Why Your Instagram Paid Promos Aren’t Working

You pay hundreds of dollars for your business to get promoted on Instagram, and yet, you’re not seeing any dividends from it.

Anyone familiar with Instagram will notice that it has gone through a lot of changes, especially recently, when they added the feature of the Instagram Shop. Although options like the Instagram Shop and Instagram Insights can be helpful for increasing your sales online, they may also be hard to navigate or to use to the best of their ability.

Along with the shop option, Instagram also allows Business accounts to promote themselves. The way this works is that you pay Instagram to show up in the feeds of other people who don’t follow you. If you’ve ever been scrolling through Instagram and find yourself running into a sponsored ad, it’s because the business has paid Instagram to promote their account.

This article presumes you know how to use Instagram enough to look at Insights and promote your business through Instagram. What this article attempts to show is how you can best use your promotion to not only gain likes but also to gain follows and eventually increase your sales revenue from your Instagram.

The end goal of all advertisements is to increase sales or views of a business or product. Still, many advertisement campaigns have been paid for but haven’t paid out to the company. Of course, advertising takes time, and a correct advertisement campaign takes a lot of trial and error, so before you pay for a post to be promoted by Instagram, here are some tips to enable you to pick the best post:

First, research. You can use Instagram Insights to see how well a post has done before its been promoted. Unfortunately, this alone could not be enough information to go off of. Luckily, Instagram finds feeds for your post to be promoted to using an algorithm to reach more accounts that are similar to the accounts that already follow you. For example, after promoting a post, you might see that 60 percent of the accounts your post were shown to were 20–35 year old women in California. If this comes as a surprise to you, you should research WHY Instagram chose this group to show your account to. Usually, if Instagram picks a demographic, that’s because Instagram understands to a degree, what audience your post resonates with.

Second, analyze. After you’ve discovered what your demographic is (and if you are a small business, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND letting Instagram automatically find accounts to share your business with) you want to know how this demographic views your product. If the demographic really likes your product but you don’t know why, then you can’t adequately advertise to that demographic. While you could use a good old fashioned focus group, it can take time and money and isn’t always accurate. So you should put yourself in the consumers shoes — if your product is plant fertilizer and seems to do well with the California Millennial or Gen Z’er, maybe you’re not going to be the next Miracle Grow and instead should center your campaign on fertilizer for indoor plants.

Third, preparation. Now you know your demographic, you know how they react to your product, the next step is possibly the most crucial and the most forgotten about. After you have all this data, you want to curate your Instagram page to invite your new audience in. I have seen so many business and creator accounts that know what post resonates the most with their audience but not what the audience wants to see in an Instagram page. This will lead to a lot of likes on your promoted Instagram post, but it might not cause them to buy your product, or, even follow you.

The Hierarchy of Instagram Advertisement:

  1. Know What Post Will Grab You Audience’s Attention
  2. Encourage Your Audience to Follow You
  3. Remind the Audience of Your Product Through Your Story/Feed

Remember, it’s not enough just to get a post with a lot of likes. I have seen accounts with more likes on one post than ten times the amount of all of their followers. The reason this happens is because a page will find a great post, the Instagram Algorithm will do it’s thing, and then, once the potential follower sees a page without more posts like the one they saw, they won’t give the account a follow because it doesn’t offer them anything new.

If You Take One Thing Away From This Article, Let It Be This:

The job of your promotions isn’t just to get likes, it’s to gain followers.

Why are followers so important? Because most of the time, a post isn’t going to cause any immediate sales — unless the post promises a one time deal that is too good for your audience to refuse. Unless you’re also running a sale, I recommend trying to gain followers so that you can stay relevant in their minds and eventually lead them into a sale.

Another reason followers are good is because, unlike likes on a post, followers work as natural honey for your Instagram Business. It’s no secret that usually accounts with more followers end up gaining more followers, which mostly comes down to a statement of legitimacy. I.e. This account has a lot of followers, it’s probably an account I can count on to produce content I want to see because so many people wouldn’t be following it if it didn’t have good content.

This is to say that, regardless of if the followers end up buying your product, they are a very nice notch in your belt to have because they could encourage more followers (and potentially more people to buy your product).

How do you convert your likes to follows?

Well first, you should know that a post with multiple items, gets promoted the same way as a regular post. If you have a post with multiple items, it could also increase your chances of getting followers because it allows for more variety.

Instagram Promotion also gives an option for where to send new views once they click on your post. While you could send them directly to your store using this feature, unless you’re running a promotion or sale of some kind, this usually isn’t the best way to gain an audience. Rarely will you have people who see a post and immediately want to buy your product. For this reason, I recommend sending these viewers to your page first.

Parallel to this, you should make sure when your page and posts are being promoted, you have curated the layout of your Instagram in such a way that it grabs the attention and curiosity of your new viewer. Remember, it is not enough just to make one good post, you want to create a promise of consistency and future good posts to incentivize the new viewers to become new followers.

There are many ways to do this, but one of my favorite ways is using your Instagram Grid to say something BIG. Your Instagram Grid just means how your Instagram Feed will look on your Instagram Page.

Instagram: @lofiawe

Above is an example of multiple Instagram posts created so that when they are uploaded they combine to create a visual before the audience clicks on individual posts. By creating something like this with your page, you allow individuals to get a sense of what your company is about and leave a lasting impression on these individuals when they first look at your page.

To plan a grid like the one above, I use Planoly (FREE online software that let’s you plan your grid before hand).

As I’ve said before, trial and error will always go a long way with your advertisement campaigns so the most important thing is to experiment and remember the Instagram Hierarchy: Promote Post, Gain Follows, Guide Sales.

Poet and Content Creator