13 Most Common Instagram Advertising Mistakes

Instagram is a social network with high advertising potential, in fact, it is considered by many as the best. That’s why there are so many businesses that are advertising on Instagram, however, when we advertise on this platform for the first time, it is imperative to fall into the most common Instagram mistakes when advertising.

Therefore, in this post, we have prepared a list of the most common mistakes we usually make on Instagram advertising, so that you know them and if you did it once, do not do it ever again.

But first, it is important to understand a little bit about Instagram and what it is based on to choose who to show advertising to.

What is Instagram based on to choose who to show advertising to?

Instagram’s algorithm has always been a riddle, how does it work and what is it based on? These are some of the questions we have asked ourselves most often trying to understand.

However, despite how difficult it is sometimes to decipher it, and because the purpose of this post is to identify the most common Instagram mistakes when advertising to avoid them, I must tell you that although we do not know all the secrets of Instagram’s algorithm, we do know some aspects that Instagram takes into account when showing us advertising.

So you should take them into account to avoid those mistakes we make when advertising on Instagram.

For Instagram, segmentation is fundamental. According to the characteristics that your target has, Instagram will decide who are the users that meet those requirements and will show your advertising.

Instagram segments the users of its platform according to the content they watch, the products they buy, the pages and applications they visit, web searches and even by information from other platforms or third parties, and by some data such as email.

Instagram also takes into account when displaying advertising, the ad preferences created directly by users in its help service, but this is not definitive since the platform always decides how much ad it shows to a user on a particular topic.

Instagram also allows likes to appear visible in the ads of people users follow. That way they incite the user to interact with the ad or to buy if it is the case because an acquaintance already did it.

Remember these details about how Instagram works with advertising, because each aspect does nothing but highlight how important it is to segment and know your audience, so the algorithm knows who to reach more easily.

In the meantime, take a look at our list and if you prefer, write down all these mistakes so you don’t repeat them in your next campaigns.

mistakes on instagram

Common mistakes we make when advertising on Instagram

1. Wrongly defining your buyer persona

Do you really know which people you want Instagram to show your ads to? This is one of the worst mistakes we make when advertising on Instagram. People think that reaching a broad audience is better so they don’t properly define their buyer persona, but the right thing to do is to reach the audience that will actually be interested.

Therefore, segmentation is key to generate a campaign on Instagram, do not skip it, otherwise, your campaign will not have a defined audience and Instagram will take it to everyone, you will spend more money and you will have fewer results since your budget will go the wrong way.

2. Not choosing your target properly

What do you want to achieve with Instagram advertising? Do you want to increase traffic, conversions, interaction, leads… whatever your goal is you must set it properly. Be careful when choosing options so that your ads don’t end up in the wrong place.

Once again remember that Instagram relies on all that information to get your ads to the people who are most likely to meet your ad’s objective(s). Not having clear objectives for your advertising is one of the mistakes you should not make on Instagram.


3. Not using hashtags

Hashtags or tags should not only be used in publications that do not correspond to advertising. It is one of the first mistakes we make when advertising on Instagram, but hashtags are also necessary for your ads. Remember that tags increase the reach of your publications and advertising is no exception, besides, it is another way in which users can find you and interact.

Of course, keep in mind that you must choose the hashtags that best relate to your ad and, of course, also add the tags specific to your campaign and product.

4. Leaving your audience unanswered

Instagram’s algorithm isn’t just about pretty pictures. It rewards accounts that spark interaction. When people comment, like, or share your ads, it signals to the algorithm that your content is valuable. This can boost your visibility, and increase your chances of showing up in people’s feeds organically.

Think of engagement as building relationships. Replying to comments, even on ads, humanizes your brand. It turns you from a faceless corporation into a business that cares about its community. This builds trust and makes people more likely to become loyal customers.

Comments provide incredible insights! You might learn about what your customers struggle with, what they love about your products, and even get inspiration for new content ideas. All of this is valuable when crafting future ads and marketing campaigns.

Someone who comments on your ad might be this close to buying! A friendly and helpful response from you could be the final nudge they need to take the plunge. It’s lead nurturing at its finest.

5. Do not choose only Instagram as the location of the ads.

Facebook owns Instagram and the process to develop advertising campaigns is done through the Facebook platform; during the process and by default, advertising for Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, etc. is activated. Being beginners, it is common that we make mistakes and keep some or all of the options checked; it is one of the mistakes we make when advertising on Instagram and it happens frequently.

