How to Run a
Successful Instagram Ad
Why Run an Instagram Ad?
Chances are you are using a hashtag strategy, creating content targeted to your
audience on Instagram, and maybe even running campaigns or contests designed to
grow your audience. If you’re not doing these things, you should be!
But even if you are, there is still a huge Instagram audience out there that is unaware of
your presence on Instagram. Unaware of the services or products you offer. And who
have the buying power to generate more revenue for your business!
Why would you want to ignore these people?
That’s why you want to consider running Instagram ads!
Instagram ads offer many advantages for businesses on Instagram. Some of these
Highly targeted placement based on Facebook’s breadth of user knowledge
Extremely affordable ad budgets (I’ve run campaigns for $10-15 that reached
3000 – 6000 people!)
New eyes on your business
Drive traffic directly to your website, opt-in, or specific link of your choice for
And, you can even run an Instagram ad if you don’t have an Instagram account! So
you can still take advantage of these potential customers.
What to Promote in Your Instagram Ad
Ideally, when you run an Instagram ad, you want to promote something that will benefit
your business. That sounds like a no-brainer, but you have to be strategic in this
Understand that the majority of people who see your Instagram ad have no idea who
you are or what your business does. Use this as an opportunity to build brand awareness
and invite potential customers into your world. Avoid trying to sell them something.
Instead, offer something of value for them.
Here are some things you can promote in your
ads for maximum return on your cost:
A live stream or podcast episode
A blog post
A free webinar
A free ebook or downloadable resource
A free item with purchase
A discount or promo code
It’s hard to get new viewers to buy up front, so
avoid asking for them to purchase something
with your ads. Instead, use these options to
invite them into your business, get them familiar
with you, and then you can follow up with a sale
in other ways.
Make Your Ad Stunning & Action-Worthy
You only get one first impression and your ad may very well be the first impression
thousands of people have of your business. So make it memorable – in a good way!
Your ad image should be amazing. It should stand out in the feed, represent your
brand, and convey a simple message.
Your ad copy should be powerful, intriguing, and convince viewers to act immediately.
If you struggle with ad copy, consider finding someone to help you with this. Your first
two sentences are what people see first so these should be directly targeted to the
potential customer – a question or statement that they cannot ignore. Think amazing
blog post title or email subject line. You also need a clear call-to-action within the post
How to Set Up Your Instagram Ad
All Instagram ads are run through the Facebook ads platform. Yes, Facebook owns
Instagram and with Facebook’s robust ad platform already in place, it allows Instagram
to provide targeted ads at a very cost effective price point.
If you’ve never run a Facebook ad before, you’ll have to go through the process to set
up your Facebook Ad Manager account. You can go to
https://www.facebook.com/ads/manager/ to set up a new account and go to the
Facebook Help Center for more information on running ads:
If you have run an ad on Facebook before, you can log into your ad manager from
your Facebook account (top left menu when you log into your personal profile).
To get started, click “Create Ad”.
In order to create an Instagram ad, you want to choose the option to “Send people to
Once you click on that option a side screen will appear where you can enter the URL
for the website page you want to direct people to.
It is imperative that you are selecting the right page on your website to send people to.
Do not simply insert the link to your website home page. If you are promoting an ebook
or download, the page URL should be the opt-in page to get that download. If you
want people to sign up for something, the link should go to that opt-in page. If you are
promoting a product, event, or promotion, the link should go to that sales or information
page on your website.
You can also choose any link that isn’t your website. If you wanted to promote your
Facebook page or a promotion on your Facebook page, you could put your Facebook
page link here.
Whatever it is you want to promote, as long as you have a URL for that, you can
promote it through an ad on Instagram.
You can also name your campaign at this point to distinguish it in your ads dashboard.
As a time saving tip, once you’ve run an ad for any URL, it will appear in a drop-down
menu every time you go to create another ad to drive traffic to a link. This way you
don’t have to re-enter it every time you want to run another ad to that page.
Setting your audience demographics
If you’ve run a Facebook ad before, you know you have access to lots of targeting
options, and you can use those same options to target your Instagram ads.
Go through the demographic options and narrow down your target audience as much
For your first ad, you’ll want to set a new audience. Select geographical locations you
want to target. Select age, gender, and language parameters. You can also use the
“Exclude People” option to further target your audience. And, if you only want to target
people who like your Facebook page or other criteria, you can select those options as
well (the “Connections” option).
There is an option in this section to “Save this audience” with a check mark box next to
it. I highly recommend you do this. Now that you’ve spent the time going through to
select a specific audience group, save it and name it so that you can easily select this
same audience again for future ads.
The next step is to select the ad placement locations. Your ad will default to all
Facebook and Instagram options. Yes, you have the option to run your ad across both
platforms simultaneously. However, for this purpose, I’m showing you how to run an ad
only on Instagram.
Deselect all of the Facebook placement options so that only the Instagram option is
Set Your Budget
One of the great things about the Facebook ad platform is that you can run ads for
very little cost. Of course, the more you spend, the more reach you will get.
Choose your daily ad budget and set a time frame, or set your
ad to run continuously from the day you start the ad.
You’ll notice that as you narrow your targeting options and
adjust your budget, the potential reach options adjust
accordingly in the ad details section.
