How do Instagram Promotions Work? (+ Steps to Create Yours)

How do Instagram promotions work? And why would you use them instead of ads? Good questions. 

In this article, we’ll explore answers to these and other equally important topics related to Instagram promotions. We’ll also show you how to create your very own promotion. 

How do Instagram Promotions Work? (+ Steps to Create Yours):

Monetising Instagram

Back in 2009, monetizing Instagram wasn’t a clear path for the photo app. In fact, while the idea was definitely on the table, the brand had to evolve into something with a stronger value proposition and product. 

Today, Instagram’s caught up to the rest. 80 per cent of accounts follow a business on Instagram. This means more people are interacting with brand pages and this level of engagement is just what Instagram needed to be able to broaden it’s advertising offerings



The photo-sharing app offers four advertising options in addition to promotion options. 

These include: 


Photos on instagram

Image: Instagram


Video on instagram

Image: Instagram


Carousel on instagram

Image: Instagram

Ad in Instagram Story:

Ad in Instagram Story

Image: Instagram

Collection Ads:

Collection Ads

Image: Instagram

How do Instagram Promotions Work?

Instagram also offers promotion options. These are different from photo, video, carousel and story ads. Here’s what you have access to and how they work:

Promote a Post You've Shared 

Familiar with boosting a post on Facebook? Promoting a post on Instagram works the same way. If you have a picture or video that’s drummed up a fair amount of likes, comments and shares, you can promote it. 

This option is a great way for businesses to get extra awareness for content they publish. The extra awareness is reach that could help feed your marketing funnel.

Promote a Story From your Profile, Highlights, or Stories Archive

Also similar to boosting a Facebook post, you can promote stories. While limited to those taken with the Instagram camera or in a vertical format, the option is still very useful. 

Some creative elements (filters and stickers) are not accessible when promoting stories, however, this shouldn’t stop you from taking the opportunity to ‘capture authentic moments that speak to your business,’ as Instagram recommends.

Create a Promotion From the Promotions Button on Your Profile

If you’re looking for a quick and direct way of generating results, you can do so with a fresh new ad campaign. These can be created from your business profile. In the process, Instagram will recommend which posts they think will do well as advertisements. This option is best if you're unsure which post you'd like to promote.

So, to recap, the major difference between ads and promotions on Instagram is related to the way you use each option to engage your brand. 

Promotions are used to generate extra awareness and engagement from already successful posts and stories. Ads are used for unique campaigns and generally feature new content. 

What do Promotions Look Like?

While Instagram promotional posts, stories and highlights look similar to their original (organic) forms, they include additional elements. 

Post, stories and highlights all include the “Sponsored” label below the account posting the promotion. 

What do Promotions Look Like?

Image: Instagram

What do Promotions Look Like?

Image: Instagram

As promotions are intended to generate some result, they also come with calls to action. Here’s a list of the options available:

  • Learn More
  • Shop Now
  • Watch More
  • Contact Us
  • Book Now
  • Sign Up

Where do Promotions Appear?

Promotions appear as posts and can also appear in stories. If you’d like to isolate your promotion to appear in one place, you’ll need to create your promotion in Ads Manager. 

Why Your Promotions Have a Good Chance of Success

Algorithmic updates are generally not the easiest to track. In fact, while there are many digital and social marketing circles that constantly test content to generate the best possible results, much about the intricacies of how AI and machine learning influence ad placement, reach and overall campaign success is largely unknown.

There are, however, a couple of interesting ideas we think you should bear in mind when creating your promotions. 

Promotions are all About Reach

Whether testing to find the higher-converting ad or scaling to generate more of the results you’re after, all spend on paid media should be made to generate results. When it comes to what we know about promotions, Instagram recommends that you use “a post that your followers really enjoyed.”

This means using content that’s received its fair share of likes, comments, and shares.

Why would this matter and how can you use this information?

Ad Revenue and Engagement Fuel Instagram

Instagram, like all other social platforms, wants to create products that users constantly access. The more users using their app, the more ad revenue they are able to generate. 

Instagram also knows that when users show interest in a certain piece of content, there’s a higher probability of generating even more engagement from it if it’s shared with a larger audience. 

Your already successful posts, stories and highlights, therefore, stand a better chance of being more successful with a wider audience. While we’re not sure about the intricacies of their algorithms, this logic is pretty sound.

Are Instagram Promoted Posts, Stories and Highlights More Expensive or Cheaper Than Ads?

