How to do Instagram lead generation


Instagram is a highly visible and shareable social media platform.

Behind Instagram’s slick and social veneer you’ll find a sophisticated lead generation machine. As Meta has grown into a digital media juggernaut, so has Instagram.

Over the past several years, Meta has unified Facebook, Instagram and (to a lesser extent) WhatsApp into an integrated ad platform.

Advertisers have three main methods of generating leads via Instagram: organic, boosts and ads. This article will discuss each.

Organic lead generation

  • Advantages
  • Disadvantages
    • Limited to organic reach
    • Can’t target or optimize results

Organic refers to non-paid tools and strategies for developing content on Instagram. Whenever you post something to your Instagram account through the app, you do so “organically.”

It is possible to generate some leads through your profile and content organically. However, unless your account has exceedingly high visibility and organic reach, doing so with any consistency or volume will be challenging unless you use paid tools. 

The number of Instagram users that will see your organic posts will be limited by: 

  • Your current followers.
  • The engagement rate of your content.
  • How findable your content is. 

In other words, you’re at the mercy of the “algorithm.”

But here are some things you can do to maximize your chances of generating interest (and potentially leads) in your brand via organic Instagram:

  • Switch to a business profile
    • Set your profile to a Business Profile to take advantage of built-in tools like ads, call-to-action (CTA) buttons and the ability to add contact information to your profile.
  • Optimize your profile information
    • Use a recognizable profile picture, such as your logo.
    • Craft a compelling bio with clear information about the business, and be sure to include a CTA (e.g., visit our homepage).
    • Use a service like Linktree to offer profile clickers multiple options to visit (like a Contact Us page for leads).
  • Use stories
    • Use Instagram Stories to share your content outside of the feed.
    • Stories also allow brands to include “swipe up” CTAs.
  • Engage with your audience
    • Quickly and consistently reply to comments on your posts.
    • Always look for opportunities to turn interest into action by referring users to your website.
    • Use Instagram DMs to share additional information with interested potential leads.

Boosting posts

  • Advantages
    • Better reach than organic
    • Simplified process
  • Disadvantages
    • Not as many options as ads manager
    • Less control over targeting

If you’re an advertiser looking to put promotional dollars behind your Instagram but don’t want to learn the ins and outs of ads manager – boosting may be right for you.

Think of boosting as “paid lite,” a tool that gives you a simplified process for promoting your Instagram content. You start by selecting one of your Instagram posts from your library and tapping the “Boost post” button. From there, you will be guided through the steps. 

Depending on whether you’ve done similar boosts on Facebook, you’ll have the option to select with or without using a Facebook page.

Next, you’ll select your goal. This is the action you want people to take and what Instagram will try to optimize performance to. 

For lead generation purposes, we recommend “Visit your website” and having a method for contact there. Otherwise, you can encourage inbound messages via Instagram DM.

Instagram boosting postsInstagram boosting posts

After that, you’ll have the option to select your target audience. You’ll have two options: a “Recommended audience” and the option to create your own.

Your recommended audience will consist of Instagram followers and other people Meta believes are similar. The create your own option allows you to select specific locations, interests and some demographics such as age and gender.

Instagram boosting posts - audiencesInstagram boosting posts - audiences

The first option will likely get you a better response, while the second option allows you to create a larger audience and refine their interests.

By selecting particularly engaging Instagram posts and boosting them, you’ll have the ability to get more and more targeted eyeballs on your content.

Boosting also allows you to better control how audiences will respond to you.

Ads Manager

  • Advantages
    • Highly-customizable
    • Best results long-term
  • Disadvantages
    • Can be challenging to learn

To fully embrace lead generation on Instagram, you’ll need to use Ads Manager and create a campaign fully optimized for lead generation.

Setting up a Meta ad account can be tricky, and the process is long enough to merit its own article. Instead, we will begin with the assumption that you have the ad account created and your Instagram linked. If you do not, please follow this guide.

Within Ads Manager, all Meta properties are one big happy family. You can advertise across Facebook and Instagram somewhat seamlessly.

With a few exceptions, Meta does not recommend having separate campaigns for your Facebook ads and Instagram ads. It’s inefficient; you’ll likely see better results if you keep them together. 

So, for this explanation, we’ll keep things unified unless otherwise noted.

