Cracking the Instagram promotion code in 2022

by Balaji Venkatesan
Published: Last Updated on

Considering this feature is named after the 4th P of Marketing, it seemed crucial enough that we spoke about it. Don’t you think? 

In a nutshell, Instagram Promotion is a paid form of advertising on the social media platform. 

Let us proceed to break this down into a 2000 word blog now. 

Promotion comes under the umbrella of Instagram Marketing. You can pick from the posts/stories and turn them into sponsored ads for your profile. Some of the basic reasons behind paid promotions are: 

  • Increase brand awareness
  • Wider outreach 
  • Lead generation 
  • Increase website visits 
  • Improve CTR

All this to ask if Instagram Promotion is worth it in 2021. Let’s find out! 

Same Same but Different

Organic posts and their promotional counterparts look the same for the most part. The key differentiators are: 

  1. The word ‘’Sponsored’’ appears right below the account handle on a promotion post. 
  2. Sponsored posts appear between the usual posts on your Instagram feed. They’re from accounts you don’t already follow. 
  3. A CTA can be included only in Sponsored posts. The CTA above is ‘’Learn More’’. Instagram has a few options to choose from depending on your goal for the promotion.
  4. A sponsored post can be isolated for it to appear as per your liking. This can be done using Facebook Ads Manager. 
  5. Sponsored posts can appear on your feed or in stories as well. 

Promotable Content on Instagram

Initially, you could only promote Instagram posts. With the updates, there’s options of promoting stories and story highlights as well. 

As a general rule, promotion is only allowed via Instagram Business accounts. Later in the blog, we will explain the entire process with an easy to follow step-by-step guide. 

Post Promotion 

The above example of retail clothing brand H&M is that of a post promotion. 

Story and Highlights Promotion

As you can see, stories that are promoted have the Sponsored tag similar to posts. The same applies to highlights as well. The idea is to ensure the user knows to differentiate between an organic and promotional post/story easily. 

The story/highlight promotion feature allows you to add a Swipe Up link with the CTA. CTAs are the same as options available for posts. These promotions appear between stories. 

Instagram Promotion Procedure

Promotion Vs Ads 

There’s Promotions and there’s Ads. They are used interchangeably but there’s two different procedures to both. 

Instagram Promotions are usually done with content that has already been posted on your feed. For instance, you put out an organic post and see that it performed well. Now you decide to promote the post because you know it’ll bring in more traction. 

Instagram Ads however are preconceived promotional campaigns. The starting point of even creating content for Ads is that it’s going to be a paid strategy. Here, you directly work with the mindset of creating content that’s appealing to someone who doesn’t already follow you yet someone who fits your target audience. 

Business Profile

As mentioned earlier, in order to even be able to promote on Instagram, you should have a business profile. So in case you’re new to this, let’s get you set up real quick! 

Watch this 1 minute video to go through the process of setting up a business profile on Instagram. It shouldn’t take you too long as it’s self explanatory. 


Why do you want to promote your post? Rather, what do you want to achieve from promoting your post? Some of the motivating factors to promote include: 

  • Awareness – One of the primary reasons to promote posts on Instagram is to increase brand awareness and gain a wider reach. 
  • Profile Traffic – You want more eyeballs on your profile and thus the CTA for this will be ‘’Visit Profile’’. People can see your entire feed and get a good idea of your product/service (make sure to execute a killer Content Marketing strategy so they want to stay on your profile and maybe even Follow you!)
  • Website Traffic – Your website is usually linked to your Instagram Profile in your bio (Link in Bio). So it’s a two step process to get people to click on your website link. But in the case of a promotion, your CTA can directly take them to your website. You can even choose a particular landing page on your website in case of a targeted product post. 

Audience Selection

Once you’ve decided on your goal for the promotion, go ahead and look at the options available for selecting your target audience. You can pick one of the following audiences: 

  • Automatic Audience – Courtesy of AI Bots, Instagram does a sweep through of your existing audience and creates a demographic similar to that under this section. It’s closest to the Lookalike Audience option on Facebook. 
  • Local Audience – This works especially well if your business is hyper focused geographically. You can promote your post in the local area, making sure it’ll only get viewed by people who can engage with/purchase from you.
  • Manual Audience – This one’s our favorite and we’ll tell you why. Manual Audience is where you build your audience from scratch using Instagram’s options. You can choose an age range, location, sex, occupation, interests and other features. 

Duration and Pricing

Next step is deciding how long you want the post to be promoted. The duration can go from a 24 hour period to a week-long promotion. 

The pricing for the entire campaign is displayed and it varies depending on the duration. You can play around with this to reach a combination of duration and pricing that works best for you. 

Just for a heads up, Instagram functions on a cost per mille (CPM) Approach which essentially means cost per 1000 impressions or views. 


This comes after the promotion has started. You can use the inbuilt analytical features of the app to track and measure the promotion. 

  • Understand cost of acquisition on a per customer basis. 
  • Identify scope for improvement. 
  • Analyse the worthiness of the promotion. 
  • Repeat. 

