Since 2016, Instagram has launched their business profiles. These have dedicated features like contact buttons and call-to-actions buttons just for company profiles. But more importantly, they allow you to advertise. Instagram Promotions are newer than ads, and way less of a commitment than an entire campaign. But are they worth it? Well let’s see what they are and learn from those who have actually launched one.

What are Promotions on Instagram?

What are Instagram Promotions?

If you’re familiar with Instagram ads, you’ve probably at least heard of Instagram Promotions. What’s the difference?


What is Instagram Promotion?

Instagram Promotions are regular, non-advertisement posts that a user would want to convert to a sponsored post, with elevated reach. 

The ‘Sponsored’ tag may appear in the same place, but Instagram treats these posts differently with their algorithm. Every user will have a different motivation and so the algorithm will do its best to correspond to those nuances.

Both ads and promotions are there to increase engagement and visibility. But an ad is best for conversion as it offers way more preferences for targeting.

A promotion takes a high performing post and turns it up a notch. It takes it to the next level regarding engagement — ramping up likes, views, shares, and more.  

Instagram ads are great tools to convert potential customers to repeat ones. Sometimes, your goals may not demand a full blown ad campaign. 

If you’re more in need of brand awareness, launching an entire campaign may turn out to be a waste of time and money. This is where Instagram Promotion comes in. 

Use them to turn a previous post into a sponsored one to extend your reach. If your objective is high visibility, promotions are your answer. 

Keep in mind, the algorithms of most social media platforms work on a virality factor. So the faster your posts get off the ground, the higher the ranking the algorithm puts you in the feed.

And it makes sense. About 95 million photos and videos are posted on Instagram per day. The competition for visibility is insane. 

So, how do you run an Instagram Promotion?

Give Yourself an Instagram Boost

How do Instagram Promotions work?

The great thing about Instagram Promotions is that they can be done directly from your phone. With ads you need to be in the Ads Manager to create your campaign. 

This is the Facebook Ads Manager. Important — if you want to use Instagram ads and Instagram Promotions, you do need an Instagram business profile.

If you’re promoting you can do it from the app, and simply switch to a business profile in settings. But if you want to use Instagram ads, you’ll need to be connected to that Facebook business page.

For more on this and how to promote, watch the video below. 

The 411 on Instagram promotion

Instagram promotion uses algorithms in order to determine who is likely to click on your ads based on your campaign motivations. 

How Do Instagram Promotions Work?

Choose your motivation

There are three different "motivations" for using Instagram promotion — increasing profile visits, website traffic or simply sharing your post to more IG users. Each one is very specific in its aim so to maximize your Instagram promotion efforts, make sure you understand each one and how they work.

Profile Visits 

If you want to increase your presence on Instagram. Instagram uses particular algorithms and for this one they’ll promote to people who are likely to go to your page.

Website Traffic

Instagram uses this information to determine who to reach out to for you. If you want more traffic to your website for instance, they’ll use an algorithm to make sure the people that typically click 

Promotion Views

This will show your post to as many people as possible, but it doesn’t promise engagement on the ad. This one is more for brand awareness.


Direct your traffic

This is part of the motivation, and similar to above, you’ll be asked where you would like the traffic generated from the promotion to end up. There are three options, and, again, make sure you understand the ideal results for each promotion. Traffic can be directed to go to your IG profile, website, or store front. 

Who Are You Trying To Reach?

Select your target demographic

There are millions upon millions of IG users around the world — and there's no way you'll be able to reach all of them. Just like the parameters we've already discussed, you have to be selective and strategic with who your target demographic is.

When you're setting up your Instagram promotion, you have another three options to choose your desired audience.

Automatic Audience

This option targets people who are similar to your followers based on demographics. It also targets those who have already engaged and have been interested in your organic content previously.

This option makes sense if you're trying to solidify IG users who have already shown an interest. On the flip side, if your goal is to catch the eyes of completely new users, this would not be the best option.

Local Audience

Targets people within a certain radius of a certain location. With options for age range and gender. This could be good when you’re promoting a last minute event taking place in a specific location. It also shows your post to those who are similar to your followers based on location.

Manual Audience

Create your own specific audience based on age, location, interests, and more. This is typically best because you have more control, but it really depends on your specific objectives. 

The Fine Print of Instagram Promotions

Decide the price and duration

The app makes this part pretty hassle free with a sliding scale of how long and how much you’d like to pay. You can pay $10.00 a day for a 24-hour promotion and see how it works. Cost and duration options can get much higher and longer so it really comes down to your budget.

Instagram uses a 'CPM' or cost-per-mille, which really just means cost per 1000 impressions or views. Now that we know how to promote on Instagram, is it really worth it? In the next section, we'll get some results from influencers who have tried it out.

Do Instagram Promotions Work?

Instagram promotion results

Users with relatively high followers who are trying to gain visibility say it may not be worth the cash. And they seem to be struggling for the same reasons. 

Laura Price, an illustrator, gives us some key insights into her experience with Instagram’s $5.00 promo. 

What will a $5 Instagram promotion get you?

Alec Wilcock is somewhat of an Instagram expert and has a number of videos on his channel dedicated to how IG works. Watch as he takes us through his experience, with a bit more on how to promote.

The results seem to come back inconclusive but somewhat comprehensible...the more money you put in, the more effective your promotion will be. 

Was Alec's experience any better?

It’s pretty hard to measure success if you throw only $5.00 for a mere 24 hours. But that doesn’t mean waste your money either. A combination of ads and promotions may be a good start until your business gets off the ground. Though, if you’re already a fairly successful brand, it may be best to keep your Instagram promotions running for longer.


Guide to Instagram Ads

If you’re unsure about trying out Instagram Promotions, that’s all right. But don’t miss out on Instagram altogether. Instagram has the highest brand-consumer engagement than any other platform out there. Learn how to run Instagram ads, even if you’re not yet ready for promotions. 

Up Next: Make Instagram Ads→

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  • Alyssa Maio is a screenwriter from New Jersey, now living in Los Angeles. She works as a copywriter here at StudioBinder.


  1. Great post, Alyssa.
    Do you recommend using tools for spying on competitors? If yes, what do you recommend?

  2. Thanks for this article! I’m going to attempt one myself and plan to document my findings.

  3. I heard Instagram has better conversion that other social channels. Is it due to photo and video contents?

  4. I read out this article about Instagram Promotion. Really you explained clearly everything. Its make easy to understand. Thanks a lots.

  5. Instagram has been known to erroneously show promoted posts to accounts other than what you ask and pay for. This has happened repeatedly on my own account and others’ accounts. For instance, we may specify women only in the United States only, and the analytics repeatedly reveal unknown countries being the largest viewers of the promotion, and not even all female.

    This is an ongoing issue with Instagram promotions!

    There have also been issues with Instagram charging for posts that weren’t actually promoted, but still under review and never actually excepted. Beware! Jmary_likes

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