Instagram Advertising - How To Launch Your First Campaign

Instagram is my favourite Social Media to use both recreationally and professionally.

Scrolling through sports highlights, cute dog pictures and travel vlogs sure beats the unhinged ramblings littering my Facebook feed, or the scorching, unrelenting cynicism of Twitter.

Clearly I'm not the only one who feels this way.

Techcrunch reported that the Facebook-owned Instagram reached 1 Billion (with a B) monthly users in June of 2018.

This staggering growth stands as a testament to how much fun Instagram is.

Unsurprisingly the APP  has a truly international user base - with over 80% coming from outside of the US. This shows that videos can be engaging in any language - something that cannot be said for tweets.

Additionally, research from Forrester suggests that engagement with Brands on Instagram is 10 times greater than on Facebook.

Instagram is clearly CRUSHING it and as a marketer you really want to be represented.

But how do you get started with Instagram advertising and set up your first campaign?

Let's find out!

Getting started with Instagram Advertising

The first thing to understand is that Instagram is owned by Facebook, and paid campaigns are consequently managed through Facebook's Ad Manager.

Setting up your business accounts

Before we get to Facebook, we first need to create a business account on Instagram. Follow these steps:

  1. Install the Instagram APP on your phone
  2. Set up your account and click on the three bars in the top right corner. Then click on settings.
  3. Scroll to the bottom and click on "Add a Business Account"
  4. Now convert your existing account or create a new one if you'd like to keep the two separate.
  5. Enter your business information and voila you've set up your business Instagram account.

Now its time to connect your Facebook and Instagram accounts:

  1. Follow this link to create a Facebook business page (if you don't have one already)
  2. Follow this guide to set up your Facebook Ad account
  3. Then head over to your business page, click on settings and connect your Instagram account

Brilliant, you should now be able to advertise on Instagram. 🙌

What to know about Instagram Advertising

You are now ready to launch your first Instagram campaign.

Before we get cracking however, let's discuss some ground rules.

  1. Use Instagram as part of your acquisition funnel - The biggest mistake you can make advertising on Instagram is sending users to a cold-faced landing page. Visitors will drop off quicker than you can throw a cookie at them. Nobody scrolling through travel vlogs is in the frame of mind to take out a loan or buy a car. Products and services with a big ticket size will NOT convert on Instagram. That being said, you should absolutely use Instagram as part of your acquisition funnel. Regardless of your ticket size, Instagram is a great place to land soft conversions. Lead magnets work incredibly well and should be used - not to convert - but to introduce them to your service. Then convert using remarketing and email.
  2. Only use creatives optimized for mobile devices - This is an obvious one but is absolutely worth reiterating. Instagram is a mobile platform. People will see your Ad on their mobile device. This means that any text on your Ad needs to be bigger than normal in order to be clearly legible. If you're going to be using audio, ensure that you always display subtitles. The vast majority of people use Instagram on mute.
  3. Optimize your landing page for mobile devices - Once you've dazzled them with your incredible advert, it's time to make a great impression with your landing page. As mentioned previously, this is a great place to provide something of value in exchange for an email address and the chance to remarket later on. Quizzes, calculators, comparisons, and polls work surprisingly well. Instagram (like all Social Media) is meant to be fun. Try to fit in.

How to launch your first Instagram campaign

Now you've got Instagram ready to go and have a first idea of how to leverage it effectively.

Next up, it's time to launch our first campaign. Let's go.

First, head over to Facebook and navigate to your Ad account.

Then click on "Campaigns" and then the green "Create" button.

Now it's time to pick an objective for your Instagram campaign. Different objectives prioritize different metrics and follow different aims. Here is a short summary:

  • Brand awareness - Prioritizes impressions rather than clicks or engagements and helps to spread your brand to new users.
  • Reach - Maximises impressions by showing your ads to demographics which are typically less sought after.
  • Traffic - Maximises clicks by targeting users in your audience with particularly high click-through-rates
  • App installs - Prioritizes audience members with a high download rate.
  • Engagement - Optimizes for comments, likes and shares.
  • Video views - Maximises the number of views your video receives
  • Lead generation - Allows you use lead forms and bills itself as a good B2B acquisition channel (very tricky to get right)
  • Messages - Allows you incentivize users to get in contact with your via Facebook Messenger
  • Conversions - Optimizes for audience members with a higher likelihood of making a purchase
  • Catalog sales - Show ads for products on your Facebook catalog.
  • Store visits - Prioritize users likely to visit your physical location

This should give you a first understanding of what the objectives mean and which fits best with your desired outcome. If you want to learn more about objectives, make sure to check out this handy guide provided by Facebook.

I'm going to prioritize Traffic, but first we should create a campaign ID using the campaign tracker tool.

Keep in mind that "Source refers to where you pay for the Ad.
Instagram Ads are managed using Facebook so that is the source.

I've found using a tool like this to be invaluable in the long run. As the number of campaigns multiplies and new team members enter the picture it's incredibly easy to lose track of what has been done and how effective it was. The campaign tracker tool helps you keep everything organized,

You can use the UTM builder to create a link which provides far more granular data in Google Analytics.

Now it's time to pick your preferred objective and use the Identifier as a name for your campaign.

We're also given the option of launching a split test or budget optimization. I've found that both options make sense with more expensive campaigns (>€500) but for our purposes we don't need either atm.

Click on "Continue" and now we're ready to configure our Ad Set.

