How to Use Instagram Reels Ads to Build Your Spotify Following

Facebook Ads recently introduced an exciting new feature that gives artists the ability to advertise on Instagram Reels.

Marketers worldwide rejoice! People who enjoy watching Reels undisturbed, not so much.

To review: Instagram Reels are short vertical videos. But instead of scrolling sideways like you did with Stories, you scroll down to view the next video. It’s kind of like TikTok, but on Instagram.

When developing ad strategies, either for myself or other artists and companies, I spend a good amount of time on Stories. I’m there to see what people are doing, what’s cool and what isn’t, and more simply, just to see what catches my attention. Lately, I’ve applied this process to Reels as well.

Both placements function similarly. There aren’t that many differences. For instance, the video size is the same (1080 x 1920).

However, Reels duration can be longer than the standard 15 seconds for Stories. And Reels can surface “algorithmically” on Instagram, helping you reach viewers outside your existing audience.

How do I grow my Spotify following with IG Reels?

The goal was fairly straightforward. I wanted to use this new ad placement to:

  1. capture attention on Instagram
  2. tell a compelling story that felt appropriate for the Reels format
  3. send interested people to the artist’s Spotify profile to hit the Follow button

We’re in the middle of releasing a string of singles and wanted to find a better way to grow my artist’s Spotify following. As many people have pointed out, streaming numbers do not equal fans. That’s because one stream is indeed only one stream. There’s not much value beyond the fact that someone heard your track.

However, a follower has a lifetime value. The right listener will click that follow button because they want to listen to ALL your music. Those are the people you want in your audience. They will stream your songs more than once and explore your entire catalogue. These are also the people most likely to spread the word, buy merch, and come to shows.

How to set up an ad campaign with IG Reels

After spending hours swiping through Reels and Stories, I was ready to build my campaign.

First, I set up a new conversion campaign. For this type of campaign, Instagram optimizes delivery of the ad so it gets served to the type of person most likely to take the action I’ve designated as the conversion event. In the case of this campaign, clicking the ad would send people to one of the band’s music marketing landing pages.

Once there, our Facebook Pixel tracks user activity. If people reeeeally want to hear more of the music, they have to click another button to visit the artist’s Spotify profile. THAT click is what I set up as the conversion event. So Instagram should be showing the ad to people most likely to visit the landing page and then make that second click to get to Spotify.

Why not just send ad traffic straight from Instagram Reels to Spotify?

Well, you could. But remember, this isn’t just about numbers. We want quality fans. So the intermediary “conversion” step had a few benefits:

  1. When your ad optimizes for conversions rather than simple traffic, you reduce the amount of fake engagement via bots and click-farms
  2. By making it “harder” to get from Instagram to Spotify, you send the RIGHT traffic to Spotify
  3. More qualified traffic to Spotify means more quality streaming engagement and real follows
  4. Quality (over quantity) engagement helps Spotify better understand our true fans
  5. And that boosts our chances of algorithmic playlist placements

Targeting the right audience for Instagram Reels ads

For targeting, we decided to stick to a lookalike audience I’d previously created. It’s a lookalike of video viewers of some of the best performing ads I’d run for similar artists.

I usually work with metal and alternative music. This campaign was a nice change of pace, as I’m dealing with an alt rock/pop rock quartet from the East Coast. Considering the broad appeal of such music, I wanted to have a broad, but targeted, potential audience. So the only additional refining I did was to choose “Spotify” as an interest. This cut the audience numbers down to make it more… targeted.

How to select Reels as the ad placement

When setting up your ad campaign, you’ll want to select the “Reels” placement at the Ad Set level.

Assuming you want to limit ad placement to ONLY Reels, you’ll select “Manual Placements.”

Reels ad placement

Reels ad placement

From there, you can use the check boxes to restrict or widen the placements.

Again, if you want this ad to ONLY show up in Reels, you’ll de-select every other option, like this:

Setting up Instagram Reels as ad placement

Setting up Instagram Reels as ad placement

The big downside of Reels ads

Currently, you can’t select an existing Reel post as the ad content.

That means if you have a Reel that’s performing well organically and you want to repurpose it as an ad, you’ll need to re-upload the video.

The other big downside there is that any visible engagement that happened on the organic post won’t follow the ad. You’re starting from scratch with likes and comments.

Not the end of the world, especially if your content is great and your targeting is on point; you’ll get some excitement happening on the ad in no time. But occasionally it’s nice to start out of the gates with visible proof that people love the music (like you can with other placement types).

Hopefully Instagram will allow that to happen soon with Reels.

What kind of “creative” works best for Instagram Reels ads?

In advertising, “creative” is just a fancy term for what the person actually sees. So think: image, design, graphics, video.

We took some old creative I was using in a different ad and stripped it down. I removed anything that felt out of place. This included text with the band and song name, as well as an “out now” announcement. I took all that out because I wanted the Reel to be clean and simple.

Then I drew inspiration from other Reels and Stories. I didn’t want it to stand out in a sea of organic content as a typical ad; I needed something that felt native to Reels and in-sync with everything else that was being served.

Good ad content on Instagram Reels should:

  1. look and feel like organic content
  2. be entertaining as a standalone piece of content (meaning a person shouldn’t have to click anywhere else in order to fully enjoy the Reel)

Of course there are exceptions to every rule, but the above framework is a good starting place. Once I had the creative — which I’d already tested multiple times with multiple audiences — I hit the “publish” button.

Optimizing our Instagram Reels ad campaign

Right from the first day, the ads started doing their job.

I used to see about 15 new followers on Spotify every day with previous ads. Once Reels kicked off, it started moving between 20 to 30 each day combined between Reels and the old ads. Additionally, people started engaging.

Fairly quickly, the Reels ad was performing almost as well as our previous ad, so I decided to shut that older campaign down. I then doubled down on more Reels. I selected another lookalike audience, based off of previous video views we’d gathered with that same song and same artist, and set up a separate ad set. Truly — same creative, same target countries, but different lookalike.

Numbers and engagement followed suit, and were fairly balanced across the board. For every new Spotify follower, there seemed to be a new Instagram one. Two results for the price of one. And that’s something I never quite saw when running ads on other platforms, or via different placements.

We were spending $15 per day and converting at $.13.

To reiterate, that means we were paying 13 cents for each person who visited the landing page and then clicked through to the Spotify profile. We were gaining an average of 30 new followers on both Spotify and Instagram almost every day, for about two weeks.

Additionally, it translated to increased streams and monthly listeners. I was also surprised to see how well the song was being received overall, with people taking the time to comment, like, and share.

Considering the results I was seeing, I did some minor maintenance.

I removed some of the countries along the way that either weren’t keeping up with the results or were skewing them too much. This included some developing countries where the cost per conversion tends to run cheaper. Despite the minor edits, results stayed consistent, and so did the engagement.

Conclusion of the Reels ad test

Overall, the test, as short as it was, was a clear success.

It’s provided me with useful information for the next set of ads I run.

Obviously, we honed in on something that works quite well. So it’ll be an easy fallback whenever we simply want to toggle it back on and get new fans, new engagement, and new data. However, it’s also something I want to harvest for the next cycle of ads.

The new song that recently came out will follow in similar footsteps. Both the song and the ad creative it inspires will be optimized for Reels, which also makes Reels the focal point of our campaign. People have been engaging, messaging the band, and overall enjoying the music. This also shows in our numbers across the board.

If you’ve had the chance to test out Reel ads as well, let us know how they’ve performed for you, and what results you’ve been seeing!

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