Instagram has almost a billion monthly users and 500 million daily active users–and the number will continue to keep climbing in the next year. More importantly for small businesses, Instagram’s parent company Facebook reveals that 83% of Instagram users discover new products and services on the platform and 80% say that Instagram helps them decide whether to buy a product or service.

And with upcoming eCommerce features like shopping and Checkout, Instagram will continue to offer plenty of opportunities for small businesses like yours to establish your brand and grow your consumer base. Investing in Instagram ads can have a significant impact on any brand’s marketing strategy.

Here are some tips on how small businesses can make the most of the Instagram platform:

1. Identify your Instagram ad campaign objective

Before spending money on an Instagram campaign, you should first define your goals. This will help you keep your marketing efforts and budget on track. On Instagram, you can pick from several ad objectives grouped into three main business results: Awareness, Consideration, and Conversion. If you are trying to increase your consumer base, you should create ads that are designed to build and foster brand awareness. If you want to drive sales, you can create a campaign that leads to conversions like showing more products from your store’s catalog or leading people to your website or app where they can make a purchase.

2. Know and understand the different types of Instagram ads and choose the most effective ones for your brand

Instagram currently offers six types of ads: stories, photo, video, carousel, collection, and ads in Explore. Each of these types of ads offers advantages for marketing but the most effective ones are image ads, carousel ads, video ads, and Instagram stories.

  • Image ads are the easiest to set up and run and feels more organic and less intrusive for a user. It is also the most versatile ad type and can support a wide range of calls to action.
  • Carousel ads are similar to image ads but allow you to upload up to ten images. This format is best for dynamic products and services such as food, apparel, and hotels.
  • Video ads are getting increasingly popular, with time spent watching videos on Instagram increasing by 80%. If it is done right and fits your brand message, it can be an effective place for ads designed to increase brand awareness and conversion.
  • Over 500 million people now use Instagram Stories. It is another great way to create connections with your customer base, increase brand awareness and maintain a presence in your followers’ feeds using an immersive and full-screen format.

Use high-quality photos that have a maximum visual impact and are consistent with your brand

Instagram recommends that small businesses use ad images that are on brand, concept-driven, and well-crafted. Choose photos that tell your brand’s story in interesting ways. Determine what you want your audience to think and feel when they see your ad. Instagrammers use the platform for inspiration, so avoid anything that looks too “ad-like”. Make sure your photos are of high quality with a strong focal point and uses good framing and lighting. Maximize space by using the 1:1 or portrait layout. Also, avoid using stock photos that Instagrammers have likely seen numerous times elsewhere.

Sell the experience, not the product

All consumers want experiences, not just things. Instead of posting product photos, aim to inspire your audience by showcasing how your product can integrate into their lives. However, make sure you strike a balance between aspirational and authentic to make your ad campaign feel more relatable and personal.

Maximize Instagram’s targeting options

Instagram uses Facebook’s powerful ad targeting options that can reach audiences by location, demographics, interests, behavior and more. Once you’ve identified the audience you want to reach, make sure you use Instagram’s ad targeting options. If you are just starting out with your first ad, there’s the automated targeting option that helps you quickly create an audience. If you want to increase engagement with your current customers, you can also run ads to custom audiences based on their email addresses and phone numbers.

Measure your ads’ performance and calibrate

You can view and analyze the performance of your Instagram ads in Facebook Ads Manager. Track your ad’s performance and adjust accordingly.

Experiment with different ad formats

As you become more adept at creating ads, you can start experimenting with different ad formats and copy to keep things fresh and find out which works best for your brand.

With users growing exponentially around the world (Instagram users in the US are projected to grow to 11.5 million in 2020), Instagram will continue to be a leading advertising channel for businesses. In fact, around 75.3% of US businesses will use Instagram in 2020. Don’t let your small business get left behind!

Marq Untivero is the SEO & SEM Manager of, a trusted supplier of remanufactured and compatible printer inks and toner cartridges. has been providing small businesses a more affordable solution to printer ink.

Instagram stock photo by PixieMe/Shutterstock