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7 Ways to Get More Likes on Your Instagram Ads

August 16, 2018

So, you captured the most beautiful photograph, edited it with your own custom filter, and even threw some cash behind it to ensure plenty of eyes landed on it…but you aren’t getting any likes!

Well, perhaps you got a sympathy like or two, but the overall engagement rate of your Instagram post is weak. This is that disheartening moment where you may be doubting why you’ve chosen to use Instagram as a marketing platform in the first place.

get more instagram ad likes

Take a deep breath – you haven’t pulled out all the stops just yet. There is likely a huge sea of likes and future followers that are waiting to be exposed to your breathtaking Instagram ads, they just haven’t had the chance yet. After all, Instagram is a popular place, with so much competing content that it can be hard to get in front of all the other distractions. Never mind your business competition, you’re also competing with users nieces, nephews, and college roommates, after all!

Luckily, I’ve got a few tricks for you today. Here are seven effective ways to get more likes on your Instagram ads!

#1. Be Strategic with Your #Hashtags

Yes, I know that you know how critical it is to use hashtags on your Instagram ads, but how many? And which hashtags would be most beneficial for that particular ad?

These are questions that you need to ask before blindly hashtaging every somewhat relevant word you can think of.

Instagram hashtags are so incredibly useful because they allow people (outside of your existing followers) to discover your posts, but in order to find the right people you need the right hashtags.

Be sure to choose hashtags that are popular, but not too popular, so you don’t get lost in the shuffle.  Conduct hashtag research by simply typing in a few words in the Instagram search bar to see which hashtags Instagram autogenerates (see screenshot below).

how to find instagram hashtags

Pay attention to the number of posts that hashtags to determine some ideal ones, and remember that you’re not aiming for the highest number. “We estimate that a post to a hashtag with 10 million posts on it will be pushed out of the first 9 posts in the feed in about 3 minutes,” says David Christopher at the Tailwind blog. “That’s not a very long time to accumulate engagement from the hashtag.”

Another great way to research on Instagram is to see what hashtags your competitors or partners are using. Also don’t be afraid to use other tools for hashtag research. A few to check out include Websta, Archie.co, Hashtagify, and Hashtags.org.

But how many hashtags is too many? Before conducting the research it’s important to have a target number of hashtags in mind. Luckily, TrackMaven analyzed 65,000 posts and found that 9 hashtags is the ideal number for highest post engagement. They also found that longer hashtags often perform better.

instagram ad hashtags

#2. Run a Contest or Giveaway with a Popular Partner

Running a contest or giveaway on social media probably isn’t a new concept to you. Contests are one of the best ways to up post engagement because people LOVE free stuff. If you’re offering a month’s supply of free wine or a free tropical vacation, I will easily like, share, or even repost your content just for the chance to win.

But is the effort of organizing and running an Instagram contest worth the return if you only have a few followers? This is where partnering with a business that has already built up a big following is going to supercharge your contest efforts and actually gain your Instagram ads likes and your account followers.

how to increase instagram ad engagement

Check out this awesome example for a local restaurant in my neighborhood above. Since I’m already a loyal follower of Loco Taqueria, I saw this exciting offer for a 20K giveaway. How could I resist entering this? Then I noticed that the terms of applying were to follow or tag Drink for Taleza, a brand that I had never heard of before. What an incredible way to help both parties gain more likes and ad engagement.

Also: If you’re a restaurant trying to get noticed, check out Gordon Donnelly’s great tips for marketing a restaurant on Instagram.

#3. Run Ads When Your Audience Is Most Active

Instagram has this incredible feature that allows you to schedule when your ads appear. The ad-schedule feature (which is only available with lifetime budgeting) is a great way to advertise to people at the right time.

best time to post an instagram ad

Via CoSchedule

If you know your audience well, this shouldn’t be too hard to determine, but trial and error can also work here.

Think about your vertical. If you are an online retailer, when do people typically shop for clothing online? Or if you’re a car dealership, what days of the week do you see the highest spike in website traffic or foot traffic? Of course it is critical to think about when your audience is most likely to spend time on Instagram. Asking these questions is a good place to start.

