How to advertise on Instagram: a step-by-step on how to promote your brand on this social media

It's impossible to ignore Instagram when it comes to creating your ads. Learn the step-by-step on how to advertise on this network

How to advertise on Instagram - the image shows some sponsored posts on Instagram

In recent years, Instagram has gone from being merely an image-sharing network to becoming one of the top tools for companies and digital influencers who want to attract visibility and build a relationship with their audience.

But it was only in 2015 that this social media began to allow business profiles to advertise on the platform, making life easier for entrepreneurs who wanted to capitalize on their followers and generate income online.

You should know that joining this group is much simpler than you think.

Just create attractive content that doesn’t disturb the experience of your followers and the audience you intend to reach.

Do you want to learn how to advertise on Instagram? Keep reading our post and check out a full tutorial on the subject plus tips for creating ads that really convert!

A Brief History

Unless you don’t have internet access or live in China, it is virtually impossible not to have ever heard of Instagram.  

But if you are not already on the social media (which is unlikely, since you are reading this post), we created a short summary about Instagram and how it has changed since it appeared in 2010.


Mike Krieger and Kevin Systrom create Burbn, an application that originated Instagram. At the time, the tool allowed you to take photos, check-in and list your plans for the weekend.

In October of the same year, Burbn was redesigned and gained features and a layout that was more similar to the one we know today. With the new phase, there was also a change to the application’s name of the application, which was now Instagram.

With the new format, and more than 20 million dollars in financial support, Instagram obtained over one million users in less than three months of activity, which was an impressive mark, considering that the service was only available for Apple devices.


Apple chooses Instagram as the best application of the year for iPhones; parallel to this recognition, the team of social media developers was working to make Instagram available for Android devices.  


In 2012, the app released its Android version and was purchased by Facebook, in a transaction estimated at 1 billion dollars. It then became part of one of the largest digital conglomerates in the world, which is currently made up of Facebook and WhatsApp.


Instagram surpasses the 700 million active user mark, becoming the fastest growing social media in the world (23% a year). These numbers show why the tool cannot be ignored in any content strategy.

What are Instagram Ads?

Instagram Ads encompass all ads that appear on Instagram. They are an extra tool for companies/entrepreneurs who want to reach their audience while they are browsing the app.

Ads created on Instagram have photo or video formats and from them, companies can advertise their products and create relationships with customers and potential customers.

This content differs from normal posts because of the term “sponsored”, which appears in the upper right corner of the screen, as shown below.

Example of an Instagram ad

What is the purpose of advertising on Instagram?

The company that advertises on Instagram is looking to attract new customers, right? That’s true, but it’s not all!

 An ad campaign can serve a variety of purposes, from selling products to creating a community of engaged followers around your brand.

This goal will determine every detail of your ad: from the choice of text to the targeting.

 Instagram ads can currently be created for the following purposes:

  1. Boost your posts;
  2. Promote your page;
  3. Send people to your website;
  4. Increase conversions on your website;
  5. Get people to install your app;
  6. Increase engagement with your app;
  7. Reach people close to your company;
  8. Increase participation in your events;
  9. Help people obtain your offer;
  10. Get more video views;
  11. Promote a product catalog;
  12. Get registrations for your business;
  13. Increase brand awareness.

Who can advertise on Instagram?

By 2015, Instagram allowed companies to advertise on its platform. But not without performing a few tests first. At first, only major brands like Avon, Nivea, Close-up and Coca-Cola could use the space to place ads.

Nowadays, any company can advertise on the social media as long as it follows Instagram advertising policies. The only requirement is that content advertised by companies is relevant to the public. Ideally, the ad looks like a regular post, so that people can like and interact with it.

How much does it cost to advertise on Instagram?

According to Facebook information, companies that wish to advertise on Instagram have the option of choosing between a daily or lifetime budget, which is a value to be spent throughout the life of the ads.

In most cases, the minimum amount you can spend per day ranges from US$1 to US$5. If you’re starting to advertise now, we suggest that you start with smaller budgets and increase your investment according to the campaign performance. This way, you avoid unforeseen expenses in your business plan.  

Keep in mind that the budget, the type of bid you choose, and targeting will determine how many people will see your ad, and hence, how many people will click on it. Therefore, be careful when creating an attractive ad that is aligned with the interests of your persona at the same time, okay?  

