An Introduction to Instagram Ads

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Leveraging Instagram Ads for your social media marketing strategy is a great way to build your brand’s awareness and display your products. People come to Instagram to follow their passions, from travel and fashion to food, entertainment and everything in between. And those passions extend to brands, with 80% of Instagrammers following a business today.

Instagram, like Facebook, makes it easy to create any ad you want while giving you an audience of over 800 million active users. Beyond its large audience, Instagram allows you to reach specific groups of Instagram users you want to connect and engage with while converting them into customers.

Benefits of Advertising on Instagram Ads

Increase Visibility and Brand Awareness

One of the hardest things about social media is being able to have your voice heard. Cutting through the millions of voices on Instagram is difficult but advertising your business is an effective way to do this. When you boost a post as an advertisement or create a sponsored story, your ad will appear within a user’s feed or story without feeling out of place.


With Facebook’s purchase of Instagram, this means you can use the exact same advertising system on Instagram. Facebook has a powerful targeting ability where you can specifically target your audience’s location, demographics, interests and more. You can even target certain devices or audiences who have previously interacted with you.

Drives Traffic to Your Website

With any type of Instagram ad, you have a range of call-to-action buttons you can add to your posts. Whether it’s “Learn More”, “Contact Us”, or “Book Now”, you will always have the opportunity to drive traffic to your website, ecommerce shop, or specific product page.

Another way Instagram helps to drive traffic to your website is with your bio. By adding a link in your bio, you’re making it easy for users to visit your website with just one click. This can sometimes be overlooked, but it’s one of the most valuable ways to drive traffic on your Instagram profile.

Types of Instagram Ads

As Instagram ads are quickly evolving, businesses now have the option to not only increase brand awareness but to also, increase website visits and offline sales.

Instagram offers five ad formats. Each ad type can be shown in users’ Feed and Stories offering a seamless experience.

With each ad, Instagram offers different types of call-to-actions that can help you increase lead generation and increase conversions.

Stories Ads

Instagram Stories is one of the most popular features on the app and is used by 500 million users every day. Instagram Stories ads are full-screen ads that appear between a user’s regular stories. 

Instagram Stories ad for Facebook for Business.

You can make creative Stories by uploading a photo or a video that lasts for 15 seconds. Stories expire after 24 hours so they’re perfect for sharing limited-time offers and promotions. Don’t forget to add your call-to-action button. You can choose from: Apply Now, Book Now, Learn More, Contact Us and more.

Photo Ads

Since Instagram is all about sharing your photos, Photo ads are one of the most common types of Instagram ads you’ll see. Photo ads are ideal for showcasing a product or service. They can also be used to tell a story or advertise a special promotion.

Photo ad from NBA Canada advertising a free fantasy basketball game called Pick 'Em Primetime Picks

Photo Ads will appear seamlessly into any feed to make it feel like a normal post. Like any Instagram ad, you can add call-to-action buttons including: Apply Now, Book Now, Call Now, Contact Us, Learn More or Sign Up.

Video Ads

Video ads are becoming more effective in attracting a bigger viewer rate than other ad types. In fact, time spent watching videos on Instagram is up more than 80% year over year. Video ads can be anywhere from 30 to 60 seconds and can include a call-to-action.

Slideshow Ads

Slideshow ads are similar to Video ads in that they appear as a video in a feed. These ads consist of up to 10 still images that play as a video, like a slideshow. With Slideshow ads, you can text and audio to tell a story or showcase your products.

For example, you can show off a physical product in a slideshow ad. You could also show multiple styles of the same product or different products using a short duration per image to grab attention.

Slideshow ad showing 5 different bottles of juice

Slideshow ads are perfect for reaching people with slower internet connections because they use less data than video ads. With Instagram’s targeting options, you can choose to show these ads to people with older devices or slower connections.

Carousel Ads

Carousel ads are great if you want to show more of your product in one ad. This format allows you to upload more than one image or video, up to 10 to be exact, where users can view by swiping through. It can be used to tell a story, highlight multiple features of a product, or showcase multiple products.

Instagram Carousel ad from Winners showing multiple products like t-shirt, shorts, and running shoes

The Carousel format can support a variety of businesses and needs. Advertisers can use it to showcase real estate, services, events, products, and more. With each image or video, you can add links to different landing pages while giving your audience more options.

Related Content: Facebook Ads: A Step-by-step Guide

Instagram Ads Tips

Switch to a Business Profile

Before you start to advertise on Instagram, make sure you have an Instagram Business Account. You want to have this account separate from your personal account so that followers can contact your business just as they would from your website. By creating a business profile, you’ll be able to access all of Instagram’s and Facebook’s advertising tools.

Plan Your Posts

Start creating a list of things that you like from other posts you’ve seen. Also, think about your audience and what they will like to see. You can save these posts and use them as inspiration.

Then you can create a content planner, like the one below, to organize what and when content will be posted. You can include the date of when you want the content to be posted if it’s going to be a photo or video and more.

Content Planner

Use Free Instagram Tools

There are two important tools that will help you create and track your ads: Facebook Mobile Studio and Instagram Insights. Both are free and are designed for businesses who may not have a dedicated media department.

Facebook Mobile Studio is a resource filled with apps and tutorials to help you create great mobile ads right from your phone. Focused on the DIY approach, Facebook Mobile Studio provides step-by-step guides, a content planner and creative app recommendations to start creating ads.

Instagram Insights is an analytics tool that gives you data on your follower demographics and engagement related to your content. This information is important so you can compare content, measure campaigns, and see how your posts are performing. Instagram Insights is only available with a business account so make sure you’re using one for your company.

Post at the Right Times

Maximizing your views and engagement is important when you’re posting content. Think about your daily routine of when you’re using Instagram and think of other people’s routines, as well.

You may want to post something early in the morning around 6:00 AM EST from Tuesday to Friday. This generates some of the highest engagement because the first thing that people tend to do is check their phones when they wake up.

You can also post again later in the day around 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM EST during the weekdays. This is around where most people have lunch or need a break from work and have some extra time to check their phones.

On weekends, it may be best to post on Saturday around 11:00 AM EST. Again, thinking of a person’s routine, this is when people eat brunch or hang out with their friends and have more time on their hands.

Instagram global engagement chart
Source: Sprout Social

There is no hard and fast rule to the time range of when to post. It is important to consider how each of your posts are performing and adjust your schedule based on your insights.

Final Thoughts

Instagram is one of the largest social networks in the world, which means it offers many different advertising opportunities. Being able to leverage Instagram for your social media marketing to promote your business and products can lead to bigger brand awareness and increased leads. To get started, you need to decide which ad formats work best for your objective and what you want to advertise. Just remember that you need to understand who your audience is, always look at your statistics and Insights, and constantly test which ads work for you.

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