Instagram leads the show when it comes to driving sales and engagement. It has the most successful influencers and some of the top campaigns. It’s a stunning platform that appeals to our visual perceptions and an effective tool for small businesses to compete.

But if you’re on Instagram, you already know this.

What you may not know is that the Instagram platform allows a brand of any size the opportunity to compete in a massive digital arena. They can get in front of larger audiences and see engagement off the charts. In this article, we’ll explore using Instagram ads for small business growth.

What Is Instagram Advertising?

Instagram is one of the most populous social media platforms, growing to 2.3 billion active users in 2023, with more than 200 million brands making up that number. Instagram leverages the exciting fact that humans process and retain images 60,000 times faster than texts.

Instagram advertising refers to paying the giant social media platform to post sponsored content on your behalf to increase brand awareness, engagement, sales, and even followership. The goal is to get your content to a targeted and extensive audience than you would typically have with your profile or page.

Why Should Small Businesses Advertise on Instagram?

As a small business owner, one of your goals is to be on top of your audience’s minds as much as possible, making Instagram a perfect place to showcase your brand. Instagram revealed that 81% of Instagram users use the platform to research products and services.

Below are reasons why 200 million businesses and more are utilizing Instagram advertising and why you should too.

Precise Audience Targeting

Instagram ads let you reach a specific target audience group with their strong targeting ability. You can target ad audiences using demographics, location, behaviors, interests, past customers, and people who have interacted with your brand.

Socially Innovative

With an array of features like stories, hashtags, and the marketing possibilities like influencer marketing, and sponsored ads, the platform is constantly rolling out helpful features that aid small business owners in getting the brand visibility they need.

Beyond sponsored ads, you can use regular feed posts, stories, reels, and IG live to advertise your business organically while increasing engagement. Additionally, you can pay influencers with millions of followers to promote your brand and have more prospects.

Better Brand Visibility and Engagement

As of December 2021, Instagram hit 2 billion monthly users. This buttresses why the engagement levels on Instagram are four times that of Facebook. As a business owner, that means a large and diverse population to market your products and services to and better brand visibility and engagement with users.

User-Friendly Interface

The search option offers various filtering options, letting users get precise results for their searches. This and the easy-to-use and user-friendly interface of the platform keep users flocking to the platform.

Organic Website Traffic

When you create your business page on Instagram, you can include your website’s URL as part of your bio. As you engage users on the platform and your following grows, you inadvertently get organic traffic to your website without having to pay for it (except if you choose to).

Boost Sales

Due to the platform’s large user base and increased engagement, running ads helps you get the eyes that matter to your products and services. With increased traffic being sent to high-priority product pages, you can boost your sales of those products and services effectively.

Instagram Shopping

After creating your ads and using the platform to boost sales, you can convert prospects faster by cutting down on the touchpoints prospects need to interact with before becoming paying customers with Instagram shopping.

Instagram shopping allows brands to create a digital catalog on their page where users can learn about their products and services without leaving Instagram. Thanks to this built-in eCommerce feature, you can tag your products in your posts, reels, and stories that lead customers directly to your catalog when they click on them.

In a single post, you can tag between three to 20 products. However, you should exercise caution in your posts, as customers can quickly lose interest if they scroll through too many products in a single post.

The Lowdown on Instagram Ads

80% of Instagram users follow a business, proving that it’s an excellent platform for your small business to be active on. Posting pictures and videos give your audience a glimpse into your work culture, the way your products work, or the faces behind your brand. But if you want to attract new leads, creating Instagram ads is how you’ll drive conversions. But, the social app offers a variety of different ads you can run to achieve specific objectives, so you must know your options.

1. Single Image

The simplest type of ad, a single image (either landscape or square) is used. It’s best to avoid any stock images with these. Authentic photos score best.

2. Single Video

This is a video or GIF that can also contain text and/or links. Video performs higher than still images and is considered dynamic content. The best way to get users to click through is by adding a CTA (call-to-action) button that redirects to your site.


3. Carousel

If you have two or more images/videos, you can create an ad carousel. Users can then scroll through each one. These are best used when creating a “step-by-step” guide or showing a variety of different products.

4. Collection

This Instagram ad is a browsable combination of image, video, or slideshow. Deep links can be added for third-party tracking through integrations like BuzzSumo.

