How to start advertising on Instagram

Marketing and brand

11 December 2017

An estimated 29% of British adults use Instagram, and 64% of them are aged under 30. It's also interesting to note that Instagram tends to attract higher earners – with 46% of users earning more than £48,000 per year.

This, combined with the platform's visual nature, makes it the perfect platform for small e-commerce businesses.

To build your paid Instagram advert, visit and follow our walkthrough to create the perfect campaign.

Step 1: Facebook advert manager

Because Instagram is owned by Facebook, ads are managed through the same Advert Manager platform. The process of building an Instagram advert is the same as building a Facebook advert up until step 5 (budget and schedule), so we recommend working through our guide to Facebook paid adverts and coming back for the next step – designing your ad.

Step 2: Choose your ad format

Instagram is a highly visual platform, and all five ad types focus on image or video. Choose from:


This has a minimum of two and maximum of ten images or videos that viewers can scroll through. This is great for showing off a range of products.

Single image

Each advert shows one image. You can use up to six images for each campaign, so the visual will change depending on performance.

Single video

This advert will display a video. The optimum length for a video advert on Instagram is under 30 seconds.


This is a great option if you can't afford to make an attention-grabbing video. Instagram creates a looping slideshow video using ten of your images, displaying it as a video.
Collection: This advert opens into a full-screen on mobile, showing off a collection of your images and videos with clickable links.

Step 3: Add a full screen experience (optional)

With some ad types, you have the choice of adding a full-screen experience. This is optional, but a good way to get people immersed in your brand's content. Choose from three templates: one to attract new customers, another to showcase your business and the third for driving sales.

You can also create your own template, but unless you are a designer it's best to stick to the tried and tested ones.

Step 4: Choose and link your images

Next, choose which images you want to use in your campaign. If you've selected "carousel" you can have up to ten. Each image will have a space underneath for a headline, description and a destination URL.

Don't waste space in your description by adding links. Instagram doesn't support this and it won't be clickable. Use the dedicated URL box so that people can click straight from the image to your website, and use the description to explain why people should buy your product.

If you've chosen the carousel ad, select the option to show the best performing image (card) first. This is likely to attract people's attention. It's also worth adding a map "card" showing your shop's location.

Step 5: Confirm

Review your advert and, once you're happy with it, click confirm. This will send it to the Facebook ad team for review.

Once they approve it, you'll be ready to go live.

Next steps

For more information on how to use social media for your business, we’ve developed a step-by-step guide to social media marketing success, collecting some of the best guides and advice from leading experts.

You can also take a look at our social media advertising guide to find out about different social platforms like Twitter and Instagram.

If you have decided to take the leap and start a new business, make sure you, and your customers, are protected with AXA’s business insurance – starting from just £77 a year*.

*10% of our customers paid this or less between July and September 2017.