How to advertise on Instagram

Do you want to learn more about how to advertise on Instagram? Then this is the guide for you.

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If you are a business with a website and an Instagram account, and already get a bit of traffic and good engagement from the social media platform, you may want to think about trying to increase your following. One way to do that is to test some ads on Instagram and see if you can achieve a respectable return-on-investment (ROI) from them.

Here’s my guide on how to get started with creating Instagram ads:

1. Create a Facebook Ads Manager account

As Facebook and Instagram are now owned by the same people, Facebook, you have to go to Facebook Ads Manager to create the ads that show on Instagram. But don’t panic, as you can choose to only advertise on Instagram and can stop your ads from showing on Facebook, if you want to.

It is also worth noting that if you do wish to advertise on Facebook too, it can be a good idea to have separate campaigns for the two anyway, so you can create ads specific to each platform, set budgets accordingly, and easily see which one works better for you.

2. Link Facebook to Instagram

You can link your Instagram account to your Business Manager or connect through your Page’s settings. Either go to Business Settings of your Business Manager account or visit your Facebook page and go to Settings > Instagram and add your account.


3. Add the Facebook Pixel to your site

This is an important step when it comes to tracking and also creating remarketing campaigns. Simply click on Pixels under Events Manager in the top left nav in Business/Ads Manager and “+ Add New Data Source”:


Then name the pixel and check your website for easy set up options – this will show you the easiest ways to implement the pixel, ie. via WordPress partner integration or Google Tag Manager, then follow the step-by-step instructions to add the code and verify that it is working.

4. Create audiences

Once the pixel is in place and working, you can create custom audiences – All Tools > Assets > Audiences from the top left hand navigation. To create a remarketing audience select “Website” and then choose your pixel and then how specific you’d like that audience to be.

A basic catch all audience would be “All website visitors” in the past 30 days, for example:


To create an audience based on demographic go to Saved Audience under the blue “Create Audience” drop down and select options such as location, age, gender, language and detailed targeting. Detailed targeting includes interests, behaviours, job titles, employers etc.

5. Create custom conversions

Creating custom conversions allows you to track important actions taken by people once they’ve reached your site, like completing a contact form or requesting more information, without the need for additional code. You set these up by giving the unique part of the URL seen once the conversion has taken place, like the thank you page for example, and entering that into the URL contains field shown here:

Follow the remaining steps and hit “Create”.

6. Create a campaign

Go to the Ads Manager page and click the green + Create button and choose a marketing objective based on your goals:


If you are looking to attract traffic through to your site, select “Traffic” for instance. If you have a pixel and conversion all set up you may be prompted to choose Conversions. You’ll also be given the option to do a split test experiment or use the Campaign Budget Optimisation tool.

Depending on which option you choose the next sections are obviously slightly different, but you simply complete the stages, being as thorough and accurate as you can. One section is for your audience so you can either select a saved audience, add a previously created custom audience (ie. remarketing), a lookalike audience or create a new audience.

7. Select placements

Now this is where you specify that you only want your ads to show on Instagram. By default “Automatic Placements”, the recommended option, will be selected, but you can choose to “Edit Placements” and just select Instagram:

You can also edit specific mobile devices and operating systems and choose to only show ads to people who are connected to Wi-Fi, if you wish to.

8. Set your budget

Next you can set the budget for your campaign, how you’d like your ad delivery to be optimised and set cost controls, like average cost per landing page view for example. These settings will be recommended depending on what objective you’ve selected and setting a cost control is optional, but advised (by myself):

You can also choose when you get charged, ad scheduling and delivery type.

9. Select ad type, imagery and messaging:

You can choose to create a carousel or single image/video, depending on the assets you have available.

You can either upload new images or look through previous Instagram images and use those. This is the same for video content.

Then you can add text and links to your ads. This is what you see when creating carousel ads, for example:


The headline can be up to 40 characters but may be cut off in some placements – you can use the preview tool on the right to get an idea of how much of your text will be shown.

For more details about image spec etc see:

10. Build tracking URL

When setting the website URL for your ads use Facebook’s ‘Build a URL Parameter’ tool, as shown in the image above, below the URL text box or use Google’s tool ( This is a very important step when it comes to differentiating and tracking the clicks in Google Analytics.

11. Review and Confirm

Once you are happy with your ads and your ad copy, after you have reviewed your campaign, simply hit ‘confirm’ and your ads will go into review.

This is something that can take a little time (“Typically most ads are reviewed within 24 hours”), but once approved make sure you carefully monitor the ads’ performance in both Facebook Ads Manager and Google Analytics. Sometimes the data can differ, so it’s best to look at both.


Hopefully this has given you a starter for ten, but if you need any help and advice, or don’t have the time to set up and manage your campaigns, contact us and we’d be happy to help!

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