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Five ways to make the most effective Instagram stories for ads

The lines between business and pleasure and work life and home life have long been increasingly blurred. This can be seen most clearly online, where bloggers and influencers publicise their daily lives (favourite shops, suppliers and holiday destinations) to gain followers and fans, sometimes with monetary inducements from the retailers involved.

Instagram is a particular social media network where this method of blending work and play excels, because it is primarily an intensely visual site, largely relying on photographs to tell stories and sell visions of utopian lives that may not always be strictly realistic. Stories on Instagram are short clips that can be video footage or a photo montage. They are only live for twenty-four hours, after which time followers and friends can no longer see them. This is a perfect segue into advertising in which the best possible life is shown as achievable by anyone who wants it badly enough. Here are five ways to be ad-creative and make the most effective Instagram stories for ads.

Understand what you want from your ad

Social media fans often use it in order to gain followers, likes and favourable comments which are emotionally satisfying. Making the transformation to having your target audience like and enjoy your content so much that they want to buy products you recommend is a step up from this. Therefore, your advertising story should be crafted with great care, with clear aims in mind. What do you want from your ad? More followers to boost your base, perhaps? A higher click-through rate or view rate than previous posts? Or improved brand awareness? All of these are important to driving up your lead generation, whether it is by gaining more customers or ensuring that more viewers visit your website.

It’s not a movie!

The best Instagram ads are not simply thirty-second long video clips. Instead, use the impression of a cinematic montage of images or videos – or both: a series of photos or very short video clips joined in such a way that they tell a compelling story that is more engaging and seems to contain more information than could possibly be relayed in such a short time. These mixed media ads are called carousel ads. Bear in mind that your Insta story advert will be competing with a host of other posts, from your audience’s friends, family and celebs that they follow: it needs to grab their attention and hold it long enough that they see the call to action at the end.

What orientation is the best for an ad format?

Instagram opened on a mobile phone

Most people access Instagram and Facebook on their phones, while out and about and when they have a few seconds to spare. While tablets and phones can easily rotate between portrait and landscape, laptops and desktop PCs (yes, they still exist!) do not. Also, even the minor irritation of having to turn one’s device can be enough for some very impatient users to lose interest in your Facebook ad or Instagram story. Filming in portrait mode will ensure that these users can begin to enjoy your content immediately, and it will save the frustration of a laptop user trying to twist their neck to the side to watch the full-screen story. Bear in mind too, while planning your ads on Instagram stories, that some mobile screens are very small and that fine detail can be compressed to nothing, distorting your carefully planned high-resolution footage, so try not to overthink it and make sure you watch your own story on a small low-res device before letting it loose on the public.

Brand name, content, brand name

Your brand name (or message) is vital. Education, it is said, is nothing more than repetition with clarity, and as a general rule, people need to hear and understand something three times before they have fully learned it. Therefore, mention your brand name at least three times, or have it displayed three times during the story ad. Open with your brand name: ‘Brought to you by XXX’; mention it once during the advert’s narrative, and close with your brand name, preferably tying this last mention to a call to action. While avoiding being dictatorial, use imperative language for your call to action, so they feel that following your advice is the best thing to do right now.

Less is more

When you are enthusiastic about your career and all the exciting plans you have, it can be difficult to explain yourself, leaving people with a muddled impression of your services or products are. Think through your advertising strategy carefully and with each story offer one simple message that people can easily understand.

A final pointer on how to create an Instagram story ad would be to be adaptable and produce stories reasonably often. Incorporate recent news in your stories – this is not content that needs to be evergreen – and carefully check through your viewed stories and the statistics following each story. Obviously, the most popular ones should be emulated, incorporating the most successful features into each succeeding story.

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