Step-By-Step Breakdown

Remember when we mentioned that a key differentiator between a promotion and an ad is that the former is done based on what’s already posted? That’s where we start the process. 

Step 1 – Go to your profile 

Step 2 – Select the post you want to promote (Avoid posts with images greater than 8mb). 

Step 3 – Click the Promote button below the post. 

Step 4 – As discussed above, set your Goal, Audience, Budget and Duration 

Step 5 – If not previously linked, Instagram will prompt you to link your Facebook account in this step. We recommend you do so. 

Step 6 – Go ahead and click on create Promotion under review. 

It’s a waiting game after this. Instagram will review your promotion to ensure it meets their Ad policies. Once it’s cleared, your promotion will be live and you will be notified of the same. 

This section was written keeping in mind the Steps laid out by Instagram

Instagram Promotion Costs

Instagram allows you to enter your maximum budget and then based on the duration of the campaign, the final amount to be paid is displayed. This number is always within the budget. 

The idea is to fall in the right CPC range to make it a successful promotion. As per 2021 stats, the average Instagram ads CPC is $0.50 – $3.50. You will pay more in competitive industries, e.g. eCommerce.

Yes, Instagram promotion is a great way to generate leads and increase profile visits + followers. But the success of the promotion depends on the process post acquiring the lead. It’s important to have a combination of chatbots/email/whatsApp messaging/push notifications and whatever else works as a follow up in order to convert the prospect into a paying customer. 

Promotion or Ads – Which is Cheaper? 

The difference between the two is mainly to do with the source of the content and the intent. They’re similar when it comes to costs involved. And there’s no conclusive data proving otherwise. 

Your Promotions Will Succeed

Don’t take us for optimists. We have reasons for making this statement. Please sit back and let us make our case to you. 

Social Media Algorithms are constantly updating and it’s near impossible to entirely keep up with the ever evolving machine learning and AI. What do we do instead? We amplify our organic marketing strategy with promotions. 


For promotions, we use existing content on our feed. And Instagram recommends we use a high performing piece of content. Read – Maximum likes, shares, comments, saves and overall engagement. 

Instagram Succeeds 

Yes, you read that right. Instagram urges you to use high performing content simply because they know that’s what will engage the most number of users when amplified to new audiences. 

And that ties in with more user engagement which ties in with more time spent on the app which leads to Instagram succeeding with their ad revenue efforts. 

Better is Good 

As oxymoronic as that sounds, here are a few pointers to keep in mind while curating content for promotion.

Attention Seeking 

Probably the only time the phrase Attention Seeking can be used in a positive connotation. 

Use smart design and color palettes to best capture the attention of your audience. Keep it in line with your brand tone as well. 

Users have a habit of visiting the profile and just scrolling blindly through your grid in order to assess the feed vibe and aesthetic. Make sure you’ve created a visually appealing sight and maintain a consistent grid. 

Action Captions 

We aren’t talking about Taekwondo. 

Your caption is the second thing a user sees in your post after the creative. Spend time coming up with good captions with clear CTAs that elicit actions from your users.

Throughout, stay consistent with your brand language. 

As for the format of the captions, it’s industry and audience dependent. Some profiles achieve higher engagement with long, storytelling formatted captions while others find it best to stick with one liners. 

Test it out to see what works for your brand. 


You’re not going to generate high performing content for promotions overnight. You’ll need practice and a lot of trial and error to see what clicks with your audience. 

The idea is to get better with every attempt. Experiment and keep improving with every promotion you put up. 

Answering FAQs

Is promotion on Instagram free?

The entire idea of promotion is to run a paid campaign for a particular post/story/highlight on your profile. The answer is no. 

When does Instagram take payment for promotion?

  • You can pay via the app directly using one among the payment options. 
  • You can link your Instagram to your Facebook Ads account. In this case, you’ll pay from your Facebook Ad balance. 

Is Instagram promotions worth it in 2021?

What if, after all this, we told you that Instagram Promotion isn’t worth the investment?

Hear us out. 

Instagram Ads might just be a better investment as opposed to Promotion. Sure, Promotion will be better than an organic post in terms of vanity metrics. But you have a better chance at success with running an Ad Campaign via Facebook Ads Manager. There’s detailed targeting options and lead conversion rate is higher in comparison too. 

Having said this, it’s a good practice to test the Promotion feature out for your business. 

Set a budget that will not hurt you considering it’s a test run. This is a preemptive Ad, so you can go ahead and create content that’s hyper targeted to a new customer’s journey. Use past high performing posts as a template if required. 

Run this Promotion and make a decision of viability based on the stats. 

We’ve wrapped up comprehensive information about the WHAT and HOW TO of Instagram Promotion in this blog. Now you know about Instagram Promotion and that our content writer might have an unhealthy obsession with H&M (Send help). 

Be sure to note down pointers and test the methods out to see what works best for your brand. And if you want someone to carry out Instagram Advertising for you, you know whom to reach out to. 

Until next time, take care and stay safe.


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