If you are not using a lifetime budget and would still like to schedule your ads, there are other ways to do it. Take advantage of free ad scheduling tools like Hootsuite and Buffer, which also offer lots of other tools to help manage and grow your social audiences.

#4. Post Instagram Stories Regularly

What do Instagram stories have to do with increasing your ads’ engagement? This Snapchat-like feature allows brands to post a video or image that lasts for 24 hours. And while Instagram Stories may not be directly connected with your ad (unless your ad is a story!), many Instagram users have reported that stories help increase their brand engagement on Instagram.

Instagram stories are also just another way to increase your presence on the platform, so try increasing the number of stories you share or even try running an Instagram story ad to see how the engagement compares to other ad formats.

instagram brand stories

The other major benefit of Instagram Stories is that this feature allows your brand to be featured on Instagram’s Explore page where users go to find new content. Instagram chooses accounts to be featured on this page based on the accounts you already follow and the posts you engage with. To get featured on this page you of course need to create more super-engaging Instagram Stories.

The benefits of being featured on the Explore page will likely tie to an increase in likes and engagement on your other posts as well.

#5. Ensure Your Audience Is Targeted (But Not TOO Targeted)

Similar to Facebook, Instagram allows you to build a very targeted audience for ad campaigns. There are several segmentation options including location, age, demographics, interests, behaviors, connections, custom audiences, lookalike, and the list goes on.

Many advertisers may breeze over this option, leaving their audience far too broad and leading to so many irrelevant individuals being exposed to your brand. Others may overuse their ability to pin-point an audience and layer on far too many specific targeting options, giving you a tiny end audience. So how do you strike the perfect balance?

Luckily, when configuring your Instagram advertising campaign through Facebook’s ad platform there is a handy guide that allows you to see if your audience is too broad or specific (pictured below). You should aim to be in the middle of the green zone to hit just the right amount of relevant people.

how to optimize your instagram audience size

#6. Make Your Ads More Visually Appealing with Free Tools!

I can still remember the first time I began filtering photos with Instagram’s built-in features. I was amazed at how I could take a so-so image and change it into a glowing masterpiece. I could make myself look tan in the dead of a New England winter – what could be better than that?

As it turns out, there is an entire industry of tools that allows for even more advanced editing options to turn your Instagram ads into the most engaging images they can be.

A few good ones to try out include VSCO, which allows you to give photos double exposure; Wordswag, Typorama, and Over, to add engaging text to your images; Enlight, which allows for some crazy creative editing capabilities (see below), and the list goes on.

how to get more likes on instagram ads

Aside from increasing the likeability of your ads, the greatest thing about these tools is that most of them are completely free! To discover more cool Instagram editing tools, check out this post.

#7. Join an Instagram Pod

Instagram what? This was my first reaction before being educated about Instagram pods, which are pretty fantastic. An Instagram pod is a group of like-minded Instagrammers who share strategy tips and tricks and help promote each other’s content.

Typically pods are composed of roughly 10-15 Instagrammers, who communicate through Instagram direct messages, and every time a group member publishes a new post they share it so that the other group members will like it and comment, encouraging others to engage.

How do you join one of these so called pods? It is by invitation only, so networking is key, but some other ways to discover pods include joining Instagram-themed groups on Facebook, like Instagram Marketing Mastermind or The Gram Gang.

In summary:

7 Ways to Get More Instagram Ad Likes:

  1. Find and use the right hashtags
  2. Partner up and run a contest or giveaway
  3. Schedule your ads to run during peak engagement hours
  4. Get more active with Instagram Stories
  5. Adjust your audience size for better targeting
  6. Use free tools to make your ads more appealing
  7. Join an Instagram pod

Now that you’ve learned some tips on how to increase likes on your Instagram Ads, go forth and make 2018 your most likeable year yet!

Margot da Cunha

Margot is a Content Marketing Specialist at WordStream and nutrition graduate student at Framingham State. She loves all things digital, learning about nutrition, running, traveling, and cooking.