Stories on Instagram – this is a kind of business card of a social network. Yes, the tool itself was copied from another platform – Snapchat. But it was in Instagram that storis received their true recognition in the global community of social networks. Now it is no longer possible to say that this is a novelty. But the format remained the most popular, recognizable and effective. That’s why it’s clearly not worth ignoring.
Moreover, the story feed is more relevant than the usual Instagram feed. It is more often watched. Many users visit their favorite social network exclusively for surfing stories. Even if there is no time to “stick” on the site, participants usually find a dozen minutes a day to scroll through stories.
In this guide, we will touch closely on this phenomenon, the tool and the advertising format. We will learn all the secrets of its effectiveness, as well as figure out how it works. And we will learn how to create and launch such advertising campaigns on stories that really act on the target audience.
Table of contents
- 1 What is an Instagram stories
- 2 Advertising formats in Instagram stories
- 3 Creating an advertising campaign for stories on Instagram
- 3.1 Algorithm for launching ads in stories
- 3.2 Technical characteristics of stories on Instagram
- 3.3 Search and creation of creatives
- 3.4 Animation of images in Instagram
- 3.5 Working with sound
- 3.6 Stories’ goals on Instagram
- 3.7 Features of stories targeting on Instagram
- 3.8 Retargeting
- 3.9 The cost of advertising in stories
- 3.10 Working with the text in the ad
- 4 Modern types of stories ads in form and content
- 5 Practical recommendations for promotion with the help of stories on Instagram
- 6 Case ― promotion of an online school through Instagram stories
- 7 Conclusion
What is an Instagram stories
This tool is more than 4 years old, it was launched in 2017. In fact, this is a standard account post, but characterized by deeper interactive features. Initially, it may seem that storis is a video. In fact, it is an animated format that allows you to use both video and static images in the form of a slideshow. Or even one image in principle, on which only the inscriptions change. Thanks to these mechanisms, Instagram stories have provided advertisers with a lot of different ways to build creativity. It has become easier to stand out, the scope for imagination is unlimited.
However, over time, practice has shown that there are several variations of stories that the potential audience likes more. Therefore, now marketing gurus often use only these proven methods. But we will talk about them further. While we are dealing with this phenomenon, as such.
Stories on Instagram have a limited life span. If your regular advertising is limited only by the terms set in FB Ads Manager, and the account post does not have a lifetime in principle, then stories exist for only 24 hours (if you do not use “saved stories”, which is still not suitable for the advertising format, so they often save various guides and useful information on the account). It would seem, why are they needed? If they have such a short period of life, how can they manage to hook the entire target audience? It is likely that some customers simply will not log into Instagram on these days.
In fact, this is just the tip of the iceberg. The lifetime of stories is not of serious importance, because they can (and should) be updated every 24 hours. Yes, you will have to spend more time on your promotion, but these are small things. At the same time, due to the limited life span, stories has turned into a purely news format. Instagram users log into the feed to find out what’s new with their favorite influencers, brands, channels. A sort of daily report telling about the latest events. That’s why he attracts attention. When an Instagram user sees a story, he is ready in advance – now there will be something interesting, something new. Therefore, he is more sympathetic to this type of advertising. Yes, this merit mainly belongs to the influencers of Vlog-am, who have accustomed users of the social network to interesting content. But why not take advantage of this increased attention for advertising purposes?
Why you should use advertising in Instagram stories
Let’s, as we like, run purely through facts and figures:
- every fifth story on Instagram, according to developers, receives direct action. A message, a transition, a comment, and so on. Accordingly, even excluding all other conditions, stories has a 20% chance of getting a response;
- more than 500 million users view stories daily. The figure is simply huge. And she already gives an explanation of why the life span of stories is not so important. Yes, 24 hours. But in these 24 hours, 500 million people can become your potential target audience;
- on average, according to marketers’ reports, after the launch of storis-AC, sales increase by 4-10%. And this is without changing the total budget for advertising, just redirecting resources to this method;
- exactly one third of the most popular stories that users watch are of an advertising nature. Have you often met a situation before when the popularity of advertising reached such indicators on some channel, website or account? To have ads viewed by slightly fewer people than the main content itself? This is very rare. But the trick here is simple, in addition to the fact that users themselves are sympathetic to this format (we have already found out why), stories also allow you to create really interesting, fascinating and even informative advertising content;
- the rate in stories is often lower. Moreover, due to the extensive possibilities of working with the creative itself, you can accurately meet the needs of the target audience. And save already in this way. After all, as you know, Instagram reduces the competitive bid for more relevant ads.
