Running Ads on Instagram: to Boost Or Not to Boost?

If you switched your Instagram profile to business, you must be familiar with its features such as insights that show you actions taken on your page, audience and content statistics. Having a business profile, every now and then you also get messages from Instagram saying something like:

“This post is doing better than 95% of your recent posts. Promote it to reach a wider audience”

And if you ignore them – you’re missing out on something huge.


Whether you’re a creator, building a personal brand or running a startup company, the audience is key on social media. Your content, service or product simply won’t exist if people won’t be aware of it. Forget everything you heard about “organic” growth. To convince you, I’ll use numbers. Instagram now is a community of more than 1 billion people – and its space is so saturated with accounts that produce the content of high quality and value, and already have thousands and millions of followers, that it becomes almost impossible to get noticed for those who just started and want to grow the audience using only organic tools.

Now, if you only care about the NUMBER of followers, likes and views, not in their QUALITY, you can stop reading this blog now and just go buy them – I’m getting direct messages with offers to get 1000+ followers for as low as $1 every single day. If you’re active on Instagram, I bet you get those too. It’s a proven way to grow your numbers, but in no way can it help you build a real community of engaged people interested in what you do.

If your goal is to attract valuable to you or your business people, running ads is a way to go.

FIRST REASON: Any of your posts can be promoted to a very specific audience – you can specify locations, interests, job titles, relationship status, political views or even the type of device used for browsing social media if it’s important for you.

SECOND REASON:Comparing to any other medium, it is still very cheap to advertise on Instagram. Performance of your ads will depend on three main factors: how well you defined your target audience, how interesting your post is for them, and how much money you invested. If you got it all right, the price per impression will be ridiculously low. For instance, the latest video ads campaign we ran for a retail brand cost as low as $0,01 per 10-sec view.

THIRD REASON: Due to seamless ad integration into person’s feed they are perceived more like organic posts rather than an irritating distraction. Facebook’s constant effort to optimize the user experience by showing us only the most relevant ads leads to higher engagement and a higher probability of getting views, clicks and follows.


Nevertheless, when it comes to practical part, things get complicated. And even though Instagram tries to simplify the process by offering to “boost” the post: all you need to do is to click a few buttons, and the whole process takes only a couple of minutes, here’s why we DON’T recommend using this feature.

By selecting an automatic audience you basically tell Instagram to target people who are LIKE your followers. If your followers are family members, friends, bots, and some random people, it doesn’t sound like such a good idea, does it? With the automatic selection, your post might get views and likes, but that’s about it. If that was your first and only experience with Instagram ads, most likely you decided it’s just a waste of money and not worth doing it again.

Now, there’s also an option to select your audience manually, but here’s another catch: besides location, age, and gender you can only select up to 10 interests which is an EXTREMELY limited set of options for audience targeting.

Third “easy” option Instagram gives you is to promote your post locally – there you can select age, gender, location, and… That’s about it.

Remember, the better you define your potential audience, the better cost per result you’ll get. So what’s the best way to run ads on Instagram then?


Ladies and gentlemen, meet Facebook Ads Manager. That’s where the real advertising magic happens, and that’s what agencies and big companies use to run their campaigns across Facebook platforms including Instagram.

I have to warn you – getting to know even the basics of advertising on Facebook (and Instagram) is a long and complicated process that can’t be done in a few clicks.

Luckily for us, Facebook has free online courses called Facebook Blueprint that can help anyone market more effectively on Facebook, from individuals and small businesses to agencies. All you need to get started is a Facebook account. I highly recommend taking these courses before you start any kind of promotional activities – it is time-consuming but eventually will save you more time and money that you could have wasted on random promotions to random people.

I hope I managed to convince you to try running ads, but only do it once you’re prepared.

If you’re not ready to invest money just yet, you can read about 4 tricks to organic Instagram growth:

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