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How to Make an Instagram Ad

This article will show you how to create an Instagram advertising campaign.

Posted 11 Apr 2019

Instagram ads are an easy and effective way to advertise. The market is there: more than 200 million Instagram users visit at least one business profile per day, and one third of the most-viewed Instagram Stories come from businesses. This article will show you how to set up your first Instagram advertising campaign, including:

  • Creating Instagram ads
  • Instagram ad design tips
  • Instagram ad templates to streamline the process
  • Setting up your Business Manager account
  • Using split testing to evaluate your Instagram ads

What Are Instagram Ads

Instagram ads are paid content that appear in Instagram feeds or Stories. They display a Sponsored icon and usually include a call-to-action button. Text and hashtags appear below the image(s) or video. There are four main Instagram ad formats:

  1. Instagram Story Ads​
    Instagram Story ads can be anything from a single photo to a 60-second video, and are online for only 24 hours. Story ads can be used to deliver information quickly for time limited promotions, flash sales, sneak peaks, or to showcase your brand. This Squarespace Story uses a colorful and engaging GIF to catch users’ attention.
  2. Instagram Carousel Ads​
    Carousel ads are a series of vertical format images or videos that users swipe through. These ads can highlight multiple products, tell longer stories, or explore a concept more deeply than single image or video ads.
  3. Instagram Photo Ads​
    Photo ads appear in the feed and include a call-to-action button. Instagrammers expect beautiful visual content, so it is essential to use high-quality images.
  4. Instagram Video Ads
    Video ads are a great way to capture users’ attention. They can be up to 60 seconds long and are usually square.

Top Tips for Creating Instagram Ads​

1. Understand Your Target Audience​

Instagram advertising lets you create a profile of your target audience, and will only show your Instagram ads to users who meet that profile. Think about who you want to reach with your ad. If you are new to advertising, you will learn about your audience as you create ads and evaluate their effectiveness (more on that later). Instagram ads cost money, so you want to ensure that your budget is spent on reaching the most relevant users. To do this, build an audience profile based on the following traits that you can target when you create your campaign:

  • Location. Target users based in specific cities, regions, or countries.
  • Demographics. Narrow your audience by age, gender, and language.
  • Interests. Target users based on apps they use, ads they click and accounts they follow.
  • Custom audiences. Advertise directly to users whose email addresses or phone numbers you already know, or those who have interacted with your Instagram page.

2. Refine Your Message​

Knowing what you want to accomplish with your Instagram ad is a key factor in determining your messaging. Using the metrics provided by Instagram, your objective will be based on one of the following goals:

Awareness is about increasing your reach and getting your brand seen. This is the most popular advertising objective on Instagram, so if this is your goal, your Instagram ad will need to be very memorable in order to be effective.

Consideration targeted ads drive traffic to your site, increase app installs, and generate leads. These ads are intended to collect information from potential customers using CTAs and to encourage users to send you messages via Instagram Messenger.

Conversion-based ads drive sales and work best when paired with a coupon or special offer. Note: If you want to get people to visit your brick-and-mortar shop, select the Store traffic subheading in Business Manager to only target users who are local to you.

When developing your message, you should think carefully about the tone and voice of your ad. Casual or formal? Warm and engaging or bold and daring? Different messaging styles resonate with different audiences, so your ad should be tailor-made for the people you’re trying to reach. Choosing the right messaging to best support your campaign objective starts with some assumptions about who your audience is, and these can then be refined through split testing, which we will cover shortly.

3. Develop a Winning Creative​

Once you have a sense of who your audience is and what you want to communicate, you are ready to develop your ad creative. Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Top-performing Instagram Story ads are under 10 seconds, so keep it short.
  • Messages should be easy-to-understand. Use strong visuals, like contrasting colors, vibrant backgrounds, and captions to emphasize key messaging.
  • Audio matters. Most Instagram Stories are viewed with the sound on, and ads with music rank higher in the feed.
  • Consistency helps reinforce your messaging. For example, 60% of the top brands use the same filter for each post to create a recognizable brand aesthetic.
  • Hashtags should be three words or fewer, easy to read, and easy to type. Unique branded hashtags help increase engagement.
  • Attention is a precious commodity, so showcase your brand in the first three seconds of video.
  • Use a professionally designed template. These are a great way to achieve winning creative, quickly and cost-effectively. Placeit offers a vast range of Instagram ad templates, such as this Giveaway Template—just swap out the image, text, and CTAs for your own.

Envato Elements and Envato Market are also great resources for Instagram ad templates to get you started—check them out to find powerful Instagram ad templates that are ready to customize.

4. Sign Up for Business Manager

To upload your creative, sign up for Facebook’s Business Manager. This tool will take you through the steps that should look familiar by now: uploading an Instagram ad, choosing an objective, and targeting an audience.

5. Split Test Your Instagram Ads​

You can split test any element of your Instagram ad to find out what’s working and what’s not. To do this, you create almost identical versions of the same ad but with different variations of a single element, such as different hashtags, CTAs, ad formats, visual types (image versus video), headlines, and more. Then, see how each iteration of your ad performs. The information you gather can be used to improve future campaigns.

Then when you set up your ad through Ads Manager (in Business Manager), toggle the Create Split Test radio button to set up multiple ads and test them against each other. Tip: It’s best to test one ad element at a time, so you can hone in on what is most effective with your audience.

With the strategies and tools covered in this article, you have everything you need to create your first Instagram ad. For further inspiration, check out the Best Instagram Image Templates and visit the School of Instagram for more Insta tips.

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