As a result, we get a powerful tool that at first glance is devoid of flaws. But we know that no advertising format has been without a fly in the ointment so far. And stories has it too.
- constant updating of the ad. If we are talking about FB Ads Manager. In principle, it can be duplicated with minor modifications, but this is not effective. After all, given the format, it will show users repeatedly. You know, they won’t react in the best way to a replay. If you are promoting an account, then it is even more difficult to retain and attract audiences with the help of stories, you need to release new units almost without pauses. 7 pieces a week. In the case of brand advertising, you may well prepare the entire array in advance. And then don’t get distracted. But for promotion as an influencer, you usually have to use the news format. And it will not be possible to prepare the news proactively;
- I’ll have to learn a little. If you have not worked with story-based advertising companies before, you will have to spend some time on tests. This format has its own hidden nuances that are not enough to know. You need to track exactly how your business will behave with stories, how your target audience will react. Therefore, at first, the test periods will be more than a standard couple of days.
Who is suitable for such a format? It is difficult to answer this question unequivocally. Thanks to the uniqueness and creativity, almost any business can be optimized for stories. But there are some niches that have long been closely associated with the user himself specifically with stories.
- household goods;
- gaming industry.
By the way, these niches are among the most profitable for affiliate marketing on Insta. Other niches will also be perfectly able to work with this format, but you will have to “move your brains” a little to present the intended “product” in the best way. Fortunately, there are more than enough variations for this feed.
Advertising formats in Instagram stories
This tool, as we have already said, has several ways of registration. Let’s take a closer look at each of them.
It doesn’t sound quite right. After all, with the help of various animated effects, emojis, inscriptions, static disappears. And even remaining motionless, the image already seems much more alive. And with minimal investment. After all, if you purchase creatives to order or create them yourself, then the picture will always be easier and cheaper.
The option is a regular photo or picture on which the text is placed, as well as a call to action, if it is not a “carousel” advertisement. This type has a strict time limit, 5 seconds. And this is a double-edged sword. You can place any amount of text on the photo. But if there is too much of it, then the user will definitely not be able to read all the lines in 5 seconds. He will have to pause the story by pinching the screen with his finger. And this is a rarity for advertising. If the content does not turn out to be ultra-interesting, not to hook the user from the first lines, then he is unlikely to stop the display to figure it out in the future, he will simply skip the story. A huge amount of text is logical if you show stories to your followers on Instagram. This is a proven audience, it is interested in viewing, because people came to the feed for this information. Therefore, with a high probability, everyone will read.
Therefore, a lot of text is not recommended on a single advertising story with a photo. Plus, it’s worth remembering about the position of Instagram itself. He believes that a lot of text is bad. This will affect the cost of the bid, and the coverage may also be significantly narrowed.
To create creatives for a static image, you can use the Creative Hub from FB. However, FB Ads Manager itself has some features, we wrote about setting up advertising in Insta with it.
A more efficient view. Obviously, in 90% of cases, the CTR of a video story will be higher than that of a photo. Firstly, it’s just longer, it goes up to 15 seconds. Secondly, it is often more interesting. The video allows you to “revive” advertising, add dynamics, actions, favorably emphasize any options or features, for example, of a product. Show the action of an object in motion. And statistics never ceases to convince us that video advertising is, in principle, much more effective than static. Whether it’s banners, teasers or photos in stories on Instagram.
What is the problem, why not switch to the video format for everyone? The reason is prosaic, it is more complicated and more expensive. Creating a video is not an easy procedure, and besides, it is expensive. But Instagram easily struggles with this aspect. After all, you can easily turn any static image into a video. Add labels, pointers, emojis and effects that appear gradually. Voila, you have a great video sequence, and you spent literally 10 minutes of time on it in the Creative Hub. It’s simple and free, right? To some extent, yes. Indeed, a video based on a static picture or several is a productive method. But let’s be honest, this method still loses with a specially shot full-fledged video in CTR.
Plus, it is quite obvious that stories videos are more expensive than their static opponents. At a minimum, they are longer, and this is an adequate reason for the rise in price.
