you can skip to this section by simply selecting the option to boost that particular post.

Alternatively it’s here that you’ll set up a more complex ad set such as carousel, collection or explore ads.

It’s also here that you’ll select your target audience, which is arguably the most important aspect of creating Instagram ads.

In fact, this part is so important that we’ve dedicated an entire section of this article to it, and we’ll get to that shortly. But in the meantime, let’s talk you through the rest of your first ad.

How to get likes on Instagram

3. Determine your budget

Now that you’ve created your first ad set and identified your audience, the next step is to specify your budget.

As a general rule, it’s a good idea to start your Instagram ad campaign with a relatively low budget and to build it up from there once you start to see results.

Instagram ad costs are based on the laws of supply and demand, so you can expect to pay more if you’re trying to reach people who are already in demand.

Costs can go up for certain high-value industries as well.

Regardless, when you enter your budget, you’re able to specify the maximum amount of money that you want to spend. At the same time, you’ll also specify how long you want the ad set to run for.

Instagram will then take your budget and the ad duration and try to identify the most efficient use of your ad spend.

One thing to remember here is that you can always go in and change your budget at a later date.

Because of that, it can be a good idea to start with a relatively low budget and to increase it once you’re happy that you’re reaching the right people and experiencing the results you were hoping for.

This is one of the best ways to keep Instagram ad costs down when you advertise on Instagram.



4. Publish

Now that you’ve created your ad set, specified your audience and determined your budget, it’s time for one last check before you hit the publish button.

Double check the visuals and the copy for your ad set and look back over your targeting settings. If you haven’t already, you’ll want to read the next section in this post to understand how to select the most efficient target audience.

One of the biggest benefits of running an Instagram ad campaign is that it’s effectively immediate. Once you’re satisfied with your campaign settings, you can hit the publish button and expect it to go live immediately. The results will follow shortly afterwards.

Remember too that even once you’ve created and published your ads, the job isn’t over. You’ll want to keep an eye on your Instagram Insights and to look at what’s working and what isn’t.

You can then do more of what works and less of what doesn’t, ensuring that your Instagram advertising costs are kept as low as possible.

7 Tips To Identify Your Target Audience

These tips will also grow your Instagram account and help you optimize your ad campaigns to the fullest. 

One of the most important aspects of creating effective Instagram ads is narrowing down the audience that you intend to reach. If you get the audience wrong, you might as well be shouting into the void for all the good it will do.

If you sell clothing for babies, for example, then it makes no sense to run ads at people who don’t have children.

R3MAT - the right message to the right audience at the right time

Here are just a few of the different factors that you can tap into when targeting people on Instagram.

1. Location

If your business serves a specific geographic area, such as if you’re a restaurant or you only serve people in local towns and villages, you can drill down based on location so that you’re only reaching people in the right geographic area.

This will make your ad campaign much more cost efficient by cutting out wastage and hitting those who are likely to actually become customers.

2. Interests

Interest targeting allows you to create an Instagram campaign that targets users based upon the kinds of content that they’ve interacted with.

If you’re a fashion brand, for example, then an interest-based ad campaign can help you to push your ad campaign into the feeds of people who follow fashion bloggers or who regularly interact with fashion-based content and hashtags.

3. Custom audiences

Custom audiences allow you to run an ad campaign that specifically targets your own custom audience.

For example, you could create an ad set to display to people who’ve visited your website or to the people who’ve signed up to your email list.

If you already have an existing audience of some sort, custom audiences in Instagram’s ad manager can help you to reach them.

4. Automated Targeting

If you don’t have an existing custom audience or you’re struggling to build one using other methods, automated targeting can help your ad campaign to reach the right people with less input required from you.

Instagram will help you to develop an automated audience based on location, demographics, interests and more. It’s not necessarily as good as building your own bespoke campaigns from scratch, but it can be a major timesaver.

5. Demographics

Demographics are one of the most basic data points that you can tap into for your ad campaign, but don’t discount them just because they’re more basic.

Demographic data includes information such as age and gender, and while it might not be enough to get the job done on its own, it can be used in combination with other targeting options to power a super relevant Instagram ad campaign.

New call-to-action

6. Behaviors

Behaviors are typically measured by monitoring the specific actions that people have taken.

Using behavioral targeting as part of your Instagram ad campaign can help you to increase relevancy and to ensure that your ad set is being displayed to people who have already shown that they’re ready and willing to take an action.

And again, it can be combined with other targeting options to improve overall performance.

7. Lookalike Audiences

Lookalike audiences are like a hybrid version of automated targeting in which Instagram will take an existing audience that you’ve created and automatically build a new audience of users who are similar.

This can be useful if you’ve got the perfect audience for your ad set but it’s just not big enough to scale or to deliver large scale results.


Now that you know everything you need to know to get started with your first Instagram advertising campaign, you’re ready to get started on your first ad set.

The good news is that you can go back through the tips that we’ve shared with you today and use them to get your ad campaign off the ground.

Remember that you can always ease yourself in and start slowly with a single ad set and a low budget. The important thing is to make sure that you get your approach just right before you fully commit and throw everything you have at your new Instagram advertising campaign.

Sure, it can be intimidating at first glance, but rest assured that you don’t need to be a marketing guru to run effective Instagram ads that make a real difference to the bottom line.

So what are you waiting for? Get started with your first Instagram ad campaign today!