Dig deeper: How to use Meta Ads for lead generation: A 9-step guide

Select your objective

Your objective is the goal of your campaign. This can range from simple awareness to lead generation. Select Leads from the options provided.

Meta ads - Select your objectiveMeta ads - Select your objective

Meta will then give you the option for a “tailored” leads campaign, which uses automation to generate the necessary inputs.

We’ll use this path as our example, as the custom option is largely the same but with more options.

There are three main methods for generating a lead within this type of campaign: 

  • Instant forms
  • Chats (Messenger and Instagram)
  • Calls

Instant forms 

Meta ads - Instant formsMeta ads - Instant forms

This allows advertisers to create a contact form and have potential leads fill it out directly within Instagram without leaving the experience.

Step one is to create a lead generation form using Meta’s instant form builder. You can choose a template or create your own.

Meta ads - Instant form builderMeta ads - Instant form builder

Upload a few branding assets and create the questions you would like to ask your leads. These can be multiple-choice or short answer. 

Once your questions are outlined, select the prefilled questions you want to ask your leads. These will be automatically filled in by Meta based on the user’s profile information and consist of questions like name, email, location etc.

After you’ve selected your questions, finish the form and attach it to your creative in ads manager. When someone clicks on your ad, the form will open and allow them the chance to complete it.

Lead form tips

  • Always use “high intent” forms to prevent accidental and spam entries.
  • Keep the number and intensity of questions you ask to a minimum, as more and more personal questions will impact your conversion rates.
  • Use filter questions to maximize the quality of your leads by removing unqualified responders.
  • Integrate your CRM system with Meta to ensure generated leads flow directly into your database.


Chats (Messenger and Instagram) allow your audience to start a direct message (DM) conversation with your account.

Once an ad is clicked, it will open up an Instagram DM with your account, allowing you to communicate directly with the prospective client.

Like lead generation forms, you can create a script to ask the lead questions and allow them to manually enter the information or type in a response. 

This script can be as long or short as desired. It can also be used as a lead generation chatbot or as a simple greeting to start a manual conversation with your prospect.

Meta ads - ChatsMeta ads - Chats


This allows audiences to tap or click to call a number you choose. 

This is the simplest lead generation avenue as it does not require anything more than a simple phone number to direct incoming calls.

Note that Meta cannot optimize toward call quality. While this type of campaign is likely to make your phone ring, it might not be a high-intent prospect on the other end.

Meta ads - CallsMeta ads - Calls

Prospective leads can also request a callback if you select the option. This will send your account a message that someone is interested in speaking with you, but can’t talk now.

Build your ad set

Once you’ve determined how you’d like to generate leads, you’ll need to finalize the setup. This involves three important components at the “ad set” level: 

  • Budget.
  • Schedule.
  • Targeting.

Budget and schedule

This allows you to choose how much to spend over what duration. Budgets can be set at a daily or lifetime level. Schedule lets you choose how long your campaign will run and when it launches and ends.

Meta ads - Budget and scheduleMeta ads - Budget and schedule

Dig deeper: How to set your Facebook and Instagram advertising budgets for maximum results


Ads Manager gives you many options for targeting, including location, demographics, interests and first-party data.

Meta ads - TargetingMeta ads - Targeting

Select your ideal audience using the options available or use an AI-powered “Advantage+ audience” to simplify the process.

You can be as broad or as specific as you want. Just know that the smaller the audience, the more expensive your media costs will be.

Build your creative

The last step in the process is to build creative. This requires an image and text. 

Build your creativeBuild your creative

For Instagram, we recommend having images that are both 1×1 and 9×16. This will fit all of Instagram’s placements, including the feed, stories and reels.

Having 9×16 (vertical) aligned images will make your ads stand out in these highly visible and engaging placements.

Unlocking Instagram’s lead gen potential

Generating leads via Instagram is easier now than ever. With various options to fit all levels of sophistication and budgets, Instagram allows marketers to generate leads through various contact types.

While the learning curve for generating leads via ads manager might be daunting to some, Meta’s recent focus on automation and simplicity has lowered the learning curve. 

If you’re looking to grow your list of prospective customers, I suggest using Ads Manager, specifically lead generation forms and chats, as it offers a high degree of customization and potential to grow.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.


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