As a business owner, you already know how important it is to have a presence online. While you may have already set up a website, uploaded plenty of content to your blog feed, and established a loyal following on Facebook, it may not be enough to grow your business and increase your bottom line.

In general, you’ll need to do one of three things to increase your revenue. You’ll have to attract new clients who are willing to buy your goods or services, you’ll need to motivate your existing clientele to purchase a greater number of your products or services, or you’ll have to figure out a way to do both.

One way you can increase your chances of doing both is to advertise on Instagram.

Are Instagram Ads Right for You?

Even if you have an Instagram account for your business, you may be wondering if advertising on the popular social media platform is the right move for your company. If you’re doubtful about the reach of Instagram ads and how they might be able to help you grow your business, consider the following statistics:

  • Since the social media site launched Instagram Ads in 2015, the platform has been directly responsible for over one billion user actions
  • 63 percent of US advertising agency professionals expected to use Instagram Ads to promote their clients in 2016, representing a 34 percent increase over 2015
  • 60 percent of Instagram users claim that they learn about goods and services on Instagram
  • 75 percent of Instagram users say they take actions after they see a post on Instagram
  • Compared to the norms for online advertisements reported by Nielsen, people are 2.8 times more likely to recall an ad they saw on Instagram
  • TrackMaven examined nearly 27,000 brands across industries on Instagram and reported that they saw a median average of 100 percent growth in followers from 2015 to 2016

Asos Instagram Example

Example of an Instagram campaign run by British online fashion and beauty retailer, Asos

While those stats may be all the motivation you need to start advertising on Instagram, it’s important for you to understand that businesses in certain industries may have more success with their Instagram ads than others. As a general rule, companies in industries that relate to the most popular topics discussed on Instagram are better positioned to get a positive response to their ads.

According to a Facebook survey of 11,000 Instagram users between the ages of 13 and 24 years-old located in 13 markets, the most popular topics discussed on Instagram include the following:

  • Fashion and beauty
  • Food
  • Television and movies
  • Hobbies
  • Music

The list just provided isn’t meant to be a comprehensive list of the things that people talk about most often on Instagram. And it’s also not intended to discourage you from using Instagram Ads if your business isn’t related to the topics included in the list. The list is merely offered as a sign that you need to ensure that your expectations regarding Instagram ads are realistic based on how often your industry and topics related to it are discussed on Instagram.

Targeting Your Audience

Instagram Ads uses Facebook’s advertising platform. This means that Instagram Ads makes it easy to target the very specific groups you want to view your ads. It also means Instagram Ads is incredibly versatile and easy to use even if you’ve never created an online ad before.

If you’ve decided that you want to use Instagram Ads to grow your business, it’s time for you to get started. There are five platforms you can use to create and manage the ads you make for Instagram, the Instagram app, Facebook Ads Manager, Power Editor, Facebook’s Marketing API, and Instagram partners.

The Instagram app and Facebook Ads Manager are the easier platforms to use and one of them will probably be your best choice if you’re just starting out with Instagram Ads. Power Editor and Facebook’s Marketing API are the preferred choice for people who want to create large batches of advertisements for Instagram at once. Instagram partners are professionals who will buy and manage Instagram advertisements at scale, create content for Instagram on behalf of your business and engage with your Instagram followers.

Whether you’re like most marketers and you use Facebook Ads Manager to create your Instagram ads or you use another platform, there are some general steps you’ll need to take in order to create an advertisement successfully. Here is an overview of what you’ll need to do to make an Instagram ad:

  • Select a Marketing Objective: Even though Facebook Ads Manager gives you eleven to choose from, you can only select one of eight objectives to create an ad for Instagram. Here are the eight objectives you can choose from: brand awareness, reach, traffic, app installs, engagement, video views, lead generation, and conversions.
  • Give Your Ad Campaign a Name: This step is pretty self-explanatory. After you choose your marketing objective, you’ll need to give your ad campaign a name. Make sure the name you come up with is descriptive and attention-grabbing without being misleading.
  • Identify Your Audience, Placements, Budget, and Schedule: As we mentioned earlier, you can define your audience with great precision when you’re making an advertisement for Instagram because Instagram Ads uses Facebook’s advertising platform. Here are just some of the characteristics you can use to define your audience: location, age, gender, language, demographics, interests, behaviors, and connections.

Tasty Creamery Example

Example via Instagram for Business.

You can even target Instagram users who have an existing relationship with your business. You can target people who’ve actually bought your goods or services and/or those who’ve only interacted with your business online without buying anything.