Using three segments at once in the conditions of one story with. That is, three glued stories together. Moreover, it can be both pictures and videos. The advantage is obvious – the final advertisement is longer, allows you to more accurately, expand the offer to the user. But the minus is immediately visible – the high cost. Yes, in fact, with the help of three segments, you will be able to implement more unique ideas. But standard ads often fit in 15 seconds without any problems. If you need more time, you are either a big brand that can afford it, or you need to work on the conciseness of your offer.
In principle, for affiliates, small businesses, as well as influencers on the promotion of their account, this is not the most necessary option. The ratio between efficiency and price is clearly in favor of the latter. Of course, three separate stories will be even more expensive than a carousel, but we still recommend using this format carefully. After all, it can be thrown off as easily as an ordinary story with a static image.
By the way, the carousel does not spread on your Instagram account. After all, there you can simply arrange as many stories in a row as you see fit. And there is no need to group them, so the option is purely advertising.
Creating an advertising campaign for stories on Instagram
So, the acquaintance with the general aspects of stories on Instagram has come to an end, now we are going to practice. We are starting the construction of our own advertising campaign with this tool.
Algorithm for launching ads in stories
Before going into various marketing tricks on effective methods of using the tool, let’s analyze the mechanism of its application. You can additionally read the general guide on how to start the RC in Insta. That is, here is a small guide for launching stories-AC on Instagram.
- the first step will obviously be opening FB Ads Manager and creating a new AC. To do this, in the left side menu, we need to click the appropriate button;
- we define the goal. But now we will not dwell on this in detail, further in the review you will find a chapter dedicated to this moment. Now we are going purely on technical elements, the mechanism of creation of the AC;
- next – targeting. We will also skip it for now, because we will talk about it separately later;
- now we set the placement, that is, the choice of the stories format itself takes place. It is noteworthy that Instagram chooses storis placement by default. So, if you choose automatic placement, it will be the right AC option. Even this small factor already testifies in favor of the high efficiency of storie s, because they are most often chosen. Therefore, they are the “default” value. You can also choose the format manually, there is no difference;
- we set the schedule of impressions. And also prescribe the daily and total budget;
- choose the type of story. Image, video, carousel. And in the same menu, you can either download the finished file, or start creating it;
- we confirm the information and save our new AC.
Technical characteristics of stories on Instagram
In principle, Instagram does not limit the advertiser in this aspect. Therefore, it allows almost any formats for both video and image. The range is from 1:91 to 4:5. But you understand how ridiculous the ad will look in this case. Therefore, Instagram itself (and we together with it) recommend focusing on the size of 9:16. In this case, the image is ideally displayed on the elongated smartphone display, under which the entire social network is sharpened.
As for the resolution, then again, almost any one is suitable. But 1080×1920 is not recommended. And in the case of Instagram, it becomes clear that a recommendation is practically a rigid dogma.
For such a serious resolution, a serious margin for the “weight” of the file has been prepared. Limited to 4 gigabytes. Which is obviously a free parameter for 15-second stories.
Files can be uploaded in various formats, but Instagram may incorrectly process some exotic ones, like some .flv. Therefore, do not be wise to choose .mp4, .mov. For pictures, respectively .jpg and .png.
Search and creation of creatives
Instagram – a demanding platform. And not only in terms of the rules of the social network itself, which looks with undisguised hostility at content that violates copyrights. Instagram users are very spoiled by the level of creatives that brands distribute. Therefore, it is easy to feel the “hack”. If, by promoting an offer through an advertising network, you could place your ad on a second-rate resource, where this teaser banner push would be easily perceived by the local audience, then the censorship will be tougher. Competitors oblige, so to speak.
Therefore, there are two main criteria. The first is quality. You need a picture or video with a good resolution, thematic visual effects (and not just tasteless “stuffed”), interesting and at the same time most fully revealing the essence of the message. And if there is a hand drawing in the picture, it must be executed at a high level, otherwise it is better to avoid it. The second criterion is stylistic compliance with the distributed content, which is considered acceptable. The theory of the “Overton Window” applies to some extent here. Only not in relation to the political, but rather the marketing sphere. Anything that does not fall under the criteria of “standard”, “current norm” or at least “reasonable” will obviously play a minus. Author’s ideas are good, but it’s not worth getting out of the general style of Instagram. Surprise within this window, but do not go beyond it.
