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6 ways to optimize Facebook ads for Instagram

I have never been a fan of Instagram ads…that is until this past June. I’ve always leaned towards Desktop and Mobile newsfeed ad placement, but currently I’m an “Automatic Placements” kind of guy.  In the last month it seems Facebook has tweaked Instagram ads and I’m starting to see promising results. I’m not saying you should put all your eggs in the Instagram basket, but it can’t hurt to add a bit of variety to your ad placements when the cost is so low.

If you’re interested in testing Instagram ads for yourself check out the following tips.

1. Create an Instagram account

Before selecting Instagram for ad placement—you should definitely create an Instagram account. Currently, if you run Instagram ads through Facebook and don’t add an Insta account (as shown below) your user icon on the ad is useless! It’s a dead link and you’re probably losing followers that could be acquired through your ads. Right now you’re still able to get organic reach on Instagram and this might not last long (as we’ve seen with Facebook), so create an account ASAP and learn more about organic promotion here.

Make sure to create an Instagram account!

2. Use your budget to extend ad reach

Similar to what we’ve seen with video ads, Facebook has made Instagram ads cheaper to incentivize usage and adoption. The benefit of lower costs for you is higher reach, which can lead to more conversions (if you’re targeting correctly). Facebook prioritizes the best performing ads, so if your ads are generating good numbers it will be easier for you to win at auction and get the best ad placement and reach (CPMs are usually much cheaper – I’ve seen as low as half price and it’s the same users!). I’m guessing these prices won’t last long, so start testing while they’re still cheap.

3. Make sure you’re using square images

You should use square ad images and videos if you plan to advertise on Instagram, I personally use 1000 x 1000 pixel sized content (the main thing here is that it’s square). It’s also worth noting that the “ad image” style for this platform is different; since I’m using this as an additional ad placement option I don’t normally change the ad image from what I use for t-shirts. However, if you’re planning to invest in this platform it’s definitely worth testing different ad styles (ex. One seller said she gets more engagement from lifestyle images).

Instagram is platform focused on visual quality, so you’ll want to use lifestyle ad images and/or high quality mockup examples (similar to Pinterest style). The most important thing to keep in mind however, is that the product design needs to be easily readable at first glance.

 Example of a jewelry designer who primarily uses lifestyle images
to promote her products on Instagram

4. Take advantage of low engagement costs

As I mentioned, Instagram is an additional placement option so my ad objective doesn’t change; as with other Facebook ads, I would always recommend choosing “Website Conversion” as the ad objective.

However there’s another strategy to consider when advertising on Instagram; run two ads in CONJUNCTION at the beginning of the ad campaign. Use both PPE (for $5 a day for example) to build up social proof on the post AND Website Conversion at the same time. Then kill the PPE ad after you have adequate social proof (I normally spend $5 – $10). This way the post will look more interesting to new viewers because the ad will have tons of engagement already. Then continue running the Website Conversion ad.

This strategy is super convenient right now because I’m seeing lower PPE costs (engagement) when I include Instagram as a placement option. If you want to try this for yourself make sure Instagram is selected as a placement option or select Automatic Placements during ad setup.

5. Consider ad copy differences

Personally, when I run Instagram ads, I use the same copy as with my Facebook ads (simply because Facebook is still my primary advertising channel). But it is worth investigating using different “lingo” and ad copy…especially if you’re planning to do more advertising on Instagram. You may want to say things like “Follow me!” instead of “like and share” for example.

6. Learn from others

Many Internet Marketers click on product ads on Facebook in order to receive more ads in our newsfeed (to see how other sellers are advertising their products)—I would recommend doing the same thing on Instagram. Following other brands and sellers can inspire you and give you new ideas when it comes to creating your own ads and images. You may also see some new advertising techniques (especially with big brands like Nike, Mango, etc.) when it comes to creating videos and GIFs.




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