How NOT to run Instagram ads for your music – 9 common mistakes

With more than 1.074 billion users worldwide, Instagram is the perfect platform to grow your reputation as an artist. 

However, organic reach’s decline means that you just have to boost certain posts to cut through the noise and reach new fans. [Source: Mention] That being said, Instagram Ads can run up a bill if you don’t know the ins and outs of Instagram advertising. 

Here 8 common mistakes that musicians make when setting up Instagram ads and how they can be avoided. 

Being unfamiliar with Facebook Advertising

Setting up an ad on Facebook is like purchasing a new piece of equipment or software. You cannot do a good job without knowing how Facebook Ad Manager works. Most likely, you’ll end up advertising your wares to the wrong audience, creating an ad that’s irrelevant to the selected audience, advertising on the wrong platform and so on. Switch on Facebook Ad Manager’s “Guided Creation” feature and read this guide to get started. 

Having an incomplete profile

First impressions count. Running an ad with an incomplete profile is counter-effective. Your profile needs to have at least a profile picture, a bio and a couple of posts that show what you’re all about. This way, you’ll be able to convert curious Instagram users who clicked on your ad to hardcore fans.  

Selecting the wrong campaign objective

Before you hit that publish button, you should ask yourself, “What’s the goal of this campaign?” Do you want your music to reach more people? Do you want to make people aware of you as an artist? Do you want people to visit your website? Choosing the right campaign objective is essential for a campaign to be successful.

Awareness campaigns generate interest in your product/service. Consideration campaigns get people to think about your music and to look into what you’re doing on other platforms. Conversion campaigns encourage people to take certain actions, such as buy your merch, download your song and so on. 

Here’s an exhaustive list of Facebook’s campaign objectives. 

The purpose of running a traffic or conversion ad is to redirect your targeted audience to a specific page and encourage them to take a particular action. Sure – you can add a single link, but adding a smart link such as ensures that you’re maximising that ad’s potential by redirecting those targeted individuals to their streaming platform of choice and directing them to all the key things that you want your potential fan to know about. 

Choosing the wrong audience and poorly targetted ads

Targetting the right audience is vitally important so that you are not burning money on ads that are shown to the wrong people who are not interested in your sound.

Firstly we would recommend building a list of artists similar to you or in the musical scene or genre that you make. Then also think about the brands, events and other content your current fans or fans of these similar artists would like. Building this list will allow you to target specific niches through Facebook ads manager targetting tools, you should also be thinking about broader topics your ideal fan would like which Facebook can target for you using the machine learning in their targetting tools.

Key tip: If you have an already existing fan email list you can upload this to Facebook ad’s manager and then create a look-a-like audience, this means Facebook will target users who are similar to the ones who are already in your email list and should be more likely to convert to being your fan.

Email is still one of the most effective marketing channels out there. There are 4 billion email users around the world, and 72% of people would rather receive marketing materials from brands through their email than as ads on social media. [Source: Spinx]

Building your mailing list might take time, but it reaps a lot of rewards. The people on your mailing list are engaged fans who are interested in your journey. Using you can build your mailing list with our email sign-up tool which you can activate on any our link pages including Release and Bio links.

Not using Facebook tacking Pixel

When you are promoting content to these new audiences via ads or organically sharing it via social media, make sure you are using links that contant Facebooks Pixel, this allows you to track who is viewing and engaging with your content and then gives you the abillity to re-target them. It also allows you to create further look-a-like audiences once you have enough data.

The most effective way to do this is to use which allows you to place your Facebook Pixel on all our link pages and reports the data directly into your Facebook Ad account. If you need any further information on this, don’t hesitate to get in touch!

Using low-quality press shots and videos

In 2021, low-quality photos and videos just don’t cut it anymore! Running an ad with low-quality visual content will actually hurt rather than help you, as the Instagram algorithm will pick up the fact that people aren’t engaging with your ad. You should also avoid using too much text on your photo, and detail-heavy images. 

Not using videos

If you’re selling to a cold audience and using a press photo or a single artwork, there’s a big chance that you might not see any positive results from your ad. These people don’t know who you are, so a video that features the song that you’re promoting is a better way to go about it. Video ads tease the song and hook a cold audience in. Furthermore, statistics show that Instagram users prefer videos: in fact, videos receive up to 21% more interactions than photos. [Source: Animoto]

Not adding an FFO in their caption

If you’re targeting a cold audience, you need to add an FFO (For Fans Of) in your ad caption. Adding a couple of established artists who sound similar to you helps your cold audience “visualise” what you sound like. Your caption shouldn’t be too long either. Just a couple of well-crafted sentences and an FFO are enough to pique potential fans’ interest. 

This doesn’t need to be as cringe as it may sound to some of you, it’s up to how you craft the comparison. You could even drop in press release quotes which compare you to other artists or mention the inspirations behind your sound. Although some of you will no doubt be thinking “I sound like no one else out there”, there isn’t an artist in the world who wasn’t inspired by another artist at some point in their life, you know what scene you belong to and this is the best place to start.

Omitting Instagram Stories as an ad placement

In a survey conducted by Facebook, 1 in 3 daily active Instagrammers in Brazil, Indonesia, the UK and the US said that “they have become more interested in a brand or product after seeing it on Instagram Stories”. Moreover, 47% of users on Instagram actually like watching video ads in Stories. [Source: Animoto]

Instagram Stories is an extremely effective medium when done right. Your boosted Story should be fast-paced and entertaining enough for people to want to know more about you. Most importantly, any ads placed on Instagram Stories should be mobile optimised and bespoke to the Stories format. 

Photo by Alexander Shatov on Unsplash


Janelle knows a thing or two about the music industry. Having been involved in the industry since the age of 13, she's now involved in a variety of music-related projects and is always keen to share industry tips 'n' tricks with fellow musicians.