How to set up your first Ad Set

Now we're getting to the good stuff.

The first thing we need to do is give our Ad Set a good name.

The temptation is to just write any old thing, but you'll regret it in the long term. Instead I recommend coming up with a naming methodology right away.

Naming your Ad Sets so that they are recognizable in 6 months will be a god-send when the time comes. 

Believe me. You don't want to be in a situation where you've spent €€€ on advertising but can't remember what you've tested because your campaign/ad set names are indecipherable.

Feel free to steal mine:

“Mobile – Instagram – 18-44 – ico checklist video – lookalike LN + PR”

It's a bit of a mouthful but it will help me understand exactly what I was doing, even when the memory of this campaign has disappeared into the ether.

Mobile: Denotes what devices I'm targeting. My Ad Set is only targeting mobile devices.

Instagram: Shows what platform I'm targeting. I'm exclusively targeting Instagram and not Facebook or Messenger.

18-44: Denotes the age group. I'm targeting 18 to 44 year olds.

ICO checklist video: Refers to the type of creative I'm going to be using and what it's promoting.

Lookalike LN + PR: Denotes the audience I'm targeting. In this case I'm focusing on two lookalike audiences.


Next you will be able to choose where you want to drive traffic. You have the choice between Website, Messenger or APP. We're sending visitors to the website.

Dynamic Creatives

This is a cool feature, which allows you to upload a number of images and test multiple pieces of text. Facebook will then optimize the delivery for those combinations that perform best. I've found this to be a really helpful feature that is absolutely worth checking out.


Now it's time to define your audience.

I'm going to be using two lookalike audiences because these have converted well for me in the passed. The original list had a strong affinity for my niche and the lookalike audiences have performed quite well.

That being said, there is nothing wrong with creating a new target demographic.

Simply pick your preferred targeting and make sure to save your audience. If it performs well you can easily reuse it. If it flops you can learn from your mistakes.

Especially at the beginning, it's very easy to over-think this step.

I've literally spent hours crafting - what I thought - was the perfect audience just for it to flop spectacularly.

Don't do this.

Instead, keep your targeting relatively broad and add relevant behaviours as well as interests. Facebook knows a ton about their users and will help optimize the delivery for you.

This approach prevents you from cutting out users who may have been a great fit, despite not fitting a more restrictive targeting profile.

Also keep in mind that smaller audience sizes typically result in higher CPCs.

My audience size looks like this:


This is where you determine where your Ads are shown. I'm going to be going for Instagram users but you can target Facebook and Messenger as well.

Think about your creative and what platforms it would perform best on.

If you'd like to target mobile devices for example, make sure your video, text ad or image is optimized for vertical screens. Failing to do so can have catastrophic consequences for the success of your campaign.

Budget & Schedule

It's time to decide on your budget. If this is your first campaign I would suggest going with €5 per day and letting it run for about a week.

This will allow you to get some meaningful data without breaking the bank.

Here is my budget:

Notice that the ad delivery is set to "Link clicks" by default. When you are charged however, will likely be set to "Impressions".

Click on "More options" and selects "Link Clicks (CPC)" to ensure you only pay when you receivea click on your Ad.

Creating your Ad

This is where the magic happens!

As with our Ad Set we first need to come up with a snazzy name.

Ad Name

Luckily Facebook makes it easy for us.

In the name bar, click on the gear icon on the far right. This will open a dialogue box like this:

Now you can either enter a name or have Facebook create a name from the information provided previously.

As you can see I've picked "Campaign name" + "Ad set name" + "Instagram promo video".

This combination will allow me to pinpoint exactly when I used this ad and what it aimed to achieve.

Once you've found your winning combination click on "Rename".


Previously we connected our Instagram and Facebook Ad accounts. You will now be able to pick the correct Instagram account for your Ads. Your account will be shown on the top left of your Instagram Ad so make sure to pick the right one.


This is where you add your images or videos. Facebook offers a number of templates in case you haven't got anything prepared.

Whether you use one of the templates or upload your own Media, make sure that the visuals have little text on them and produce a positive emotional response.

In my case, I'm trying out a short video ad I made on Promo. You can watch the preview here.

Especially on Instagram, videos have performed significantly better than simple images.


Here you create your Advert.

If - like me - you've decided to go with dynamic ads, you will now be able to combine multiple variations and allow Facebook to optimize your messaging.

The text you need to ad includes:

Text: This can be up to 1024 characters and is displayed under the like, comment and share buttons.

Website URL: This is where you should include the UTM link we built earlier.

Headline: Can have up to 255 characters and doesn't appear on some placements. It's not visible on my Instagram Ad for example.

Call to action: We're paying per click so this is the time to be bold. Don't choose "Learn More" but instead go for something like "Book Now" or "Download". This will help weed out some of the clicks that have low intent.

Display Link: This shows a URL in your Ad. Not required and not shown on some placements.

News Feed Link Description: Provides a description of your service and value proposition. Doesn't appear on some placements - like Instagram.

URL Parameters: You can add additional tracking here. If you've created a UTM link you do not need this option.

Your finished Ad might look something like this:

Now make sure to turn on Conversion Tracking by connecting to the appropriate Pixel.

Now review your ads across multiple platforms and devices for possible errors.

When you're nice and ready click the green "Confirm" button.

Congratulations you just launched your first Instagram Campaign

Wow, you did it!

You just launched your first Instagram campaign. It wasn't quick but hopefully it was educational 🙌

Thank you very much for reading.

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