How to use Instagram ads to grow your photography account (guide 2023)

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Posting high-quality content, actively engaging with followers, and utilizing innovative in-app features will help you grow your Instagram account, but traditional strategies only take you so far. The hands-down best way to get your profile in front of more potential followers is to run Instagram ads and promotions.

Posting paid content may seem like a tool reserved for small businesses and entrepreneurs, but many photography accounts use Instagram advertisements as a strategy to grow their following. In this guide, we’ll cover how Instagram ads work and how to use them.

How Instagram advertising works

Instagram advertising is one of the most effective ways to get your posts on the feeds of potential followers. Think of it as the shortcut through your hashtag and engagement strategy.

But, like all social media marketing, you only get what you’re willing to pay for.

Types of Instagram ads

The first thing you must understand about Instagram Ads is that there are multiple types. In simplest terms, Instagram ads are posts or Stories that you pay to have shown on other Instagram users’ feeds — particularly those of users who are not yet following you.

Only Instagram business accounts can create Ads, and while they may look like regular posts and Stories, they will be labeled with the word “Sponsored” to inform the viewer that the post has been promoted. Some will include a call-to-action button that takes the user to a website, opens a direct message, or takes them to your Instagram profile.

Instagram offers the following types of ads:

  • Photo post ads
  • Video post ads
  • Carousel post ads
  • Stories ads
  • Collection ads
  • Explore ads
  • IGTV ads
  • Instagram Shopping ads

Each type of ad offers various call-to-action buttons and objectives. However, when it comes to photography accounts, the best options will be photo, video, Explore, Carousel, and Stories ads. (A collection ad appears as a post with multiple photos that businesses can use to show off different products, and Instagram Shopping ads allow the user to buy a product by clicking on a link within the Instagram app to the business’ mobile website.)

It’s also important to note the difference between promoting a post and running a separate ad. Promoting a post is paying to promote an existing post that is already published on your feed. When you run an ad, on the other hand, you’re creating content specifically as an ad rather than promoting content that already exists.

How much do Instagram ads cost?

The great thing about Instagram ads is that they can cost as much or as little as you want. When building your ad or promotion, you get the option of setting your budget, which ranges from $1 to $1,000 a day.

It’s always good to start small and test an ad with a lower budget, such as $100 for 2 to 3 days of promotion. Use that as a benchmark for more expensive campaigns to see what your audience responds to. Experimenting with your budget for different types of ad campaigns can help you see which ones appeal the most to your followers.

Screenshot showing how to set a budget for Instagram ad

Now that you’ve got the basics down, it’s time to go over how to plan and run your first Instagram promotion.

How to plan your ad campaign

No matter what type of ad you choose or how much money you want to spend, there is one thing you must do before planning your first paid post: Get clear on your objective.

Unless you’re a photography business trying to gain more clients, you’re using Instagram ads to grow your account following. If so, you’ll want to choose from one of these objectives:

  • Increase brand awareness and get your account in front of more people who haven’t seen it yet.
  • Increase your reach and grow your number of followers.
  • Increase the amount of traffic on your website or another URL of your choice.
  • Increase your engagement with more comments, likes, shares, and video views.

The objective you choose is up to you. Just make sure your goal is clear before you get started.

The next step is to decide on your audience. Are you looking to grow a following of people who live locally in your area, or are you targeting users around the world? Is your content targeted towards a specific age, gender, or other demographic? Gain clarity on these parameters now so you can set up your ad to target the specific group of people who will enjoy your content the most.

And finally, decide on your budget. While paying more will obviously get you in front of more followers, it’s a good idea to experiment with low-budget ads until you get the hang of things. Then decide how much you can spend.

How to sponsor a post on Instagram

Planning an ad campaign on Instagram is simple. However, you can only promote a post within the app. If you want to create a Carousel or Explore ad, you’ll have to do that within Facebook Ads Manager, which we’ll discuss in more detail below.

