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Instagram Advertising 101

Find out how you can leverage advertising on Instagram.

With 400+ million users using Instagram every day and with a potential audience of more than 1 billion people from all over the world, Instagram advertising is definitely a key tool for marketers.

Exactly a decade later, Instagram has come a long way from starting as a photo-sharing app to becoming a powerful platform that increases meaningful connections, engagements, and conversions for businesses.

What are Instagram ads?

Instagram Ads are a way for businesses to advertise themselves, of course, through images and visual content on Instagram. Instagram Ads are posts or stories that may also include a call-to-action button to drive traffic or conversions.

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Ever encountered an Instagram post on your feed with a “Sponsored” label just below the account username? Well, there you have it — an example of an Instagram Ad.

More and more marketers are running towards Instagram to lay out their digital advertising campaigns and initiatives. While that seems like a no-brainer considering Instagram advertising’s success over the last couple of years, it’s important to note that the key to using Instagram Ads effectively for your brand is to get to know the users of the platform.

Managing Instagram Ads

The best thing about Instagram is that as much as there are so many ways for you to put the word for your business out there, you can buy, run, and track ads on Instagram in 3 different ways!

Within the app

The easiest way to run ads is by promoting posts you've shared on the Instagram app itself. You can easily do this by selecting the post you want to promote, and then be able to track the results immediately.

Ads Manager

Ads Manager, available on desktop and mobile, uses the same powerful advertising tools as Facebook. You can set up, make changes, and see results for all your Instagram campaigns, ad sets, and ads in one place!

Instagram partners

If you're short on time or in need of additional help, find an Instagram Partner to help you with everything — from setting up ads, to managing a business’ Instagram community, and creating and sourcing content.

Who uses Instagram?

Knowing who Instagram users are is synonymous with understanding who your potential audience is, and how to craft compelling, effective campaigns for them.

Age Demographics

Millennials take center stage as Instagram’s largest user base, followed by Gen Z. Here’s a detailed breakdown of Instagram users from a global perspective:

  • 13-17 years old at 7%
  • 18-24 years old at 29%
  • 25-34 years old at 34%
  • 35-44 years old at 16%
  • 45-54 years old at 8%
  • 55-64 years old at 4%
  • 65+ years old at 2%

statistic_id398166_instagram-user-share-in-the-united-states-2020-by-age-group

🚻 Gender Demographics

Globally, more women are using Instagram compared to men, specifically with 52% female and 48% male users.

Currently, there isn’t a more detailed breakdown than “males vs. females” if you’re looking for more in-depth data on gender demographics. 

🗺️ Location Demographics

As of July 2020, the United States is the global leader in active Instagram users with a whopping 130 million users

Some countries are continuously seeing massive growth in Instagram users day by day. Here’s a top 10 list of the countries with the most Instagram users:

  1. United States – 130 million users
  2. India – 100 million users
  3. Brazil – 91 million users
  4. Indonesia – 73 million users
  5. Russia – 51 million users
  6. Turkey – 42 million users
  7. Japan - 35 million users
  8. Mexico – 29 million users
  9. United Kingdom – 27 million users
  10. Germany – 25 million users

Given the statistics above, can you just imagine your potential reach among audiences if you run your very own Instagram ads?

Why advertise on Instagram?

Instagram is one of the fastest-growing social media platforms — which you probably already know at this point. How is this relevant to your business? With the app’s massive audience growth, you will be able to reach people who matter most to you and meet business goals at the same time.

Make your ads reach the exact audience you want by using the app’s precise targeting options based on user location, demographics, interests, behaviors. And most importantly, meet your business goals by:

  • Driving awareness for your business, product, app, or service.
  • Having potential customers learn more about your products or services.
  • Increasing product sales, mobile app downloads, and even visitors to your brick-and-mortar store.

Targeting example Instagram screenshot

Types of Instagram Ads

Instagram gives your businesses 7 distinct methods for advertising: 

1. Image feed ads 

This is the most standard ad format, and likely the most common type of ad that users see when scrolling through their feed. Image feed ads are single images that will appear as a native experience — or ads that don’t feel like ads — when executed well.

