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How to ace your Instagram promotions strategy

Your business is active on Instagram and you’re creating awesome content. At first, your pages get followers and engagement. But after a while, the stream of followers trickles down. You haven’t changed anything, so what’s going on?

When you launch a new account, both you and the social media platform work very hard to promote it. You share it with your friends, while the social media platform also suggests the account to people from your contact list. This results in a spurt of followers and engagement. But even if you sustain your launch phase for more than a few posts, your follower growth and engagement rate will come down. This is because you have exhausted your own network. Now it’s time to reach out to a new audience. This is where Instagram promotions come in.

This post is part of the series of “Social media marketing strategy for small businesses”.

What are Instagram promotions?

Instagram promotions are created out of the existing post on your profile. Instagram promotions allow you to select an organic post from your profile and show it to additional people that you target, for a specified duration.

The basic difference between Instagram promotions and Facebook/Instagram ads is that Facebook/Instagram ads can be created out of any creative you want; you don’t have to select one from your profile. In addition, Facebook/Instagram ads allow greater control over targeting and objective, while providing more detailed insights.

Pro tip: It is a good practice to select a post that is already doing well in terms of engagement. Instagram will suggest posts to you that perform better than the others. Starting with an engaging post means that your followers liked it, so you can attract more people like them. And when new people see a post that has got engagement, it acts as social proof for them.

However, you have to decide whether that post will help you gain more relevant brand awareness. For e.g. a giveaway post might attract more than average engagement from people. Instagram will prompt you to promote this. Here, you must consider whether the giveaway post will gain long-term brand visibility or short-term.

Setting up Instagram promotions

Setting up Instagram promotions is fairly simple and can be easily done through the Instagram app. Once you select a post, click on the promote button on the post. You can run Instagram promotions through your Facebook page or Facebook business manager also, but it does not offer the same flexibility when done through the Instagram app.

Instagram promotions offer flexibility in the following areas:


You can select an audience based on age, location and interests. When selecting an audience for a post, it is a good idea to pick a specialised audience. Let’s say you create products for different genders. And you want to promote a post that is for women. Then you should pick women only in your audience. The audience you choose may also depend on the topic that you have posted on or specific locations.

Target audience for Instagram promotions
Target audience for Instagram promotions


You can choose from getting more visitors to your profile, website or getting more messages.

Objective for Instagram promotions
Objective for Instagram promotions

Profile visits: If you are looking to build your following, select the ‘Profile’ option. This will show your posts to people who are likely to check out your profile. If they like what you have been posting, they will follow you. In my opinion, this is the promotion that you can run most often as the cost to get people to visit your profile is the lowest. Since the promoted audience will decide to take an action after seeing your profile, you will also get to see which audience values your posts the most. You can create multiple subsets of your overall audience and run promotions for them. Pretty soon, you will have a clear idea of which audience resonates with your posts the most. This will also help to strategise what you post organically on your profile.

Website visits: If you want your users to take any action on your website, then select the ‘website visits’ objective. This will add your webpage link to your promoted post. People can click this link when seeing your post. This objective has a lower conversion than profile visits because people do not want to leave the platform. Your post has to be very compelling for people to visit your website. So use this destination only when you have a limited time offer for your audience.

Messages: The third objective is direct messages. Use this if you want people to message you after seeing the post. You can use it for posts that ask people to register for an upcoming workshop or offer customised services. A 1:1 conversation is preferable to many people, especially when dealing with small businesses. When using this destination, it is important to monitor your messages closely, so that you respond promptly.


Once you are done setting up the previous steps, then pick a budget. Instagram promotions are very affordable, so start with a small budget to see how the audience performs. Once you test a few audiences, you can select a larger budget or duration.

Budget for Instagram promotions
Budget for Instagram promotions

In general, it is a good idea to promote one post every month for 1 week. If you do more than that, you will attract poor-quality followers. But anything less than that will mean that your profile grows slowly and you may feel demotivated.

And that’s it! Like I said, Instagram promotions are easy to set up and affordable. That’s because Instagram wants to encourage people to spend money on the platform. As a user though, you have to be strategic about what you promote. Experiment with Instagram promotions and see how they work for you.


If you liked this post and would like more tips on other tools, then read more articles like this here or you can listen to the podcast.

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