5. Slideshow

These ads are looped and scroll automatically. You can add up to 10 images. Use the Ads Manager for detailed targeting. This enables you to show slides to older devices and remote locations.


6. Instant Experience

This type of Instagram advertising is mobile-only. It’s a post-click experience that can bring a product/service to life. These types of ads can also encourage clicks by using gamification. “Get the ball in the hoop to win a prize.” The idea is you are creating an experience for the consumer outside of a simple ad.

7. Instagram Stories Ads

Most people are familiar with Instagram Stories, but you can also run ads on them. These appear between users’ Instagram Stories in the form of a single image or video. It should be noted that 60% of people turn the sound on when watching Instagram Stories, so don’t be shy to include a catchy tune.

Instagram Ad Campaign Objectives

Before you create your first Instagram campaign, consider your reasons for doing so. There are many objectives and goals when going this route. The Ads Manager allows you to choose the focus of your ads, so you target the right people. Here are the objectives of the different campaign for Instagram:

    • Brand Awareness: This displays the ad to people who might be interested in your business but are unaware of the brand.
    • Reach: Choose this objective when you want to maximize your reach. This includes the number of people who see your ads. It focuses on location over interest.
    • Traffic: This is the objective that helps bring more people to your website or landing page. You are driving traffic with these ads.
    • Lead Generation: This improves marketing possibilities by collecting important customer information like email addresses or social accounts.
    • Engagement: These types of ads help to promote offers and increase audience interaction with your account and posts.
    • Conversions: This objective gets people to take a specific action on your app or website by following your CTA.
    • Video Views: These ads help increase video awareness and viewership.
    • App Installs: Choose this objective if you are promoting a downloadable app.

Tips For a Successful Instagram Ad

When it comes to marketing your brand on Instagram, there are a few rules to follow. Here are seven go-to tips for running a successful ad:

  1. Use high-quality content with clear visuals.
  2. Include a CTA button.
  3. Keep text to a minimum. Let the pics do the talking.
  4. Consider the proper dimensions and orientation.
  5. Use short captions that are to the point.
  6. Hashtag effectively and appropriately.
  7. Always include your branding.

How to Create Instagram Ads

While you can promote your profile posts through Instagram, you have to actually create your Instagram ads in the Facebook Ads Manager platform. Here are a few steps to help you develop and customize a quick Instagram ad:

  1. In Facebook Ads Manager, click “Create” and choose “Guided Creation.”
  2. Choose your ad objective (see above).
  3. Name your campaigns and set up an ad account.
  4. Check details and click continue.
  5. Choose your audience.
  6. Under “Placements” choose “Edit Placements” and select Instagram.
  7. Set the budget and schedule your ad.

If you select a lifetime budget, you can set a limit. That way, your ads never go over a certain amount.

When it comes to social media advertising, Instagram is a great tool. But don’t forget to neglect other channels in your social media marketing strategy. Here are some broad tips to follow when it comes to using social media in your marketing:

Social Media Marketing Tips for Small Businesses

  • Have a budget set aside for SMM and plan your marketing expenditure.
  • Research your audience, and know their preferences, likes, and dislikes to create content that resonates with them. That way, you widen your reach and increase engagement.
  • Decide on metrics to measure for success and track these metrics using analytics for better performance.
  • Use automated response and scheduling to free up time and scale your marketing efforts.
  • Don’t neglect your captions. Make sure your Instagram captions are creative and explanatory when necessary.
  • Decide which social media platforms are important for your business to have a presence on and concentrate on establishing your brand on the platforms. Not every social media platform will be a fit for your business.
  • Pay attention to trends to stay up to date on what people are interested in, and create content that resonates with your audience using trends they will be interested in.
  • Use different content formats for your posts and advertisements: Images, videos, reels, stories, etc.
  • Have a consistent posting schedule to encourage engagement, boost visibility, and improve brand awareness.
  • Use polls, contests, and giveaways to spotlight your audience and customers.
  • Be aware of platform updates, especially new updates from Instagram, as they tend to happen frequently. Being on top of new platform features will ensure you’re able to take advantage of them for your small business.
  • Tap into Instagram Insights so you can understand your audience better and double down on posts and content that have high engagement.

Instagram advertising takes some testing. Pay attention to your metrics and adjust campaigns accordingly. If an ad isn’t working, don’t be afraid to yank it. However, never shy away from paid social advertising. It’s how a small business levels the playing field.

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by Benchmark Team