In addition to the option to create your own ads, you can boost an existing publication. In this case, you should give them the same attention as mentioned earlier: When you choose to boost posts try to find a balance between your business goals and the kind of information that may be relevant to your audience.

What are the ad formats allowed on Instagram?

As an image-sharing platform, Instagram only allows certain ad formats. We’ll talk about them below.

Ads with photos

In this format, you use only one image to tell a story about your company, product or simply announce something new.

To create ads with photos, your files must be in .jpeg or .png format. Advertisers have the freedom to use photos made with DSLR cameras, as well as those made from mobile phones. There are no restrictions provided that the image is of good quality.

About photo characteristics:

  • Images should be 1080 x 1080 pixels for square ads, and 1200 x 628 pixels in landscape format (landscape format is a rectangular layout, whose width is larger than the height of the photo) .
  • Selected images must have a minimum resolution of 600×600 pixels.
Example of a photo ad

Example of a photo ad

Ads with videos

Instagram also allows ads with videos. This can be an excellent choice for short-term tutorials about your product.

About video characteristics:

  • The platform allows videos of up to 60 seconds.  
  • As with photos, the size is 1080 x 1080 pixels for square videos, and 1200 x 628 in landscape format.
  • The minimum resolution is also 600 x 600 pixels.
Example of a video ad

Example of a video ad

Photo carousel

In this format, you can create a gallery of at least two and a maximum of ten images and link them into one ad. Under the publication, icons appear showing users that they can view other photos by “dragging” the screen sideways.

About photo characteristics:

  • Images must be 1080 x 1080 pixels for square ads, and 1200 x 628 pixels in landscape format. It should be noted that they must all have the same display format so the ad is well balanced.
  • Photos must have a minimum resolution of 600×600 pixels and a maximum of 1080 x 1080 (in the case of landscape images).
Example of a photo carousel

Example of a photo carousel

Ads in Stories

Since 2016, Instagram has added the Stories feature: images or videos of short duration that disappear 24 hours after being posted. But in order to use this feature, you must check the Reach option as the goal for your campaign.

You can also enter links in stories to direct people to your page. This feature is enabled for verified profiles (those with the “blue stamp”) and business profiles. If your page isn’t in any of these categories yet, visit this link and find out how to migrate.

Stories can only be viewed by people who access your company profile. But they are a very interesting strategy if you already have a relevant amount of followers.

>>> Also read our text on how to attract more Instagram followers.

About the characteristics of ads in the Stories feature:

  • Allows 15-second videos or up to 5-second images;
  • The videos must be in .mp4 and .mov format, and photos in .jpeg and .png format;
  • Photos cannot exceed 30MB in size, while videos must have a maximum of 4GB.

Text specifications

Regardless of the format you choose for your ads, the rules for texts are the same.

If the text is over the image, it cannot occupy more than 20% of the photo. Ad descriptions are limited to 2,200 characters. Our tip is to avoid long texts because in this case, the user needs to click on “More” to read the entire message.  

Step by step on how to advertise on Instagram

For those who already know how to create Facebook ads it will be easier to advertise on Instagram, once the process is the same on both platforms. But if you are just starting out now, don’t worry because with our step-by-step process you will be able to create your ads even without help of a professional.

Shall we?

1st step: Create an account on Business Manager

In order to create an ad on Instagram, you’ll need to have an account on the Facebook Business Manager. If you are already registered you can skip to the second step!

Are you new to the Business Manager?

Go to and click on Create Account. Enter the company name, your name, and your commercial email address. (If you do not have a page for your company, you’ll need to create one to create ads).

Create buseness account screen on Facebook

2nd step: Set up an Instagram account

To advertise through Business Manager, your Instagram account needs to be associated with Facebook.

In the Business Manager panel, click on Instagram Accounts

Business Manager panel screen on Facebook

3rd step: Create you campaign

Still in the Business Manager panel, select the Create Campaign option. Choose the name of your ad group and the goal.

Create campaign - choose name, group and goal screen on Facebook

4th step: Define your campaign budget

Once you’ve created your ad group, you must define the campaign’s budget and placement time. This duration depends on your goal, except for event announcements that are tied to a specific date.  

