ByOctober 5, 2016 2 Comments

Instagram recently reached 500k advertisers on the platform, which is sure proof that Instagram has well and truly become a place for business. But with so many advertisers already in situ, how can you create advertisements that stand out and get your business noticed amongst the masses?

We Facebook Live’d on this subject – check it out!

If you’re just starting out, never fear! Being new to advertising doesn’t mean you can’t create amazing, effective Instagram Ads.

These 3 smart steps will show you how to do just that:

1. Getting started with Instagram Ads

There are 2 options for creating and editing Ads for Instagram. You can either use Facebook Ads Manager or Power Editor.

Ads Manager is great because you have the option to download the App for iOS and Android: it is the easy option for small businesses and smaller scale marketers. You can access Ads Manager here.


Power Editor is a tool designed for advertisers who need to manage multiple Ads at the same time. It’s more of an advertising suite and can be found on desktop only, here.


2. Selecting creative for your Ad

a) Image, Carousel, Video or Slideshow?


Reasons to choose photos (single image or carousel)
Organic looking photos work best for this type of advertisement. It’s important not to forget that Instagram is all about using high-quality images that blend together to look consistently good, so be careful not to make your ad look too much like an Ad. Your image should be beautiful above all else! So don’t push your products, don’t over-brand your images, and remember: if you nail the photo, you nail the Ad.

Design recommendations for images:
Image size: 1,080 x 1,080 pixels
Your image may not include more than 20% text
Caption: text only, 125 characters recommended

Technical requirements
Minimum resolution: 600 x 315 pixels (1.9:1 landscape)/600 x 600 pixels (square)
Caption: text only, max. 2,200 characters


You can barely tell this Ad from @the_greengallery is a paid Ad. The creative blends perfectly with usual Instagram content.

Reasons to choose videos (or a slideshow)
A multi-clip video is a great way to showcase many quality images at once. If you have lots to show or if it is relevant to your brand to showcase your work through clips: depicting a tutorial or a recipe for example, with steps to follow. Bear in mind that a video must be understood even if the sound is off, or users will quickly lose interest.

Design recommendations
File type: .mp4
Caption: text only, 125 characters recommended

Technical requirements
Caption length text: text only, max. 2,200 characters
minimum resolution: 600 x 315 pixels (1.9:1 landscape)/600 x 600 pixels (square)
minimum length: 2.5 seconds maximum length: 60 seconds
Your thumbnail image must not include more than 20% text

b) Creative relevance & Best practices

Should the content I publish resemble the offer or should I go for something eye-catching? This is the great dilemma of social advertising. You want great results but don’t want to wrongly manipulate your audience into clicking on your Ad. As we saw earlier, Instagram is particular about the types of images that are in ads, because they are passionate about keeping the native look and feel of Instagram throughout.

The main thing you’ll want to bear in mind is that the image or video you choose should properly represent the offer you’re promoting. If you’re selling software, don’t use a picture of a cute kitten just to get clicks – this will backfire.

Avoid this:


Prefer this:


>>> If you want to find out which type of creative works the best, look no further than Iconosquare & HubSpot’s Essential Ads guide! <<<

c) Refine your Ad’s look

Tools like Canva can be life savers when designing the perfect image for an Instagram Ad. Free Stock and paid images are available as high quality backgrounds, as well as great text templates. You seriously can’t go wrong with this tool!


3. Creating your Ad

a) Understanding objectives

The first and foremost priority is to determine what you want your Ad to achieve. Whether you’re looking to increase traffic to your website, get more engagement on your Facebook posts or generate new leads for your brand, the campaign objective is the essential key to getting the job done.

If you decide to advertise exclusively on Instagram, there are eight objective options:


The choice of objective should match your overall business goals. Think: “why do I need this Ad?” If you’re still unsure, a good “test” objective is always the “Clicks to website” option – easily trackable and quantifiable, though the least specific of them all.

b) Next steps for your Ad

Once you have chosen your campaign’s objective, you can begin designing your Ad. Select a photo or a video from your device and add it to the campaign.


For the Ad to appear on Instagram, you must now connect your business’ Instagram account to Ads Manager. to do this, simply click on “add an account” under Instagram accounts.


Now, you can get on with the specifics of your Ad.

Things to Remember:

Be sure to only select hashtags which are relevant to your brand or to the offer you are proposing to your audience. Target your audience according to the offer and the location of your business. The more countries you select, the more impressions you will get on your Ad. However, the more specific you make your target audience, the more chance of an effective CPC (cost per click) on your Ad.

The budget you set for your Instagram Ad depends on whether you want to run it over a specific period of time or set a lifetime budget for the Ad. Facebook recommends the lifetime budget option.

c) Now what?

You’re all set, your Ad is up an running on Instagram. Now what?

Now, you track and analyze your performance. You can learn how to do this in the amazing guide to Instagram Ads we wrote with Inbound giant HubSpot! Download it for FREE here!


BONUS: Glossary of Ad measurement terms

Number of clicks: refers to the number of clicks your Ad has received from users

Post likes: refers to the number of likes your Ad has achieved

CPC (Cost per click): refers to the overall cost of each click on your Ad

CPV (Cost per view): refers to the overall cost per impression of your Ad

CTR (Click through rates): refers to the percentage of clicks through to your landing page the Ad has Achieved in relation to the number of impressions

CPL (Cost per lead): refers to the overall cost of gaining a lead via your Ad

Lead to customer conversion: refers to the number of leads who become your customers via your Instagram Ad


Thanks for reading this blog post, we hope it helped you get some amazing ideas for creating your Knockout Instagram Ad!

For TONS more information all about the art of Instagram Ads, download for FREE “The Essential Guide to Instagram Advertising” by Iconosquare & HubSpot. This detailed and precise guide for winning at Instagram Ads includes a section on measuring your campaign”s results, a bonus cheat sheet featuring “The Perfect Instagram Ad” and an exclusive experiment carried out by HubSpot on the performance of different types of Ad creative.


Emily Lydon

Author Emily Lydon

Emily is an Inbound Marketer for Iconosquare, based in the Limoges office. She loves all things social and revels in keeping on top of the social media marketing game by writing for the blog. She’s also a bit obsessed with sushi, gin and Netflix.

More posts by Emily Lydon
  • Lauren

    Hi guys- Do you have any feedback on the best ad objective to use for building more followers? Or do you think new followers are already a given for all objectives?

    Also, how long would you say an ad’s lifetime is? I’ve been doing about two weeks but I still feel pretty blind on what’s working and what’s not. Any recommendations?

    • Emily Lydon

      Hi Lauren, thanks for your question!

      I would say that if you’re looking to grow your follower count you may not need to be using ads as a priority. There are many ways to become more popular on Instagram for free – check out this blog post for more information 🙂 Having said that you will likely see an increase in your followers when you’re advertising, purely thanks to the extra visibility on the platform.

      To answer your second question, an ad doesn’t really have a lifetime in the sense that if it’s relevant to your brand it’s doing its job. However, you may want to mix up your wordings and visuals to keep your ads fresh and run them in sequences to see which ones get you the best results on your objectives. Did you download the ebook on Instagram advertising? It’s got a special section at the end which explains how to check ad performance 🙂

      I hope this helps! If you have any more questions, feel free to get back to me!

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