Instagram Advanced Tips

May 25, 2022

Last update


12 MIN.

9 Ways to Boost Instagram Ads Performance

Take full advantage of Instagram ads! With the right strategy, brands can use Instagram ads to reach new audiences, boost engagement, and drive product sales.



9 Ways to Boost Instagram Ads Performance

Instagram ads are one of the most effective ways to promote your business on social media. With over 1 billion users, the platform offers brands access to a diverse online community and limitless marketing potential. And with the right strategy, brands can use Instagram ads to reach new audiences, boost engagement, and drive product sales. 

Not sure how to take full advantage of Instagram advertising? 

In this blog post, we will see nine effective ways to boost your Instagram ad performance. 

Let's get started.

Improve your ad targeting

Targeting the right audience is key to achieving success with your Instagram ad campaigns. 

To get started with managing your target audience, use Facebook Ads Manager and go to Audiences. 

On the Audience page, there are different audience types you can choose from for ad targeting. You can choose either Saved Audiences, Lookalike Audiences, or create a Custom Audience that best suits your campaign objectives. 

But before you choose an audience, you need to identify who your target audience is and their level of awareness – how well they know about your brand. 

Your audience will usually be divided into three main groups: 

  • Top of the funnel
  • Middle of the funnel
  • Bottom of the funnel

NB: Remember to choose your brand’s Instagram profile as the account you want to run the ads for before starting the campaign. 

Top of the funnel 

This audience knows little about your business. They have not interacted with your content, they haven't visited your website, or sent you a message yet. 

For these types of prospects, you will use your buyer persona to determine how you will target them. You can then use the attributes from the buyer persona to create a Saved Audience. 

Saved Audiences use parameters like location, age, gender, interests, used devices, income level, behaviors, etc for targeting. For example, your hairdressing business could target females above the age of 18 around your service area. 

Top of the funnel 

Tip: Saved Audience works best when your ad campaign objective is ‘Reach’ as it allows you to connect with as many top-of-the-funnel prospects as possible. 

Middle of the funnel

These are prospects that already know about your brand but need more information before making a purchase decision. They've already interacted with your content or visited your website. The best way to reach this audience is with retargeting. 

Retargeting allows you to reach audiences who already know you. 

The three ways you can use retargeting include:

#1: Upload a list of people you want to target: 

Middle of the funnel

For instance, if you have a list of people that have visited your physical store, you can collect their contact information using a CRM. You then upload this list to Facebook as the people you want to reach with your ads. 

#2: Install Facebook Pixel to retarget website visitors: 

Install Facebook Pixel to retarget website visitors

You can install the Facebook Pixel code on your site so you can track how users engage with your brand. It shows you the ads Instagram users view before clicking on your website, the pages they visit on your site, and the items they add to their carts. With this data, you can retarget these users with your ads.

#3: Use Facebook SDK to retarget users based on app activity:

Use Facebook SDK to retarget users based on app activity

Similar to Facebook Pixel, Facebook SDK gives you insight into who is using your app and the actions they take in it. You can then use the data to target your app visitors with ads. 

Bottom of the funnel

These are customers with high purchase intent and just need a little convincing before they make a decision. They have performed high intent actions like sending you a DM, completing a lead form, or saving one of your posts/ads. 

You can create a custom audience to target these users. For instance, you can create a custom Instagram audience that targets users that have engaged with your professional account, engaged with your ads, or saved them. 

Bottom of the funnel

If you run an Instagram ad with the Lead Form objective, you can create an Instagram ads audience with users who engaged with your lead form ad. 

you can create an Instagram ads audience with users who engaged with your lead form ad

You can also retarget people who opened the form but didn't submit it and people who opened and submitted the form.

retarget people who opened the form


Also, if you’ve set up a catalog in Facebook Commerce Manager, you can choose to target people who didn’t complete their purchases, cross-sell to existing customers, or upsell to warm leads. 

choose the target

Tip: If you want to reach more prospects with your Instagram ads, you can use Lookalike Audiences. 

Lookalike Audiences

Lookalike audiences tell Instagram to show your ads to users that are similar to the custom audience you initially created. You can also choose how similar you want the audience to look by toggling the percentage. 

choose how similar you want the audience to look by toggling the percentage

The higher the percentage, the more the similarity to your original audience. 

Using the right targeting options will ensure that your ads are shown to the right users. 

Promote your top posts

A best practice to boost your Instagram ad performance is to promote your top organic posts. This strategy is especially effective if your campaign objective is to increase brand awareness and reach. If your current audience loves the post, your target audience will most likely love and engage with it.

