Instagram Advertising: How to Get Started Fast


For the past few years, Instagram advertising has been growing at a phenomenal rate. As social media visitors lose interest in reading long-form content, platforms like Instagram and Snapchat are winning out with their striking visual content.

Instagram has long been popular with big brands and influencers, and now even small businesses are starting to take advantage of Instagram.

Plus, more and more Instagram advertising options are becoming available for business owners. What do you need to know about this social media tool before you give it a try as an advertising platform?

Facts About Instagram

  • Instagram is the second-most-popular social media platform in the U.S. (Facebook, which owns Instagram, is first).[1]
  • 800 million Instagram users are active on their accounts at least once a month.
  • 500 million Instagram users are active every day.
  • 80% of Instagram accounts follow at least one business.
  • In September 2017, Instagram boasted 2 million advertisers—double the 1 million it had in March 2017.
  • Instagram has the highest engagement of all social networks.[2]

Types of Instagram Advertising

  1. Photo ads can be in square or landscape format.
  2. Video ads can be in square or landscape format and up to 60 seconds long.
  3. Carousel ads incorporate multiple photos or videos—viewers swipe to see the extra images.
  4. Stories ads appear on Instagram Stories in a full-screen, vertical format that’s more immersive than the other three options. According to Instagram, as of September, more than 50% of businesses on Instagram had created an Instagram Story.

How to Get into Instagram Advertising

If your business already advertises on Facebook, you’re ahead of the game because Instagram ads are created with the Facebook platform. If you don’t have a business Facebook Page, you must create one to set up your business profile and start Instagram advertising.

When creating your ad, you can choose from several different types of marketing objectives, including brand awareness, lead generation, and conversion. Instagram uses different analytics to measure your ads’ success based on the objectives you choose.

Next, select your target audience. Like Facebook, Instagram lets you narrowly target your ads. For example, if you’re trying to reach new customers, you can choose your audience based on demographics such as age, gender, locations, accounts they follow, and more.


Want to hit up your existing customers? If you have their email addresses or phone numbers (and permission to market to them), you can create and target ads just to them. You can even target your ads to “lookalikes”—that is, Instagram users who have similar characteristics as your existing customer base.

Finally, set a budget, choose your ad format, and add any images, and decide how long you want your ads to run. For newbies, the easiest way to try Instagram advertising is by promoting posts or Instagram Stories you’ve already shared that got a lot of traction.

Do’s and Don’ts of Instagram Advertising

  • Do create arresting images. Users love Instagram for the beautiful images, so there’s a high bar to make your ad stand out. Start by taking the images that perform best in your regular Instagram posts and using them in your ads. Learn how your competitors are using Instagram advertising, and look for ad campaigns that catch your eye. (Here are some to inspire your Instagram advertising.)
  • Don’t forget a strong a call to action. Instagram provides several options for clickable calls to action: Book Now, Shop Now, or Contact Us.
  • Do use a landing page-specific URL. The URL in your call to action should send users to the landing page for that particular offer. (Make sure it’s optimized for mobile use.)
  • Don’t get wordy. Instagram ads have captions just like Instagram posts, but despite the large character allowance, it’s best to keep them short and sweet to keep focus on the images.
  • Do brand consistently. People should be able to recognize an image as belonging to your brand at a glance. Try incorporating your brand colors or using the same filter for all your photos.

All in all, Instagram advertising is an affordable way to attract new customers and engage with your existing ones. If you’re already using Instagram organically, why not step it up and place a few ads?

Article Sources:

  1. “Who Uses Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn
  2. “The Global Power of Influencers: Introducing the November 2016 Bloglovin’ Consumer Survey

Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky is a contributing writer for Fundera. 

Rieva has over 30 years of experience covering, consulting and speaking to small businesses owners and entrepreneurs. She covers small business trends, employment, and leadership advice for the Fundera Ledger. She’s the CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media company specializing in small business and entrepreneurship. Before GrowBiz Media, Rieva was the editorial director at Entrepreneur Magazine. 

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