Yes, Creative Hub and Instagram itself provide excellent opportunities for editing and unifying the source code. And with its help, even without skills, you can create a pretty nice-looking creative. And it will definitely be “in the subject”, because the editing effects used by the programs are considered “their own” here. But, of course, you will need the source code itself. Without its presence, just grabbing any picture or video on the web is not recommended.
The way out may be free drains or other resources, if you do not want to spend your budget on the creative itself. But the ideal solution is either to order a creative, if it is completely drawn and mounted, or to order the services of photographers, if you decide to create creatives on your own, based on the filming of goods, services or other.
Animation of images in Instagram
This is an interesting point. After all, most of the novice advertisers who want to promote themselves through Instagram stories, potentially believe that video is complex content. Animated videos cost a lot of money, the average fee from the creators is $100 for 6 seconds. And this is with typical content and average quality. And if you need 2 dozen creatives? $200 for each – $4 thousand for everything? It sounds extremely unprofitable.
I don’t even want to talk about professional photography, it’s even more expensive. The services of operators, editors and actors are serious expenses. But there is a way out, take a closer look, most of the influencers, if they don’t shoot standard stories like Vlog, just use animated pictures. And this is much easier, and also does not require a budget from the word “at all”. Instagram itself and Creative Hub provide a lot of opportunities for animation, allowing you to literally bring your pictures to life. And no professional skills are needed here. Just an extensive experience that is gained through surfing advertisements on this social network. After watching a couple of hundred stories, you will easily find common patterns with which you can create identical or even superior content.
Working with sound
There are no difficulties here either. If you create creatives with your own hands or voice ready-made ones, a huge number of free sounds from the same drains are at your service. The main thing is to choose them correctly. But the most important part is the musical accompaniment. Remember that it is best to focus on music with an open license. After all, otherwise you may have uncomfortable questions. The legal side is complicated here. It seems that 15 seconds of demonstration easily fall into the range of “free citation”. But not in every country. Therefore, sanctions may arise not from Instagram itself, but from the vigilant authorities of your own country.
Fortunately, there is plenty of free music on the vast global network. You can spend one evening surfing, pumping audio files for two hundred creatives ahead.
Stories’ goals on Instagram
So we got to the missing fragment from our guide for launching stories-AC on Instagram. Let’s take a detailed look at the goals that the social network provides us with when working with stories.
- Coverage. Just the maximum display. The advertising campaign focuses on reaching a huge number of potential customers. This means that accuracy will inevitably suffer, as well as relevance. And you should not expect a serious CTR for this purpose. An excellent choice if, in principle, you have not really decided on your target audience, you do not understand who the advertisement will go to. Yes, and for collecting statistics for test purposes, a reasonable way;
- Brand awareness. This is showing to those people who are more likely to be interested in the ad. But the coverage remains wide. Instagram interprets that this goal will suit young brands. But in our opinion, this is a more universal goal. Use it in trading offers when the exact target audience has not been identified, but there is a general understanding;
- Leads. Collection of user contact data. That is, the formation of a future “hot” group of customers, on which the entire advertising campaign will be focused further;
- Video. The goal is for the client to view the video. It is suitable, obviously, only if you have chosen the appropriate stories video format;
- Traffic. Redirecting the audience to an external resource. A favorite choice of arbitrageurs, as well as for the promotion of any external store or even individual pages of its catalog;
- Conversions. The goal is to perform an action, go to an account, comment, purchase, fill out a form, and so on;
- Application installations. Accordingly, a narrow goal intended solely for advertising campaigns to promote applications and mobile games.
Features of stories targeting on Instagram
So we got to the most interesting, and some believe that the most difficult point. First of all, we note that Instagram does not restrict targeting in stories. Yes, there are fewer goals and formats available for such an advertising campaign. But the targeting remains complete.
That is, you can use both general audience settings and your own and similar audience. Your own is a downloaded list of contacts, or all the traffic of a certain resource (yours). For those who already have their own achievements. A good option if you have walked a powerful parser on Instagram, pumping out all the necessary clientele from the platform. And now we are ready to target it. Similar – just scales this list. After all, she is looking for people who are most accurately suited to the array of traffic that is stated in your list.
