A Beginner’s Guide to Advertising On Instagram

To most users, Instagram is known as a free social media platform with convenient formats, features, and abilities to share photos and videos with friends and family. As a business, setting up a business profile means having access to additional features, such as running ads and viewing insights on your posts. You do not have to run ads with a business account — Instagram is a great platform to gain and maintain a presence on, reach consumers, and make a profit, even without ads. That said, a business account helps you analyze how well your posts and ads are performing once you begin advertising on the platform. 

Statistics show that 500 million people use Instagram daily, which means being active on the platform is also a key factor in getting noticed amongst competitors. Because this platform is so good at integrating ads and using data to help you target the right audience, the money you put towards advertisements can be worth it!

Why Instagram?

The user experience on Instagram (IG) ranges from viewing IG stories, video reels, the explore page, following hashtag trends, interacting with business profiles, marketplace shopping, and more – which your paid ads can be easily integrated into. Once a photo-sharing app, IG is now used by consumers as like an all-in-one social media platform — it has all of the features of other social media platforms combined into one place (Yes — I’m looking at you Snapchat and Tiktok). This is why IG is one of the best platforms to start on as a business. Instead of paying for ads on multiple platforms to reach your target audience, your business has the potential to reach all the right customers in one place. It’s grown from just a photo-sharing app to one that gives users an all-in-one social media experience and creates valuable connections between users and businesses.

Finding Your Target Audience 

According to IG, over 2 million businesses connect with people on the platform and 90% of people on the platform follow a business/brand. It mainly attracts user demographics of ages 18-34. However, 140 million out of 500 million users live in the United States (compared to Facebook, only 8% of users are in the U.S.). Finding and understanding your target audience is important before paying for ads because it will help guide you in the content you create and become consistent with, and who you choose to target. Being able to attract people in your target audience, gain brand recognition, and effectively advertise all in one place is a key factor that proves IG to be one of the most engaging and visual marketing channels in 2021.


Instagram is the most suitable for businesses looking to target younger generations, such as Gen Z and Millennials, as well as connecting with other businesses, organizations, and influencers who are active on the platform. According to Hootsuite.com, about 36% of B2B decision makers use IG to research new products and services. Whether you are a B2B or B2C business model, paying for ads can be worth it depending on your business, product, budget, and target audience. 

6 Types of Paid Advertising 

  • Image ads
  • Video ads
  • Stories ads
  • Carousel ads
  • Collection ads
  • Explore ads

Did you know that 50% of IG users become more interested in a brand after seeing their ad? Image ads are best to start with as you can use your most appealing photography content to entice viewers to check out your brand and/or product with a single image. Video ads are great for a more dynamic approach that offers a 120 second time-span of eye-catching content but can take more time and effort to produce quality content. Short-clips, such as gifs and animations, work well for video ads. By the way, sponsored videos generate 3x more comments than sponsored images…


IG Story ads are exceptional because you can use images or videos, and they can be so well integrated in the user’s story-viewing experience, making sure your ad is seen. Carousel and collection ads are very similar options and work great for getting creative by using multiple images and/or videos to appeal to consumers. Additionally, Explore ads can be seen through IG’s ‘Explore’ tab, which 50% of IG accounts use. This type of ad can be an image or video and is a great way for consumers to explore new accounts or products. 

Gain Brand Recognition

Being active on the platform (just once a day does the job! or even once a week) and posting consistently as a business is key when before beginning to advertise. A strategy for consistency should be considered for the best, most efficient way to reach your target audience. Having brand recognition through consistency is just the start to getting the most potential out of IG as a business because it’s a highly competitive platform right now — 71% of businesses are using IG in 2021. The best way to gain brand recognition and reach the right target audience is by posting consistently, whether it’s a photo, video, reel, or story, and engaging with you followers. Using features such as Highlights, Reels, or posting on your IG story (best for polls, surveys, and any exposure of your posts) is a great way to gain brand recognition and create engagement as it helps make your profile stand out to new customers, especially when they come across your ads first.

Cost of Instagram Ads

The cost to advertise on the platform depends on a variety of factors. This can include: target audience, competitiveness, time of year, or even placement of the ad. One way to double check your ad cost before paying is by setting up a draft in the Ad Campaign Manager. It’s important to really understand your target audience at this point in order to spend less money for the same quality ad. Another way to run ads is through boosting your posts for engagement. 


For example, your business has already promoted a product in the past by consistently posting and engaging with your followers on IG for a couple weeks. Now you’re ready to pay for more exposure of that product, so you decide to boost one of those promo posts. Once you decide which post to boost and your target audience, the post will now show up on your target audience’s profile as a ‘Sponsored’ post.


It’s not rocket science to run ads, once you get the hang of it. When you know your target audience and the ad format you want to use, you can start running ads with a set budget. With your business profile, you have access to features that can help you target the right people as well.

Summary 

Having an Instagram (IG) business profile gives you insight and user data on advertised or boosted posts, but running ads is not needed in order to gain and maintain a brand presence on the platform. 500 million people use IG and the user experience now ranges from viewing IG stories, video reels, the explore page, interacting with business profiles, marketplace shopping, and so much more than just sharing photos with friends and family. Additionally, gaining and maintaining a presence with your brand on Instagram is vital and plays a role before you start paying for ads. 


Understanding your target audience and if they’re on the platform is important to consider before paying for ads. This platform is suitable for B2B or B2C business models looking to target younger generations, ages 18-34. The best way to create engagement and interaction on the platform is by being active on your account with photo and short video content, which is free! This content can then be promoted through paid ads or boosting posts. The cost to advertise and/or boost your posts on Instagram depends on a variety of factors, including target audience, competitiveness, time of year, or even placement of the ad. However, once you know your target audience, budget, and strategy, it’s not too difficult to run ads on the platform!


If you’re interested in promoting your business on Instagram but don’t know where to start, get in touch with us and schedule a free consultation! We are here to help with any of your marketing and advertising needs! 

Read more about how to advertise on other social media platforms: LinkedIn and Facebook.

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