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How to Get Instagram Followers with Facebook & Instagram Ads

A lot of people ask me how to get Instagram followers using Facebook ads. But when I started testing this, I found out that the process isn’t as straightforward as it seems.

But after running some experiments I found some strategies that work really well for getting Instagram followers with Facebook ads and I’m excited to share them with you.

Setting Up the Facebook Ad Campaign for Instagram Followers

I’ll start with an example Facebook ads account and we’ll put a campaign together here where I’ll show you how to get Instagram followers.

Setting up your Facebook campaign

The first thing you need to know is that there isn’t a campaign type specifically for Instagram followers at this point.

So you can’t just set up a “like” campaign like you do for Facebook likes.

More Resources: If you want to know how to run a Facebook likes campaign, check out my article The Best Way to Get Likes on a Facebook Ads Campaign.

That means you need to get a little bit more creative in how you are going to pursue getting Instagram followers.

So, what we are going to do is run a Facebook ad campaign and choose Instagram as our ad placement.

Here’s how to get that set up.

Campaign Level

You start by hitting the green button in the Facebook ads manager to create a new campaign. At that point I always choose quick creation over guided creation.

It gives me a little more contorl.

Using quick creation for your Facebook campaign

I start by naming the campaign and leave the buying type as auction.

I also choose traffic as the campaign objective because there’s no way that we can track a conversion event in this campaign.

Select auction and traffic for your Facebook campaign

Since we can’t track conversions on Instagram followers the goal is to send as many people to our Instagram profile as possible and hope that a percentage of those people will go on to follow the Instagram account.

I’ve found in my tests that this is a solid method for getting Instagram followers.

You can also leave campaign budget optimization on and just start with a daily budget that you are comfortable with. It can be small to start – like 5 or 10 dollars or pounds.

Use a budget you can afford for your ad campaign

Then just give your new ad set and ad a name and save it to draft.

Ad Set Level

On the adset level you will need to scroll through all the stuff at the top to get to the audience level.

Defining your Facebook audience

At the audience level we need to work out exactly who we are going to target.

In my experiences, I’ve tested loads of targeting options and the very BEST audience to target is a 1% look a like audience based off of people that ALREADY interact with your business on Instagram.

You want to take your current Instagram followers and create a look a like audience of people like them.

How to Create The Instagram Follower Look a Like Audience

In order to create the Instagram look a like audience to use in your ad set, you’ll need to navigate to audiences in your ads manager and click audience => create custom audience.

Creating a custom audience from Instagram engagers

Then you select the Instagram business profile.

Select Instagram business profile

Next, you will just select everyone who engaged with your business in the past 365 days.

Add people to your audience

Unless you already have hundreds of thousands of Instagram followers you want to leave this very broad because you want the custom audience to be as large as possible so that you can build and accurate lookalike.

The more people in this audience to begin with the better results you will get.

Then I name my custom audience “Instagram Engagers 365” and press create audience.

This will automatically pop up a screen to create a lookalike audience. And that’s what we are going to do here.

create your lookalike audience

The next step is to decide WHERE you want your lookalike audience to be located. A lot of this depends on the kind of business you run.

Most of my clients select the country they are operating in, but you can go broader if that suites your business.

select your lookalike audience location

For our agency, the majority of our clients come from the UK, Canada, Australia, and the United States. So that’s what we put in here.

Tip: If you want to get as many followers as possible for the lowest possible cost choose “worldwide” or countries like India, Pakistan, and South Africa.

A lot of how you choose the countries your audience is built from depends on your strategy. If you are looking to build a profile and you want a lot of credibility in having a large Instagram following then it’s important that you go head and broaden it out.

If you are looking for potential customers then it’s better to keep it in the countries where you do business.

Make sure you leave the default at the 1% audience and click create audience.

Note: If you have a local business and will need to narrow your lookalike audience to something smaller than a country, start with a 10% lookalike audience.

This will take a little bit of time to populate – usually about 30 minutes or so – but once it’s populated we can them go ahead and use that audience for targeting in our ad set level.

Using Your 1% Instagram Engagement Audience

So you’ll go back to audiences at the adset level and use the custom audience section and select the audience you just built.

Using your 1% Instagram engagement audience

For most businesses you don’t want to narrow any further than the lookalike audience you created.

The only exception to this is if you are a truly local business and only want followers from a specific geographic location.

For placement you are only going to to use Instagram.

Use Instagram as your placement

I’ve found that using just Instagram and keeping people in the Instagram app is the least expensive way to get followers.

Then when you are in Instagram, you should narrow the placement even further to Stories. I’ve found that Instagram Stories perform much better to get followers than any other placement.

Use Instagram Stories

So, unlike most Facebook campaigns where you leave the default settings, I’ve found an Instagram followers campaign to work much better with narrower settings.

There are no other settings for adset that we need to worry about so you can move onto the ad level.

Setting Up the Ad Level

This is the level where you choose your ads. I’m not going to create an ad from scratch in this example, but I’ll show you an ad we’ve run and why it works.

The first thing to check at this level is that your Instagram account is attached to your ad. You can see that here.

Choose your Instagram account

Now it’s time to show you the creative and how it works.

First, I skip the primary text. When you are running a Stories ad there’s no real advantage to having anything in there.

Next, make sure you include the website URL. This is VERY important. You want the website URL to take people to your Instagram profile.

Use your Instagram profile URL

On the call to action, I select learn more.

Everything else can be left as is.

This is a very simple ad with a video that basically says, “Hi, my name is Ben Heath and I’m the CEO of Lead Guru which is a social media marketing agency that generates millions of dollars every year with Facebook advertising and Instagram ad campaigns. If you want to see how we do it make sure you follow me on Instagram. Just click the link below that will take you to my profile and I’ll talk to you soon.”

I also have a second creative that works well that tells them about my free Facebook Ad Templates and how to get them by going through my Instagram profile.

I keep this ad under 15 seconds and make sure that it is the kind of vertical video that Instagram likes.

Make sure that you tell them exactly what to do, this is an important part of the process. And give them a REASON to follow you.

You can record a vertical video like this on just about any phone and you can do it while outside or in your place of business.

Getting followers this way is costing me about 20 pence each (about 25 cents US).

Another Free Facebook Advertising Resource

There is nothing I like better than to see business owners increase their ROI with Facebook Ads. In order to help business owners succeed with Facebook ads I’ve created a FREE webinar training that you can register for here.

Free Facebook ads training

When you attend this webinar you’ll learn:

  • 3 different Facebook ad strategies that we use every day. These strategies have generated millions of dollars in revenue and are tried and proven to work.
  • How to customize the Facebook ads strategy to your particular business. There is no such thing as a one size fits all approach to Facebook ads.
  • How Facebook and Instagram have changed and how to adjust your ad strategy to what works in 2021.

Video Tutorial on How to get Instagram Followers with Facebook Ads & Instagram Ads

The Bottom Line on Building an Instagram Following with Facebook Ads

Unforunately, there is no automatic option with Facebook ads to build an Instagram audience. But with a little bit of creativity it’s possible.

1% lookalike audiences with an Instagram placement work the best. Also, make sure your ad creative is simple and direct.

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