Technical requirements:

  • File type: jpg or png
  • Maximum file size: 30MB
  • Minimum image width: 600 pixels
  • Image ratio: 4:5 minimum, 16:9 maximum
  • Text length: 2,200 maximum (for optimal results, stay below 90)
  • Number of hashtags: 30 maximum (you can add some more in the comments section)

2. Image stories ads 

Image stories ads are a lot like image feed ads, except that they are for Instagram stories!

Screenshot Insta story image ad

Technical requirements:

  • Image ratio: 9:16 recommended
  • Minimum image width: 600 pixels

3. Video feed ads 

Get the same visually immersive quality as photo ads — with the added power of sight, sound, and motion. Best part? You can share videos up to 120 seconds long in landscape or square format!

Screenshot of Instagram story ad

Technical requirements:

  • Video resolution: 1080 x 1080 pixels (at least)
  • Maximum file size: 4GB
  • Video ratio: 4:5 minimum,16:9 maximum
  • Video duration: 60 seconds maximum
  • Video captions: optional
  • Image ratio: 4:5 minimum, 16:9 maximum
  • Text length: 125 characters maximum recommended
  • Number of hashtags: 30 maximum (you can add some more in the comments section)

☝️ Pro Tip: If your video is not meeting the above requirements, you can always run it through the video transcoders (like Handbrake) to make necessary adjustments.

4. Video stories ads

Instagram stories are the place to be to find users who expect to see videos, so the “selling” part of advertising your brand, service, or product doesn’t feel as forced.

Technical requirements:

  • Video resolution: 1080 x 1920 pixels (at least)
  • Maximum file size: 4GB
  • Video ratio: 9:16 maximum
  • Video duration: 15 seconds maximum
  • Video captions: not available

5. Carousel ads

The carousel ad format allows you to choose from up to 10 scrollable images within a single ad, each with its own link. Exciting part? Videos are also an option!

yardgames insta ad

Technical requirements:

  • File type: jpg or png
  • Maximum file size: 30MB
  • Minimum image width: 600 pixels
  • Image ratio: 4:5 minimum, 16:9 maximum
  • Text length: 2,200 maximum (for optimal results, stay below 90)
  • Video duration: 60 seconds maximum
  • Number of hashtags: 30 maximum (you can add some more in the comments section)

6. Collection ads

Collection ads include a swipeable carousel-type of images that will allow your audience to browse your products without having to leave Instagram. 

Collection ads Instagram details

Image Source: Instagram

☝️ Pro Tip: Have your images and videos linked to your website or your product pages to drive eCommerce purchases.

7. Ads in Explore 

Explore is one of the best places for people to discover, shop, and connect with people, businesses, and creators alike. It's usually where people go when they want to see photos and videos related to their interests (specifically from accounts they are not yet following).

Getting Started With Instagram Ads

Getting started on your Instagram ads is pretty quick and easy! As mentioned above, Instagram uses Facebook’s powerful advertising tools. This means that you can set up, run, and track campaigns the same way you do with Facebook ads! 

If you're new to advertising on Instagram, here are 4 simple steps to get you started.

1. Switch your account to a business profile

First things first — make sure to switch your regular account on Instagram to a business account. With a business account, you can:

  • Get real-time metrics on how your stories and promoted posts perform
  • Get insights into your followers and how they interact with your posts and stories
  • Add specific information about your company like business hours, location, and contact number

Your business must have a Facebook Page to switch to a business profile.

2. Set up your ads

You can set up your ads in two ways: through the app or Ads Manager. If you prefer to do it in the Instagram app, select a post you’ve already shared and just tap Promote. On the other hand, identify your ad objective, target audience, and ad format in Ads Manager. 

☝️ Pro Tip: To set your ads as effectively as can be, you first need to figure out your campaign goals — and it’s important to note that Instagram ads only work for the following goals:

  • Brand awareness
  • Reach
  • Traffic
  • App installs
  • Post engagement 
  • Video views
  • Conversions

3. Determine your budget and ad schedule

There is no single answer to the question of how much Instagram ads cost. Many factors will impact the overall cost of your Instagram ads, including: 

  • Targeting,
  • Ad placement,
  • Type of ad, and
  • When you decide to put out your ads.

The good thing is, most especially if you’re not well familiar with running ads, you have complete control over whether to pause or stop your campaign at any time if you feel that your budget is not being properly allocated.

4. Publish

Once you’re set and your ads are ready to go, it’s time to hit publish. Expect a notification when your ads are approved and ready to run.

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