Is this your first time preparing an Instagram ad? Instagram ads might look complicated if you’ve never had to prepare them on your own. There are so many targeting options, placements, and audience characteristics you can choose from. Not to mention the budgeting you have to prepare for.

You can advertise on Instagram in a few different ways:

  1. Manage Instagram ads on your own.
  2. Hire a freelancer to manage your ads.
  3. Hire an agency to manage your ads.

All three solutions will have positive and negative sides to them. Finding the right balance of those should help you to make the right decision.

Manage Instagram ads yourself

The first option is to simply manage your ads on your own. However, this could be difficult at first if you’re not a marketer and don’t know much about targeting, content creation, and planning an ad budget. Still, it’s totally possible to learn how to run ads without prior experience! ? And besides your campaign budgets, it doesn’t involve any additional costs!

Let’s highlight some of the upsides of running your Instagram ads yourself:

  • No extra costs. You won’t have to justify spending more on an agency to the accountants.
  • Full control over creation and budget. When you work with your own materials and know how you want your creative to look, it’s easier to get what you wanted.

Unfortunately, when you’re not that advanced at planning and executing ads, there are some cons:

  • You might spend too much time getting to know the ins and outs of running an Instagram ad.
  • Less experience means that the first few ad campaigns won’t be as optimized. Having less experience means that there is a higher risk of not achieving results.
  • It’s possible that you’ll overspend because you don’t know much about how to optimize and assign the budget.
  • You might be confused about what your ad analytics are saying.

This solution is good for small campaigns – when you don’t have a big budget to optimize and the activity will be rather short.

If you’d like to set the ad on your own, here are some useful guides on how to create your first Instagram ad:

  1. How to create Instagram ads? Two proven methods.
  2. Create, manage and run Instagram ads.

Start analyzing your Instagram performance

But what if you’re not a newbie, and you can manage Instagram ads yourself with ease?

That’s great news, especially, that there are some supportive tools on the market. You can, for example, go for a social media analytics tool providing all your ad results, whether it is Instagram or Facebook Ads data.

Let’s take, for example, Sotrender. Which Instagram ad metrics can you measure with a use of this tool? Take a look below, these are just a few:

  • reach,
  • views,
  • CPC,
  • CPM.

On the graph below, you can see campaign reach & spend relation as well as some key results for the three different campaigns, like: the highest reach, the lowest spend, the lowest CPM and the lowest CPR.

spend and reach in Sotrender Ads

Analyzing campaign reach and spend relation in Sotrender Ads

You can also compare your Instagram ad results with competitors. Simply put, you just need to choose one of 25 categories available in the app, and select one of the three campaign goals: Awareness, Consideration or Conversion.

Then, you will see your ad results in the background of competitors, with regard to 4 different scores:

  • median CPC,
  • median CPM,
  • number of ad views,
  • number of ad clicks.

Below, you can see how it looks on a chart. The results presented here inform that the CPM score was great during last month, when compared to competitive brands in selected industry.

benchmarking in Sotrender Ads

Comparing campaign results with competitors in Sotrender Ads

What else? In Benchmarking section, you can compare the amount that you spent on advertising in the previous month with the median of competitors’ spend. This is how you can learn how much do the competitive companies invest in advertising on Instagram, and what are the campaign goals that they select.

spend and campaign goals in Sotrender Ads

Comparing spend with regard to campaign goals in Sotrender Ads

Such insights can be really helpful in mastering your Instagram ads and using their full potential. If you will be analyzing your Instagram ads results frequently, and in a detailed way, it might result in better performing campaigns, and hopefully, lower ad costs.

Start analyzing your competitors' ads

Hiring a freelancer to manage your Instagram ads

From time to time, a marketer might want to work in a flexible way as a freelancer. These types of freelancers usually have the same set of skills as marketers that work for agencies. The biggest difference between them is that marketers that work for an agency have more resources. You can usually find freelancers on a variety of sites like LinkedIn or sites like UpWork, to name a few. They’re very easy to find!

The perks of working with a freelancer:

  • They are cheaper than an agency so your accountants won’t be worried about overspending.
  • Since they make their own schedules, they could have more time to devote to you and the ad campaign. They won’t be regularly working on other agency-related tasks because they work by themselves.
  • They know a lot about how ads work and how to manage bigger activities.

Having said that, there are still some downsides:

  • They make their own schedule. I know we said it’s a plus, but this can be a downside when the freelancer has an issue that came up in their personal life. If they get sick, there’s nobody else to take over for them.
  • It’s not always easy to get an invoice from them. They’re entirely responsible for their own finances.
  • Finding a trustworthy freelancer can be hard. It’s specifically difficult because a company can’t vouch for them or fix their mistake if something goes wrong. If the freelancer you chose makes a mistake that results in a bad campaign, then you’re just out of luck and need to find someone else. Again.
  • In the end, you still have to pay them more than what you would do if you kept managed your own Instagram ads.

Hiring a freelancer makes sense with medium-sized campaigns. Test the freelancer with one or two tasks – ask them to present a plan, followed by results later.

Hiring an agency to manage your Instagram ads

Here comes the nuclear option. Agencies generally have great reputations when it comes to planning and executing social media ads. When you have a collective of people who are knowledgeable about budgeting, creative issues, and targeting, you can really ensure legit results.

As for finding an agency to manage your Instagram ads, you’ll have to do more research. For example, does this agency have experience with companies in your category? How do they charge clients? What do their clients have to say about their outcome? How much time do they need to implement the ad campaign, and will they analyze it for you? Since you’re going to be paying more, you should really be expecting more.

Here’s why it’s worth it to get an agency to do the job for you:

  • It’s easy to check their reputation on your own and by asking around. Well-known agencies can generally guarantee decent results.
  • Because they’re using external tools, your ads will end up being cheaper and have improved targeting.
  • Their cooperation will be streamlined because they have multiple departments under the same roof.
  • They will oftentimes have even more services that they can offer you. For example, they could prepare professional shoots and stylists to prepare a quality ad.
  • Since you’re paying them a large amount, they have to validate their results. You should get some type of report or summary from them that indicates just that.
  • You’ll usually have contact with one main person who handles your account, so communication will be easy enough.

That’s a pretty big list of pros, right? Unfortunately, all of this comes with a pretty big cost. It’s even difficult to get an estimate online because they’d need to talk to you first to determine how much effort and resources they’ll need to get you what you want.

This solution is perfect for big campaigns when constant control and optimization are key to their success. When choosing an agency, it’s worth seeing with whom they worked already, what kind of results they brought, and how they will report to you.

Should I manage ads on Instagram alone or hire an agency

And in case you’re worried you might forget what we’ve discussed here, feel free to save our pros and cons list above.

We hope that this article helped you make the right choice for your business. If you have anything else to share about the pros and cons of each option, leave a comment, and let’s discuss!

This post was originally published in 2016 but has since been updated.

Read also:
  1. Who is on Instagram?
  2. Should I advertise on Instagram?
  3. How do I connect my Instagram account to Facebook Business Manager?