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Treading Outside The Feed: Why Brands Need A Presence On Instagram Stories

Marketers who run paid social understand that in order to maximize reach and results, you should diversify your ad formats on Facebook and Instagram. While they have been quick to enjoy the success of tailoring advertising to Instagram, there is a relatively new ad format many brands have overlooked or are yet to adopt: Instagram Stories.

Instagram Stories are hugely popular with users, which is why it lends itself to almost any campaign objective: branding, acquisition, retargeting, and so on.

However, few advertisers currently put ad spend toward Stories — maybe because they are unaware of its value. While spend on Stories has certainly grown this year, it’s still well below the amount of spend allocated to the Instagram Feed. 

As ad spend on Stories slowly gains traction, brands should move fast to maximize results with this format.

Designing Ads for Action

When it comes to feed-based advertising, so many of the ads we see on the Instagram feed are static imagery, much like the user-generated content posted there. With stories however, there is a benefit to harnessing all the interactive qualities of Stories by mimicking organic content. On Stories, marketers need to design their ads for action — and that will yield higher consumer engagement with a brand. 

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The best part about making ads actionable on Stories is that it’s so easy to do. It can be as simple as using Stories features to hand-draw an arrow on a branded image and have it pointing down to direct Instagram users to swipe-up (with the goal of getting them to click through to a brand’s website).

Unlike the feed, marketers also have the power to attract users through sound. While many people scroll through their Instagram feeds with the sound off, many turn it up just for Stories content since so much of the content is user-generated video.

User-generated content also makes sense for brands to capitalize on in Stories, particularly the content of people using their products. That type of content is a great way to show products in action. 

User-generated content also masks advertising in a way as it blends in with the existing content on Stories.

Pushing Brands into Video

Unlike on traditional media, brands shouldn’t be afraid to look or feel organic or imperfect on Stories.

Showing behind-the-scenes content from a product shoot or shining the light on your team can help your brand get closer to its audience. The realness of it will stand out from produced videos. Having said that, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all video strategy; brands should adopt a testing mindset to see what works best for them.

Stories also changes the notion of video. It can be everything from slideshows to still images with GIF overlays. As long as there is movement, it captures attention. Brands can either run single, 15-second videos or a carousel of three that hikes the seconds up to 45. The longer format is great for targeting new users, as often, unless you’re the known market leader, you’ll need to introduce your brand and purpose first.

Ultimately, the Stories format is incredibly adaptable and allows for so many different types of creatives that marketers not allocating spend there are missing out on a huge opportunity for their respective brands. Given that Stories is not yet inundated with brand advertisements, it presents a good opening for brands to get out in front of consumers and be noticed.

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