Social Media Marketing

Instagram Stories Ads: Everything You Need to Know

If you’re already familiar with Instagram, chances are you’ve already tried Instagram Stories.

But have you tried running Instagram Stories ads yet?

In general, they perform a bit better than regular ads in the feed but can take a bit more effort to make work.

Before we get into some tips for creating effective Instagram Stories ads, a quick overview:

What Are Instagram Stories Ads?

Instagram Stories ads appear among your audiences Instagram Stories, long, full-screen images or videos that display for 15 seconds. If you have a longer message to deliver, you can use a carousel that consists of three 15-second videos.

These ads are a great way to create content that engages your audience and drives them to visit your site to make a purchase or get more information on a product. Instagram features a call-to-action that lets users swipe up to take an action. (More on that later.)

How Your Business Can Benefit from Instagram Stories Ads

Instagram Stories should already be part of your social media routine—they’re a great way to create short, engaging videos or graphics that catch your audience’s attention. (And at the time of writing this, they get more visibility than the regular feed.)

However, you already know a good content strategy makes the most of both organic and paid traffic. And as it happens, you can make ads that feel right at home in Instagram Stories.

Done well, these should stand out in your audience’s stories without feeling too promotional or too much like traditional ads. You want to get a little creative and utilize Instagram’s built-in tools for stories to make them feel more natural.

Below, we’ll cover some tips for creating Instagram Stories ads that convert well and capture your audience’s attention.

How to Make an Instagram Stories Ad that Converts Well

1. Use High-Quality Images and Video

Instagram is a visual platform, so great photos are a must.

Now, “high-quality” doesn’t necessarily mean “polished.” While polished content can do well, many audiences prefer more of a raw look. Ads that look real, are believable, and make a personal connection with your audience have a better chance of winning your audience over.

The same goes for videos—if your ad content looks too polished, it can be offputting. People come to social media to escape obviously promotional, TV ad-like content. You risk not just wasting ad dollars, but driving potential customers away.

Instead of focusing on editing, focus on things like good natural lighting (or artificially replicating that), clear visuals, and your overall message.

Which brings us to our next tip:

2. Make Your Message Clear, Concise, and Compelling

You have seconds to get your message across to your target audience. Where some ad formats are intended for longer videos, you don’t have that kind of time with Instagram Stories ads.

In the first couple of seconds, you should have a strong hook. This should be short and punchy. Deliver a brief message with text to get the point across, but let your visuals do most of the talking.

3. Make it Feel “At Home” without Blending In

The second people realize they’re looking at an ad, they put up a wall.

Place text and other graphics that guide your viewer’s attention down the screen, eventually leading them to the “swipe up” call-to-action. You can use decorative text, arrows, and even draw on your ads with some of the built-in tools that come with Instagram Stories.

Great ads feel at home in your viewers’ feeds. They shouldn’t feel disruptive or out of place. (If people have to ask “why am I seeing this?” you probably should revisit either your creatives or your targeting.)

If you feel like your ad screams, well, “ad,” try to get a better idea of what your audience’s feed looks like. Highly targeted ads often fit right in with native content, to the point that only the “sponsored” tag gives it away.

Create your content in a way that’s consistent with your brand, but still feels at home in your ideal customer’s feed. Or, if it does feel more like a “traditional” ad, it should at least be entertaining or informative enough that viewers welcome it.

4. Include Extra Calls-to-Action

Instagram already has a CTA, but it needs a little help.

You’ll usually see an arrow with some text that reads “more info,” “shop now,” or something similar.

Consider using the built-in drawing tools or some extra text incorporated into the background of your graphic that reads “swipe up” or “swipe up for x.”

If you feel this might be redundant to your target audience, you can also just use extra arrows or other elements to guide viewers’ attention to the CTA at the bottom. This is where ad variation testing comes in handy. Try both, and see what gets the best response from your audience.

5. Include User-Generated Content

One brand that won me over with both their content and community content was Tailwind.

