Do you partner with influencers on Instagram? Want to maximize your visibility to their audience?
In this article, you’ll discover how to target an influencer’s following with a shared custom audience for Instagram ads.
Why Run Your Own Instagram Ads for Influencer Campaigns?
Collaborating with influencers on Instagram can bring fresh eyes to your product or service and help you grow a bigger following. While expectations are often high for influencer campaigns, sometimes these collaborations don’t play out as you’d hope.
If you look at the influencer’s organic reach—specifically on their promotional posts (especially those that the influencer marks as a paid partnership)—you’ll see that these posts can often have 50%–70% lower reach than their regular posts. Why? Because the Instagram algorithm and audience behavior may decrease the promo post’s reach.
Also, ad fatigue is real. The large number of advertisements that the average Instagram user sees every day makes it more difficult to keep their attention on a promo post from an influencer.
One way to avoid these pitfalls and maximize your partnership is to target a shared custom audience of the influencer’s most loyal followers—those who actively engage with the influencer’s content—with your own Instagram ad campaign.
You may wonder, “Why not simply boost the posts or stories where the influencer tagged my brand?” Here are a few reasons this isn’t as effective:
- You’d have to build the target audience from scratch. It won’t be the most engaged audience of the influencer.
- Once the influencer removes the post from their feed, you’ll no longer be able to boost it.
- You can only use the content that the influencer decided to post about your product or service. There’s no way to edit it. You can’t change their text, add more info or promotions, or replace the images they used. Think seasonal offers like holidays and Black Friday.
Here’s a step-by-step strategy to amplify your influencer campaigns by targeting a shared custom audience with Instagram ads. This tactic requires both you and your influencer to use Facebook Ads Manager.
Note: This article assumes you know how to properly set up an Instagram ad through Facebook Ads Manager. Read this article for step-by-step instructions.
#1: Define the Specs for a Custom Audience
When you work with an influencer, you may have to pay an extra fee to get access to a shared audience. It requires more work for the influencer because they need to create the audience and share it with you. Based on my experience, the fee can range from an extra $100 to $1,000. To avoid any surprises, make the shared audience part of your negotiation right from the start.
Once you’ve come to an agreement, ask your influencer to use Facebook Ads Manager to create a custom audience of Instagram users who have engaged with their account. This audience needs to have more than 1,000 people in it. Start with a 30-day audience, and if the 30-day audience is below the required 1,000-person threshold, expand to a 90-day audience or a 180-day audience as necessary.
Some audiences you may want to ask your influencer to create for you include anyone who has:
- sent a message to the influencer in the last 30 days
- saved any post by the influencer
- visited the influencer’s page in the last 30 days
- engaged with the influencer’s posts in the last 30 days
Keep in mind that the bigger the influencer, the more likes they’ll have on their posts, and the more audiences you’ll want to request. People who save an influencer’s posts or send direct messages to them are naturally more loyal than those who just visited their profile or engaged with their posts.
Start with a combination of people who saved a post or ad and people who sent a direct message to the influencer. If this audience is below the required 1,000-person threshold, expand the audience to also include people who engaged with any post or ad. You can further increase the size of this audience by including people who visited the influencer’s Instagram profile.
Following are step-by-step instructions to help your influencer create custom audiences for you:
Open Facebook Ads Manager and click on Audiences in the Menu tab located on the left.
At the top right of the Audience dashboard, click Create Audience and then choose Custom Audience from the drop-down menu.
In the Create a Custom Audience window, choose Instagram Account as the source of this audience.
On the next page, click the Everyone Who Engaged With Your Professional Account drop-down menu and choose the people to include in this audience. To the right of your selection, enter the number of days.
The last step is to name the audience and click Save Audience.
#2: Request Access to the Influencer’s Custom Audience
Once the influencer has created relevant custom audiences for you, ask them to share these audiences with your Ads Manager. They’ll need your 15-digit account ID to do this. You can find your account ID in the top-right corner of your Audience dashboard or in the URL of your Ads Manager (it’s the number after “act=” in the browser’s address bar).
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Following are step-by-step instructions to help your influencer share the relevant custom audiences with you:
On the Audience tab of Facebook Ads Manager, select the relevant custom audiences to share and click the Share button.
In the Share a Custom Audience window, select An Ad Account Owned by Another Business.
Now enter the account ID to share the audience with and click Share.
#3: Request Creative From Your Influencer
Before you set up your Instagram ad campaign, you’ll need to get the photo or video from the influencer to use in your ad. You can ask your influencer to shoot a video or photo in addition to their promo story/post or simply use whatever they’ve prepared for their story/post. Make sure you have explicit permission from the influencer to use their content in your ad.
Here are some suggestions for quality ad creative:
- A photo of the influencer with your product or you (if you offer services).
- An unboxing video of the influencer opening up your product. If you offer services, it could be a video of you and the influencer in your office.
- A talking head video. You could ask the influencer to film a 15-second video where they talk about your product or service, highlight the benefits, and explain why their followers should try it. This kind of video works particularly well if you use Instagram Stories or Facebook Stories as placements for your ads.
#4: Set Up Your Instagram Ad Campaign
When you set up your Instagram ad campaign, select Reach as your campaign objective to reach as many of your influencer’s most loyal, engaged followers as possible. This includes everyone in the custom audience(s) that the influencer has shared with you.
The Reach objective can be used if the custom audience from the influencer fully matches the avatar of your potential customer; you’ll likely want to reach every person in the influencer’s audience. If you don’t need to target everyone (for instance, your service/product is for young women only), narrow your audience at the ad set level to better match your ideal customer.
Let’s say your business sells skincare products for young women and the influencer has shared a custom audience of their most active followers in the past 30 days. To narrow that audience, choose the custom audience shared by the influencer at the ad set level of your campaign and then use Detailed Targeting to narrow it to women who are 18–35 years old who like skincare. This is the niche audience you want to target for the Reach campaign objective.
If the size of the influencer’s custom audience is more than 100K (you’ll be able to see the number of users this audience contains in the description), you can try one of the following objectives instead of the Reach objective:
- Traffic: Facebook will show your ads to people in the influencer’s audience who are more likely to click the link and go to your website.
- Conversions: Facebook will show your ads to people in the influencer’s audience who are more likely to buy your product online or book your service. This is a good choice for eCommerce businesses.
- App Installs: Facebook will show your ads to people in the influencer’s audience who are more likely to install your app or download your product. This objective is perfect for SaaS products.
Here are a few additional tips to optimize your Instagram ad for performance:
- Add a limited-time discount for your product or service and mention it in the ad. This helps create a sense of urgency because people can only get the discount if they move fast.
- Add a limitation on the offer (if applicable): “Only 10 left!”
- Don’t be shy about name-dropping. To illustrate: “(influencer’s username) just loves our products/services! Try it out for yourself!”; “Your favorite influencer is obsessed! Check out our new products!”; or “Steal (influencer’s username)’s look…”
- Test the carousel format where the first slide is a photo or video from the influencer and the rest are photos of the product or service from your website.
By targeting an influencer’s following with a shared custom audience, you’ll be able to reach more of your influencer’s most loyal followers on Instagram. With this approach, the success of your promotional post won’t depend on the influencer; you’ll have more control over the ad. You can choose what photo or video to show in the ad, what copy to write, and when to run it.
What do you think? Are you considering working with an Instagram Influencer to develop a shared custom audience for targeting? Have you worked with an Instagram Influencer to develop a target custom audience? What tips can you share? Share your thoughts in the comments below.