But the settings of the general audience are a separate art form. There are many options available for stories on Instagram. And a beginner is unlikely to be able to competently use each of them. But even not the narrowest targeting is still much better than just working through the Advertising Center or the Instagram app itself.
Targeting on Instagram allows you to configure:
- gender and age. Moreover, you can set both narrow and wide frames, for example, from 20 to 40. As soon as you change the parameter, Instagram will immediately report how the potential audience coverage changes. Yes, the figures will be approximate, but as practice shows, they differ from the real ones within 20-30% of the permissible error;
- interests. Instagram collects and compiles, as well as analyzes data about user interests. It is unknown whether he uses only open information or plays a little “dirty”, but the fact remains that Instagram defines interests very accurately;
- GEO. There are several models to choose from. You can target those who are located in the immediate vicinity of you, select specific countries, regions and localities, or even enter a postal code. Moreover, the settings (although this is no longer in the GEO section itself) allow you to target both those who live in this area and those who are just there at the moment for any reason. Or those who have recently moved from there or there;
- behavioral factor. One of the most significant moments. Allows you to target a target audience that behaves like your potential customer. And knowing what problems of the client you solve, you understand what kind of behavior your lead has.
Instagram has extensive retargeting capabilities. You can redirect both customers who ignored past ads and those who liked them to ads. In the first case, you analyze the error, whether it was in the creative itself (because you are showing another one, you will be able to see the difference in the behavior of the audience) or in the wrong targeting (if the client does not react this time). The second way is to work for a loyal target audience, which has already managed to evaluate the advantages of your previous offer, which means it will treat the next one better.
The cost of advertising in stories
Instagram is far from the most expensive platform. The average click is from $0.5 to $0.7. This is lower than the big brother, lower than many similar social networks. On a level with Twitter or Pinterest. But Instagram offers more both in terms of audience and in terms of the functionality of the advertising campaign itself.
You can set the total budget for the campaign, daily, and also adjust the bid range of each specific ad. But the process is not the easiest. After all, during periods of increased competition for your target audience, you will easily lose your budget on competitive clicks, overpaying $10-20 for each, simply because the load of advertisers has increased. And if you set the maximum bid bar low, then with small fluctuations in the competitive bid, you will immediately lose the entire traffic flow, because your limit order will simply knock you out of trading. Therefore, there is either a professional market analysis, or the Smart system of Instagram itself. The first option is much more effective. The second one does not require professional analytics skills from you.
Separately, we note the factors that affect the cost of the bet:
- narrowness of targeting settings;
- audience level (GEO, affluence);
- relevance of the ad for this target audience;
- advertising format.
Working with the text in the ad
Here we will include not only the descriptive content of the offer itself, but also its title, as well as a call to action. Let’s consider each of the points, and also evaluate their impact on the effectiveness of our story-RK on Instagram.
- text. An optional part of the story. Yes, often both in a static picture and in a video, a significant part of the selling segment of the entire ad is revealed with the help of text. But this is not a strict necessity, it is quite possible to do without the main text. Either if the visual demonstration already reveals everything very clearly, or if the potential audience knows your proposals so well that no explanations are needed. But when forming the text part, do not forget that Instagram is extremely negative about long letter canvases. If the amount of text is selected to 20% of the total image volume, then sanctions may well follow – an increase in the cost of the bid, a decrease in relevance;
- heading. But it must be mandatory. Yes, there is an advertisement that can show all USPS in principle without textual information. But the absence of a title is closer to the boundaries of that very Overton window. Create a concise, tenacious, catchy title if you are trying to get interested in a new one. And, on the contrary, a simple descriptive title, if this is a typical offer, so as not to confuse the client;
- a call to action. Depending on the action itself, the specific form of the call may be different. Order, buy, write, book, use, and so on. It is important to visually highlight the call itself so that the user in the post clearly distinguishes between the general content and the call button. It would be logical to bring the entire visual component of the creative to the call. Design, pointers, color transitions – whatever you want. So that the eye glides to the call, as to the epilogue of this “picture”.
Modern types of stories ads in form and content
In fact, there is no clear gradation of the species diversity of the content and form of storis. Yes, there are several common practices that are used in almost 50% of cases, but this does not mean that they are 100% effective. Moreover, Instagram has enough successful counterexamples of stories that break out of these practices. But for a beginner, and for an experienced advertiser, it is still better to know them in order to keep the established guidelines in mind.
