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How to Use Sponsored Posts on Instagram

Instagram sponsored posts are the most common type of ad that you’ll see in the feed, and can be extremely effective when used correctly. To learn how to create sponsored posts on Instagram, you’ll need to get familiar with Facebook Ads Manager. These are often confused with promoted posts, but they are very different.

While promoted posts are often quicker, Instagram sponsored posts offer accuracy in targeting and in ad copy that you can’t get within the Instagram app. If you are spending any money on Instagram, you need to know how to create sponsored posts. They have become the default for advertising on the platform, and for good reason.


Sponsored posts should fit easily into your content calendar, as they are often an extension of what you’ve been doing elsewhere. While you should usually switch your content up at least a little bit to make it an efficient ad, you will also want to make your content feel like content. One of the biggest mistakes you can make in marketing on Instagram is running ads that feel like ads – it turns most people off these days.

Instead, the purpose of a sponsored post should be more on branding in a way that feels native to Instagram. You should be using call to actions that are driving people off site, but the post part of the sponsored post should be the major focus. Use sponsored posts to offer a bit of value first, and to create sales second.

Of course, there are plenty of options for that call to action, as well. Sponsored posts are a great way to drive engagement, helping to create sales further down the line. They are a versatile tool, and knowing how to get a sponsored post on Instagram to work how you want it to is very important.

The Difference Between Instagram Sponsored Posts and Promoted Posts

So, the first point I want to cover is that sponsored posts are not the same as promoted – or boosted – posts. Promoting a post is an option on both Instagram and Facebook, which can be done in-app if you have a business account. It’s a very quick replacement for Ads Manager, which offers some basic options for running an ad.

You can only promote a post that you’ve already made, which is the first distinction from sponsored posts. When you boost a post, you’re paying to get in front of more people. You can add a call-to-action button and link, but the point is to get more views on a post. Boosting a post can be a good tool if you’re looking for better engagement or just want a quick solution.

On the other hand, sponsored posts offer much greater targeting and can be used for a wider variety of purposes. If your brand is more niche or your advertising is more focused, you will almost always want a sponsored post above a boosted one. You also can’t retarget with promoted posts, which is a major loss. Boosted posts can still be a good part of your strategy if you spend in small amounts to aid your engagement.

The major similarity is that you’re still using posts from your account to create sponsored posts. Sponsored posts have a content or creative first mindset, with the idea being that your ad needs to make sense in the news feed. This is best practice for Instagram in general, and sponsored posts offer a way to test a post before putting money into it.


How to Get a Sponsored Post on Instagram to Work

Before we can get too far into how to get sponsored posts to work, you need to know why Instagram sponsored posts should be part of your strategy. Your sponsored posts need to be sponsored with a specific goal in mind, otherwise they will fail. You can’t complete a goal you don’t have.

One way to use sponsored posts is to promote shoppable Instagram posts. This is more like a traditional advertisement, but it is native to the Instagram platform. If you can create a post that shows off a product in a visually appealing way, you can create sales without having to take people off of the Instagram platform.

Sponsored posts also interact very well with user generated content. For example, you can use sponsored posts to get user generated content into other people’s newsfeeds. This is a great way to leverage that UGC, and turn it into a powerful branding tool. It also shows good faith with your users if they put effort into the content, adding an extra bit of value.

To that point, sponsored posts are also a great way to encourage user generated content. Sponsored posts are a good way to show off how much engagement you’re already getting, as well as add more on top of it. This can be great for getting your engagement metrics up and increasing social proof.

Finally, sponsored posts are most important for increasing brand awareness and visibility. Because they are in-feed, sponsored posts are a great way to get your brand seen. If you build your sponsored posts in a way that makes sense and is appealing in the feed, you will see an ROI eventually.

The Best Type of Content for Instagram Sponsored Posts

There are 3 things that you’re looking for in a sponsored post:

First, your post should visually stand out. Posts that are bright and colorful, posts that don’t have text. These posts will stand out in the feed, and encourage people to at least give it the time of day. If your post can’t survive on the composition of the image or the video, it won’t work.

Second, your post will generally do better if it includes a human in some capacity. This could be a user, or it could be an actor that you’ve hired for the creative. For marketing agencies, this will generally be you or an employee. But just having a face humanizes the brand, making it feel better to users.

Finally, your post should offer value. It doesn’t need to be readily apparent, but it should be there. If you’re advertising for your marketing agency, use the 1 minute you have on video to offer some advice. And use your call to action to add even more value – don’t buy now, get a free consultation.

How to Create Sponsored Posts on Instagram

To create a functioning sponsored posts, try using the top 4 – 6 of your recent posts as ads first. Run them each for a short time with a small budget, and see what’s doing the best. Once something has clearly pulled out ahead, that’s what you should be using as your main ad.

Make sure that targeting and call to actions are the same on your Instagram sponsored posts at this point, for proper testing.

In order to actually create the sponsored post, you’ll need to go to Facebook Business Manager, then to Ads Manager. Create your ad there, with the engagement objective. Narrow your audience down based on location (if relevant) and interest, use a broad audience at first. Later, you can use more narrow, look-alike audiences. Place your ad on the Instagram feed, and select the post.

Choose your CTA – you’ll need to test for yourself which work with your audience, but generally one will stand out as the most relevant. And you’re good to go.

Sponsored posts are a great way to increase your brand awareness and drive engagement in a native, natural way. When you are getting started on Instagram, sponsored posts are a great way to get going. After that, they can help maintain your engagement and drive sales. They’re a powerful tool that you should know how to use.

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