Creating Your Ad

After you’ve identified your audience, you’ll need to decide where you want your ad to appear. If you’re using Facebook Ads Manager, it will automatically be set to show your ads on both Facebook and Instagram. If you only want your ads to appear on Instagram, you’ll need to manually deselect Facebook.

You have two choices when it comes to setting your budget, daily or lifetime. A daily budget is the average amount you’ll pay for your ad to appear on Instagram or Instagram and Facebook each day. A lifetime budget is the total amount of money you’ll pay to run your ad over the course of its lifetime.

You also have two options for your ad schedule. You can run your ad continuously until you pause it or you exhaust your lifetime budget. Alternatively, you can schedule your ad to start and stop running on specific days at predetermined times.

If you don’t want to create an Instagram ad from scratch, you can use an existing post as your advertisement. Whether you make a brand-new ad or you’re using a pre-made post, you’ll have the following ad formats to choose from:

  • Carousel Ads: A carousel ad consists of two or more images or videos that viewers can scroll through.
  • Single Image Ads: A single image advertisement is exactly what its name implies – an ad that consists of just one image. If you use this format, you can make a maximum of six ads that have one image apiece.
  • Single Video Ads: A single video ad is an advertisement that has only one video or GIF in it.
  • Slideshow Ads: A slideshow ad is a video add that loops up to 10 images and has music. Slideshow advertisements are similar to carousel adds except they scroll on their own and include more images and music.
  • Instagram Stories Ads: This format is relatively new and hasn’t been rolled out in every market yet. If you don’t see it in your Facebook Ads Manager, it might not be available in your area just yet. Instagram Stories ads show up between the stories Instagram users create. These ads can take one of two formats, single image or single video.

Sonic Instagram Example

Sonic Drive-In ran an Instagram campaign during Coachella in 2016 to offer festival goers square shakes on demand. 

Tracking Your Ad’s Performance

To know advertising on Instagram is the right move for your business over the long-term, you need to keep track of how your initial ads perform. Like it is for your Facebook ads, data related to your Instagram ads can be found easily in your Facebook Ads Manager.

When you’re in your Facebook Ads Manager, you can switch between your campaigns, ad sets, and individual ads. This makes it easy for you to compare how all of them are performing individually. This capability will help you determine what Instagram users are responding to most powerfully, which will enable you to make even more compelling ads, sets and campaigns as you move forward.

The reporting table you’ll see in your Facebook Ads Manager will show you meaningful metrics, such as the results each ad has produced, how much each advertisement costs and how much you’ve already spent on your ads. If you want to see even more detailed KPIs for a given ad, set or campaign, all you have to do is click on its name.

Businesses That Have Used Instagram Ads Successfully

If you’re thinking about using Instagram Ads to promote your company’s goods or services, it can be beneficial to look at some businesses that have used the platform successfully. Here are just a few of the businesses that have enjoyed success with Instagram Ads:

Pura Vida Bracelets

Pura Vida Bracelets

After commissioning 400 bracelets from local artisans during a trip to Costa Rica and selling them in a boutique shop in 2010, Griffin Thall and Paul Goodman formed Pura Vida Bracelets. In more recent years, the entrepreneurial duo has used Instagram Ads to promote their business. More specifically, they’ve used value-optimized carousel ads to increase their online sales, lower their cost per consumer action, and increase their return on ad spend by 200 percent.



Gaia was started in 2011 as a streaming subscription service that provides conscious media content exclusively to loyal subscribers who are looking for personal growth and spirituality. Since it was started, Gaia’s library has grown to include more than 8,000 original pieces of content, which include films and documentaries. Through Instagram Ads, Gaia has used storytelling and consumer targeting to increase its ad conversion rate by 21 percent, increase its ad efficiency by 37 percent, and lower its cost per acquisition by 13 percent.


Hutch Instagram Example

Hutch is an interior design app developer that has used Instagram Stories to motivate people to download and use its app. Since it started using Instagram Ads, Hutch has seen a 49 percent drop in its per install cost, a 10 percent increase in its click through rate for its Instagram Stories compared to other online ads, and an enviable conversion rate of 81 percent.

Feeling inspired by these successful Instagram campaigns but don’t have the resources to create your own photo or video-based ads? Contact a digital marketing agency near you. They can work with you every step of the way so your business can run Instagram campaigns that convert audiences into buyers and brand advocates.

Leilani Wertens Headshot
Content Manager at

Leilani is an established digital marketing professional, fine art and editorial photographer, and journalist. She has over 10 years of experience writing, editing, and publishing content for the web.