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The ultimate guide to developing advertising strategies on Instagram

The ultimate guide to developing advertising strategies on Instagram

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Once a place for just sharing photos, Instagram has now become a perfect business platform, ideal for establishing brands’ credibility, boosting sales and reaching out to the target audience. This post uncovers the secrets of how to make Instagram advertising strategies a success story and reveals valuable insider hints and tips on driving sales through the platform.

Why advertise on Instagram

Instagram seems to be made for marketing, and there is a huge earning potential in it. But why is Instagram advertising so powerful? There are several reasons:

Why advertise on Instagram

  • The majority of Instagram users are in the 18-29 age range, most of them visiting the network several times a day.
  • Instagram audiences are used to being advertised and sold to. Thus, one in three stories is from a business and 90% of users follow at least one business.
  • Instagram users are more engaged than users of any other social media, and Instagram ad recall is 2.8x higher than ad recall from all other social networks. 
  • Instagram ads are very similar to regular posts and don’t disturb the audience too much.
  • Instagram ads are visual and, thus, more enticing than text ads. Also, there are a variety of ad formats to choose from.
  • Instagram uses the Facebook advertising platform, so Instagram ads are integrated with Facebook ads and users get the same range of precise targeting options.
  • Instagram is perfect for leveraging UGC (user-generated content) marketing strategies because sharing photos is the point of the site.

Develop your Instagram advertising strategy

What do you need to know to develop a perfect Instagram strategy for business? This post will guide you on developing a killer Instagram advertising marketing strategy and explain how to avoid Instagram pitfalls and drive more sales.

Step 1. Define goals

Goal-setting is the cornerstone of any business. Goals help you map out advertising tactics and strategies and define the types of content you use. Besides, depending on the goal, you’ll have different metrics and KPIs to track and analyze. There are a variety of business goals to hit through Instagram marketing, for example:

  • Increasing brand awareness
  • Growing an engaged business community
  • Boosting brand engagement
  • Establishing brand credibility
  • Boosting conversions
  • Generating new leads 
  • Driving traffic to your website
  • Enhancing customer satisfaction
  • Becoming a leader in your niche
  • Establishing relationships with influencers 
  • Providing effective customer service, etc.

Step 2. Analyze competitors 

Competitor analysis is part of every successful advertising strategy as it always helps grow your business. A competitive analysis allows you to:

  • Discover the gaps in the niche
  • Develop new services and products
  • Boost your revenue
  • Borrow some creative ideas
  • Rule out some ineffective tactics

So, to conduct a successful competitive analysis:

  • Find competitors with niche keywords through such tools as Combin or SproutSocial. Besides, you can find competitors by listening to your followers and exploring hashtags.


  • Analyze their profiles:
    • Check the content for quality and quantity of posts, frequency of publishing, what kind of visuals are used, what topics are most popular, which posts receive more comments and likes.
    • Explore the most common and the most used hashtags and captions.
    • Analyze how bloggers communicate with their audience, how they keep the engagement up and what promotional approaches use. 
    • Identify what’s missing from your competitors’ accounts and what gaps there are to fill in. 

Step 3. Create your follower profile

Step 3. Create your follower profile

To create highly enticing and effective Instagram ads, consider your audience. One of the best approaches might be to create a User Persona, who’d be a reflection of your average user. Try to cover the following characteristics: age, location, gender, income, interests, motivations, pain points, etc.

Step 4. Maintain your brand identity   

To establish trust and an emotional connection with your customers, the key thing is to map out the personality and values of your brand. Cohesive and well-designed branding can help you to:

  • Сommunicate the right message and create the right first impression
  • Boost your brand credibility
  • Make your brand recognizable, etc.

How can you create a strong brand identity?

