Why You Need Instagram Story Ads And How To Use Them

If Instagram Stories and Instagram Story Ads are foreign concepts, or if you haven’t done much more than Google and give up, we’re here for you. 

This isn’t something you want to miss out on. The format that began with blatantly copying Snapchat has proven to become a marketing powerhouse. Of Instagram’s 1B monthly active users, 500M people (and counting), around the world, are using Instagram Stories daily.

Being able to share content and connect with your network in a really fun way is an easy sell. Especially as the novelty of the newsfeed has died down somewhat over time. We’ve all lost untold hours to scrolling and the regret is real. 

Instagram Stories Feel Different

They’re vertical and go full screen. They disappear within 24 hours (unless they are saved or added to your profile as highlight). They have fun tools to draw with, as well as stickers and filters. And they seem a lot more low stakes as a result. Instead of focusing on the perfect lighting and angle Instagram stories are all about being candid, spontaneous and in the moment. 

They also happen to be featured at the top of the home feed, which is prime real estate. And when you add new stories your profile image will have a colourful circle placed around it indicating this, enticing people to view them. 

Stories can be saved by posting them to your profile page as Highlights. To make the most of your Highlights, choose a theme for each, a catchy cover image, a short, concise name, and post related stories within them. 

Using Instagram Stories For Marketing

Instagram reports that a third of the most viewed stories come from businesses, and one in five stories gets a direct message from its viewers. With the perception of low risk and the expectation of informal content, Stories are a great place for businesses to experiment with to figure out what their target audience engages with. The marketing teams at Nike, Bustle and Square seem inclined to agree.

Instagram Stories give you the opportunity to share content in many unique ways. Some of these ideas include allowing you to give behind-the-scenes access, share breaking news and important product launches, demo your products, promote events, preview blog posts or other content, or mention other brands or influencers you work with. 

They can also help drive traffic. If you have a business account and more than 10 000 followers, or have a verified account, you can add swipe up links (they’re exactly what they sound like). You can link them to landing pages, your newest blog, or whatever it is that you want to promote.  

How Instagram Story Ads Differ

While they’re similar to organic Stories in many ways, they’ve got certain unique elements which allow them to support businesses’ goals.

  • They don’t disappear in 24 hours but rather you can choose the duration when you’re setting up your ads. 
  • Don’t have 10 000 followers or a verified account? No worries. Story Ads allow you to drive traffic through swipe up links by default. 
  • Instagram Story Carousel Ads allow you to link to a different landing page from each card. You can also get insights into the metrics for each card.
  • Story Ads can be placed on Instagram, Facebook AND Messenger using Ads Manager. Be sure to choose to edit placements and select Stories!
  • For more on the specs of Instagram Story Ads check out the Facebook Ads Guide.

Tips For Posting Your Instagram Stories 

We were thinking about analyzing 15 000 Instagram Stories to provide you with some in depth findings. Thankfully Buffer did it so that we didn’t have to. Here are some of their findings and recommendations: 

  • Within a 24 hour period post as little as 1-7 stories and up to 12-20. You’ll have to test to see what your completion rates will be, but in the Buffer study completion rates were at least 55% for those posting 12 to 20 stories. 
  • Post your best stories first and get your audience hooked so that they stick around to check out your other stories. 
  • The best time to post Stories appears to be outside of working hours – they noted distinctive spikes in the morning, afternoon and evenings.
  • The more you post the more reach you’ll achieve – as Stories disappear after 24 hours there’s more room to post and consume. BUT bear in mind this applies to content that’s relevant and engaging. Don’t just post to post. 
  • The average completion rate for brands (consumer related products or services) was 69% in 2018
  • Be sure to track engagement so that you have a sense of how to vary and improve your content. You’ll want to consider completion rate, reach and impressions, exit rates according to story frame, stories post timing and stories length. 

Driving Engagement With Stories

Stories offer up a ton of fun tools and options to help you make your content engaging. These include: 

Polls: Adding simple two-option polls will help you figure out if people are really engaging with your content.

Stickers: There are a few useful options here. Location stickers allow your audience to tap to see other photos and Stories taking place nearby. This means you can be discovered by others too! Hashtag stickers operate in a similar way.

Be Shareable: Make sure your Stories settings allow your Stories to be shared. Just go to your profile, tap the gear icon, and navigate to “Story Settings.” Then toggle on “Allow Sharing” so viewers can DM your Story to friends to increase your audience reach. 

Repurpose Longer Content: Videos on Stories can only be shared at a length of 15 seconds per story. But that doesn’t mean you’re out of luck when it comes to sharing longer pieces. Just break them up into 15 second segments. The Story Cutter app for Android and IOS can help.  

Play With Different Formats: In addition to photos and videos, stories give you a variety of modes to create in other formats. Create text-based posts; live streams that your audience can comment on in real-time (these can be posted to your Story afterwards); looping videos aka Boomerangs; focus portraits (blur out the background and keep your subject in focus); Superzoom (dramatically zoom in on something or someone using different types of effects); record videos and play them in reverse with Rewind; or Hands-free which allows you to record videos without having to press down on any buttons.

Ready To Post Your First Story?

  1. Tap on the camera icon in the top left of your screen or swipe right from anywhere in the feed and click on the camera icon.
  2. Tap the white circle in the middle to take a picture or hold to record a video. If you want to choose a photo or video from your phone, just swipe up. 
  3. Edit your photo or video by drawing, adding text or stickers. Be creative and have fun with this! Don’t be afraid to experiment. To remove text or a sticker, just drag and drop it on the trash icon at the bottom of the screen.
  4. When you’re ready to share, tap the “Your Story” button in the bottom left. You can choose to post to your public Story so your profile picture appears at the top of your followers’ feeds, “Send to” to send it privately to your followers via a Direct Message, or “Save” to download it to your phone for later.

However you decide to use Stories they can become an important part of your brand’s story. Remember, it’s not so much where you take things from – it’s where you take them to.