How to Promote Your Business with Instagram Ads

how to do Instagram ads
••• Getty Images/Wieslawa Dunn 

Social media has taken the world by storm, changing the way we communicate with friends and family, get our news, pursue our interests...

The world of business and online marketing, in particular, has been absolutely transformed by online social networks and services like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

Instagram especially is ideal for visually oriented consumers—who have short attention spans—who are surfing online these days. It’s also an app for mobile devices—in fact, that’s the main way users access it.

With more people going online mainly with their Android or iPhone (or tablet) these days, you have to be reaching them with your marketing messages on mobile. Instagram is a great way to do that.

And because it is a low cost and easy advertising solution, it’s a perfect way to for startup online businesses and individual Internet entrepreneurs to:

Instagram can be a very effective marketing channel that you should look into closely to see if it fits with your niche, your industry, and your current marketing practices.

If you learn how to do Instagram ads it could become a vital part of your strategy, fitting in nicely with email marketing, social media marketing on other networks, and other marketing methods you use.

Are your prospects and customers on Instagram? If they are and you’re not… that’s a problem because this platform offers a way to engage deeply with your market, have a conversation, and build relationships that lead to profits for you.

Businesses that are already advertising on social media should do well on Instagram. Of course, at the end of the day, you won’t know for sure until you try. So before you dismiss Instagram out of hand, why not try a test? As you’ll see in a moment, it’s easy—and cost-effective—to give “Insta” a try.

What Are Instagram Ads?

If you haven’t used it before, Instagram is a way to share photos and videos.

Like with Facebook, many people use it as a creative outlet and a way to share beautiful images with friends and family, along with brief snippets of text. You can even use hashtags!

But this functionality also makes it the ideal way to engage with audiences of like-minded people and build your company’s visibility.

Celebrities use it, music artists, Fortune 500 companies, and major brands too. But also regular people and small businesses are flocking to the social network. Some people have even become celebrities, albeit minor ones, with Instagram.

Instagram used to be an independent company. After it’s meteoric rise, it caught the eye of social media giant Facebook, which acquired it in 2012 for $1 billion.

Today Instagram has over a billion users worldwide. Its close relationship with Facebook makes it even more powerful as you can closely coordinate campaigns on both platforms. If you’re already marketing with Facebook, adding Instagram will be that much easier because they are very similar systems for setting up ads and managing campaigns. 

Instagram Story Ads

Instagram story ads are another type of ad you can run on Instagram to reach your target audience and get them to engage more easily with your brand.

Instagram stories are a way for a user on Instagram to see a series of posts (pictures and/or videos) made by a person or business. Once they see the series of posts (stories) the posts disappear cannot be viewed again. Due to the nature of these posts which are quick to view and disappear once viewed they get a high level of engagement on Instagram.

As an advertiser on Instagram, you have to opportunity to have an advertisement for your business inserted right into an Instagram story (this can be either an image or a video up to 15 seconds). If the user wants to learn more about your offer they can swipe on it and be taken to directly back to your website.

Getting Started With Instagram Ads

Creating Instagram ads is an intuitive and easy process. Let’s cover the nuts and bolts. If you’ve created Facebook ads in the past, you’re way ahead of the curve—the process is basically the same.

If not, follow along.

1. Create Instagram Account(s)

First, you must have a Facebook Page for your business to run ads on Instagram. In fact, you could use this page as the “voice” for your ads.

But it’s better to create an Instagram account (don’t worry, it’s free) so that you can more effectively and easily communicate with your followers. Remember it’s that “conversation” with your target market that will make your ROI from Instagram that much higher. Once you have your Instagram account be sure to link it to your Facebook page.

2. Explore, Learn, and Scope Out the Competition

Once you have your account, explore the platform a bit to familiarize yourself with the landscape. See what companies in your niche are posting and what type of ads they’re putting up. 

Click on the ads of competitors and links in their free posts so you can see what happens. Where do the ads take you… what is their marketing funnel like?

You can get some great tips for your Instagram campaigns by finding out what your competitors, who are more experienced in how to do Instagram ads, are doing.

With your Instagram account, you should also start following organizations, individuals, or companies in your niche. Get engaged and start commenting. Get your name out there.

3. Copy Is King

Once you’re more familiar with the platform, you’re almost ready to create your first ads. But first, you want to make sure you have the right messaging.

There’s a saying from the old direct mail days: Copy Is King! Basically, it means that you need quality copy to reach an audience and compel them to take action.

So be sure to exert some effort in this area—don’t just throw any copy in your Instagram ads. In fact, consider bringing in a copywriter to make sure your message gets across.

4. Creating Breakthrough Ads

Instagram ads aren’t free, of course. So you don’t want to waste money on an effort that won’t yield any results. 

By being familiar with the platform, knowing what types of messages resonate with your target market (which you learned with your “opposition research”), and crafting high-quality copy—as well as keeping a close eye on your ongoing campaigns so you can see what works best… you’ll increase the chance of enjoying a high ROI and achieving your marketing goals.

With your first ad, you’ll want to have a very limited campaign and budget to make sure you don’t risk too much. It’s a learning process. Once you become more familiar with how the system works and what messaging is most effective—which you do by testing and closely keeping track of results, you can ramp up your campaigns. Run with the winners!

5. The Nuts and Bolts

As far as actually creating the ads, just log in to your Facebook or Instagram account and head to the Ad Manager. The setup process is step-by-step and easy to follow. 

You’ll be asked to pick options like the goals for your ads, which could be brand awareness, reach, traffic, conversions, app installs, and more. Importantly you can also:

  • Pick your audience you’d like to reach (based on age, gender, interests, and other factors). It, of course, should match your target market.
  • Set your budget and schedule (which helps control your costs and when and where your ads will appear).
  • Choose a format (a single image or video or multiple images).
  • Fill in your creative elements like Headline, Text, and Call to action.

Instagram Ads Best Practices

Once you’ve learned the basics of how to do Instagram ads, it’s time to get more in-depth and make sure those promotional efforts are the best they can be, producing the return on investment you need to make it worth it.

There are several things you can do to make sure your Instagram ads don’t fall flat and get ignored but rather help you reach your lead generation and/or sales goals.

  • Making sure the ads are getting in front of the right audience is one of the most important things you can do. So when choosing the demographics and such—be specific and take the extra time to get it right.
  • Use eye-catching visuals, whether audio or video. Make sure it’s appropriate to your niche market and audience. But never be boring—they’ll stop following you.
  • Your copy must be top notch. Your words have to engage the viewer immediately and compel them to take action NOW.
  • Include an enticing offer and clear call to action so the prospect what they’ll get from you and how to get it.
  • Use hashtags that are popular in your industry and niche. That increases your visibility and leverages trends. 

Get Started With Instagram Ads Now

There’s no time like the present to get started in making Instagram part of your marketing strategy. You can learn how to do Instagram fairly easily. Once you know the ropes and find the approach that works for you, you can boost your use of ads and see a significant return on investment from this innovative channel.