A few months ago, Facebook made it easy for anyone to run Instagram Ads (Facebook owns Instagram). For some time, ads on Instagram were only available to large national advertisers with the budgets to match, but now even your local business can appear in the newsfeed of potential customers.

Local merchants have the most to gain — after all, Instagram is a visual medium, and what better way to showcase your offerings? If you’ve got a particularly photogenic store, or the perfect latte art, promote it!  

Getting Started

Getting started is pretty easy, and you can get the ad set up from your browser. You’ll need a Facebook page, but hopefully you already have one.

As you’re setting up your Instagram Ad, you’ll get to pick targeting to make sure your ad is only showing up where it’s relevant. If you run a local business, be sure you only target users well within driving distance. As you refine your targeting options, you’ll see how big your estimated audience size is. Too big, and your ad most likely won’t be relevant to everyone. Too small, and your ad might not get seen by enough people to make a difference.

You can get pretty specific with targeting options, too. For example, on Facebook, if you run a furniture store, you could target only people who have moved recently.

Most importantly, be sure to pick a photo (and text) that best showcases your business! Don’t be tempted to use the free stock photos, because they aren’t going to be unique to your business.

Instagram Ad Sample


Start conservatively at first when it comes to picking a bid and budget for your Instagram Ads — Facebook will try to spend as much as it can, because that’s how they make money. (Note that you can set up your ad to also appear in the Facebook newsfeed as you’re designing your ad.) When you start setting up your ad, Facebook will walk you through the process of creating the right ads and formats to meet your objective.

Measuring Results

Then, evaluate the results of your Instagram Ads before expanding your budget or bids. Make sure you’re getting increased followers, if that’s your goal, or clicks to your website, if that’s most important to you.

If you can, test running a promotion within the ad: for example, one popular restaurant in New York recently posted on Instagram that they’re now only open for walk-ins on Mondays. They’ll be able to easily test the effectiveness of that post by seeing how many people show up to eat on Monday.

If you’re successful, be sure to update your employee shift planning to match the new demand!