Therefore, at this point, it is necessary that you deactivate the rest and keep only the Instagram option activated before continuing because Facebook and Instagram are platforms with different formats and dynamics so it is more difficult to adapt your ads to both platforms.

Also consider that if you are inexperienced or have little experience, it is best to create ads in only one location within Instagram and make sure you choose that option.

Instead of choosing Stories, Feed, Reels and IGTV, select, for example only Stories or Stories and Reel; it is simpler when creating ads and Stories and now also Reel are the most popular locations.

6. Leaving aside the quality and optimization of ads.

Sometimes we may think that because it’s a paid ad, Instagram will make sure that the people to whom it is directed like it just because, and we leave aside the quality; both the quality of the image and design as well as the quality of the text. It’s terrible but it still happens and it’s one of the most common Instagram mistakes when advertising.

Create quality designs for your ads, optimized based on your audience and the medium you will use to spread them. Remember that an ad for Stories must have different characteristics than ads in the Feed, carousel, Instagram TV and of course Reels.

7. Not using relevant calls to action

Calls to action help your target perform the action you need to accomplish your goals. And whatever your objective is, it is always necessary to make a relevant call to action, otherwise, users will look at your ads as just another publication and will move on.

Activate buttons on the image with the action words that best accompany your objective, such as; Buy, Learn more, Go to Instagram profile, etc.

8. Buying followers

Buying followers is a major Instagram advertising mistake that can backfire in several ways. Here’s a breakdown of why it’s harmful:

The Illusion of Success

  • Fake Followers = Empty Metrics: While your follower count may look impressive, those purchased followers won’t actually engage with your content. Likes, comments, and shares – the true indicators of reach – will remain low.
  • Skewed Insights: Your analytics become useless. You won’t be able to understand your real audience, what content resonates, or what strategies actually drive results for your business.

Damage to Your Credibility

  • Savvy Users Spot Fakes: Many people can identify bot accounts by their generic usernames, lack of profile picture, and absence of activity. This can make your brand look untrustworthy.
  • Potential Backlash: If you’re exposed for buying followers, it can seriously damage your reputation. It casts doubt on the authenticity of your entire Instagram presence.

The Algorithm Isn’t Fooled

  • Engagement is Key: Instagram’s algorithm prioritizes accounts with genuine interactions. Fake followers won’t change that, and your organic reach may actually suffer for trying to game the system.
  • Risk of Penalties: Instagram actively works to remove fake accounts and can take action against those who buy them. This could land you with a shadowban or even account suspension.

Focus on What Matters

Instead of wasting money on fake followers, invest those resources into:

  • Creating high-quality content that your target audience genuinely enjoys.
  • Using Instagram’s targeting tools to reach the right people organically.
  • Running ads that drive real engagement and conversions.
  • Building relationships with your audience through meaningful interactions.

Long-Term Growth Wins

Growing an authentic Instagram following takes time and effort, but the results are far more sustainable and valuable. A smaller audience of engaged followers is worth infinitely more than a large but inactive one.

9. Your message is wrong

The message is everything and is directly linked to segmentation. And it’s not just about the text you’re including in the image or video, it’s the whole, what you’re conveying when you put all the elements together.

Therefore, a message can be wrong if you are using a random image that has nothing to do with your ad or that does not adequately convey the message.

It is also wrong when the message you are conveying in your ad is not in line with the segmentation, i.e. it is not related to the age, sex, location, among others, of your buyer persona.

10. Lack of original content

Here’s why relying on unoriginal content is a major pitfall in Instagram advertising, broken down for readability:

The Problem with non-original Content

  • Blending into the Noise: Instagram is saturated with content. Generic stock photos or rehashed memes won’t help you stand out in a user’s endless scroll.
  • Lack of Brand Identity: If your content looks like everyone else’s, what makes your business unique and memorable? Unoriginal content fails to tell your brand’s story.
  • Missed Connection: People crave authenticity. Reposting unoriginal content feels impersonal and can prevent you from making genuine connections with your audience.
  • Algorithm Disapproval: While not explicitly confirmed, many marketers believe Instagram’s algorithm can detect unoriginal or repurposed content, potentially limiting its reach.