Go through your list of content and repurpose posts that already have a ton of engagement. High performing organic posts usually make great paid promotions and offer high ROAS (return on ad spend). 

To promote your top organic posts, you don't need to use Facebook Ad Manager. Open the Instagram app and go to your profile. Then tap on the post you want to promote or use the Ad Tools button. In the Ad Tools page, Instagram will automatically recommend the top-performing posts you can promote. 

Promote your top posts

After choosing the post you want to boost, select the campaign Goal. For instance, If you want new followers, select ‘More Profile Visits’. 

select the campaign Goal

The next step is to select your target audience. You can either create your own or allow Instagram to automatically target users like your followers. 

The last step is to set your daily budget, ad time frame, and then launch your promotion. 

Adopt image carousels

Image carousels allow you to share different images and videos in one post – which is an effective way to tell a story while promoting your product or service. 

You can use carousels to highlight the best part of the product you want the audience to see, or perhaps show different product variations like styles or colors. With carousels, each frame can be used to tell a story that will make whatever you are advertising appealing to the viewer. 

Take Kylie Cosmetics for example. As part of their upcoming launch, the brand used a carousel post to promote their makeup and showed photos of how the swatches will look on different skins. 

Not only does the carousel promote their product, but it also adds a visual representation of how each makeup will look on different skin tones – which is an effective way to pique their audience's interests.

Whatever product you are offering, Instagram carousel is a great way to provide more detail and encourage engagement.

PS: With Iconosquare, you can plan, schedule, and publish Instagram carousel posts. This option is available for pro, advanced, agency, and enterprise users.

Adopt image carousels

Iconosquare is an advanced social media management platform trusted by 10000+ agencies and businesses. Sign up for the 30-day free trial and start scheduling your social media posts with ease. 

Experiment with different ad placements

Most advertisers on the platform use standard ad placements like the Instagram feed. But there are other ad placement options you can try to improve your ROAS.

Run ads in Stories

Ad placement in Stories has a lot of potential especially if you create the ad creatives specifically for it. For instance, vertical images or videos work best for the Stories layout. You can even add interactive elements like lead gen forms and swipe up links. 

Run ads in Stories

To create sponsored stories, you will select the ad placement manually at the ad set level. 

Run ads in Reels

Sponsored reels are another ad placement that is effective when done right. The best practice is for your sponsored reels to fit smoothly with other organic content. Create ad content that your audience will expect to see while scrolling through their reels. The only way your audience should identify that it's an ad is through the CTA button at the bottom of their screen. 

In the Pangaia sponsored reel below, the video fits seamlessly with fashion enthusiast Reels aesthetics. However, there is a CTA button asking users to shop now.

Run ads in Reels

Run ads on the Explore page

With over 200 million people visiting the explore page daily, you should be advertising there too. In fact, in a Facebook commissioned survey of 21,000 people, 83% of the people surveyed say that they discover new products and services through Explore. 

Run ads on the Explore page

Try out other bid strategies

For Instagram campaigns that are focused on conversions, the best bid strategy that delivers the maximum results is either the lowest cap or cost cap. 

Try out other bid strategies

But if your goal is to get the maximum return on ad spend (ROAS), you should consider using the minimum ROAS campaign bid strategy. This strategy will allow you to control your ROAS while making the most purchase value for your campaign budget.  

To use this bid strategy, you’ll choose a conversion campaign objective like Catalog Sales or a consideration objective like App Installs. 

choose a conversion campaign objective

Then at the ad set level, turn on Campaign Budget Optimization. 

turn on Campaign Budget Optimization

Next edit your Campaign bid strategy and set your Minimum ROAS Control. 

set your Minimum ROAS Control

Keep in mind that before you can use this bid strategy, you must have an active Facebook pixel or app SDK. You will also need a product catalog connected to your pixel or SDK, for campaigns with the Catalog Sales objective.

So how can you determine your minimum ROAS control to ensure that you get the most value from your budget? 

One way to do this is to go to the Website Purchase ROAS column in your Ads Manager reports. Here you will find historical data on your ROAS for previous campaigns. You can try starting with the average ROAS from similar campaigns in the past. 

If you want to make a profit from the ad campaign, you will set the minimum ROAS goal to be above $1.00. For example, if you set a ROAS goal of $1.15, you will be getting a return of $115 on an ad spend of $100. 

Using the math above, it's best practice to set realistic goals for your business. Setting a ROAS goal of $115.0 does not automatically mean you will make a return of $11k+ from a $100 spend. Instead, as you run more ads, collect more data, and get a hang of which products have the higher profit margin, you will then learn how to set up your ROAS adequately.