  1. Make an attractive eye-catching brand logo.
  2. Post consistent visuals using the same filters and color palette throughout your profile. 
  3. Make sure you use consistent themes to create a certain atmosphere and make your profile memorable.
  4. Establish an emotional connection with your audience by telling them about yourself and/or the company, its development story, the challenges you’ve faced and so on. 
  5. Post consistently. This predictability counts towards your success as your followers start to expect and look forward to your posts.

Step 5. Schedule posts

Scheduling posts in advance is beneficial for your business for several reasons:

  • It gives you an eagle eye view on your profile content
  • It frees up a lot of time
  • It helps you improve and plan the visual aspect of your account
  • It increases engagement and helps build your following. 

There are all-in-one Instagram schedulers such as Later and Hopper HQ which help to create visual content calendars, plan your feed and post automatically to Instagram without any hassle. 


There are also tools such as Google Docs, Trello and Co-Schedule which can help you set up an editorial calendar. Tools as ShortStack can help you manage hashtags, comments, run contests and leverage user-generated content. To customize and edit your visuals, make use of programs such as ViralTag.

Step 6. Build following

People use a variety of tactics to build a massive Instagram following including shortcuts such as buying followers or using bots. However, these shady tactics won’t give you any long-term rewards and your account might even be blocked or banned.

Fortunately, there are numerous legitimate Instagram strategies for small businesses and big companies to build a loyal audience:

  1. Use the right hashtags. Make sure you use the best-performing and relevant hashtags as it will help you get discovered and attract new followers. 
  2. Post at the right times. We’ve already mentioned that consistent posting is the key, but it’s also crucial to choose the right timing for your posts, as it can skyrocket the visibility of your content. To define the best time to post, take advantage of scheduling tools, run A/B testing or look for relevant research data in your niche. 
  3. Tag your location to expose your Instagram profile to more potential customers in your vicinity.
  4. Make the best of the “Highlights” feature to tell new visitors about your brand. 
  5. Create engaging content. It is still the most vital thing that attracts new followers. The more compelling and engaging your content is, the more people will follow you and become your loyal audience.
  6. Get your content to appear on the Explore tab. Being placed high on the Explore page can ensure a steady flow of traffic to your profile and a new targeted audience.
  7. Engage with relevant communities. Like posts, leave comments and share content, and people might check your profile and follow you in return. Besides, the more engaged you are, the more exposure you get and the easier you can make it to the Explore tab.
  8. Follow and tag relevant users. If your content is enticing enough, it may encourage them to follow and tag you to return the favor.
  9. Create killer captions. Well-written captions can work miracles for your account.

Step 7. Generate sales

Once you’ve built an engaged following, it’s time to drive sales through the platform. So, what should you do to boost the engagement of your audience, and, consequently, to increase Instagram sales?

  1. Include an enticing call-to-action and a link into your website in your bio.
  2. Leverage branded hashtags to get discovered on Instagram. Besides, after your followers become your loyal audience, these hashtags will give them a chance to showcase your product or service.
  3. Run contests. It’s a perfect way of boosting your following and sales. You can ask users to like your photo, make a repost, send in their emails to win, submit a hashtagged photo.
  4. Harness the power of user-generated content. It is one of the most effective ways to establish brand credibility. Besides, it’s often considered more trustworthy and unbiased than content generated by a brand.
  5. Create Instagram stories with product links. Leverage stories to show what your product is like in real life, demonstrate its features and functions and encourage users to swipe up to shop.
  6. Take full advantage of comments. Responding to comments is a great way to engage with your audience.
  7. Reach for influencers and ask them to review your product or service and share promo codes. Nowadays, people trust personal recommendations over traditional advertising.
  8. Create Instagram-exclusive promotions and advertise them on other social networks to encourage people to follow you on Instagram.

Step 8. Do A/B testing

A/B (or split) testing is essential for Instagram marketing because it allows you to track how successful Instagram ads and tactics are and choose the best ones. Leverage A/B testing to find the best-performing:

  • Content types
  • Calls-to-action
  • Hashtags
  • Imagery
  • Layouts
  • Time to post
  • Target audiences, etc.