How to Emphasize Originality

  • Invest in Creation: Even simple photos or graphics tailored to your brand’s aesthetic are more impactful than generic visuals.
  • Find Your Voice: Whether it’s witty, informative, or inspiring, let your brand personality shine through your captions and video scripts.
  • User-Generated Content: Encourage customers to share photos featuring your products. This is both authentic and social proof.
  • Behind-the-Scenes: Even glimpses into your process or workspace can be original content that builds a connection with your audience.

The Payoff

Original content takes more effort, but the benefits are substantial:

  • Increased Brand Recognition: A distinct visual style and voice make you instantly recognizable.
  • Stronger Engagement: People are more likely to interact with content that feels fresh and unique.
  • Building Trust & Authority: Original content positions you as a thought leader in your niche, not just another copycat.

Remember that all mistakes become losses, avoid repeating these mistakes we make when advertising on Instagram.

Make a budget

11. Not establishing an adequate budget (daily budget, total budget).

Plan your budget and make sure that at the time of creating the advertising you are properly establishing the daily and total budget. With that Facebook will know how to manage your money according to the time you decide to have the campaign active.

Many people after creating their first campaigns on Instagram complain because they receive charges from Facebook for advertising that they did not make and the problem is that they make mistakes when setting budgets so it is important to be thorough and plan.

12. Not allocating budget to remarketing

In Instagram ads as well as on the web there is always an audience that was very close to perform some action on our site but finally, it did not happen. They leave and if we leave them, they never come back, but with remarketing there is a high probability that they will come back and perform the action we need, because if they were so close, maybe they just need a push.

The important thing when performing remarketing is to leave aside the audience that converted, the buyers and customers, so you do not spend money unnecessarily, your customers already are. Also, check your call to action, maybe it is not the right one.

13. Not measuring results

It goes without saying that measuring is essential to know not only the results of advertising campaigns but also the next steps to follow. But sometimes both for inexperience and for other reasons we leave aside metrics when advertising on Instagram, and if we do not measure, how to know what has worked and what has not. Is advertising really working?

At the end of the day, we are investing time and money; in doing so we must evaluate whether our objectives are being achieved in order to change or rethink what does not work, keep what does work, so as not to waste time and that the money invested can really come back, otherwise it will only be losses.

tips on instagram
Advertising on Instagram

Essential Tips for Effective Advertising

Instagram, with its vibrant visuals and massive audience, holds huge potential for promoting your business. But while captivating photos or videos are important, there’s more to Instagram advertising than meets the eye.

Let’s dive into the strategies and techniques that will help your ads stand out and achieve your goals.

Step 1: Know Your Why & Your Who

Before you start creating ads, ask yourself: What do I want to achieve? More website visits? Brand awareness? Increased sales?

Your goal will shape everything that follows. Next, pinpoint your target audience. Instagram’s built-in tools can help you understand your existing followers and find similar people to reach.

Step 2: Choose Your Weapons (Ad Formats Wisely!)

Instagram offers various ad formats, each with strengths:

  • Photo Ads: Simple and classic, great for showcasing a single product or service.
  • Video Ads: Super engaging, perfect for storytelling or demos. Keep them short and snappy!
  • Carousel Ads: Let you share multiple images or videos, ideal for highlighting a range of items or different angles of one product.
  • Stories Ads: Immersive, full-screen ads that blend seamlessly into people’s Stories feed.
  • Reels Ads: Capitalize on the popularity of short-form video content for creative promotions.
Instagram Ads

Step 3: Make Your Ads Eye-Catching AND Effective

Think of your ads competing with cute puppies and stunning travel photos. Here’s how to stand out:

  • Visuals Matter: High-quality, on-brand images or videos are essential.
  • Headlines That Hook: Your opening line needs to draw people in.
  • Copy That Converts: Keep it concise and benefit-focused. Tell people what to DO (Visit our website, Shop now, etc.).

Step 4: Target Like a Pro

Instagram’s targeting is powerful. Go beyond basic demographics. Target people based on interests (like competitors they follow), behaviors (“recently engaged”), or even lookalike audiences based on your best customers.

Step 5: Money & Measurement

Start small! Instagram lets you set a daily or total campaign budget. Track your results – see which ads perform best, which audiences respond, and what times of day work well. Use this data to refine your strategy.

The Takeaway

Instagram advertising is an incredible tool, but it takes experimentation and practice. Start by understanding your goals, creating ads that speak to your target audience, and tracking your results closely. With a little persistence and a willingness to learn, you’ll discover how to make Instagram work wonders for your business.

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