I paid for Instagram advertising so you don’t have to

I wanted to promote my band’s music on Spotify by placing a few adverts in Instagram. Here’s what happened.


  • It works, but I found it expensive. In total I spent maybe $200 and picked up 30 Spotify followers and 60 Instagram followers which equates to about $1.80 per follower.
  • Promoting posts inside Instagram was a fast and easy way to advertise on IG
  • Setting up adverts using Facebook’s Ad Manager is very hard and you need to learn the platform
  • You need to mono control your mix: most folks be using phones so you must check your track sounds decent on these devices
  • Use a short video clip of your track’s catchiest section. Keep the clip about 15-30 seconds long

Creating an advert

I used Distrokid to make a very basic 30 second video of my track. I used the strongest section of the song. Here’s the one I used for one of the campaigns:

You can also use any movie making platform, but the point is – use the best music you can and some visuals that maybe say a bit about what the viewer is listening to; and include a call to action such as “click to follow us on Spotify” or something similar (if you work in marketing, it would be cool if you could jump into the comments and advise best practice).

Once you have your advert in mp4 format you’ll need to send it to yourself via email or some other method of getting it on your phone. Otherwise you won’t be able to post it on Instagram and use the boost post feature.

Boosting a post within Instagram



You need to convert your IG account to a business account but that’s simple. Next, you’ll need to post your wee video that you sent to your phone. Once you’ve done that, simply follow the instructions to promote it:

What button can I possibly press to promote my post??

You’ll need to specify what genres you want the advert to match to and I found these to be more general than I would like: so no Synthwave category; I used proxies like Synthpop and Synthesiser music (whatever that is). So if your genre is microthrashdeathmetalgrungecore you may need to branch out a bit.

Destination of your advert
You can set whatever destination you want to so I set mine to my Spotify artist account. But you can choose to get direct messages or for folks to visit your IG profile.


Warning: if you stop your campaign early Instagram erases all history of the advert so you lose all your tracking data. Which is hella lame-o.

I ran two adverts like this with a total spend: $40 and I picked up around 10 Spotify followers and 20 IG followers which works out at $1.33 per follow.

Using Facebook’s Advertising System


$130. I spent a lot just to see what would happen because folks on Reddit be all like “blah blah you spent $15 on an advert blah blah”

There are clear instructions in this handy guide at Submithub. But I can summarise thusly:

  • Create an advert
  • Choose your audience
  • Generate a Facebook Pixel (a wee bit of code that reports back to Facebook about who clicks the advert so Facebook can refine the advert’s targeting)
  • Put the pixel on a forwarding website
  • Point the forwarding website to your Spotify track page. This allows folks to quickly save the track if they want. This is important.

You’ll need a glass of vodka because Facebook’s Ad Manager is a confusing mess of shiny knobs, buttons and Fuck You so even creating the advert is a mission. The biggest thing to get your head around is the information architecture. Everything is geared around the concept of ‘Campaigns’ and your advert is a child of this concept so you have to wade through 3 layers of garbage to get to the advert you’re running.

I could write a book on the UX

Other technicalities

If you’re using the mp4 video you got from Distrokid Facebook doesn’t like it for some IG placements because of the aspect ratio. Facebook has a conversion utility that converts it but it looks fugly. Just something to be aware of.

Note the border around the advert bc its not a 1:1 ratio

The targeting isn’t very precise with the genres, just like the set up in IG:

Retro style! But no Synthwave

The advert I ran


For my $130 the advert reached 14,765 people of which 240 clicked on the advert link and were directed to my Spotify page for the song.

Here’s where it gets interesting. Of those 240 click throughs I noticed a comparable uptick in plays for the song but also a good amount of saves. Saves are important because they are like a micro follow and they’re good for the mythical algorithms.

Other stats: I estimate I gained 20 Spotify followers and a further 40 IG followers. On a per click basis that works out as $2.16 per follow so not as good as the IG boosted adverts.

Key takeaways

There are some benchmark metrics here and clickthrough rates for most adverts seem to be between 0.5% and 2%. But the cost per follower of my adverts was lame at $1.80 per follow. Brian Hazard, another blogger, was able to get his cost per follower down to $0.29. I need to accept that something had gone wrong here and I can summarise:

  • The music isn’t good
  • My advert targeting wasn’t precise enough even though I carefully chose country, age, music preferences
  • Toneden may allow more precision with targeting and that’s something I’ll bear in mind for the next campaign
  • Low interaction and click through rates might be a symptom of the fact IG adverts default to silent and my adverts lacked a clear call to action

But what do you think? Too many beginner errors? Think Synthwave is too purple? Then hook me up in the comments and if you feel like it drop me a follow on Spotify or Instagram.

One comment

  1. Pingback: I paid for Spotify playlist placements so you don’t have to | Najinsan!!!!!!!!!

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