Payment can be made via bank payment slip or credit card. This information must be filled out when you are registering in Business Manager.

Define campaign buget screen of Facebook

5th step: Target your campaign’s audience

In order for your ads to perform well, you cannot post them to any person, but rather to those users who have shown interest in the subject you cover. Otherwise, you will have fewer clicks and worse conversion rate.

Facebook offers a number of targeting options that can be combined to reach a more assertive audience.

Ads can be targeted by:

  • Age;
  • Gender;
  • Geographic location;
  • Interests;
  • Access devices;
  • Personalized Audiences (who have already visited your website or are on your list of leads);
  • Similar audiences (this is an excellent option for those who want to reach profiles with interests and profiles similar to your customers).

Target your audience screen on Facebook Business Manager

6th step: Change positioning

Facebook currently has the Automatic Placements option where you can post ads that people will see on the Home tab in the Messenger mobile app. This is the network’s recommended setting when creating an ad.

And that’s where an important detail comes in.

You can view the same ad both on Facebook and Instagram; however, we don’t recommend that you do so, because the language on the two networks is quite different.

So if you want to only show your ad on Instagram, you should select Edit Placements and unselect the other placement options.

Change campaign positioning screen on Facebook

7th step: Create your ad

Here, you can create an ad from scratch, following the text/video and text specifications we’ve already mentioned, or select an existing post to boost it on Instagram.  If you choose to create a new ad, choose the ad format (photo, video or carousel) and upload the files.

In the text box, type the description text and click Continue.

Instagram offers several Call To Action options for your ad, such as:

  • Apply Now
  • Book Now
  • Contact us
  • Learn more
  • Buy now
  • Sign up
  • Watch more
  • No button

The choice of CTA text will depend on the purpose of your campaign.

Example of Call to Action

Example of Call to Action

8th step: Review you content and post it

After you create your ad, you have the opportunity to review it for the last time before you post it. Make sure you check how the ad will appear on the different screen sizes. This detail is very important, since those who access Instagram mostly do so via smartphone.

After that, just click Publish.

Congratulations, you have created your first ad! Didn’t we tell you it was simple?

Create ads directly from Instagram

If you do not want to use the Ads Manager, you can create ads directly on Instagram, but to do so, your need a business profile. The creation process on the platform is simple and intuitive. Select the post you want, and click the Promote option.

The publication must comply with the criteria required by Facebook.

Afterwards, just follow the application’s directions.

Measure your results

Once the ad has been posted, the final step of the process begins, which is measuring your results. Only this way will you be able to know if the ads created on Instagram have brought any results to your company and if it is worth continuing investing in this media to advertise.

Facebook already delivers a quite thorough report on the number of clicks on the ad, the cost-per-click, number of likes and comments, which can be very useful in determining if your approach has been well received by your audience.

But to know how much of those interactions have been converted into financial return, you can set up a conversion tracking pixel. The name is tricky, but we have a step by step explanation on how to set up your pixel here .

This tool is critical for companies that want to perform remarketing and impact people who have visited your website but who for some reason have not made purchases.

Tips on how to create a good ad

Each ad serves a specific purpose; therefore, there is no single formula to create them. But you can follow a few tips to create an attractive ad that will also help you achieve good results, either generating income, attracting leads or increasing the visibility of your business.

Choose good images

To get the attention of users, ads must have impact. When we talk about an image-sharing network, such as Instagram, this means good quality, high-resolution photos.  

It is worth remembering that to create good images you do not need a professional camera. The most important thing is to respect the rules of framing and resolution, which make all the difference when it comes to drawing attention in the user’s feed.

Use filters

The Instagram filter feature is there to be used! In addition to making your photos look more beautiful and professional, since you can use them to correct small “defects” in the image, filters are very useful for creating context and transmitting your message.

Consider using #hashtags

Hashtags are used in social media publications to identify the subject that is covered in that post and make the post more fun.  It is composed of a # (pound sign), followed by a keyword. In the case of ads, a good tip is to create your own hashtags, words or phrases that are easily associated to you and your product.

Now that you know how to create an ad, check out our post on how to sell on Instagram to learn other marketing strategies that can be used in addition to ads.

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