How to Advertise Your Business Effectively on Instagram


If you have a business and you want to a) sell any type of product, b) get people into your store or c) recognise your brand or even know it exists there is really no excuse for you not to be on social media. For businesses, particularly those with physical products to sell, Instagram is the top dog.

Of the world’s 7 most popular social media sites, Instagram is second only to Facebook. With over 1 billion active monthly users as of 2018, the platform is an aesthetically driven platform used to inspire creativity and foster content creation. It is also the social network where product-based business can thrive.

So, how does a business go about Advertising on Instagram?

Step One: Do Your Research on The Platform and Its Users

Despite having a little over half the monthly active users of Facebook, ad spend on Instagram is 23% higher than on Facebook. One of the big reasons for this is the platform’s nature. Instagram is first and foremost a content sharing platform which allows users to post still images (anywhere from 1-10 images at the same time) and videos (of up to 1 minute in length).

With Instagram users uploading more than 100 million photos and videos daily to the platform, it is evident from the outset that the platform shows huge potential for advertising. As a business, you will already know exactly who your ideal target audience is. However, it is also important that you know who Instagram’s user demographic is.

56% of Instagram users in the UK are female, and 85% of all British users were under the age of 45. The largest group of users on the platform are those between the ages of 18 and =24 years old. However, this age bracket is followed closely by 25-34-year olds.

Millennials are the key demographic for Instagram, which is not surprising. This is also a fact that is reflected across the world for the platform. Research conducted by Statista broke down Instagram’s age demographics as follows:

  • Ages 13–17: 57 million (7%)
  • Ages 18–24: 270 million (32%)
  • Ages 25–34: 270 million (32%)
  • Ages 35–44: 131 million (15%)
  • Ages 45–54: 68 million (8%)
  • Ages 55–64: 30 million (3%)
  • Ages 65+: 18.3 million (2%)

Is Instagram Effective?

Of all the social media platforms, Instagram has the highest engagement rate. In fact, a whopping 75% of Instagram users have taken action (form example, clicking through to a website) after seeing a brand’s paid advert.

On the platform, brands who boast over 100,000 followers have grown by 163% in the past two years, while engagement with branded posts is growing at a quicker rate than brands are implementing the platform.

Additionally, visual processed 60,000 times faster by the brain than text, so 40% of users will respond better to your images than they would to a text-based advertisement.

Step Two: Set Up Your Account

In order to advertise on Instagram, you’ll need to have a business account. To do this, first set up a regular personal profile – make sure you still fill out all the fields with your business’ information and not your own.

Then simply click Settings > Account > Switch to Business Account. At this point, it will be recommended to you to connect your business account to a Facebook page. This is something that you should do as it will make it easier to access and use all the business features available for businesses.

Add details such as your business’ category and contact information, and then hit done.

Step Three: Choose the Right Advert

Instagram has five options for advertisers; Instagram Stories, Photo Ads, Video Ads, Carousel Ads and Collection Ads. However, bear in mind that links are not clickable in Instagram copy. For this reason, it may be more worthwhile to choose a traffic-driving type of advertisements, such as carousel or story ads.

Instagram is a platform that allows you to use different ad formats based on your objectives. Each of these objectives has different outcomes that they aim to achieve.

This is very useful for your business as, by learning what the objectives and what they aim to achieve, you can spend your budget as wisely as possible. You will also be able to narrow the focus of your advertising campaigns to meet specific business goals.

For Instagram, the objectives are as follows:

  • Brand Awareness – Promote your ad to users who might be interested in your products/services but are unaware of your brands.
  • Reach – Maximise the number of users who will see your ad based on location and not interest.
  • Traffic – Bring more visitors to your website.
  • App Installs – Encourage more people to download and install your app.
  • Engagement – Promote any offers you’re running and further interaction with your account and posts.
  • Video Views – Increase the awareness of your video content and get more people watching them.
  • Conversions – Get more people to take a specific action on your app or website.
  • Lead Generation – Improves marketing possibilities by gathering information from a potential customer, such as their emails address and who they follow.

Step 4: Look Further Than Paid Advertising

While the paid advertising options on Instagram are a great tool for advertising your business, that does not mean you should overlook your account. By creating content that people naturally want to follow, you are exposing your brand to a host of potential customers for free.

To do this, you are going to need to create content that people want to follow. There are two types of feed content that work well with consumers; ‘behind the scenes’ content and product shots. Your business should also consider using Instagram Stories.

‘Behind the Scenes’

This type of content is best used to show the steps that go into creating whatever it is that your business sells. Whether that be the process of how your clothes are sewn together, how your drinks are bottles or how those books got printed.

Consumers like this type of content for two main reasons. Firstly, it shows that your business is dedicated to its products, processes and consumers and that it is performing to a high standard. Secondly, it gives your business a more ‘human’ feel to it, which will help when it comes to getting consumers engaged with the brand. The more human and relatable your business appears; the more consumers will be likely to engage with it.

Product Shots

Product shots are a great way to show off any unique features of your products. Consumers love to ‘window shop’ online, so, even if that point in time, they aren’t a consumer, high-quality product shots can be enough to get them interested in your business to the point where, in future, they may make a purchase.

Product shots are both simple and complex at the same time. A product shot is simply that; a shot of your product. Simple, right? Wrong. For a product shot to be successful, it must be high quality and well-edited. To do this, make sure you first have the best lighting possible, which means get as much natural lighting as possible.

One of the best ways you can learn what type of Instagram content is successful in your industry or target audience space right now is by studying what other businesses are doing on the platform. While you can’t see their engagement statistics, you can see the figures for likes and followers and can see what people are commenting on the business’ content. From this, you can see what is and isn’t working and go from there.

Instagram Stories

Instagram stories is another great way to get some free advertising. Stories give your consumers and followers quick glimpses into the business. On Instagram stories, you can post photos that last for 7 seconds and videos that are 15 seconds, and these stories stay on your profile for people to view for 24 hours before they disappear.

You can also create story highlights on your profile where you can archive certain stories under different highlights so that people can go through to your profile and view them whenever they want to.

This could be extremely useful when it comes to, for example, new product launches or extensions of existing product lines.

You could also use them to house links to specific posts on your feed (by sharing the post on your story and then highlighting it) or redirecting people to blog posts or product pages (by using the swipe up feature to member and external link).

Buffer, a social media scheduling software, conducted research on company Instagram stories and the researched revealed some interesting, and useful, facts. The research found that between one and seven stories were optimal per day to ensure that most viewers will watch your story in its entirety. The study also found that the best time to post your stories was outside of working hours, as follows:

  • 4 am – 6 am Eastern Time
  • 8 am – 10 am Eastern Time
  • 12 pm – 2 pm Eastern Time
  • 8 pm – 10 pm Eastern Time

The research also noted right now brands aren’t posting to their Instagram Stories daily. However, as the popularity of the platform grows, and businesses continue to see success with the tactic, it is expected that this will change.

About the author

Ashley Lennon

Ashley Lennon is a recent MSc Marketing graduate specialising in Outreach as part of a marketing team in Glasgow. She is also an experienced blogger who owns, a lifestyle and marketing blog. Feel free to check her out on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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