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How To Get Started With Instagram Ads

If there’s one person that I can rely on to solve all my toughest tech questions, it’s Morgan. As the Director of Operations for the SBZ team, Morgan owns all of our business operations and online automation systems. She is our resident tech junkie, and truly has a passion for helping small business owners overcome their biggest tech headaches so they can focus on growing their brand. You can find her on Instagram over at @sbzteam. 


Recently, Morgan lent her expertise in an interview with the popular marketing podcast “Agents of Change.” Here are her five must-know takeaways for getting started with Instagram ads.




1. Yes, you really need to be advertising on Instagram

While many business owners view Facebook as the go-to social media platform for advertising, Instagram provides another unique, valuable opportunity to connect with your potential customers. With over 500 million active users, Instagram has invested a significant amount of its resources to better understand how to create an advertising experience entirely unique to Instagram users’ preferences. That means more visually-driven ads that have the potential to instantly capture your audience – the right audience.

2. Keep your content native to the platform

Often, I see business owners who are under the impression that if you create one advertisement for Facebook that means it may not be as effective across your different social media platforms. But as Rachel, our Director of Content Management, tells our clients, you need to create content that makes people want to stop in their scroll.

What does that mean? Focus on making sure your ads are “native” to Instagram as a platform, so the content possesses the same attributes as any of your other Instagram content (good lighting, interesting composition, etc). In this way, people will want to stop, click, and engage. Business owners using Instagram ads should focus on the descriptions. Instagram only gives you 300 characters before users have to click “read more.” Hone in on how you can create a message that’s user-friendly and laid out in a platform that’s scroll-friendly for users.

3. A small budget can still be a big success

Aside from creating the ad content, business owners typically cite budgets as one of the biggest hurdles in their advertising campaigns. You can have success with a modest budget if you spend it wisely. It’s not a matter of sticking to a set dollar amount, but rather understanding your industry well enough to know which targeting audiences will provide you the most significant return on your advertising dollars. I often recommend when you are just starting out to spend 5 dollars a day per ad. This means if you have a small overall budget, say a total of 15 dollars a day, that you are testing 3 different image or 3 different audiences at the same time. From that budget, I could expect anywhere from 15-30 new leads, maybe even more! Not bad for the price of lunch.

When in doubt remember to test, test, test. What I’ve found is that an ad can work differently for every audience, so split test your ads to determine winning creative (that’s the copy and image) is worth it. Conduct the initial market research so you can fully understand not only how much money you’re comfortable spending for a specific lead.


4. Take the time to be engaged in the advertising process

If you’re a small business owner, solopreneur, or small team and you’re getting ready to spend money on ads, make sure you fully understand the process and your budget. Even if you decide to hire out to an expert, be engaged in the process in the beginning so you fully understand the way your money is spent – there are plenty of people out there without the knowledge to do it right. You could end up wasting time, money and confidence in the process.

For those business owners who decide to take the hands-on approach for advertising, be prepared that the time commitment will vary. The time investment required of me prior to launch is significant, because it is a large part of our plan to generate leads.  Once things are set up and running, I’ll spend 30 minutes or so reviewing my advertising metrics daily to make adjustments.  I recommend jumping at least twice a day in the first few days of the campaign to make sure things are working properly.


5. Recognize the importance of targeting 

 One of the biggest mistakes I see with Instagram advertising is business owners who did not spend the necessary time and resources to test their target audiences before they launch a campaign. Business owners are often under the impression that if they target the interests of 10 million people, they’ll somehow root out their ideal audience. Not only does this lead to you wasting your already limited advertising budget, but you also miss your core audience who actually wants to engage with your business.

When running campaigns, I suggest creating targeting audiences that include your desired demographics, and one or two interests or behaviors. That way, when you are testing audiences, you can isolate that interest that does not work for you and not use it again. If you pile on lots of different interests, and the ad tanks, then how are we supposed to know what to eliminate! I’ll give you an example. If you are trying to reach female U.S. based photographers, then my ad set plan would be…

Location: United States, Age: 25-55 , Gender: Female, Language: English (All), Interest: Photoshop

That’s it!

Focus your ad campaigns on your core audience, then you’ll have a true snapshot to understand if your strategy is working or if it’s time to turn it off.

What did you think of this blog? Want more information from Morgan? Leave a comment below! If you are not ready for Instagram Ads and just want to get started with the basics – be sure to grab our Free Instagram Strategy Guide.


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