5 Common Instagram Advertising Mistakes You're Probably Making.

Could these be the issues holding back your Instagram advertising in 2018?
Joe Fylan
April 19, 2018 - 6 min. read

Instagram is the perfect platform to share your brand and inspire your target audience by promoting your products or services.

With that in mind, Instagram ads are a natural progression for businesses using Instagram to connect with potential new customers.

However, the success of your ads can be easily jeopardized, especially if you are making any of the Instagram advertising mistakes that we are about to discuss.

instagram advertising mistakes

But don’t worry. Not only will we run through a list of common Instagram advertising mistakes and challenges that often trip businesses up, we will also consider how to right your wrongs.

By the end of this article, you will be well-informed on how to fix your Instagram advertising mistakes and ensure your ads are achieving their goals.

Also see: 21 Tips to Massively Boost Instagram Engagement.

1. You are only using photo ads

Instagram provides a number of ad types for businesses to use. So if you are only posting photo ads then you are missing a trick. Let’s take a look at other ad types that are available…

Instagram video ads
Instagram allows you to use up to 60 seconds of video in your ads. And with video being such a powerful medium, not taking advantage of video advertising is a huge mistake.

Toward the end of 2017, Instagram saw an 80% increase in time people spent watching video. Displaying videos in ads will enable you to appeal to your audience, grab their attention and increase engagement. So if you want your brand to appear relevant and your ads to achieve their goals, then you should consider using video in your ad campaigns.

Also see: 7 Social Video Trends Marketers Need to Know.

DiGiorno, a popular pizza brand, used video ads to appeal to their audience. They created a time-lapse video of pizza cooking in an oven, then targeted their Instagram video ads at people aged 25 – 54, living in the US, with pizza-related interests. Over 3.5 weeks, DiGiorno managed to reach 21 million people.

instagram advertising mistakes

Instagram carousel ads
Carousel ads let your audience swipe to view additional photos or videos. By adding extra visuals in this way, you can build on the theme or message of your campaign.

Carousel ads are particularly effective if you are selling products. Displaying a range of items from a particular product range or showing the same product from different angles can get potential customers excited about making a purchase.

GAP makes great use of carousel ads, using a combination of video and photos to promote a range of products, styles, and color schemes.

instagram advertising mistakes

GAP does a great job of using Instagram carousel ads to full effect to promote its various clothing lines and colors.

Instagram Stories ads
300 million people use Instagram Stories every day, and over a third of the most viewed stories come from businesses—so making use of this Instagram ad feature is a must.

The yogurt brand Activia used Instagram Stories ads and saw impressive results. The brand ran two different Stories ads portraying women eating Activia as they went about their daily lives. After six weeks, Activia had reached over 3 million people.
instagram advertising mistakes
Instagram Stories ads use a fullscreen, vertical format, enabling you to immerse viewers in your content. You can use Instagram’s numerous creative tools to produce a Stories ad packed full of videos, photos and sound.

By telling the tale of your business or product through Stories ads, you will help your audience quickly connect with your brand.

Also see: 5 Examples of Brands Successfully Using Instagram Stories.

2. Your ads aren’t targeting the right audiences

One of the many Instagram challenges that brands come up against is targeting the right audience. You may have created show-stopping ads, but if they aren’t reaching your target audience then they are worthless.

Therefore, it is important that you take the time to become familiar with the selection of precise targeting options that Instagram provides.

At the most basic level, you can target people based on location, demographics, interests, and behaviors. Let’s have a look at two other crucial targeting options…



Custom Audiences
Custom Audiences allow you to target particular groups of people who have previously interacted with your business in some way.

First, you upload a list of leads based on phone numbers or email addresses. Instagram will then display your ads to these contacts if they are present on Instagram.

Using Custom Audiences is an effective way of retargeting those who have already shown an interest in your business.

This helps increase return on investment because, as the target custom audience have previously interacted with your business, they are more likely to convert against your advertisement goals.

Also see: 5 Typical Facebook Ad Mistakes That are Hurting Your Budget

Lookalike Audiences
A Lookalike Audience is a target group that is created based on your existing customers. The purpose of using a lookalike audience on Instagram is to reach a new audience with similar features to people who already like your brand.

By selecting the audience based on your most valuable current customers, your ads are more likely to achieve their objectives.

Entertainment company BluTV used Custom Audiences and Lookalike Audiences to target their ads at people who had already visited their site and at a new audience similar to their existing one.

Over two weeks, they saw over 20,000 new members subscribe to their service.

instagram advertising mistakes

3. Your ad content isn’t right

There are many Instagram advertising mistakes to avoid, but missing the mark on your ad content is a major one. When you create your ads you must ensure that they…

  • Reflect your brand
  • Aren’t too promotional
  • Provide inspiration

Your ads must represent your business and its services or products without being too sales-y. By producing ads that focus on providing inspiration to your viewers through imagery and stories, you will appeal to your audience.

Nike is particularly skillful at producing motivational ads, with a focus on famous individuals playing sports while wearing Nike apparel.

instagram advertising mistakes

Another aspect of your ad content to get right is the description. If your description is lacking, your message might not hit home. Questions to ask yourself include…

  • Does your description back up the message portrayed in the ad’s image/video?
  • Are you using the right hashtags?
  • Have you added emojis?
  • Have you written a compelling call to action?

Use the description to push home the point of the ad and encourage your audience to complete the specific action that your ad is aiming to achieve.

Also see: 15 Embarrassing Instagram Mistakes and How to Avoid Them.

4. You aren’t checking Instagram Insights

instagram advertising mistakes

One of the most common Instagram advertising mistakes is not closely checking and learning from Instagram Insights. Monitoring your Instagram ad analytics will enable you to understand how your audience is interacting with your ads, what is working, and what needs improving.

Use Instagram Insights to track…

  • Impressions – The number of times your ads were viewed.
  • Reach – The number of unique accounts that viewed your ads.
  • Actions – The number and types of actions that were taken on your profile after viewing an ad. Actions include profile visits, follows, and website/link clicks.

Instagram Insights will also give you insight into your audience, sharing information such as gender, age, and location. Analyzing this data and acting on it should be a key part of your advertising strategy (covered next) and your future ad campaigns.

Also see: 7 Underrated Social Media Metrics You Should be Trying.

5. You haven’t created a goal-driven Instagram advertising strategy


Without a well-thought-out, goal-driven advertising strategy you will struggle to run a successful Instagram ad campaign.

Equally, if you have created an ad strategy but while reading this article realized you have made one or more of the above Instagram advertising mistakes, then your ad strategy is not thorough enough.

The fundamental principle of an effective Instagram ad strategy is to identify your goals – what do you want your ads to achieve?

It may be that you want to grow your Instagram following, raise brand awareness, drive traffic to your website or landing page, or achieve another goal altogether.

Once you are clear on the main aim of your ads, then you can concentrate on other areas of the ad campaign—for example, selecting the right ad type, creating great content, and targeting the exact audience you’re looking for.

However, the underlying theme of ‘how’ you will accomplish your primary objective should help guide your campaign and ensure it makes an impact.

Final thoughts on Instagram advertising mistakes

There are numerous Instagram challenges that you will come across when you advertise on this social media platform.

However, by avoiding the Instagram advertising mistakes that we have mentioned above, you will immediately have the upper hand over the majority of your competitors, and start your brand on the road to success.

Instagram Publishing With Falcon.
Plan, create, and collaborate on your Instagram strategy, including stories, videos and images.
Discover how