Josh Fife is a digital marketing professional who specializes in Paid Search and Social Media. When he isn’t busy optimizing marketing campaigns for clients, he spends his time planning his next trip, traveling, playing sports, board games, video games (anything competitive), and experimenting in the kitchen.

Other posts by:

Getting More Out Of Your Social Campaigns With Instagram Stories

Facebook marketers argue over optimization techniques and campaign strategies more often than LeBron James argues with referees. If you’re not a basketball fan and don’t get that reference, in other words, it happens frequently. However, there is one thing that all Facebook marketers can agree on, and that is Facebook is always changing. What works today might not work tomorrow, and Facebook as a platform is always changing. That’s why savvy marketers need to be vigilant and continuously stay updated so that we can best optimize our campaigns.

People recording concert with phones

We recently attended the Social Media Marketing World 2019 conference where we were fortunate to see some of the top speakers in social media marketing. One of the standout trends in 2019 was looking at what the future holds for advertisers on Facebook, and where the best opportunities are on Facebook currently for advertisers.

To get an idea of what the future of Facebook (and the Facebook family of apps) could look like, it’s important to acknowledge the past and the present. Mark Zuckerberg often comments on the direction he wants to take Facebook. When he’s done this in the past we’ve seen how what he says directly affects how the platform develops over time, as well as how the functions of marketing on the platform evolves with it. He’s talked about moving the platform in a direction that encourages meaningful interaction instead of passive consumption, and he’s described moving from a newsfeed world to a newsfeed + stories world. What’s a stories world, you ask?

So what are Instagram Stories?

Instagram stories are a feature in Instagram that allows users to capture and post ephemeral images and video that play in chronological order and disappear after 24 hours. Stories make it easy to share more with families, friends and followers in a more personal and direct way compared to regular Instagram posts. This type of content is how Instagram is encouraging meaningful engagement instead of passive consumption. It’s a closer look into friends’ and families’ lives that is more natural than the typical heavily-edited Instagram posts we normally see. These are also appealing to users because of their ‘real-time’ or ‘live’ component, a trend that Snapchat championed.  

Stories posts show up at the top of the Instagram feed and you simply tap on one to view their content. Posts are full screen and auto-play until there is nothing left to see. While in stories, you can tap to go forward or back or hold down on a post to pause it. There are no comments or likes on stories, but you can send the poster a direct message while viewing their story.

Instagram Stories Best Practices

Instagram Stories advertising is one of the biggest opportunities in digital marketing right now. As of January 2019, Instagram reported 500 million daily active Stories users worldwide compared to just 100 million users back in October of 2016. It’s a growing audience that is using this feature daily to interact with their followers.

As you would expect, there are some best practices to follow to ensure that your next Instagram stories campaign is a success.

Your ad will appear in between users’ stories and users can easily skip ads if they want, simply by tapping on the right side of their screen to go onto the next post. Because these ads are so easy to skip, it’s super important to make sure that you follow best practices so that users are more likely to view your ad and take action.

The Stories format is full screen so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that your ads should also be full screen. Instagram recommends using a 1080px by 1920px or 9:16 aspect ratio. Videos are 15 seconds long, and images are 5 seconds long. It’s extremely important to use this time wisely. Use the first 3 seconds and the last 3 seconds to highlight your brand. The first thing users should see is your brand, this way they know exactly who the ad is coming from, and where they can learn more. Then, make it very clear to your audience what type of experience they can expect with your product or service. If the ad is conversion focused, use strong call to action’s (CTAs) and action-oriented language to tell users exactly what type of action to take next.

It’s important to caption your videos so that users who aren’t viewing stories with audio are still able to understand your ad. Even though you’re using captions, it’s still very important to use audio for those users who do watch stories with sound. Use audio to add relevance to the ads. Ads with multiple scenes have typically worked better. Stories are relatively new so don’t be afraid to be experimental with your creative concepts.

Driving Performance

Instagram stories are a full funnel solution, and because of the options you have it’s important to test and refine your audiences when using Instagram stories ads. Make sure that you test different conversion goals on these so that you can learn and optimize to what works best for your marketing objectives.

Another key to driving performance with stories ads is to emphasize that users should swipe up. Tell them what action to take in your ad and try telling them specifically that they need to swipe up to perform your desired action. Swiping up will redirect the user to another page allowing for a trackable engagement point on your website.

We suggest using stories as a component of your Facebook marketing strategy and use it in combination with Facebook’s other ad types and placements. As with any ad placement, it’s important to test and learn so that you can refine your campaigns and learn what drives results for your brand.

If you’re thinking that you need to get your brand into Instagram stories ads, get in touch and we’ll help you put together a detailed plan to drive performance, and results.