Neil Patel

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5 Tips to Launching Your First Paid Instagram Marketing Campaign


eMarketer found that social networks are almost reaching an advertising saturation point, with 88.2% of US companies using at least one major platform to reach their target customer.

There’s one social media platform whose number of active users has risen quickly and currently stands at 400 million. Yet, only 32.5% of US companies (with over 100 employees) use it for marketing purposes.

I am talking about…


The visual social media platform gets the highest actions from the customer (almost three times that of Facebook and Twitter).


Nanigans found that 31% of advertisers using their ad automation software were spending on Instagram. And, this was just a couple of months after Facebook opened Instagram’s ad API.


I’ve personally spent over $57,000 on Instagram, to build my personal brand.  And, I continue to experiment with it.

If you haven’t started advertising on Instagram yet, but you’re considering it, then in this article will help you. I’ll share 5 tips to help you gain competitive advantage. Here goes number 1.

1. Let your ad resemble organic Instagram content: Don’t push the sale, be subtle with your branding

Spending money on Instagram does not give you the liberty to use blurry images or heavily feature your brand’s logo.

The Facebook 20-percent text rule also holds true on Instagram. Many brands get greedy and try to force their marketing message – occupying more real estate than 20%.  And, their ads end up getting rejected.

Facebook states this rule clearly, on their advertising policy page:

“Images that are zoomed in on logos or images with text overlay are not allowed. We will also not allow images that are clearly edited to include text on the product as a loophole to policy.”

You can use the grid tool to check if your photos comply with Facebook’s advertising policy.


Instead of using text overlay on your photos, you can share accompanying text in the caption.


Next, your ad should look like organic content on Instagram – imagery that is authentic, high-quality and has natural lightning.

For example, look at the Calvin Klein sponsored post below. It’s a high-contrast image that will fit naturally with other content in a fashion lover’s Instagram feed.


If you want your show your brand personality, don’t hog the limelight by placing a huge logo in the image. Instead, strike a balance with a brand element that’s recognizable to your audience – like your signature color.


Finally, follow the following image composition basics and other aspects for crafting high-quality content.

Comply with the rule of thirds and symmetry when taking your image. Check out Emil’s 10 composition tips for creating stunning Instagram photos.


Keep only a couple of focal points in your image (including one brand element). Making your image complex or too busy will only confuse your audience. Don’t even think about messing around with borders.


Clean, high-resolution and detailed images are the bare minimum for success on Instagram. There’s no place for pixellated images.

If your images are related to your target audience’s real-life situations, then you’ll drive a higher CTR.  92% of consumers trust user-generated content (UGC) – content created by the users of the platform, not brands. So, think of creative ways to incorporate UGC in your ads.


Your audience might get bored, if they keep seeing the same creative. Try telling a story with a series of images around a central theme. Set moods, using different filters.


2. Carefully choose your ad format/purpose and ensure that you don’t violate any advertising guidelines

If you’ve ever advertised on Facebook, then Instagram won’t be completely new territory for you. The platform currently offers 3 types of ads (along the lines of Facebook).


  • Photo ads (equivalent to Facebook’s link ads) – Allow businesses to tell their brand’s story with beautiful imagery (the recommended image size is 1080 x 1080 pixels in square or landscape format). You can also add a CTA to your ad and drive people to your website.
  • Carousel Ads (similar to Facebook’s carousel ads) – Instead of one image, a user can swipe through multiple images. Businesses can use this additional layer of multiple images to promote closely related products with a single campaign and ad copy.
  • Video ads – Ads that allow businesses to leverage up to 30 seconds of audio and motion (the size limitation is 30 MB). But, these ads don’t allow call-to-action buttons yet, so they are primarily helpful in increasing your brand’s awareness.

Videos have seen a tremendous adoption on Instagram and can significantly increase your engagement. Lululemon’s 3 clips drove over twice as much engagement as their 14 photo posts.


In all three types of ads, the caption for your Instagram ad will appear below the picture and it can contain up to 300 characters of text. It’s advisable to not put your website URL in the caption text field, as it will not be clickable.

You can use these ads to fulfill any of the following objectives.

  • Clicks to your website,
  • Downloads of your mobile app and increase in your engagement,
  • Generation of video views,
  • Increase the reach of your posts and mass brand awareness.


Additionally, scan through the Facebook advertising policies and Instagram community guidelines, to ensure you aren’t breaking any rules.

3. Use the powerful targeting capabilities of the Power Editor by integrating Facebook with Instagram

This is a favorite aspect for many marketers – the ability to access Facebook’s data and advanced targeting options in your Instagram ads.

If you’re eligible for Instagram ads, you can seamlessly integrate Facebook’s Power Editor with your Instagram account. Here’s how:

i. Log into Business Manager >> Business Settings >> Instagram Accounts.


ii. Key in your Instagram account details.


iii. Assuming you already have a Facebook Ads account (I show you how to create one in this article), you’ll get an option to link your Instagram account to your Facebook ads account.


Note: It’s not necessary to connect your Instagram account to Business Manager for accessing Instagram ad placement. But, it’s advisable to connect them. Otherwise, you won’t be able to respond to comments in the comments section. And, instead of your Instagram account, your Facebook page will be displayed in a grayed out manner (not clickable).

iv. Now you need to locate the Power Editor link, under ‘ad accounts.’ If you’ve already set up Power Editor, you’ll see the Instagram Ads welcome screen.


