10 Instagram Advertising Mistakes or ‘Instagram Targeting for Newbies’

instagram advertising

Targeted Instagram advertising has become a relevant and effective tool for brand awareness and client engagement. Today, the social network has 854.5 million users worldwide and generates billions of dollars in ad revenue annually.

Giant brands such as Apple, Nike, or H&M use Instagram ads to reach as many of their target audience as possible. Research by marketing company Socialbakers shows that Insta is ahead of Facebook by as much as 400% in terms of audience engagement.

But if an advertising campaign is done wrong, it won’t work!

We’ve pulled together for you 10 common advertising mistakes that every social media marketer should avoid to stay on track and get the most out of Instagram ads!

Instagram advertising and SMM – are they the same?

What is SMM? It’s a form of digital marketing that uses social media as a channel for constant interaction with the target audience and lead generation.

What is targeted Instagram advertising? It’s an integral part of SMM, promotion through showing ads to a selected segment of users. You can launch it through the Facebook ad account or Instagram (“promotion” or “quick Stories ad”). Next, we’ll talk about launching target advertising through Facebook.

Instagram targeting has a number of weighty pros over other methods of Insta advertising:

  • A multi-million audience on one platform. Besides, 80% of users are subscribed to at least one business account.
  • Affordable cost – you can personally set the advertising budget and run ads with less than a dollar in your pocket!
  • High feedback speed. Target ads can drive traffic within an hour after launch.
  • A wide range of settings in Facebook Ads Manager: from a thorough study of the target audience and advertising distribution area to optimization.
  • Target hit – a 100% chance your ad will reach the user that matches the parameters you specify.
  • Detailed analytics – all user actions related to the ad and profile are recorded (likes/comments/saves/profile visits/direct messaging).

How does Instagram advertising work?

Before starting, it’s crucial to understand how to create an Instagram ad and know the capabilities of the platform.

You can target users by geographic and demographic characteristics, social status, and interests. Such advertising works best for local businesses (restaurants, boutiques, flower shops, event agencies, etc.). And since Instagram is focused on visual content, it’s important that you make yours engaging!

Official Instagram advertising fits for a variety of purposes: video outreach, subscriber engagement, as well as website traffic and online sales boosting.

  • To begin, you need two accounts: a Facebook ads account and an Instagram profile for business.
  • To launch ads, go to the “Advertising” section in the Facebook ad account – you’ll find it in the drop-down menu in the upper panel.
  • Once you’ve configured everything and passed moderation, the ad starts working. The credit card linked to your account is automatically charged for views/clicks.

In order to set up your targeted advertising correctly, figure out the purpose of the advertising campaign from the very beginning: attracting traffic to the site, increasing engagement (generating comments/likes/subscriptions), generating leads by filling out a lead form directly in Insta, increasing conversion, performing a certain action, etc.

how to create ads on instagram

10 Instagram targeting mistakes

Of course, commercial promotion is always about guesswork. However, if you don’t want your advertising budget to go down the drain, learning how to create Instagram ads is your priority step.

Newbies often make typical mistakes, getting poor/no responses as a result. Below we’ll share a few no-no’s together with some easy Instagram advertising tips to help you discover the difference between lame and awesome ads and never repeat beginner mess-ups.

You set up ads randomly, with no knowledge of the tools

If you’ve never regretted doing something without reading the manual first, you’re a happy one! Or you’ve never done anything at all…

Without knowing how an Instagram ad works, you can:

● accidentally cancel automatic notifications with the campaign results;
● set a click cost limit too low;
● forget to set up automatic ineffective ad disabling;
● advertise to the wrong audience;
● create an ad that doesn’t fit the advertising platform, etc.

As a result, because of a few missed checkboxes, you’ll get no reaction and zero conversion.

Tip: Try the “Guided Creation” feature – it’s just the right thing for beginners.

how to make an instagram ad

The wrong campaign objective

All successful Instagram campaigns begin with an objective. It determines how the system’s algorithm will select the audience and optimize your campaign. Attention: the campaign’s success depends on it.

Think over this step responsibly – you won’t be able to change the objective later. The most popular ones are Conversions, Lead Generation, and Catalog Sales.

If you’re aiming for conversions, check “Conversions,” not “Traffic” or “Engagement” (they’re responsible for followers and likes but not clients).

Tip: Remember that each objective column corresponds to a specific stage in the sales funnel (awareness → engagement → action).

Also, you shouldn’t put all the actions (subscribe, visit the website, call) in one ad – with this approach, you won’t get anything from “cold” clients viewing your Instagram ad.

how to make an instagram ad

Unclear target audience

Your ad should hit the right audience. Wouldn’t you agree that showing children-related products to fishing lovers or fishing equipment to young mothers is pointless?

In your Facebook account, there the “Detailed Targeting” section, where you can add a list of target audience filters by the following parameters:

  • Sex;
  • Age;
  • Geolocation;
  • Interests;
  • Occupation.

Tip: analyze a few of your best competitors, study the style, copyright, their product and how they sell it, where they’re more active and why. Look up relevant Instagram ad examples. After that, create the image of your potential client (answer the following questions: what problems they have and how your product/service will solve them).

A great source of target audience is thematic accounts (if you represent a furniture company, analyze interior designers and new residential complexes), geotags in posts (popular places near your company), and hashtags (linked to a city, a specific brand, or topic) – try using the SocialKit app.

Also, you can use retargeting, collecting target audience using the Facebook Pixel from your site, and if you don’t have one, then from active users from already promoted ads.

