As one of the hottest (and leading) visual social media platforms, Instagram now has over 80 million photos posted per day and a growing 500 million users! With that in mind, smart brands are continuously looking for ways to increase their Instagram presence and even use it as an essential place for targeted advertising. (If your brand hasn’t considered using and advertising on Instagram yet, now is the time to start!). Obviously, one of the main advantages Instagram offers for advertising is the enormous size of the potential audience. Visual messages are also embraced at a much faster rate on Instagram, making it the ideal place for high-quality visual brand content.

Instagram has seen how important they’re platform is to businesses and continues to make improvements. Just this year, in fact, they have added contact buttons for business pages and made it easier for brands to turn high-performing posts into ads.

A recent 53-page report by Hubspot called “The Essential Guide to Instagram Advertising” ( outlines the big “what’s and how’s” to advertising in this epic space. We know you’re short on time so we’ve dug into the report for you and picked out the hottest, juiciest fast and dirty tips and tricks you can start using today. Pull up a chair and your favorite drink and let’s dive in.

Instagram Advertising Pros and Cons:


  • Lead generation and significant exposure to targeted audiences
  • Pay per click basis
  • Drive traffic to your website, blog, or e-commerce site

Cons (or things to look out for): 

  • Poor targeting may cause your ads to get lost and ignored. Indifferent or unconcerned users will ignore your ads or click anyway and cost you needless money.
  • Poorly executed ads (with bad call’s to action, for example) may cause users to ignore them.
  • Low-quality images or videos will not interest or engage users.

 Before you do any Instagram advertising, do these things:

  1. Do your homework: become familiar with the platform; figure out if Instagram has the right audience for you; decide what you want to achieve with your ads (what are your goals and objectives); have a clear and quantifiable plan in place.
  2. Have these 5 things in tip top shape:
  3. A distinct brand and product/service to sell.
  4. Have some good quality brand visuals.
  5. Have a Facebook page to set up an Instagram ad. (Instagram is owned by Facebook).
  6. Have a landing page for your CTA (Call to Action) button.
  7. Have an active Instagram account, too (although it’s not required).

The 11 Options Instagram and Facebook Advertising Provide:

  1. Clicks to your website
  2. Website Conversions
  3. App Installs
  4. App Engagement
  5. Video Views
  6. Page post engagement
  7. Page Likes
  8. Local Awareness
  9. Event Responses
  10. Offer Claims
  11. Lead Generation

One of the great things about Instagram being owned by Facebook is that you can run an ad campaign on both platforms at the same time and make the above 11 options a part of your strategy. If you do an Instagram only ad campaign, you only have the first 6 options plus general “mass awareness” through photo, video, or carousel format.

Decide on Ad Content Type (Photos or Videos):


High-quality organic looking photos work best. The trick with Instagram is that you don’t want your ad to look too much like an ad. The photos need to be beautiful and engaging above all else.

  • Don’t push your products
  • Don’t over-brand your images.

“If you nail the photo, you nail the ad.”

Photo Design Recommendations:

  • Image Ratio: 1:1
  • Image Size: 1,080 x 1080 pixels
  • Your image may not include more than 20% text
  • Caption: Text only, 125 characters recommended

Photo Technical requirements: 

  • Image ratio: 1.9:1 to 1:1
  • Minimum resolution: 600 x 315 pixels (1.9:1 landscape) /600 x 600 pixels (square)
  • Caption: Text only, max. 2,200 characters


Multi-clip videos are great ways to feature many quality images at once. Just remember: make your video understandable even if the sound is off. Otherwise, users will lose interest quickly. 

Video Design recommendations:

  • Aspect ratio: 1:1
  • File type: .mp4 container ideally with leading mov atom, no edit lists
  • Video: H.264 video compression, high-profile preferred, square pixels, fixed frame rate, progressive scan
  • Audio: Stereo AAC audio compression, 128 kbps+ preferred
  • Caption: Text only, 125 characters recommended

Video Technical requirements:

  • Caption length text: Text only, max. 2,200 characters
  • Video aspect ratio: 1.9:1 to 1:1
  • Minimum resolution: 600 x 315 pixels (1.9:1 landscape) /600 x 600 pixels (square)
  • Minimum length: 2.5 seconds
  • Maximum length: 60 seconds
  • File type: .mp4
  • Supported video codecs: H.264, VP8
  • Supported audio codecs: AAC, Vorbis
  • Maximum size: 1.75 GB
  • Frame rate: 30 fps max
  • Bit rate: No limit to bit rate file if you’re using two-pass encoding, as long as your file doesn’t exceed 1 GB. Otherwise, 8 megabits per second for 1080p and 4 megabits per second for 720p
  • Thumbnail image ratio: Should match the aspect ratio of your video. Your thumbnail image may not include more than 20% text.

Facebook and Instagram’s image and video policy is as follows (p. 21 of report): 



Setting Up Your Instagram Ad:

  1. To get started: first, connect your business’ Instagram account to Ads Manager. Do this by clicking on “Add an account” under Instagram Accounts. From here you can start diving into the specifics of your ad. Note: when selecting hashtags, be sure to select only those that are most relevant to your brand, your audience, or to the offer you are featuring.
  2. Target your audience: be sure to do this according to your offer or business location. The more countries you select, the more impression you’ll get. On the other hand, the more specific your targeting, the greater the chance will be of reaching the right audience. (Quality vs. quanity).
  3. Set your Instagram budget: you can do this regarding a specific period or a lifetime budget where the add stays up until you hit your specific budget limit.

Facebook (and Instagram) Rules and Regulations You Should Know:

  1. All ads are reviewed by Facebook before you can launch them (typically within 24 hours).
  2. Be careful of anything that may be age-restricted (like alcohol, for example). Your target audience should match any restrictions that might apply.
  3. Image/text ratio: an image with more than 20% text will be disapproved.
  4. There are “do’s and don’ts” when mentioning Facebook in your ad:


  1. Write “Facebook with a capital “F.”
  2. Display the word “Facebook” in the same font size and style as the content around it


  1. Use the Facebook logo in place of the word
  2. Make Facebook plural, use it as a verb or abbreviate it
  3. Use an altered version of the Facebook logo in the image for your ad


Understanding Performance and Metrics:

Here’s what to look out for:

  • Number of clicks: this is the number of clicks your Ad has received from users
  • Post likes: this is the number of likes your Ad has achieved
  • Cost per click: this is the overall cost of each click on your Ad
  • Cost per view: this is the overall cost per impression of your Ad
  • Click through rates: this is the percentage of clicks through to your landing page the Ad has achieved in relation to the number of impressions
  • Cost per lead: this is the overall cost of gaining a lead via your Ad
  • Lead to customer conversion: this is the number of leads who become your customers via your Instagram Ad

Watch and keep track of these metrics to help you see how effective your ads are. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different pictures, wording, and videos. The same text on a different picture may produce more clicks, resulting in more traffic and conversions. Remember to have solid calls to action and high-quality images and video. Test, experiment, and have some fun!

With the right goals and execution, an Instagram Ad strategy can be a game changer for your brand marketing strategy. Follow the guidelines in this tutorial and you’ll be off to a smashing good start. If you have any further questions or concerns, too, give us a shout, and we’ll be happy to help (