In 2019, Instagram counts 1 billion monthly active users according to Oberlo. After Facebook, it is the most engaged social network. And 71% of users are under the age of 35.

For many, Instagram is the go-to social network. A lot of time is spent here (on average 53 minutes per day). So, it’s no surprise that businesses are advertising more and more on Instagram. That means more competition. 

We’ve created this guide for you to beat your competitors in the gram’ game.

Tip 1: Use Facebook Ads Manager

When scrolling the never-ending Insta feed, it can be tempting to press that little ‘Boost’ button.

We advise against this. Instead, we always recommend for our clients is to go through the Facebook Ads Manager when setting up Instagram ads. This is because by using the Facebook advertising platform, you can focus your ad on what matters to your business. Be it leads, signups, app installs or product sales, for example.

Tip 2: Test feed versus stories placement

Research has found that users who tend to scroll through Instagram feeds are more “shopper” types of users. This means that for e-commerce businesses, for example, advertising on the feed placement is likely to be the best option. We recommend testing advertising on both and compare which placement works best for your business.

Tip 3: Make your own ad creatives (stories)

Say you’ve created an ad for the Instagram feed. But can’t be bothered to make one for the Instagram stories placement. Don’t worry, we’ve been there. To make it easier, Facebook has a tool that allows you to create story ads using your feed creative. 

The only thing is, if you do this your story ad version generally won’t look great. You’ll be better off by creating your own from scratch. You can use easy to use tools such as Canva. 

If you really can’t be bothered with all this sh**t, we get it. It’s so much easier to let experts with years of experience do it for you. Get in touch with The Growth Hustlers today. 

Tip 4: Test several ad creatives

As a rule of thumb: The more options you give Facebook and Instagram, the better. Go crazy on your ad creatives we say. As Instagram will show the ads that perform best and each ad may resonate with different types of users.

Tip 5: Use custom audiences

This is one of the things you should definitely be testing first. Custom audiences can be:

  • Retargeting your website traffic on specific pages of your website

  • Lookalike (similar) audience of your customer email list

  • Lookalike (similar) audience of people who engage with your Facebook page

These are just a few examples of custom audiences you can target. They can perform very well if set up correctly. If they don’t perform at first, try different combinations. For example, if you have a Lookalike audience of a customer email list, try creating and testing a lookalike based on your website’s traffic.

Tip 6: Test different interests and demographics

You can specify your audience in detail with Instagram ads. The same as you can with Facebook ads. After browsing through interests and demographics lists, it can be quite overwhelming choosing which ones to test first.

What complicates things even further is that you can create combinations of interests and demographics. For example, you can create an audience who are interested in “Star Wars toys” AND must also be an “Engaged Shopper”. You can also exclude interests/demographics to prevent ads from showing twice to the same audience. 


Ad set 1: Include interest “Star Wars toys” but DO NOT include “Star Wars fans”

Ad set 2: Include interest “Star Wars fans” but DO NOT include “Star Wars toys”

We suggest writing different options into a spreadsheet and creating an Instagram ads audience testing roadmap. Prioritising the tests you think will have the best results. You can also build a testing roadmap for the ad creatives while you’re at it.

Tip 7: Use bid caps

Facebook recently released new cost control features that also apply to Instagram ads. We haven’t properly tested the new ones, cost cap and target cost. But we have played around a few times with bid capping as it’s been around for longer.

Using bid caps is definitely worth considering if you want to keep your CPA (cost per acquisition) low. Because bid caps will tell your Instagram ads not to bid above a certain amount in the ad space auction. This may result in your ads spending less than you want them to. But it will assure that you do not overspend for your ad objectives when bids are high.

Tip 8: Create automated rules

Automated rules for Instagram ads are similar to bid caps in a way, as they help you keep your Cost per Objective low. But you lose control of where you spend your budget. 

We definitely recommend using these rules as they allow you to automate the management of your ads. Meanwhile, you kick back on the couch watching la Casa de Papel (the money factory $$$) on Netflix.

Tip 9: Test Dynamic product ads (if relevant)

If you’re selling many products on your website, we 100% recommend using Dynamic product ads. These ads allow you to show the right products to the right customers. 

Facebook’s algorithm is clever. It knows if you are looking at what to buy for your kids birthday that’s in 5 days. Facebook and Instagram will then show you the products that you are most likely to buy. Need we say more to convince you?

Tip 10: Set yourself a target CPA each month

That’s a lot of useful information about Instagram ads to pack your brain with. So if you’re a newbie, remember this: Keep chasing down those CPAs (cost per acquisition).

Every week you should be reporting in a Google sheet or a Data Studio dashboard. Record how many conversions you’re getting from Instagram ads, and how much your total spend was. 

This will enable you to calculate your CPA by dividing your total conversions by your total cost. Of course, the lower the CPA the more conversions you will get (for less $). Finally, you should aim to reduce your CPA by at least 10% month on month (or align it to your current growth targets).

Thanks for reading, feel free to share this with a colleague in need and let us know if you have any questions. Our team of Growth Hustlers will be happy to help.