How to setup burst campaigns on Instagram for mobile apps and games

Instagram recently grew to 400MM active monthly users and positioned itself as a new, under rated channel for cheap mobile app installs!

In addition to official Sponsored ads, there exists an under represented community of Instagram publishers (accounts with large followings) that shoutout (feature @username mentions) each other’s accounts inside image captions and share links to affiliate offers & other promotional messages.

According to Fiksu Index, average iOS CPI stands at $1.54 and Android CPI is $2.27, with the costs increasing at 40% rate year over year.

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In this article we will explain step by step process of how you can take advantage of Instagram shoutouts (@username tags inside image captions) to drive mobile app installs for as low as $0.10 CPI on iOS and Android.

Step 1 – Instagram Setup

When you advertise your game using Instagram shoutouts, you need to create the least amount of friction between Instagram audience and install action of your app. This step is most important!

  • Create a standalone Instagram account for your mobile app. We see better engagement with standalone accounts rather than “game studio”, “business” type accounts that feature many games and apps from the developer.
  • Fill this new Instagram account with at least 6-9 promotional images or screenshots of your mobile app. Think of these as your app store screenshots, these need to look very good because people will share and comment on them when they visit your account!
  • Place a link to gplay/appstore in Instagram biography section as your website. You can use to track statistics or AppsFlyer/Flurry combination to split iOS and Android traffic to appropriate destinations and track installs further down your funnel.
example account

Proper Instagram setup will ensure people go to appropriate destination to download your app without extra steps of searching, opening the app store, etc.

You need to guide your audience from shoutout to app store, with only a few taps, in a matter of 5 seconds or less, otherwise you will waste your budget.

Step 2 – Shoutout Creative

Instagram is a visual social network, your ads will need to look good! You need to prepare great looking photos and write great captions as your shoutout.

  • Less is more, try to show everything you want your viewers to see inside an image, and treat your caption as a “second chance” opportunity to convert viewers into users.
  • Create image or 15s video showcasing your app or screenshot of your app with app store logos on it (displaying that it is indeed an app)
  • 🔥Spice your caption with emojis. 😍Viewers respond to emoji captions very well! Keep it simple, short and funny (if possible)👌
  • Include your @username at least 3 times, that way its easier to locate your newly created Instagram account and follow the links to download your game.
  • Recent versions of Instagram app cut off image captions after second line, try to include your @username in the first 5-10 words of your shoutout!

Remember that the goal is to guide viewers to your Instagram @username so they can effortlessly click a link and visit your App Store page!

Step 3 – Targeting

Majority of Instagram users range from 13 to 35 years of age, if you are going to buy shoutouts from Instagram accounts, you can target by theme of theirs posts (outdoor, fashion, funny, sports, cars, etc.) and language they post in (enlglish, spanish, russian).

Look for obvious themes:

  • Fashion, nails, beauty and makeup will have women and teenage girl audience.
  • Cars, luxury, motivation, motocross, guns, etc. will cater to male audience.
  • Outdoor niche and funny image/vid accounts have somewhat an even split between men and women, however, Instagram in general is skewed towards women.
  • There are lots of teenage users, running shoutouts during school hours can provide extra boost in views and likes (kids don’t pay attention in school) if you’re trying to reach younger audience, morning to early afternoon shoutouts can be very effective.
  • 3pm to 5pm shoutouts work very well to reach older audience, those who are home after work!
  • We do not recommend running any shoutouts after 8pm. Those are typically dead hours.

Step 4 – Timing

With large shoutout campaigns, come extensive preparations.

  • Larger Instagram accounts schedule posts in advance, its better to put your order in ahead of time, to guarantee yourself a spot.
  • Scheduling shoutouts at least 24 hours ahead of time will net the best results, but we generally give up to 72 hours of lead time.
  • Scheduling multiple shoutouts at the same time is recommended if you are trying to run a burst campaign. You can achieve this with same image/caption for all shoutouts in 1 order, or multiple orders with unique images/captions as long as you schedule them to be posted at the same time 🙂
  • Another important fact is that shoutouts start dying out in activity past 4hrs. It is the main reason why vendors charge hourly to run shoutout campaigns. 2hrs is optimal time, but after 4hrs Instagram users have their feed filled up so far… that they don’t scroll down anymore.

Step 5 – Results

Now that you created your new Instagram account, setup a shoutout order with image and caption, picked an audience and timed your shoutouts, you need to track results!

Tracking your downloads is extremely important, we recommend using tools like AppAnnie for category rankings with app store data, Flurry, AppFlyer and for their respective roles as described in previous steps.

Here are some of the results from shoutouts we ran using Shoutcart:

Songplay by Anobot, LLC

Anobot, LLC was able to burst into top 50 in USA with a $800 campaign, averaging around 8k total installs at $0.10 CPI with iOS only app!

Day of campaign stats:

Timbo Snake 2 

Timbo Snake 2 campaign cost $3,800 that resulted in 48.5k downloads at $0.08 CPI on iOS and Android. Achieved rank #5 for main keyword on App Store and  #2 trending game in USA overall on Google Play.

First Day of campaign stats:

And other notable results:

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Giraffe Winter Sport Simulator by UAB APPLAVA
  • Reach: 2.2m
  • Duration: 3hr
  • Spend: $255
  • Downloads: ~2000 (750/1250 android/ios)
  • CPI: ~$0.13

Available on Google Play and iTunes

Notes: This was a video shoutout, the game was published on both iOS and Android, and Shoutcart service was able to briefly bump it into iOS charts!

Customer Feedback:

“We’ve managed to reach 0,13$ CPI per one 3hrs shoutout, mainly for US traffic. I think it’s a very cheap way to acquire users. We also were surprised that people search and download the game even though there are no links in the shoutout. Thanks Shoutcart for your help, tips and suggestions!”

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Kungfu Grandmaster by Zahraworks

  • Reach: 1.4m
  • Duration: 2hr
  • Spend: $130
  • Downloads: ~400
  • CPI: ~$0.32

Available on Google Play

Notes: This game was available solely on Android, and received great results!

Customer Feedback:

“Ordered Shoutcart’s service for my new game app few days ago, the service is delivered fast and got 400 downloads mainly from US for 1 shoutout, thank you Shoutcart.”

Ready to get started with Instagram Shoutouts for your mobile app?

Visit and browse available shoutouts for sale!