- a whole story. This is a form in which one integral narrative is revealed. One picture, one video or a carousel – it doesn’t matter. The main thing is that the entire ad has one clear USP, and at the end it offers one product, service, action. For example, a story in the form of a product card;
- a few stories. This model is peculiar to the carousel. Then a new offer is created for each internal tab in terms of one concept. You can use the first segment as a general advertisement for the project, the other two as two product cards, for example;
- storytelling. A well-known and effective format is also used for stories. But there are two conditions. The first is conciseness, remember about 20% of the text. The second is a warmed-up audience, otherwise your long-drawn-out ad (even if it is quite relevant) will not be read;
- stories with influencers. The demonstration of photos, quotes, opinions of popular influencers in stories is a strong hook for the client. But in this case, firstly, you need to ask the permission of the influencer himself (if this is not just a quote), and secondly, to target the audience who have this influencer in their lists of interests;
- shock story. This is a bright form of advertising, where colors run amok and fast animation is used. It catches mainly with its colorful presentation, an abundance of color solutions. But remember that such a trigger only provides reading of the title. If it doesn’t work, then the whole ad will be in vain.
Practical recommendations for promotion with the help of stories on Instagram
And now some practical tips for working with this type of AC on Instagram.
- test it. All solutions that look interesting should be tested at least for a short test period with a minimum budget. It is quite possible that one of them will surprise you with its effectiveness;
- constantly monitor your competitors. Instagram is a trending platform, do not be afraid to adopt someone else’s experience, here such an approach is more welcome than condemned. You can use spyware services to spy on ads;
- remember that the stories themselves are just a tool. And strategically they do not differ from any other type of advertising, use the established schemes, do not think that you will have to retrain almost from scratch for storis-AC;
- make the most of the targeting capabilities of FB Ads Manager. Becoming an expert in working with it, you can only seriously improve the efficiency of the AC with competent targeting.
Case ― promotion of an online school through Instagram stories
The situation is typical to the point of impossibility, the online school N for the study of a purely applied subject – English, in pursuit of expanding the client base, decided to master Instagram. For these purposes, a participant of our project with extensive experience in promoting such projects on social networks was invited (the expert’s main focus, however, is on FB).
The problem of the school was that during the epidemic there was not an influx of customers, but their outflow. Since demand has generated a huge number of competitive offers. But the advantages were a very loyal price tag, $8 per class or $69 for a subscription of 10 classes.
At the same time, only the owner himself, the project manager, and 2 teachers were listed among the employees. The budget for promotion was set aside strict – $2500, it was planned to attract 50 new customers with a subscription for this amount, which would bring an income of $3450 (which, given the teachers’ pay, would practically level the profit), but would give new permanent students in the future.
The final AC was based on storis, and in two versions. Static images with laconic text content against the background of templates prepared in advance by the targetologist, as well as videos with cuts of the process of working in Zoom.
In fact, not a penny of the budget was spent on creatives. The entire resource was spent purely on promotion on Instagram.
Targeting focused on:
- TIER 2 CIS and Asian countries;
- gender – any;
- the age group is strictly for 30-50 years. Despite the fact that almost all students are children from 13 to 17 years old, the decision to study was often made by parents;
- interests – English, English-speaking countries, travel, tourism (the last two points perfectly target the audience who plans to learn the language for free communication during a foreign holiday);
- language (for a specific country, obviously);
- targeting by markers affecting affluence was used at a minimum due to the low cost of services.
Drain period – 72 days.
- expenditure – $2500;
- income – $8080. 96 subscriptions with a total cost of $6624 and 182 single classes with a total cost $1456;
- profit – $5580;
- ROI – 223%.
Of course, here the ROI indicator is given conditionally, because this is not the net payback of a marketing campaign. All these hours still need to be worked out, which leads to a serious expense. But the overall success rate of the AC is visible to the naked eye.
A step-by-step video guide on how to run Instagram ads
Stories – not the only tool for promotion on Instagram. But, without a doubt, he is the most popular. It is far from a fact that this format will be the most effective for your advertising campaign on a social network. But it’s worth checking out. After all, as practice shows, it is easiest to get high-quality traffic on Instagram right now through stories.