Drive prospects to your website

An effective way to increase your ROAS is by driving your prospects away from Instagram to your website. On your website, you can direct prospects to a dedicated landing page that is optimized for conversions. On your website, prospects can browse through your full store catalog or download a lead magnet. 

For example, the Coursera ad below drives users to an external website landing page. The ad copy explains to readers what they will gain from the course and the landing page uses an effective CTA (“Enroll for Free”) to drive conversions. 

Drive prospects to your website

Another advantage of opting for external conversions is that with Facebook pixel installed on your website, you can get remarketing data that you can use to retarget other prospects on both Instagram and Facebook — giving you more opportunities to improve your ad performance. 

Promote user-generated content

User-generated content (UGC) is content created by customers of a brand and submitted on social media platforms or other channels. UGC can come in the form of images, videos, reviews, and testimonials. 

Promoting user-generated content in your Instagram ads can help you boost engagement and increase conversions.

How so?

UGC is influential in the final stages of a buyer's journey where you want to convince the prospect into making that purchase. UGC acts as social proof and shows the prospect that your product is worth buying. For example, a customer can be influenced to buy when they see other customers using and enjoying your product. 

A good example of a brand using UGC is this post where @Aerie shares images of their customers wearing their Summer dresses. 

The impact of user generated content on brand marketing continues to grow. In fact, 79 percent of people say that user-generated content highly impacts their purchasing decisions. And it makes sense. Consumers trust other consumers than the brands themselves. 

Tip: Don’t try to fake your user-generated posts for a campaign. Most of the time, your audience can sniff out false UGC posts; which only ends up hurting your brand reputation. 

Instagram also makes it easy for brands to find UGC and get permission to include the content in their ads. Here is how to do it from the Instagram app;

  • Go to your business account and open the menu in the upper right corner
  • Open Settings, select Business, and click on Branded Content
  • Select Set Up Branded Content Tools and tap the Enable button. 

After you have set it up, creators can now tag your account in content they create for your brand. And if the creator selects the option to “allow business partners to promote” in the advanced settings of their Instagram post, you can then use their post in your Instagram ads. 

Here is how to use any approved UGC:

  • Go to Ads Manager and set up a campaign with Instagram placements.
  • At the ad level, select Use Existing Creative under Ad Setup. 
  • Click Change Post and select the Branded Content tab. 
  • Next, find the UGC you want to promote and launch your campaign. 

Configure value optimized events

Since April 2021, Facebook Ads has made changes to the way it tracks conversions on external websites and third-party apps. One of the reasons for this update is to accommodate Apple’s AppTrackingTransparency framework that allows iOS users to opt out of third-party app tracking. So now if you want to target iOS users or run some other form of conversion on your website, you will have to configure conversion events in Facebook Events Manager first.

You can set up to eight conversion events per website domain. Some of the conversion events you can choose from include add to cart, purchase, Subscribe, etc. 

Configure value optimized events

For best results, switch on Value Optimization for the events you want to see maximum ROAS. This will give you access to more options that can increase your ROAS such as using the Minimum ROAS bid strategy. Switching on this option also allows you to see your value optimization results in Ads Manager. 

Note that you will need to install the Facebook pixel on your site or set up the Facebook SDK for your app to configure prioritized events.

Run A/B tests

To improve the performance of your Instagram ads, you need to know which ads resonate best with your target audience. If you are not sure which ads perform best, run A/B tests. 

In Ads Manager, select the Instagram campaign you want to experiment with and click the A/B Test button. 

Run A/B tests

You can compare different variables like target audiences, creative assets, and ad placements to see which one performs best.  

After choosing the ad set you want to compare and deciding on a variable, you then choose the metric that will determine the winning ad. For instance, if your campaign objective is to increase reach, your key metric will be the cost per 1000 people reached. Ad Manager will automatically choose the winning ad set within the time frame you select. 


Running ads is an effective way to increase brand awareness and promote your products or service on Instagram. The steps in this article will help you to run Instagram ads that get a positive return on investments. 

If you are looking for a great tool to help you manage your social media profiles, then check out Iconosquare. With Iconosquare, you can schedule posts, run in-depth analytics, and monitor what is being said about your brand with ease.  Get started with your 30-day free trial

the writer


Copywriter @Iconosquare

Hi! I'm Marvellous, huge fan of Iconosquare as a product, and determined to help experienced social media marketers thrive in the various aspects of their career.

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