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What are Instagram Stories Ads?
Instagram Stories are real-time videos that only last for 24-hours. If you haven’t seen them yet, you will see them as the little round bubbles that show up at the top of your Instagram feed.
In order to view a story, simply look at the top of the feed, place your finger on the story and hold it. To skip a story you swipe left, and then you will be automatically taken to the next story. Stories don’t have the “like” feature but they do allow you to comment or message directly.
The ads part of the stories are that users can now stick an ad in between the stories, so that users see it as the series of stories are running. The ads are supposed to be “stories” as well so that the user experience seems smooth. Ads are full-screen and may be up to 15 seconds long.
What’s all the hype about?
According to Statistica, Instagram Stories had 300 million daily users as of October of 2017. By providing a more interactive and personalized experience, Stories encourage visitors to stick around for longer – according to Instagram, Stories users tend to stay for 32 minutes longer per day than before.
Here are just a few benefits of using Instagram ads for business:
- Instagram boasts more than 800 million active users so the audience base is already there
- Instagram and Facebook (Ads) are now connected, so that you can create one targeted ad and get it across multiple social channels quickly
- Instagram has the highest engagement of any social platform
- According to Sprout Social, over 70% of US businesses use Instagram which means that it not only works, but you probably need to be on there to get in line with your competition
- Instagram will give you metrics based on reach rather than likes or comments
- Instagram was originally built for mobile so it’s always compatible
Instagram vs Snapchat: Which is better for Marketing?
Instagram initially launched their stories ads feature and made it available to all businesses in an effort to compete with Snapchat.
As of June 2017, Instagram announced that its following had grown to be larger than its key competitor, with a following of more than 250 million daily users. Since then, it’s added a number of features, including the capacity to follow hashtags, special stickers, drawing tools and face filters.
To this end, it’s fairly similar to Snapchat – but is it better for your marketing needs?
The truth is that anyone has the choice of integrating ad campaigns that happen to suit their audience and different platforms will vary in demographics, etc.
While the two are quite similar, Instagram has a bigger audience and better engagement, and is also simple to use. Many people know how to use it already simply because it’s been around longer, which means there’s better potential for greater engagement.
Instagram also uses Facebook’s ads manager, which is not only user-friendly but also essentially “kills two birds with one stone” if you create one ad on Facebook and then can share directly to Instagram as well in one step.
Are there any benefits to using Snapchat? Sure! It’s smaller, so there’s less competition. It’s also a more personal and social app than Instagram, and it tends to have a younger demographic, so if your products or services are geared more towards teens and 20-somethings, it could be a good platform to test out.
How to Advertise on Instagram
To start creating your Instagram ads you’ll need to ensure that your Facebook business page is connected to your Instagram account. You can do this via the “settings” feature on your Facebook Business page.
- You can then either use Power Editor (or Facebook Ads Manager) to create your ads. Power Editor is faster. You can find this under “Create & Manage.”
- Then click “create ad,” and choose objectives that fit your goal as well as ones that work properly for Instagram. You can save a draft and create more ads in the same campaign.
- So long as your Instagram account is connected, you should be able to see a preview of your ad as it would appear in the Instagram feed.
Here are some tips for leveraging almost any product or service on the market via Instagram ads.
Following on the heels of Facebook and Twitter, Instagram stories also offers an interactive polls feature which is an excellent tool for getting people genuinely engaged while finding out more about them. By engaging in these types of conversations you have the opportunity to connect on a personal level as well as gather information about buyer activity and decision, all of which are key for targeting ads.
Use content you've already created
No matter what your industry or product is, it will likely take a little bit of practice to get a solid understanding of the types of ads that are very effective and this can take time. So, it’s more efficient to test out content you already have to see how it works on Instagram. Try out a simple meme that was successful or even a Facebook ad that you’ve already created and are planning on running again.
Design is going to be a little bit different from platform to platform, and Instagram is full of amazing photographers and videographers – this means you have to have high-quality visuals as well in order to stand out. Think about incorporating something different like explanation videos or animated ads.
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for Instagram Stories
Using the right metrics or KPIs is crucial for evaluating the success of any ad strategy. Here are some that you’ll want to take into consideration in order to determine how popular your stories are:
- Completion rate: Divide the number of viewers from your last story by the number of people who saw the first post.
- Impressions: Fewer impressions may be saying something about the overall quality of your stories.
- Direct messages: This is your main indicator of engagement because there are no likes or shares.
The key to using KPIs well is to find the right types of data to measure, and sometimes mixing and matching different bits and pieces of information in order to develop new performance indicators. But if you’re not that technically-minded, tools like Hootsuite Analytics and Iconosquare will give you more information than Instagram’s built-in analytics tool.
Make Your Stories Count
A good rule of thumb to go by for authentic engagement is to not think of your ads as ads, but rather as stories. The less you look like you’re trying to “sell” something, the more your audience is likely to be genuinely intrigued.
Here are a few other tips for rocking your Instagram stories:
- Make it consistent with your brand storyline. This is an opportunity to tell a story, so tell a story! It can be quirky, colorful, humorous…just do something to let people know that you are more interesting than the last story they saw.
- Get inspiration from competitors. What are others in your industry doing? Who do you genuinely admire? Find out what other people are doing and try out something similar.
- Understand how your other Instagram activity can affect stories. If you post more than one thing at a time, it may diminish your viewership on one of the posts. Keep track of timing for all types of posts and try to get a feel for when the best time to post each is.
Don’t be Afraid to Experiment
Some types of goods and services work well for different platforms and while Instagram appears to be consistently in the lead for most metrics, you’re still going to want to test out various formats and see what works best for your personal or business strategy.
No matter what platform you find works best for your business, your main goal should be to connect authentically with customers. Stories provide the opportunity to give viewers a glimpse of what’s going on behind the scenes, so using them to get up close and personal is often a good idea.
Any kind of marketing involves some creative output and the ephemeral nature of Instagram Stories gives you a whole new viewpoint on how challenging (and fun) micro-moment marketing can be.