A Beginner’s Guide to Advertising on Instagram

Sep 25, 2015 | Instagram

Instagram has become much more than a place to share sepia-toned photos of your meal. It’s begun to allow more companies to advertise on the platform, presenting new opportunities for marketers – particularly those looking to reach mobile users, a younger demographic, and a highly engaged audience.


Inherently designed for smartphones, Instagram is the top social network for mobile use and engagement. According to research by Shareablee, user engagement on Instagram doubled between 2014 and 2015 as the platform saw 1.9 million consumer actions per brand during the first quarter of this year. (For comparison’s sake, Facebook and Twitter saw a 27% and 32% increase, respectively, in the same metric over the same time period.)

Plus, data from eMarketer shows that almost 60% of Instagram’s 300 million users are under 34, making it important to reaching this key demographic.

We could go on about the perks of advertising on Instagram (in fact, you can give us a call now if you want to hear more) but if you’re curious about how to get the ball rolling, here are some guidelines you should follow:

  1. Strategize

As with any social media strategy, you should have clearly defined goals. Determine what you want to achieve with each campaign and what the key metrics for measurement are for those goals. For instance, if your aim is to increase sales, then conversion rates will be your key numbers.

How will you gather these metrics? Instagram’s reporting tools are the same as Facebook’s, so you’ll be able to access them through Power Editor and Ads Manager. Or, if you are like our clients and those tools aren’t enough, you could have a real-time performance dashboard and weekly test sprint reports.

  1. Setup

Again, creating your Instagram ads will be a similar process to creating Facebook ads. In Power Editor, you’ll need to choose an ad objective that supports Instagram ads. Currently, API partners are only allowed to run link ads, video ads, and mobile app install ads, all of which can leverage the power of Facebook reporting. Soon, advertisers will be able to run website conversion campaigns as well.

  1. Optimize

Next you’re ready to decide what creative you want to test, bearing in mind your company’s branding guidelines as well as Instagram’s highly visual nature. You can find the technical guidelines for creative here.

We recommend first testing images to find which perform best, then testing different captions along with your winning images. Using Facebook’s audience targeting – including interests, behavior, and custom audiences – you can find the demographic that’s most likely to convert.

Get Some Help From the Experts

Setting up a successful social media ad campaign is complex even for the savviest users, but luckily you don’t have to go it alone. As an Instagram Ads Beta Partner (not to mention a Facebook Managed Agency Partner and a Pinterest Beta Agency Partner) we have access to tools and relationships that help us leverage our past experience and apply it to this new platform. Over the years we’ve honed our creative and audience testing methods to help our clients find their highest performing ads and optimal targeting segments. We’re excited to apply these learnings to create successful Instagram ad campaigns for our clients.

Give us a call today to talk about how we can optimize your social media ads and lower your cost of acquisition.



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