How to Advertise on Instagram Effectively

Posted on January 7, 2022 | Updated on February 16, 2023

Since Instagram ads are a hot topic these days, many business owners wonder how to advertise on Instagram successfully. In most recent reports, there are over one billion active users, making Instagram the leading platform for visual content. The social network offers endless opportunities for digital marketers to reach their target audience.

When you’ve exhausted your Instagram advertising efforts, it can be pretty frustrating to learn that your advertisements aren’t achieving the results you desire. Without knowing what makes an ad work and what doesn’t, you may just throw money at marketing and never realize if it achieves the desired results.

Several factors can help set your Instagram ads apart to enhance their performance. 

Why Instagram Advertising Is Effective

Instagram is known for having the most engaged audience. According to research, Instagram’s engagement is 10x higher with brands than Facebook. Since Instagram is heavy on visual content, users tend to recall your brand more when they see a sponsored advertisement on Instagram.

In addition, Instagram ads are insanely targeted and give you the power to control where your ads appear and who can see them. The other part that’s left up to you is how much you intend to spend, where to send people when they click on them and who they should reach.

Instagram ads are beneficial because the platform is easy to use, has scalable pricing and robust reporting. New business owners can start on a shoestring budget and invest more as the company grows.

One of the single greatest advantages of advertising on Instagram is that it gives you the ability to reach thousands of users — without interrupting their browsing experience. No annoying popups. When done correctly, an Instagram ad looks like any other story in the feed.

Types of Instagram Ads

Here are the various types of Instagram ads you can consider for your ad campaign:

  • Video ads can be one minute long, and the footage must be in square or landscape format. 
  • Photo ads contain a single image in square or landscape format. These are the easiest to create since you only need one photo.
  • Carousel ads include 2-10 videos or pictures for people to swipe through. 
  • Stories ads are similar to Snapchat and allow businesses to share visual content in their stories. You can either use videos or images for advertising in your stories.
  • Collection ads appear as a video on a user’s feed. However, they use a series of still images to play video slideshow. Additionally, you can add audio and text to your Instagram collection ads.

6 Actionable Tips on How To Advertise on Instagram

To succeed with Instagram advertising, you need to pick the right content. To learn how to advertise on Instagram, here are five tips to consider.

1. Communicate Your Brand Story

Every chance you get, each Instagram ad image must tell a story. Think of how your Instagram ads fit into your overall marketing strategy. Your photos need to have more context and should be strategically cohesive.

With that in mind, consider the details, including lighting, captions, hashtags and overall context. Details matter and influences your audience’s perception of your brand’s ad images. You’ll want to create a consistent brand image by using similar colors, lighting, placement and captions.

2. Try To Blend In

When creating your Instagram advertisement, you should aim to make your content look as natural as possible. If the post screams ad, you should strive to bring some value for the viewer. Why should they pause and view your story instead of just swiping on to the next story in the que?

For instance, when users scroll through their feed, your ad should look like the content they normally see from the people they follow. If your ad looks like an ad, it’s not going to be as effective. Understanding your target audience helps ensure you create attractive ads that speak to your typical buyers.

You want to avoid placing text over the top of the images. Ads like this stick out because of the words on the image. However, it’s always more efficient to test it out first because it depends on your audience’s preferences. 

An ad image with text over it may not always be ineffective, and sometimes the results may surprise you. That’s why it’s always important to run A/B testing to see which Instagram ad is performing the best.

Try to think of what type of content people like on Instagram. Often, it involves excellent photography with an aspirational meaning and communicates that in the caption and hashtags.

3. Get Inspiration From Your Organic Content

Look into the types of organic content that have worked well for you in the past. You can use this same content for advertising on Instagram.

Empower consumers by offering them enough information to make an informed decision. Around 40% of customers wait longer than they did the year before to buy something from a vendor they’ve encountered. They research and weigh options more than in the past.

What are your buyers’ pain points? How can you tap into these concerns with your content and answer their questions?

You can even offer value with photos. Consider what types of Instagram images your customers react well to when you publish content. Which posts get the most engagement?

Understanding excellent content and your buyers is a great starting point when creating Instagram advertisements.

4. Keep Your Instagram Advertisements Simple

Suppose you own a product shop and promote it on Instagram. Advertising one product and linking directly to the product’s URL is the most effective method.

Measuring how successful each ad is becomes easier when you look at number of clickthroughs and sales and hold it up against money spent. Your return on investment (ROI) should be enough to justify the time, effort and expense of any ad.

You’ll find many different metrics for calculating ROI. Know your goal for your ads and choose the formula that makes the most sense for the results you’d like to see. Repeat the ads that are successful with high ROI and replace the ones that aren’t.

Use as little distraction as possible. Have a singular focus for each ad. When you make your ads complicated, this tends to push people away.

Your objective should be to sell each product in the most straightforward approach. Even when you use carousel Instagram ads, it’s imperative to make sure each photo links directly to the product you’re selling. Don’t give users the opportunity to scroll on without engaging.

5. Leverage User-Type Content

Make a clever Instagram advertising strategy by analyzing what big brands are doing right. You should also consider what you can do better than them.

Get inspiration from successful companies and use your branding to formulate the most effective Instagram ads. The best method to build a successful campaign is to study what others are doing well.

Some of the other top ways that big brands use Instagram ads efficiently includes the following:

  • When it comes to visual marketing, it’s all about authenticity. It’s critical to make your images look natural instead of staged. So, ensure you use candid photos.
  • Pictures with people, especially with faces, tend to work best. Who doesn’t love selfies?
  • Simplify the buying process by starting an Instagram shop if you haven’t already. This provides more accessibility to the products you sell.
  • Influence engagement by incentivizing participation. 

While you never want to copy another social media creator, you can gain inspiration from other people’s ad campaigns. If they have a similar audience, the types of ads that work for them will likely work well for your business, too.

Rather than repeating what a competitor does, seek out non-competitors with similar audiences. For example, if you sell wedding cakes, you might check out what the local bridal boutique and flower shops do to attract new clients.

6. Design for Mobile

Around 4.76 billion people use social media in 2023. Your Instagram ads must be formatted so they respond well to those using the app from their smartphones or other small screen devices.

Consider how quickly people swipe when engaging with Instagram posts. Will your ad catch their interest or will they move on? Think about the amount of text and other elements you include. The goal is to get them to click on a link or follow you and not to pause and read massive amounts of information.

7. Balance Use of Sound

Although the majority of users turn their sound off when scrolling through social media, a small percentage still leaves it on. Use every opportunity to show your brand’s personality and grab user interest.

Find a song, words or some other device that ties into your ad. How can you get your message across in a second or two? Something as simple as, “Get our best discount ever” can draw browsers to your site.

However, also keep in mind that a talking head might be irritating to someone who has their sound muted. Balance the need for sound with the need for silence and come up with an ad that perfectly meets the needs of both types of social media users.

Is the Effort Worth It To Advertise on Instagram?

When done right, Instagram advertising can have unprecedented benefits. However, for your Instagram campaigns to be successful, you must understand your audience and learn how to reach them.

It’s vital to use images that will resonate with your audience. Keep researching, testing and experimenting. Success on Instagram is not always guaranteed. Yet, with the right strategy, Instagram can be an effective advertising platform for many businesses.

About The Author

Eleanor Hecks is the Editor-in-Chief of Designerly Magazine, an online publication dedicated to providing in-depth content from the design and marketing industries. When she's not designing or writing code, you can find her exploring the outdoors with her husband and dog in their RV, burning calories at a local Zumba class, or curled up with a good book with her cats Gem and Cali.

You can find more of Eleanor's work at

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