How to Boost the Performance of Instagram Story Ads

Tue May 01 2018
Terilyn Walker
Best Practices

In part one of this series we discussed how Instagram Story Ads work and why they are a great way for brands to engage with their audience.

Have you heard? As of last month, Instagram Story Ads are available to all business accounts. With yet another new advertising platform, you may be wondering how you can successfully get in on this multi billion dollar revenue stream.

We’ve said it before, but the key to success with paid social media ads lies in the ad’s content. Many brands make the mistake of using the content from one photo shoot across all of their social media channels both paid and owned. However, when it comes to paid advertisements on social media, there is no such thing as one size fits all. In order to create compelling advertisements, brands must tailor each campaign’s content to fit each different platform.

Want to try your shot at IG story ads? Here are five tips from brands who are doing them right. These proven tips are sure to give the performance of your Instagram Story ads a major boost!


Pro tip #1: Real life scenes perform the best on IG Story ads

When creating your ads, keep the users’ experience in mind. Because the ads are technically interrupting the flow of clicking through stories featuring puppies, vacations, and lunches, it important that your ads feel native to the users’ story watching experience. You can accomplish this by opting for photos and videos of real people doing real things rather than investing in highly produced creative.

Sarah Rogers, Manager of Performance Social at CPC Strategy, says “When it comes to advertising within Instagram Stories...your creative should be ‘thoughtful’ because people are very much in a ‘browsing friends and family’ content mindset.”

The goal of IG Story ads is to help brands to improve their storytelling ability, in a way that is similar to the way that Instagram users share their personal content.

Territory Foods, for example, adds an authentic touch to their ads by using a very raw image to promote the brand’s pre made meals. The ad itself looks very similar to what a regular user would post in their story, making the transition from story to ad, seamless.



Pro tip #2: Run ads using content you already have

The need for authentic content leads us to our next tip. What’s more authentic than the content made by real consumers who are well versed in in creating high quality content? We’re talking about influencer generated content (IGC).  

If you’re already running influencer marketing campaigns, you are bound to have a stockpile of content from real people that you can repurpose in your ads. IGC is authentic, easy to source, native to social, and potentially the best part, it’s already paid for.

Check out how Grove Collaboration, an online health product retailer, repurposed an IG Story from influencer, @cottonstem, in their Instagram Story ad.

Repurposing influencer content also gives you the ability to test several different types of content in order to determine what works best for your brand. For some brands, how-to videos for example may work well. For others, product shots and still images may lead to more conversion.  


Pro tip #3: Hyper-target your audience

Each IG Story ad should be personalized and appropriate to its audience. Tailor the content for each of your different audience demographics by sourcing content from a variety of influencers who can create content that resonates with your audience.

Like any Facebook ad, you can create lookalike audiences based on 120+ targeting options, including:

  • Interests
  • Age
  • Location
  • Life events
  • Purchasing behavior


For example, AspireIQ is headquartered in San Francisco. Due to our location and the fact that we follow our fair share of yoga influencers, we received this ad on our Instagram story, which advertises a local class by CorePower Yoga.



Pro tip #4: Provide content that is actually useful

Ask yourself, will this ad compel the viewer to stop scrolling? In order to make you ads worth watching, the viewer must decide that it is valuable or relevant to their needs or interests.

Valuable content includes:

  • How to’s
  • Promotions
  • Tips and tricks
  • Exclusive “behind the scenes” stories or info
  • Sneak peaks


For example, Framebridge takes full advantage of their 15 second ad to show exactly how their app works by using a simple and authentic how-to video.



Pro tip #5: Use IG editing tools to clearly define your CTAs

What’s better than an ad that doesn’t look like an ad? All of IG Story's editing features, including emojis, filters, drawing, etc. are available to use on your ads. Use these tools to add an authentic touch and call out your CTAs.  

Because the IG Stories ads are so short it’s important to quickly and clearly communicate what you want your viewers to do.

For example, Thistle Co. provides an incentive and a clear CTA to “swipe up” in order be directed to their website. The simple drawing and colorful text are authentic to IG Stories, and the call to action is clearly identified without looking like an ad.

If your goal is to drive traffic to your website, make sure you clearly state “click below to shop.” If you want the viewer to read something or watch a video, make that clear too.


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