After you’ve got your content posted on your feed, follow these instructions to promote it within the Instagram app:

  1. Open the Instagram app.
  2. Press the icon of your profile photo at the bottom-right of the page to navigate to your profile.
  3. Press the Promotions button underneath your bio.
  4. Select either Promote Top Post (the one with the most engagement) or Choose a post.
  5. Toggle between the Post and Story tabs at the bottom of the screen to choose the ad type you wish to promote.
  6. Select the content you wish to promote and press Next.
  7. Select your destination and press Next.
  8. Choose how you want to target your audience — with special requirements, with Instagram’s automatic targeting, or by creating your own — and press Next.
  9. Set your budget and press Next.
  10. Select Create Promotion.

From there, your promoted post will be created, and you’ll be able to monitor it under the Promotions tab on your profile.

Screenshot showing how to sponsor a post on Instagram

How to create an Instagram ad with Facebook Business tools

If you want to create an Instagram ad from scratch, the best way to do that is by using Facebook Ads Manager. Please note that to use this feature, you must first have a Facebook Page set up and connected to your Instagram account. Once this is set up, follow these instructions to create your Instagram ad:

  1. Log in to Facebook Business Manager.
  2. Press the Ads tab on the left of the page.
  3. Press Ads Manager.
  4. Press the +Create button.
  5. Choose your campaign objective and press Continue.
  6. Press Next.
  7. Fill out the details of your budget, campaign duration, and target audience.
  8. Press Next.
  9. Fill out your ad setup details, choose your ad type, and upload the media you wish to use.
  10. Press Publish.

You’ll now be able to monitor the analytics of your ad on Ads Manager and within the Promotions tab in the Instagram app.

Screenshow showing how to use Facebook Ads Manager

Instagram ads best practices to gain more followers

Because Instagram is a visual platform, photographers can stand out by promoting their best high-quality work. Below are a few tips for using ads to gain more followers on your Instagram account.

Rather than promoting a single image, you can also create a Carousel ad with multiple images to show off your best photos or a certain photography niche you’re known for. This will give potential followers a better idea of what kind of content you post.

Target your audience based on their interests

When you create your ad, you have an option to define your target audience by various metrics, such as their age and location. But you can also target people based on their interests.

For example, if you are a wedding photographer, you could target people based on engagement rings or bridal gowns. Here’s how:

  1. Open the Instagram app.
  2. Press the icon of your profile photo at the bottom-right of the page to navigate to your profile.
  3. Press the Promotions button underneath your bio.
  4. Select either Promote Top Post (the one with the most engagement) or Choose a post.
  5. Toggle between the Post and Story tabs at the bottom of the screen to choose the ad type you wish to promote.
  6. Select the content you wish to promote and press Next.
  7. Select your destination and press Next.
  8. Press Create Your Own.
  9. Select Interests.
  10. Type in an interest and press Done.
  11. Complete your ad setup.

You can add multiple interests to appeal to a wider yet still specific audience.

Try a Story ad

Want to entice a potential new follower to visit your profile? Try a Story ad that highlights a new high-quality post. Ensure that the content is a solid representation of what your account is all about while also providing value to the viewer.

For example, you could promote a post about your top 5 photo editing hacks or your favorite secret location for shooting dreamy engagement photos.

Promote your best content

The best ads don’t look like ads. And the easiest way to make that happen is to promote your best content.

When you have a professional account, Instagram tracks the performance of your posts and your Stories. If you go to your Promotions page within the app, you’ll see an option to promote your top post. Running a campaign on a post that already has a high engagement rate can be a great way to get high-quality in front of a larger audience and receive more followers.

Screenshot showing how to target your audience based on their interests

Instagram ads can be a highly effective strategy for growing your following and expanding your reach. As with any new tool, keep track of how your ads are performing, and adjust and shift your focus based on how your audience responds.

Douglas L Quintero

Douglas L Quintero is a technology expert and lives in New York. Previously, he was working on Symbian OS and was trying to solve many issues related to it. From childhood, he was very much interested in technology field and loves to write blogs related to Android, iOS and other OS.

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