How to Advertise on Instagram: A Step-By-Step Digital Advertising Guide

By Chris Hislop October 13, 2023

If your brand hasn’t made an Instagram account yet, it’s time to change that. Instagram is one of the fastest-growing social media platforms (it grew from 90 million users in 2013 to almost 1 billion users in 2018) and sees nearly 1.386 billion active users every single day. Many brands have leveraged Instagram effectively to communicate with their target audience through posts, Instagram Stories, influencers, and, of course, advertising.

Digital advertising on Instagram can be intimidating, even for those of us with some experience. There are seemingly endless options for goals, ad formats, placements, and more. But when done right, the payoff of digital advertising can be significant– advertisers can boost brand awareness, increase sales, and reach business goals. Learning how to successfully advertise through Instagram can be time consuming, especially for digital marketers with plenty else to do.

We know how busy the life of a digital marketer can be, so to make your job a little easier, we’ve taken the time to create a Digital Advertising Guide. In it, we’ll walk you through setting up ads in Instagram and how to use the platform to reach your target audience. The guide is completely free and even includes additional information about digital advertising on Google and Facebook.

Master Digital Advertising in a Few Clicks

Understanding advertising on Instagram

Instagram is owned by Facebook and actually accounts for about a quarter of Facebook’s total advertising revenue. In order to advertise on Instagram, you have to set up a Facebook Business account. Ads are created and managed through the Facebook Ads platform, which is incredibly convenient for anyone who is familiar with digital advertising on Facebook. If you’re not accustomed to advertising on either platform, don’t sweat it– we’ll walk you through the process in our Digital Advertising Guide.

The structure of Instagram Ads is very similar to Google Ads or Facebook Ads:

[Updated Hierarchy Image from eBook]

Advertisers can create a variety of different ads depending on the product or service offering that they want to showcase. For example, a great use of Carousel ads is to show off individual products, such as shoes in a summer collection. Below is an example of how a brand can use a Carousel ad to show off up to 10 products (or fruits, in this case).

How to Advertise on Instagram

It’s important to note that not all ad formats are effective for all brands. You’ll want to decide what kind of goal you’d like to achieve with your ads:

  1. Raise brand awareness
  2. Increase brand reach
  3. Boost site traffic
  4. Encourage engagement
  5. Get app installs
  6. Boost video views
  7. Generate leads
  8. Receive messages
  9. Increase conversions
  10. Make catalog sales
  11. Boost storefront traffic

After you’ve set advertising goals and objectives, you’ll be able to easily select the best ad format for your brand’s needs.

Instagram’s targeting options

Similar to its parent company, Facebook, Instagram offers quite a few highly-targeted advertising options. Digital advertisers can narrow their audience down by:

  • Location
  • Demographics
  • Interests
  • Behaviors
  • Custom Audiences
  • Lookalike Audiences
  • Automated Targeting

Depending on your buyer personas, you can target specific audiences easily with Instagram. Say you run a local business that sells comfortable clothing for hiking and biking. You can use Instagram to target users who are interested in the outdoors and physical fitness, are between the ages of 24 and 55, and live locally. That way, you’re not wasting valuable dollars trying to advertise to people who aren’t in your target audience (or aren’t anywhere near your local business).

Our Digital Advertising Guide will help you set up audiences through Facebook Ads so you can rest assured that your ads will reach the right people.

A few important Instagram stats to pay attention to

Instagram is a visually-focused platform, which sets it apart from Facebook or Google search. You’re guaranteed to see highly-curated imagery when you scroll through your feed, and it’s important that your brand acknowledges this to achieve greater success. When you’re creating ads for Instagram, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Video posts receive about 38 percent more engagement than photos and over 2 times more comments. That doesn’t mean you need to create Video ads, but it’s helpful to keep in mind that they may perform better.
  • Images with more negative space generate nearly 30 percent more likes than images without negative space. Clean, simple images are a great bet for any brand starting out advertising on Instagram!
  • One in every four Instagram ads is a Video ad. If you have the budget and the time, you should try experimenting with at least one or two Video ads for your business!

Take your time creating Instagram ads. You’ll want to make sure they’re visually appealing and in the correct format to communicate effectively with your target audience. As always, we recommend trying a couple of A/B tests to determine which ads perform best for your business!

What to expect from our Digital Advertising Guide

Are you ready to try your hand at digital advertising on Instagram? Getting started is easy: download our free Digital Advertising Guide to learn how to advertise effectively on Instagram. We’ll guide you step-by-step through creating ad sets and ads, and even give you tips for advertising best practices. Our guide also includes sections about digital advertising on Google and Facebook! Be sure to save the guide on your computer so you can always reference it when you need a refresher or help setting up a new ad.

With the guide, you’ll learn how to:

  • Set up an ad set in Instagram
  • Create a Photo ad
  • Create a Carousel ad
  • Create a Video ad
  • Create a Collection ad

…as well as how to set up a Facebook Business account (which is necessary to advertise on Instagram). We know that digital advertising can be a daunting task, but our guide helps make it more approachable and actionable.

Master Digital Advertising