They’re an Instagram and Pinterest scheduler that puts out tons of their own content, but they also make it a point to share and occasionally put ad dollars behind excellent content from their community.

(And occasionally, you might just see your content pop up on their social feeds. It might seem silly, but it’s kind of exciting when one of your articles finds its way into one of your favorite brand’s feed.)

Not only does this get your fans excited, but it helps your potential audience feel more connected.

You’re telling a story from a buyer’s perspective, which is a lot more relatable than reviews or even success stories published on a company’s blog. They’re letting their buyers take the stage and share their story, which has a much different sort of impact than company content does.

If you find user-generated content that you think has good potential, reach out to them and see if you can run their content as an ad.

It’s a win-win situation—they get some extra traffic and visibility and you get an effective ad that’s likely to be exactly what your target audience is looking for.

6. Include Your Brand Name and Logo

Even if an ad is impactful and memorable, you’ll want to make sure viewers remember your brand.

Include your logo or brand name somewhere in the ad. Otherwise, the only place it shows up is in the top left of the ad, which shows your account name and profile. Like the CTA, it really doesn’t stand out at all.

If you’re running a brand awareness campaign, at least including your brand name is a must (or your primary logo).

7. Include Audio in Your Ad

Straight from Instagram:

With 60% of stories viewed with sound-on, be sure to share content that sounds as good as it looks.

Even if your ad doesn’t have audio, adding music to your ad can help make it more memorable. While ads that don’t rely on audio certainly have their place, you have an opportunity to deliver your message with sound.

Whether that’s a quick chat with viewers or a video of one of your fans talking about how much they love your product, ads with audio can be a more effective way to deliver your message.

8. Teach Your Audience Something New

Some of the most common advice is to put out “valuable” content.

Many creators take that to mean they should constantly be cranking out 6,000-word articles that cover a topic as entirely as they can, but there’s more to it than that.

An ad that teaches your audience something they didn’t know before they watched your ad can be more impactful than a comprehensive article that talks about all the obvious points that have been covered thousands of times before.

If you want to be memorable and impactful, teach your audience something new. Give them something useful that they can take away and implement even if they don’t buy from you today.

9. Feature Influencers in Your Ads

If you’re a new business with products that people haven’t had a chance to get familiar with, it can be hard to build trust at the start.

By working with influencers who have a larger, engaged audience, you have a crowd to market to without having to build one up at the start. Of course, you’ll want to make the most of these opportunities and find a way to retain customers.

When working with influencers, you’ll want to look with influencers in your industry with a highly engaged audience.

10. Track Your Ads

No ad campaign is complete without proper tracking.

You can track your ads either on Instagram or with the Facebook ads manager, and track everything your audience does after that (clickthroughs, purchases, link visits, etc.) with a combination of Facebook and Google analytics.

Without a way to measure the effectiveness of your campaign, you may as well not run ads at all!

By effectively monitoring your campaign performance and measuring the outcome after your campaign has been running for a while, you can get a better idea of your ROI and compare it with other campaigns.

Especially when you’re working with a new platform, it’s important to know what resonates with your audience the most. Don’t just keep guessing.

Related: How to Advertise on Instagram: The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide

Summary & Takeaways

In this article, we covered:

  • A brief overview of Instagram Stories ads
  • How they can benefit your business
  • Some tips for creating effective ads

By effectively setting up your campaign with powerful creatives and measuring the outcome after your campaign has been running for a while, you can get a better idea of your ROI and compare it against campaigns on other platforms.

Especially when you’re working with a new platform, it’s important to learn what resonates with your audience the most. Don’t just keep guessing.
And if you’re ever struggling for ideas for your next ad campaign, take a little inspiration from the Facebook Ad Library, where you can see what other businesses are currently running on Facebook and Instagram.

instagram stories ads infographics

By Lauren Connally

Lauren is a copywriter, blogger, and social media manager based in the Texas Hill Country. She works with bloggers and small businesses to help build their online presence.

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