Before you deselected the Facebook options, the Facebook
reach was included in this analysis. Once you narrowed it
down to only Instagram, only the Instagram reach will be
After you’ve completed all of your targeting and budget
information, choose “Continue” or “Choose Ad Creative” to
move on to your ad artwork and copy.
Instagram does offer the carousel ad option which allows you
to use multiple images for ad which viewers can scroll through to get a better story from
If you are going to use carousel ads, always ensure that your first image is the most
powerful and impactful as this is what people will see in their Instagram feeds. All
images should also be directly related to each other as a part of the story. They could
create one long panoramic type image or be a series of images – whatever works best
for your business and marketing purposes.
Select the right option – Single image or video, or a series of images.
Upload the image(s) or video to use in your ad.
If you have text on your image, you always want to make sure that the text on the
image is valuable to the purpose of the post/ad and does not detract from the impact
of a great image on Instagram.
Your photo should also be optimized for Instagram image dimensions. Even though you
can use portrait or landscape images on Instagram, ad images must be square. The
recommended image size is 1080 x 1080 pixels.
To upload your own image, use the “Browse Library” option to find and add your image
from your computer.
You can also select from Facebook’s free library of stock photos.
To set your ad copy, you must connect your Instagram ad to a Facebook page. Select
the appropriate page to connect to. This is especially important if you manage multiple
client accounts or business pages.
You then need to connect your Instagram account. If
you have an Instagram account, enter those details.
However, one of the great things about Instagram ads
is that you can run an ad on Instagram even if you
don’t have an account on Instagram – you only need
to have a Facebook business page!
Assign a headline to your ad, though this won’t show
anywhere on your Instagram ad so it isn’t all that
important to spend much time on it.
But what you DO want to spend time on is your ad
text. This is your promotional copy that will determine
the success and level of conversions for your ad.
If you struggle with writing good ad copy, this is
something worth outsourcing!
You also have to remember that Instagram cuts off
your caption (and ad copy) around three lines of text.
So your first sentence or two have to be highly
impactful and valuable to the Instagram user. This intro
to your ad copy should read like a great blog post title or email subject line. Or it should
immediately define the pain points of your target audience. It can be a question, a
statement, or a call-to-action – whatever suits your purpose and the interests of your
One of the most important features of your ad will be the action button associated with
This is the button that people who see your ad will click on to
go to the link you set up in the early steps of your ad
You have a variety of button options to choose from but the
button will default to “Learn More”.
You can click on the drop down option next to “Learn
More” to open the additional options and choose the
button that best describes the action you want people to
For example, if you are promoting a webinar, you could use
the “Sign Up” option. If you are offering a free ebook, you
could use the “Download” option. If you are promoting
services you offer, select the “Book Now” option.
Here are some examples of different buttons in use on Instagram ads:
Complete Your Ad
Before you approve your ad, ensure that you review it in the preview screen for the
Instagram ad option. You can see exactly what it will look like with the image, caption,
and button. If anything needs to be edited, go back and make those changes.
When you’re happy with your ad layout, hit “Place Order”.
You’ve placed your Instagram ad!
You will have to wait for approval from the Facebook ad team to approve your ad and
ensure that it meets their ad criteria. This approval process could take anywhere from
minutes to 48 hours.
I always recommend you plan ahead with your ad placements and upload them to
the ad manager well in advance of your planned campaign time frame.
For example, if you want an ad to start running on a Sunday, upload it to the ad
manager by Thursday or Friday prior to ensure it is approved and processed in time to
start your campaign. If there are delays or your ad is denied, you want to give yourself
enough time to make changes or receive approval before the campaign start time.
How to Monitor Your Instagram Ad
While your ad is running, any notifications on the ad will appear in your Instagram
notifications on your account. You’ll be able to see all the likes and comments you
It’s important that you stay on top of this during the campaign period because you will
receive significantly more notifications than you are used to receiving on your account.
As long as you have notifications in your Activity tab, you can tap on the ad image to
see the ad within Instagram and respond to any comments or otherwise engage.
It is paramount that you follow up with engagement on your ads!
As I have mentioned, this is likely the first encounter people will have with your brand
and you need to set the level of expectation and engagement you represent.
Therefore, respond to all comments and questions directly on the ad.
To view your final campaign results and data analysis, you will need to return to your
Facebook Ad Manager. You can view the final details of the campaign related to your
cost per click, number of clicks, campaign time period, and other results.
The dashboard of your ad manager will provide some details but if you click on the
individual campaign, you can get more specific details.
After the ad campaign is complete and you are
no longer receiving notifications, you will not be
able to view your ad in Instagram anymore either.
You can view the Instagram ad again from within
the Facebook Ad Manager. Click on the specific
campaign to open the detailed campaign results
and you’ll see the ad preview box. In here, click
on the “See Instagram Post” hyperlink.
This will open the ad within Instagram so that you
can see all of the comments and respond to them
or review them again.
While the Facebook ad manager will show you how many clicks you generated, you
want to ensure that you are also tracking the traffic on your website page, the behavior
and conversions from that page, and overall success results of your Instagram
You can also run A/B testing with alternative images, different ad copy, different
audiences, different campaign time frames, and other factors to determine what ads
work best for you and your business.
Have fun and enjoy using Instagram ads to boost your business success!