Social media advertising on Instagram in six simple steps

Social media advertising on Instagram in six simple steps
Katherine George
Katherine GeorgeOh So Social Limited

Posted: Fri 18th Feb 2022

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Katherine George, business.connected adviser and founder of Oh So Social, provides a step-by-step guide to creating an advertising plan on Instagram.

Step 1: Create a customer persona

It all starts with your customer.

This statement is true for all aspects of marketing. But when it comes to Instagram advertising – all social media advertising for that matter – it’s never more important.

The first step in any successful Instagram ad campaign is creating your customer persona. Personas allow you to understand your customers in more detail. They turn customers into real people instead of mystical aspirations you only want to meet.

You might find it helpful to draw a picture of your customer. A stick person is fine, but give them details such as:

  • age

  • gender

  • occupation

  • interests

  • shopping habits

  • what inspires them

  • why they are on Instagram

All this information is vital for your ad targeting, but it also helps you with your content.

Having a customer persona, complete with name, allows you to have a one-to-one conversation with your target audience. On a psychological level, it makes creating content easier, and from an advertising point of view it makes customers easier to find and target.

Step 2: Be ready to advertise

Make sure that:

There is nothing worse than starting an ad campaign only to discover your biography is out of date. Spend 10 minutes checking your account before you start.

Step 3: Make sure your content will do its job

Content is king, and with Instagram Ads having strong organic content is paramount.

All adverts created in Instagram use organic content, turning your regular posts and Stories into supercharged advertising campaigns. So, make sure your content:

  • is clear

  • explains what you want your customers to do

  • highlights what you want to promote or sell

Before you start advertising, select the posts you want to promote, but also review the rest of your content.

  • Is your Instagram Grid working as a shop window?

  • If someone views your profile, will they see a wide range of your products/services?

  • Will they want to follow you?

  • Will content on your Grid support them wherever they are in the sales funnel? Will it spark interest, excitement and motivation for a sale?

Step 4: Set your advertising objectives

Boosting a post because Instagram tells you to isn’t a good reason to advertise. Instead, spend some time thinking about your business goals and how Instagram adverts can help you achieve them.

  • What do you want this advert to achieve?

  • How will this support your goals?

  • Lots of people want more followers but will that ever bring sales or a return on investment?

  • How do people buy? Is it from the website or via a messenger chat?

Once you know the answer to these questions, you can then set the correct advertising objective.

  • If you want more people to visit the website, select Traffic.

  • If you want more people to follow you, select Profile Visits.

  • If you want more people to message you, select Messages.

Remember: with social advertising, you can’t have your cake and eat it too. Your adverts will be optimised to reach the people who are most likely to do what you want them to, so choose carefully.

If you want lots of website traffic and select the ‘Traffic’ objective, don’t be disappointed when you fail to draw in lots of followers. It’s not you, it’s just how the platform works.

Step 5: Define your audience in Ads Manager

Once you’ve started creating your advert, Instagram will ask you to define your audience. It will prompt you to select ‘Automatic’ but please don’t. This shortcut is tempting but unless you can be sure your audience on Instagram is the right customer for you, it will limit your adverts’ results.

Instead, create a new audience using your customer persona. Select the right location, age, gender and, more importantly, their interests.

Creating an audience in Instagram that matches your perfect customer will allow you to get the best results from your Instagram ads. You’ll be able to find those people who are most likely to become customers and bring them into the sales funnel.

Step 6: Analyse your results

Once you’ve defined your audience and chosen which ads you’re going to serve them, you’re good to go. But it’s not over when your adverts finish. Don’t forget to review and analyse your results.

Check Instagram analytics and see what results your campaign has brought. But don’t forget to look outside Instagram as well.

  • Look at your website analytics – has traffic gone up?

  • If you have a physical location (a shop, for example), have you had more visitors?

  • Check your other social channels – do you have more followers?

All adverts should trigger action, so checking all your analytics gives you a stronger idea of success.

Remember, social advertising is always a test, so be brave, give it a try and see what works for you.


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Katherine George
Katherine GeorgeOh So Social Limited
Katherine George is the founder of the multi-award winning, international social media agency Oh So Social, which provides comprehensive social media management, training and mentoring services. Both Katherine and Oh So Social have won a string of awards, including being named in Cornwall's 30 Under 30 list twice, and worked with a number of prestigious accounts including The Queen’s Birthday Book and the global success that is The Man Engine project. Prior to founding Oh So Social, Katherine managed social media campaigns for the award winning Spanish Riding School of Vienna, the Dancing on Ice Live Tour and members of Team GB. 

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