Step 9. Track performance

Tracking Instagram analytics is essential if you want to get your business off the ground, build a massive following and generate loads of sales. Instagram Insights is a native analytical feature available to business profiles. You can easily access it through the Insights tab in your Instagram app or on the web with the help of Later. With Instagram Insights, you can:

  • Analyze your audience demographics and behavior
  • Find the best posting time
  • Calculate impressions, engagement and reach
  • Identify the best performing content types
  • Track your following growth
  • Discover specific Instagram Stories metrics such as exits and replies
  • Count the number of views, likes, and comments on IGTV
  • Measure the audience retention stats and the average percentage viewed rate on IGTV, etc.

Tracking all these stats is necessary for mapping out your future performance on the platform and better strategizing. 

Set up an advertising campaign

Once you understand how effective Instagram ads are for various marketing purposes, it’s time to set up a campaign. Let’s have a look at ad types available on this network first.

Ad Types

Instagram offers a variety of ad types you can leverage to advertise your Instagram account or website: 

  • Photo ads. It is the most common ad type and looks almost like a regular post. 
  • Stories ads. You can choose the duration of your Stories ad and target them by reach, video views, traffic, conversions, etc. Ads of this type usually appear between the Stories of two different accounts and have a “swipe up” option. The main drawback of this ad type is that it only lasts for a few seconds and users can’t revisit the ad.
  • Video ads. They can be up to 60 seconds long and feature landscape or square format. The first three seconds determine the success of your video, so make them count.
  • Carousel ads. This ad type shows multiple images of a product or service, thus highlighting the range of products your brand offers. You can use from two to 10 images and/or videos in this ad type.
  • Collection ads help to showcase products or services in a feed. With the help of such ads, businesses can provide visual inspiration to visitors while visitors can easily discover and buy products.
  • Ads in Explore can help you reach out to new target users and get more chances for being discovered.
  • Sponsored ads. These ads appear on the users’ home feed and have a direct link to a brand’s website, e-store or profile. This ad type is especially effective when promoting contests and giveaways.
  • Mapped-Guided ads use tags to direct visitors through a series of posts.

One of the most burning questions a marketer can have is, “how much does it cost to advertise on Instagram?” There are no set costs for advertising on the platform and the campaign price depends on your marketing goals, the gender and age of the targeted group, country, traffic, etc. But, we still can find some estimates, according to Adstage

  • The average CPC is $1.41 per click
  • The average CPM is $7.91
  • The average click-through rate (CTR) is 0.52%.

How to launch an ad on Instagram

  1. Create a business profile on Instagram. A Facebook page is also necessary for running ads on Instagram, so create it as well if you don’t have one yet.  
  2. Link your Instagram profile to your Facebook page by clicking on Instagram Ads in the settings section of your Facebook page.
  3. Create a new campaign through Facebook Ads Manager. For this, click the + Create button in the top left corner of the screen.
  4. Set up your ad campaign goal. You can choose from a ready-made list of Instagram campaign objectives which include: Brand Awareness, Reach, Traffic, App installs, Engagement, Video Views, Conversions. The goals you choose will determine the way your ads are optimized and the amount of money you pay for them.
  5. Create your Ad Set. In this section, you can define your daily and lifetime budget, traffic, placements and audience.
  6. Define your target audience: location, age, gender, languages, connections and more.
  7. Choose your Ad Format and upload your images or videos. 
  8. Add text and links to your ad. Don’t forget to add a relevant CTA (call-to-action) button.
  9. Test your ad campaign performance through Facebook Ads Manager. 

The best Instagram advertising strategies

Though it’s clear that Instagram marketing potential can’t be ignored, it’s almost impossible to predict which advertising strategies are right for your business in advance. Try out as many options as possible to find the approach that works best in your case. If you play your cards right and invest enough time and effort in Instagram advertising, it can bring you many benefits.

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