7 Tips for Killer Instagram Stories

Updated: Feb 28, 2020

Did you know that 1/3 of all Instagram Story views are from brands? The Stories format is one that has exploded, ever since Facebook (who own Instagram) managed to replicate the success of Snapchat. The full-screen, immersive format is free of newsfeed distraction, which is why it’s such an engaging placement for brand – either organically or with sponsored Stories (ads).

It’s 2020, and brands are now catching on to the power of the ephemeral (i.e. disappearing after 24 hours) Instagram Story. We thought we’d shed some light on some of the considerations and implications for creating content for this format, versus your traditional static or video content for newsfeed… The creative is so important as it's not supported by the likes of post captions, headlines and CTA (call-to-action) buttons. These 7 tips are designed to help you prolong viewer retention, stop them from skipping through your Stories and take action – i.e. swipe up.

1 – Utilise the carousel

Instagram allows advertisers to buy up to 3 consecutive Stories as a ‘carousel’. Images will display for 5 seconds (running for up to 15 seconds when purchased as a 3 x carousel) and videos at 15 seconds each (3 x 15 = 45 seconds maximum). To make use of the entire mobile screen, ensure the creative aspect ratio is 9:16 (1080 x 1920px).

2 - Plan for the skip

Users consume Stories with their finger at the ready to tap or swipe through to the next one, if what they’re watching isn’t entertaining. Accept this, but also think about ways to make use of this creatively – like this example from Asics (note, this was an organic Story).

3 – Video

Video is now the norm, everywhere we look on social media and Stories is no different. Instagram has said that motion ads perform better so let’s lay it out for you… use video. If all you have is static, add some animation effects and/or copy overlays to grab attention. Having said that, static can be used effectively within the second or third placement to direct the attention of the viewers – for example, when you want someone to swipe up.

4 – Go Live!

Instagram Live is one of the most effective ways to engage viewers. We know that Live video across both Facebook and Instagram outperforms standard video so consider ways that you can go live on Stories. Don’t overdo it though, consider your big events like product launches and sales promotions as your license to go Live.

5 - Swipe Up

Every paid placement on Stories comes with the ability for users to swipe up - that functionality is available on organic Stories for those accounts that have been verified or with >10k followings. This can direct traffic to your website or even get users to download an app, like this example from Calm. Consider animations and CTA’s to direct attention to the bottom of the Story to prompt viewers to swipe up.

6 – Sound ON

In stark contrast to the newsfeed, Stories formats are predominantly watched with sound on, so do away with the subtitles and captions and explore ways in which audio can help your ad to resonate with viewers.

7 – Engage Viewers

Organic Stories have a range of engaging stickers such as the ability to ask questions, respond to emoji sliders, conduct polls, quizzes and countdowns. Sponsored Stories now allow advertisers to include polls, all of which will be sending signals to Instagram about how engaging your Story is. Those that consumers are engaging with will perform better (read: reach more people) which is especially important in making your budget work harder.

The Digi Den team would love to help you unlock the power of Instagram Stories. Ask us how...

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