Too many / too few campaigns and ads for different purposes 

Cool Instagram ads never support dozens of advertising campaigns with different goals – it’s expensive, and you don’t want your ads competing with each other, increasing the cost of a click and “burning out” the audience.

Groups should be functionally interconnected with each other and tested for different audiences. Focus on one main idea and take everything from it!

Tip: if you’re pursuing several goals at once, you need to create a separate advertising campaign for each of them.

The choice of the target for advertising depends on your business’s needs. Want to boost sales? Run more conversion campaigns. Trying to strengthen your position as an influencer? Run ads to drive traffic to your blog.

Once you’ve achieved one goal (for example, you realized that your brand has become recognizable during testing) – focus all the energy on the next one (like referral traffic).

instagram advertising tips

You don’t test your ads

At the launch stage, create several variants of the most successful ads, with different visuals and texts, and find the best combination. This way you won’t waste your budget.

Click “Create Split Test:” This feature can be used for campaigns that aim to increase conversions, install apps, and generate leads.

During the split test, the social network takes a specific audience and divides it into equal proportions. For example, if you have four different creatives, different clients in the same group will see it. Analyze the statistics and choose the best ones.

Collecting statistics during the test takes from 3 to 14 days. To end the test, simply check the box.

Tip: You can create up to five ads per group. Better to test 2 pictures and 2 creatives, and then start a new test.

Don’t forget to experiment with other formats too. For instance, in a shipping optimization test, it’s would be a good idea to put different tags on links to analyze pre-order statistics. When testing for different audiences, you can use the “distribute the budget evenly” option.

Low-quality pictures/video

Instagram is a visual social network, and when the ad is done poorly, you run the risk of losing a client to a competitor, even if you perfectly hit your target audience. Don’t skimp on teasers – use only professional banners and videos!

If your team has problems creating a high-quality teaser, look for professionals among freelancers.

Tip: Instagram users love spectacular, atmospheric photos and selfies – something they can be proud of. This is what your ad should be.

It’s optimal to use no more than 15% of the space for the text in the picture. Never post blurry photos and don’t use stock pictures. You don’t want your image to look like a generic Instagram ad template. Ideally, the picture should demonstrate the experience of using the product or its benefits.

Try to make the picture as natural as possible so that it doesn’t stand out in the user’s feed. It should be minimalistic as well – avoid images that are overloaded with details and colors. The message in it must be easy to read.

instagram advertising tips

The account isn’t ready

Your account, like the first screen of the website, should create a positive first impression and get the user hooked.

Place a maximum of useful information about your business in the header (including contacts) and focus on attention-grabbing content in your account: stories, posts, live streams.

But getting attention isn’t all. You need a responsible person who’s ready to work with direct messages and comments and can handle the negative.

Tip: you can use autoresponders: fill it with all the important data a potential client might need to make a decision and start messaging. Such services are simple and convenient to set up and help to speed up communication and boost sales.

instagram advertising tips

Layout not adapted for post or story

This is one of the worst beginner mistakes, and the consequences can be different, up to a complete lack of audience response to advertising.

Tip: place ads in stories in separate ad groups, create 9:16 (900×1600 pixels) layouts for them, and make sure only adapted images are in the placement. Images mustn’t be larger than 30 MB. Accepted image formats are JPG or PNG.

instagram targeting

Spelling mistakes and/or mediocre copywriting

You don’t have to be David Ogilvy to copyright successful Instagram posts. But having a bit of his way of thinking wouldn’t hurt if you plan to learn how to make ads on Instagram like a pro.

Advertising works according to the following scheme: the picture attracts attention and begins the story, while the text helps users to understand it deeper, revealing the essence of the message.

How to write a decent text:

First of all, make sure your OFFER is clear, interesting, and easy to understand.

Help the user make a decision – create a call to action: place it in the middle or at the end of the text, where the reader is already more prepared to make a decision/take an action

Check the text for punctuation/grammatical errors (if necessary, use the online service for spellcheck). Take it seriously – a text full of errors won’t inspire confidence!

It’s important that the ad matches the content on your profile or website – never fool people just to get more clicks. Make promises that you can deliver;

People aren’t going to read a 5-page post – write briefly, simply, clearly, and learn to interest the reader from the first words.

Tip: Take a quick look at the techniques for creating successful advertising messages: 4u, PmPHS.

instagram advertising tips

Statistics and campaign results ignored

You need statistics to track the effectiveness of your actions and stay within your budget. Access them through your FB profile or Instagram internal settings. Instagram statistics provide data on:

  • Followers;
  • Activities (likes, subscriber comments, and views);
  • The number of new subscribers to your profile;
  • Account views.

Analyzing the data, you can calculate:

  • Your profile’s progress;
  • The average like/comment rate per week/month;
  • Subscriber engagement rate. 

Tip: the engagement rate (ER) is one of the most important indicators. The optimal number is 10% (if the number of new subscribers is 40-60% of the total). If the result is smaller, no worries: it can increase/decrease depending on the number of followers.

And finally!

Instagram advertising campaigns give great results when set up correctly: if you don’t want to feel like you’re disarming mines blindfolded, you must know what to do.

Use these simple guidelines to understand how to make an Instagram ad – otherwise, your budget won’t handle it!

And the final parting word: never post monotonous, boring content, follow a reasonable publication schedule, don’t forget about hashtags, and try to respond to comments as quickly as possible. Let the tone of your messages turn subscribers into friends!

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