March 14, 2017 Last updated on June 12th, 2019
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Ever created Instagram Stories ads for your business?

You’ve probably tested out different formats of ads by now: single image, video, carousel… Maybe even an Instagram Stories ad? How’d it turn out? 🤔

Getting great results from Instagram Stories ads has been notoriously difficult ever since they launched. If you’re one of the ones having trouble getting the ROI they’re looking for, keep reading — you’re about to discover some tips that might just help you get there.

Listen up!

Instagram Stories Ads: 5 Ways To Make Them Effective

Let’s start by remembering a very important fact: unlike any other type of ads, Instagram Stories ads are skippable.

This means these ads are almost completely nonintrusive for Instagram users, and at the same time, unavoidable. In essence: impressions on an Instagram Story ad are generally through the roof, while annoyance is kept to a bare minimum. The ad appears between two separate Stories and users can skip (tap) past an ad they’re not interested in. They can also tap back and watch an interesting ad again 👈🏼 which is the kind of ad you need to make!

However, before we delve into Instagram Stories ads creation, let’s talk about the fundamental difference between an ad and a boosted Instagram post.

A boosted Instagram post is an ad created on a specific piece of existing Instagram content, from within the app itself. Basically, all is takes is to select a really brilliant post (one which got lots of engagement when posted organically is best) and then boost it. You can do this by tapping ‘Promote’ under the post. An Instagram ad, on the other hand, is a separate piece of content within a campaign created outside of the Instagram app.

So what tools can you use to create Instagram Stories ads?

Facebook Ads Manager or Power Editor are the obvious go-to choices for creating an advertising campaign for Facebook and Instagram. All you need to do is create a campaign with “Reach” as your marketing objective. Alternatively, you can use a different tool such as Adespresso, which simplifies the whole ad campaign creation process.

Tools to create Instagram Stories Ads

Now, let’s just dive in and create your effective Instagram Stories ad!

How to Create Effective Instagram Stories Ads

1. Decide what you’re promoting

You might be thinking “duh” 🙄 right now.

But actually, it’s easy to get this wrong.

The decision you have to make will be whether you’re promoting your business directly through this ad, or if you’re doing so via a piece of content, an event, or something else. If you’re hosting an event and are seeking out people likely to want to attend, with the end goal of them possibly becoming your customers, you need to make sure your ad campaign is optimized for sign ups to your event as your main priority.

Where CTAs are optional for business profiles using regular Stories, Instagram Stories ads always contain a CTA at the bottom of the screen. This button is labelled and it’s this label that incites your viewers to swipe up 👆🏼to see whatever offer you’re promoting.

The swipe up is what you’ll be tracking as your conversion, so be sure to label your CTA well!

There are 10 options for your CTA labelling, ranging from “Learn more” to “Book now” to “Download” — so there’s something for everyone.

Instagram Stories Ads are easy to create. 2. Use a tool for your creative

The design of your Instagram Story ad is one of the most important elements of your campaign. Scratch that — it’s THE most important element.

Let’s be honest, we’ve all skipped past Instagram Stories we found boring. Even if they’re Stories by someone (even a brand) we like. So it’s crucial that your Instagram Stories ads are eye-catching and engaging.

I’d recommend using Canva for your still image Stories ads, because it’s so easy to use and there are loads of free features meaning you don’t even need to spare any budget for your creative. For a Story, you’ll need to enter custom dimensions to get the perfect size for your creative. So remember, 1080 x 1920 pixels is what you’re going for. Then, browse through the free stock images in the content library, add a sticker or two, some text (not too much or your ad won’t be approved), and you’re done!

Canva is a great tool for Instagram Stories ads creation

If you’re using video content for your ad, the same dimensions apply. If you go for a landscape video, it will appear as a small landscape on the un-tilted screens of your viewers, with a black border above and below it.

3. Know your audience and target them well

I know this might sound pretty obvious, but sometimes it’s not a given that you know who you’re actually addressing on Instagram — especially on Stories. Because Stories can be public, (if you allow it in your settings) and therefore accessible on the Discover section of Instagram, you can never be 100% sure who will see them. This means that although you might be planning out your traditional Instagram content to target a specific audience, you can’t really do that with Stories.

It’s a different story (ha!) for Instagram Stories ads. Think of it less as a Story and more as a standalone piece of ad content. You absolutely need to target the right audience for this Story, or it won’t be seen at all.

Not even stumbled upon by someone in Discover.

No one.




My advice?

Go back to basics.

Take your time to track down your ideal target audience on Instagram. Go to your Insights on the Instagram app and click Audience. There, you’ll find the three most fundamental statistics on your followers: their gender, their age, and their location. If your ideal target audience is, say, middle-aged women but Instagram tells you that most of your followers are millennial men, then you are clearly doing something wrong with your posting strategy and probably need to rethink it. On the bright side, at least you found out before paying for ads targeting a lookalike audience!

4. Define a budget

Defining your budget for your Instagram Stories ads is an important step because it has a real impact on how well your ads are optimized on the platform. First of all, you need to decide whether you’re setting a lifetime budget and allowing Facebook to use it up of its own accord, or whether you want to set a daily limit.

Start with defining an overall marketing budget and determine how much you’re prepared to set aside for advertising. The general rule of thumb in social advertising is to allow a minimum of $1 per delivering ad, per day. Stories ads are slightly different because there’s no ad text or headline, so not much to A/B test.

Here’s what I recommend for beginners:

Start off with $10 per day, then tweak your budget depending on first results. This way, you’re allowing enough budget to make conversions, but not so much that you’ll be wasting money if your campaign is a flop 😅.

5. Track, optimize and go again

Now that your Instagram Stories ads are set up and running, it’s essential that you track their performance. It would be nice if we could all just throw our ad campaigns out there, forget about them and hope for the best, but it’s really not advisable. Not only is that your money out there, it’s also your brand’s name. And nobody likes bad press. So let’s be cautious and clever here!

One of the best ways to find out what works and what doesn’t is to keep an eye on your analytics. Conversions and click-through rates, reach and impressions — you’ll want to be on top of these numbers, and on top of the game!

The good news is: when you’ve hit the perfect combination of ad elements, it will be reflected in the numbers.

The less good news? There’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Trial and error will be your best friends when diving into Instagram Stories ads!

Over to you!
Are you investing in Instagram Stories ads?

About the author
Emily Marsh

Emily Marsh

Emily is an Inbound Marketer for Iconosquare, based in the Limoges office. She loves all things social and revels in keeping on top of the social media marketing game by writing for the blog. She’s also a bit obsessed with sushi and Netflix.

More posts by Emily Marsh

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