Once you click on ‘Create Campaign’, you can get started creating a new Instagram campaign and choose an ad objective.


You’ll be taken to the Power Editor – where you can set your daily spending limit (by clicking on, ‘View Ad Set’ and also where you can configure your ad audience).


You can set your ad targeting similar to Facebook Ads Manager and choose your ad placement. If you want to exclusively advertise on Instagram, then un-check all of the other options.


Next, you need to configure your bidding and how much you’re willing to pay, per ad result. Choose the type of delivery – standard (show your ads throughout the day) or advanced (show your ads as quickly as possible).


Once you’ve configured your ad, you can create a new ad and upload/submit it to Facebook. You’ll see new Instagram ads in your Ads account.


It’s recommended that you run ads on Instagram and Facebook, simultaneously. Your ad placement on both social networks will be optimized, based on your chosen objective (like getting clicks to your website). And, you can even use the same creative on both platforms. If you want to use different creatives, then read Facebook’s recommendations here.

MVMT Watches ran ads on Facebook and Instagram, simultaneously, to scale their campaign quickly and reach their target audience. It helped them achieve a 20% lower cost per conversion.


Men’s lifestyle brand, Kanui (based in Brazil), also tested Instagram ads, alongside their Facebook ads, for their mobile app install campaign. They were able to generate a 2.8x higher return on ad spend.


4. Find large Instagram accounts in your niche that do unpaid shout-outs or accept sponsored posts

Did you know that Foundr Magazine acquired 10,000 followers in 2 weeks and half a million real Instagram followers in six months?

That’s an amazing feat for a non-celebrity.

Foundr didn’t shell out a large sum of money. Instead, they leveraged the ‘social aspect of social media’ – they partnered with large Instagram accounts and did a S4S (share for share).

You reach out to influencers and ask them if they are interested in sharing your content, in exchange for you sharing theirs. This is mutually beneficial, as both of you get exposure to each other’s audience.

Sometimes, you won’t even need to share their content. A simple shout-out in the caption will do.


This mindset of collaboration over competition is extremely beneficial for anyone wanting to increase their Instagram following.

You can find informal shout-out groups that contain Instagrammers ready for a mutual exchange of value. Such groups (or Instagrammers) might use Kik, Slack, GroupMe or regular Facebook groups, as a way of connecting.

The most important aspect for success with these unpaid shout-outs, is that the other Instagram account must have similar reach – so that both sides benefit equally. Here’s an example of a Foundr Magazine and Rich20Something partnership, where they had a similar amount of followers.


If you’re just starting your Instagram account or want to grow quickly, you’ll need to shell out dollars and do a paid shout-out campaign.

Let me show you how it works:

You’ll reach out to accounts that have huge number of followers and receive great engagement. You’ll pay them a token amount (up to $100) to promote your account.

Foundr spent $100 on shout-outs in their first two weeks, helping them reach 10k followers. They recommend that you negotiate with large account owners to add a call-to-action (like following your Instagram account) in their shout-out.

I’ve personally paid $75,000 to Instagram account owners with a huge following (including celebrities, rappers, singers and models) to keep my ad posted on their feed for 3 hours. And, I ended up making $332,640.

UWheels has generated over a million dollars, by paying popular celebrities and models to promote their products on Instagram.


UWheels and I took help from Jessica Killings for recruiting large Instagram accounts.

You can also partner with influencers to conduct contests. That is what I did initially – partnering with models and lifestyle accounts to announce my giveaways. I ended up getting about .2% of their followers.


Generally, if you find an email in the bio of an Instagram account, they probably accept sponsored placements. Additionally, I’ve shared a couple of methods for finding these popular accounts in a previous Instagram marketing article.

5. Convert your followers into email subscribers with a powerful CTA

While building a huge following on Instagram will help spread your brand awareness, you need to convert them into email subscribers to generate business results.

Instagram does not allow any live links in your photo captions or comments.

So, the most important link that you need to leverage is….

The bio link.

It should be short, simple and memorable.


You can also track how many clicks and conversions this bio link receives, by using to create your custom URL.


Foundr was able to generate 15k – 30k subscribers every month, through this bio link. The reason is that they provide a relevant and value-adding resource to their audience. Moreover, their landing page is mobile-friendly.


And, in the captions, they reinforce the value that their audience will receive by clicking on their bio link.


Here, you can check out Foundr’s detailed breakdown on how they have built their Instagram sales funnel to generate opt-ins and conversions.


As per a Shopify report, an Instagram user’s average order value is second only to Pinterest.


I can personally vouch for the commerce that you can derive from Instagram. So, instead of relying solely on organic reach, I would recommend that you shell out some bucks.

Try Facebook and Instagram ads together. Or, search for large Instagram accounts and be ready to conduct paid shout-outs. These are great strategies to grow rapidly.

When conducting a paid campaign, remember to follow the Instagram ad guidelines and ensure that your ads look like native Instagram photos/videos.

Ultimately, you have to try to create your own Instagram sales funnel, like Foundr did, to reap long-term benefits.

Have you launched a paid Instagram marketing campaign? Do you have any other tips for a first-timer?

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