There isn’t any conclusive data that shows ads cost more or less than promotions. In a report, AdEspresso found that CPC values range between $.70 and $.80. This average was based on two demographics. Audiences between the ages of 25-34 years can cost as much as $1.23 per click, where a younger group, aged between 13-17 years, came in at $.47.

While we haven’t seen any data on promotion costs, they could be close to these figures considering that you’re still paying to reach the same audience.

How to Create an Instagram Promotion

Creating your promotion is relatively easy. In fact, most of the heavy lifting is done for you. For example, you don’t need to worry about which post to promote because you’ll have data that shows which post received the most engagement. 

Set up Your Instagram Business Profile

To get started (from your phone), open Instagram and visit your business profile. If you haven’t switched to a business page for you your company, you’ll need to make the change. 

Instagram business profiles are linked to Facebook pages. To switch to a business account, go to Settings > Switch to Business Profile.

Set up Your Instagram Business Profile

Image: Instagram

Next, add custom buttons to your account. These can include: 

  • Contact Us
  • Message
  • Start Order
  • Book 
  • Reserve

Note: if you haven’t added a link to your website and a bio, nows a great opportunity to do so.

Create Your Promotion

With the setup of your business profile taken care of, it’s time to create your promotion post. 

Start by accessing the Promotions options via the Promotions button. Next, locate the post you’d like to promote. 

Create Your Promotion

Image: Instagram

Note: if that if you’ve never posted any content to your business profile, you’ll first have to publish a post and then start the process over to promote it. Also, if you already have content posted, Instagram gives you the option of promoting posts directly from your business profile. 

Create Your Promotion

Image: Instagram

Select Your Post

If you’re promoting a post from the Promotion button, you’ll then need to select a post to promote. 

Choose your post and it will open with the option to View Insights or click on the Promote button. Viewing insights will show you how well your organic post performed. This also helps you determine whether this is the post you should really be promoting. 

Select Your Post

Image: Instagram

Set Your Goal

Next, select your goal. 

Do you want more profile visits, more website traffic or more promotional views?

Set Your Goal

Image: Instagram

Establish Your Target Audience

Having selected your goals, it’s time to select your target audience. Instagram makes the process of establishing your target audience easy.  Here are the three options available: 

  1. Automatic: Instagram will target people who are like your followers
  2. Local: target people in a specific location 
  3. Manual: select people, places or interest to target with your promotion
Establish Your Target Audience

Image: Instagram

Set Your Budget and Promotion Duration

Setting your budget is just as easy as previous steps. Instagram provides a daily budget option along with a duration (in days). 

While setting both, you’re able to get a summary of the estimated profile visits and reach for your promotion. 

Set Your Budget and Promotion Duration

Image: Instagram

Review Your Promotion

The final step of the promotion creation process is a review. You’ll be able to see the following: 

  • The post you’ll be promoting
  • The destination all traffic will be sent to 
  • What your action button will say
  • How your audience will be targeted
  • Your budget and promotion duration 

Once reviewed, click on Create Promotion

Accessing Promotion Insights

It’s a good idea to keep tabs on how your promotion performs. This will help you determine whether to increase spend and duration or terminate the promotion altogether.

To view insights, open Instagram >  go to your business profile > select the post you'd like to view insights on > below the post's image, tap View Insights.

Clicking on View Insights will show you: 

  • How many people were shown your promotion (audience reach)
  • How many impressions your promotion received 
  • The number of clicks on your promotion
  • How much of your budget has been spent


Instagram Promotions are one of the simplest ways to engage and reach a larger audience. Promotions can be created from posts, stories and highlights. When created, they appear in audience feeds and stories. 

While there are creative limitations, using promotions is still valuable. They help brands connect with audiences using authentic creative content. Instagram’s budget and duration options make it easy to determine the spend and length of a promotion, and insights will give you information on how well your post is performing and how much money has been used.

About the Author
Nadica Naceva, Head of Content at Influencer Marketing Hub, is a seasoned writer and reviewer with in-depth expertise in digital and content marketing. Leveraging her extensive experience in guiding content creation and strategic direction, Nadica brings a critical eye and analytical approach to reviewing articles and educational pieces. Her commitment to accuracy, integrity, and innovation with each review helps IMH grow as a leading source in influencer marketing. Her insights are backed by first-party data, ensuring content meets the highest standards of relevance.