Instagram (IG) Stories is just over a year old and has almost 250 million daily active users. Those users not only watch stories made by their friends, family and favorite businesses; they also watch IG Story ads.

Instagram Story ads are vertical ads embedded within Instagram Stories. They fit seamlessly with regular content and use the entire screen on a users’ mobile device. Users only see ads while they’re watching the stories of people they are already following—meaning they’re already paying pretty close attention.

TD Bank, Reebok, National Geographic and even Disney are amongst thousands of big-name brands that use Instagram Story ads to reach their target audiences and make conversions. If you’re not already using Instagram Story ads, now is the time to start. Here are 5 tips that will help you make stunning, attention-worthy content.



1. KISS: Keep It Simple, Simple

Instagram Stories happen faster than the speed of light (almost) and expire after 24 hours of being viewed. In order to get the message of your ad across, try to make it clear, direct and to the point. In other words, don’t write an essay or complicated text and try to use an image that delivers your product immediately.

(Source image: https://www.instagram.com/peel/?hl=en)

Take a look at the Peel phone case ad above. It’s a great example of how simple and direct an IG Story ad can be. Peel’s ad has a strong message and a crisp visual that clearly delivers the message behind the ad.

Furthermore, the advertisers at Peel made use of the Instagram Stories content feature; by swiping up the person viewing the ad will be directed to the Peel e-commerce store where they can buy the case they just saw advertised.



2. Write compelling, complimentary copy

We’ve already emphasized the importance of a clear and direct message when making an Instagram Story ad. But remember, concise doesn’t have to mean boring. It’s still important to create engaging well-written text that compliments your visuals.

Take a look at National Geographic’s ads for inspiration. This brand has done a fantastic job of writing captions for ads that advocate against climate change. Okay, they’re not selling cameras, socks or real estate but just like you they have an important message to get across that will benefit from compelling, well-considered copy.

If you’re not sure how to ad text, check out a tutorial for easy to follow tips. And remember, you have the ability to guide your follower’s attention away from the “ad” tag at the top right corner by placing the text well within your ad.

3. Keep Your Ads Aligned with Your IG Brand Aesthetic

Making sure that your Instagram Story ad is in keeping with your overallInstagram aesthetic(especially your Instagram Stories style) will help keep people engaged and increase brand visibility. “The aim is to create recognition and attract attention, even if it’s just for a few seconds,” explains Later’s Communication Designer, Chin Tan.

Consider your imagery and font; do they consistently reflect your brand’s aesthetics? The easiest way to make sure they do is by selecting colors, typeface, and images that reflect the personality of your brand. (Also known as an Instagram theme) Or if you’re using an Instagram Stories template, use it to make your ads as well.

Check out an ad made by Happysocks— they created an IG Stories ad with a video to show off exactly who they are. It’s definitely in keeping with their Instagram aesthetic; it’s bright, colorful, fun and lighthearted.

(Source image: https://www.instagram.com/happysocks/?hl=en)

4. The Best Ads are often Perfectly Imperfect, Just like Your Followers

You don’t need to spend your entire marketing budget, take out a loan and borrow money from your Dad in order to make a successful IG Story ad! In fact, the new trend is to try to make them feel authentic, more real or ‘home-cut’.

A lot of IG users are hip to sponsored posts. If they’re watching IG Stories made by their friends and a high production ad pops up, it comes across as overly commercial and, usually, they’ll swipe away.

One way you can make your ads appear more natural and fit in better with IG Stories is to use selfies or videos where you talk directly into the camera. This will make your Stories ads appear more informal and personable, and less sales driven. These kinds of ads are more likely to keep your audience engaged. One quick tip: if you’re posting selfies in your Stories ads, clean up your composition, colour and lighting. Your photos will still appear natural, only more attention worthy.

(Source image: https://blog.wishpond.com/post/115675436801/for-the-gram-the-anatomy-of-a-perfect-instagram-ad)

Another effective option is to collect photos of your customers using your products (UGC) via an online contest and use the collected photos to make a series of truly DIY style ads. Remember to get permission first.



5. Use FOMO to Get Attention

Creating a sense of FOMO (“fear of missing out”) in your audience is an effective marketing strategy in a variety of settings.

However, this method can be especially effective when used with Instagram Stories ads. Because the platform is ephemeral by nature, stories only last for 24hrs and a user’s feed is being refreshed constantly. Therefore, people are already checking Instagram often in fear that they will miss something and because there’s always new content. In the example below, CrossFit and their premier sponsor, Reebok, created an Instagram Stories ad that utilizes a limited-time offer to spur people into action.

(Source Image: https://owlmetrics.com/blog/8-tips-for-creating-an-effective-instagram-stories-ad/)

FOMO can also be provoked by showing how much fun your brand is, or is having, or how much fun the audience will have, when they use your products. Who doesn’t like to have a little fun?

Lululemon created a fun, smart and cheeky 20 second video that really shows off the ‘features’ of their new pants while making their audience want to press the replay button over and over. As a result, their audience are more likely to think of these pants the next time they’re shopping. Another reason why it’s so successful: they cross-posted the video for maximum reach: it’s on IG Stories, website and YouTube.

Now that you’re loosened up, excited and equipped with some great skills it’s time to capitalize on these creative tricks and inspiring examples. But try to keep in mind, messages should be simple, with a clear call to action. And try to take cues from other successful brands that are already using Instagram Stories ads and consider partnering with an influencer to further amplify your message.



6. Take Advantage of Online Ad Management Tools

Keeping track of all your campaigns can get confusing, especially if you’re running them on multiple channels. That’s why we recommend tools like Metricool that make it easy for you to stay on top of your ad’s performance. The free app also lets you manage and publish content for all of your social media pages through a single visual editorial calendar.

So your content does not go to waste, the app analyzes your audience’s behavior to advise you of the most optimal posting time. What’s best is that it’s free and you can use it from any of your devices. You can also automate your posting without worrying about human error or delays. 


Lots of brands will eventually use Stories ads to help drive sales but marketers who are bold enough today to try the newest Instagram ad platform can benefit from honing their skills early on.