Instagram and Instagram Ads are the perfect platforms for engaging with an audience that is ready to interact with your brand. Every day, there are more than 400 million active users waiting for you to connect with them.

In fact, it is such an effective marketing platform that out of the top 100 global brands, 90% of them are using Instagram. Other promising insights include an engagement level that is 10 times higher than seen with Facebook Ads. And  84 times than that seen on Twitter.

While Instagram has one of the highest audience engagement rates of all the platforms. It is starting to suffer with a tsunami of content, making it harder for your ads to be seen.

In this guide, we are going to run through the best ways to create an Instagram ad. We will also look at how to manage and run ads on Instagram. Once you realise how easy it actually is, you will be well on your way to marketing success.

Creating Your First Instagram Ad

To start creating your first Instagram ad, you will need to head over to Facebook Ads Manager. As Instagram was purchased by Facebook, this is now where the ad creation takes place. Once you start the process, you will be guided through the campaign level, the ad set level, and the ad level.

If you’re not sure what these mean, the following is a quick summary to help you out.

  • The campaign level is where you choose the objective of your Instagram Ads campaign. 
  • The ad set level is where you will select your placements, budget, targeting, schedule and bidding.
  • The ad level is where you can get creative. It’s where you get to choose what your ad says and what it looks like.

Now you know what to expect during the process of creating your first Instagram ads. Let’s start with a step-by-step guide to help you successfully launch your first Instagram ad campaign.

We are going to try and keep it as simple as possible so that every level of experience is able to follow along.

Choosing Your Objective

When it comes to choosing your objective, Instagram has plenty on offer. These are perfectly optimised for the Instagram news feed and you are able to utilise any of the objectives that appear in the list. These include the following:

  • App installs – for downloading apps
  • Brand Awareness  – targeting users interested in your brand
  • Catalogue Sales – shows ads from your Facebook product catalogue
  • Conversions – encourages registrations, email sign ups and purchases
  • Engagement – encourages likes, shares, comments, offer claims
  • Lead Generation – delivers a lead generation form to users
  • Messages – encourages users to message you
  • Reach – shows your ad to a large audience
  • Store Visits – for real world stores in multiple locations
  • Traffic – encourages users to visit your website
  • Video Views – encourages more views of video content

To choose the best objectives for your Instagram Ads, you first need to know what your goals are. As an example, if you are using a video in your Instagram ad but your aim is to generate leads. Then, you should choose the generate leads objective and not the video views one.

Once you have chosen an appropriate objective. Facebook will then use it to work out which audience your ad will be shown to. By doing this, Facebook is then able to ensure that your ad is optimised and targeted toward users who are more likely to follow through with your desired actions.

Instagram Ad Set level

Okay. So we have now got the objective out of the way. The next step in the process is to start making important decisions. If your objective is to send site traffic to another location. You must first select where you are going to send the users to.

You are able to send them to your Instagram app, your website or Facebook messenger, where they can contact you. One of the best features of using Instagram ads is that you have access to all of the targeting options available on Facebook.

This means that you are able to target users based on their demographics or location. These include the following:

  • Age
  • Education
  • Gender
  • Job title
  • Languages spoken
  • Parental status
  • Relationship status

You also have the ability to be able to further fine-tune your targeting based on your audience behaviors and interests, such as:

  • Bodybuilding and fitness
  • Diet, such as veganism or vegetarianism
  • Dog or cat owners
  • People’s shopping preferences
  • Online shoppers

The list is almost endless. When using the behaviour and interests for detail targeting, you are able to either narrow your audience or completely exclude people. This lets you target your ad to those most likely to engage with it.

If you decide not to target a custom audience. You can use the connections targeting feature to reach your audience. With connection targeting, you are able to select the option to target users who are exclusively connected to you via your page, events or apps.

You also have the option to exclusively target those who are not connected to you via your page, events or apps.

Using a custom audience allows you to connect with users who have previously visited your website or a set webpage on your website within a set time you can also upload a customer email list or targets users who have interacted with content on your site.

When creating a custom audience, you will be presented with five options. These include the following:

  • App activity – create a list of users who took specific actions or launched your game or app.
  • Customer file – upload a customer file to connect your customers with Facebook users.
  • Engagement – create a list of users who have engaged with your content on Instagram or Facebook.
  • Offline activity – manually create a list of users who have interacted with your store through offline channels.
  • Website traffic – create a list of users who visited your website or performed actions using Facebook pixel.

As soon as you have finished creating your custom audience. You are presented with two further options. You can reach users who have had prior interaction with your business using the custom audience setting.

You are also able to choose a lookalike audience. The lookalike audience allows you to reach a new audience on Facebook who are similar to those in your custom audience.

Instagram Ad Placements

Now that we have the bulk of the ad set up out of the way, it is time to decide where your Instagram ad placement will be. As a general rule of thumb, Facebook tends to automatically select placements suited for your ad.

However, if you would like to change the placement, then you need to click on the ‘edit placements’ button.

When you decide to run your Instagram ad as a news feed placement, you can also opt for other placement options alongside it. However, if you decide to run a ‘story ad, ’you are unable to select any other placements for it.

You can opt to run ads for mobile only. But if you do this, you will have to deselect the desktop only ads for them to be displayed.

When it comes to news feed ads, you are able to run them in a variety of other placements too. These placements include side column ads, the Facebook news feed, messenger ads and Audience Network ads.

One of the biggest mistakes that you can make when running an Instagram Ads campaign on Instagram is to only have them display on Instagram. Using a variety of placements can help keep the overall bid costs down.

Consider running your Instagram ads on both Instagram and Facebook for maximum impact.

Ad Budget, Scheduling and Bidding

We are now nearing the end of setting up your first Instagram ad. Before your ad goes live, you need to select your budget. You have two choices available to you when it comes to your budget. These include the lifetime budget or a daily budget.

The lifetime budget is a great way to ensure that you don’t go over your budget limit during the saturation of your ad campaign.

Once you have chosen and set your budget, the next thing to do is decide how long it will run for. You can either schedule a time for your ad to start and end or allow it to run continuously.

It is recommended to give your Instagram Ads campaign a deadline so that you don’t forget about it. If you need to run it for longer, you can extend the end date whenever you want to.

Looking at bidding, Facebook and Instagram ads both work on a bidding system. This means that if you bid more for your ad placement, you are more likely to be shown over your competitors.

You have the option to bid for daily unique reach, landing page views, per 1,000 impressions or clicks. You are also able to place a bidding cap for your ad placement to ensure that you don’t spend more than you need to.

Choosing Your Instagram Ad Format

When it comes to the time to choose your ad format for your Instagram ad campaign. You can choose any one of four options. These are Carousel ads, single image ads, single video ads and slideshow ads.

Once you have chosen the best ad format for your Instagram ad campaign. The final part is where you are required to select your ad copy and the visual components. If you are running your Instagram ads on Facebook too, then you should fill in the headline section.

While this won’t be shown on Instagram, it is a valuable asset when running a campaign on Facebook.

The very last thing to do is to select your CTA button. Choose the CTA that is most appropriate for your objectives. If you want people to contact you, then your CTA button can be for sending a message.

You are now ready for your Instagram ad campaign to go live.

Make sure that you monitor your ads performance through the ads manager dashboard. This will give you insights into how much you are spending and the levels of engagement.

If you have a campaign that is performing below your expectations, you are able to pause it and reallocate funds to use on another Instagram ad.

While we are on the subject of Social Media Marketing, why not check out our recent post about why you should never buy Facebook or Instagram likes. It’s well worth a read and is filled with great tips and tricks for growing your social media accounts organically.