3 Ways to Use Instagram Stories for Marketing

Instagram Stories & Marketing

Did you know that there are over 300 million daily users on Instagram Stories? It’s hard to believe it’s been less than two years since Instagram launched this feature that has become such an integrated part of the Instagram experience. However, while Stories have become a part of daily life for many Instagram users, there are still many marketers who haven’t yet incorporated this powerful feature into their strategy.

Here are 3 big ways that your business can change that and begin to incorporate what is becoming one of the hottest marketing channels in the digital world into your marketing plan today.

1. Tell A Story

If you couldn’t tell already by the name, Instagram Stories are a great way to create an interesting narrative around your brand. Whether you’re sharing about exciting new things coming, recapping some of your recent success stories through video highlights, or announcing a new product or collaboration, you have an opportunity to build your brand’s image in a more personal and intriguing way. The full screen format of an Instagram Story creates a more immersive and engaging experience for viewers, and the short lifespan of the story keeps your content fresh and your users curious.

You can also use stories to create a dialogue with your audience by prompting them to share a story of theirs that’s relevant to your brand or taking advantage of features like the polling stickers to collect their feedback about your products or services.

Some brands are even using Instagram Stories to publish longer form episodic content. Although each Instagram Story video can only be 15 seconds long, brands like Bustle are posting series of these short videos in succession to create longer “episodes” of several Instagram Story exclusive shows like “Beauty Call” and “Be My Guest”, some of which got over 20 million views in 2017 alone.

2. Go Live!

Yes, that’s right – just like with Facebook, there is now a way to stream live content on Instagram via Stories! Live video can be an amazing tool for fostering engagement and connection with your audience. It gives companies and brands the capacity to show the real, human side of their business in a way that curated and highly designed posts do not, and establish a sense of authenticity around your message.

A live Instagram Story can be a great tool for giving your audience a behind-the-scenes look at some of your operations or to make an exciting announcement. The ability for users to comment and engage with your video as it’s streaming also allows you to connect with your audience in a more direct way than ever before by answering their questions or responding to their comments in real time. Announcing a live story that is coming to your audience a little bit ahead of time without giving too much away is also a great way to build excitement and create a little bit of mystery around what you’ll be sharing with them.

To read about even more ways to use live video specifically and a killer success story about one of our clients and their innovative use of Facebook Live, check out one of our previous blog posts where we take a closer look at this format.

3. Story Ads

We can’t really talk about successful Instagram marketing without talking about Story Ads. It has only been a little over a year since Instagram opened up Stories to include paid ads, but we are sure glad they did! Any digital marketer knows the power of a sponsored, strategically targeted social ad and now, you can extend those powerful paid ads to Instagram Stories.

Building a sponsored Instagram Story ad is essentially the same process as building your sponsored ads for Instagram or Facebook feeds which makes it even easier to add this placement into your social media plan, although you’ll need to use images or video with a 1080 x 1920 resolution and a 9:16 aspect ratio and there will be much less text incorporated into the ad. Just like with most other social placements, Story ads give you the option to use static images, GIFs, or videos and you can even link your Story ad to a fullscreen Canvas, (previously only available on Facebook) or directly to a landing page using the same variety of CTAs you get on any other format. Instagram also recently announced the launch of carousel ads in stories, allowing marketers to incorporate multiple types of media and add depth to their storytelling, and has rolled out an early version of the new feature to larger brands like Coca-Cola and Paramount.

What makes Story ads stand out from other social placements is the immersive, full screen experience that you don’t get almost anywhere else. Instead of potentially getting lost in a scrolling sea of other people’s content, users can only experience Instagram Stories one at a time, and because of the short nature of a story, users are more likely to watch the entirety of your video. The catch is, you must be quick at capturing a user’s attention! Static Story ads only last for 10 seconds, while Story ads using video or GIFs last a max of 15 seconds. Without much of the supplementary text available in other social media placements, Story ads must be short, sweet, and to the point. So far, this is proving to be just as effective, if not, at times, more effective than the standard Facebook or Instagram banner ads. Agorapulse recently did an experiment testing the response to Instagram Story ads against standard Instagram feed ads to see how two ads with almost identical content performed via these two different placements. Amazingly, they found Instagram Story ads reached 44% more users and had a 23% higher conversion rate than Instagram feed ads. Some of this success may be able to be contributed to the relative newness of Instagram Story ads and the fact that Story ads are currently charging a lower CPM (Cost Per Impression) than feed ads do, so getting on board with Story ads early may be one of the better marketing decisions you make this year.

So…Are You Ready?

Whether you’re looking to increase brand awareness, drive conversions, foster engagement from your audience, or just get people talking about your business, Instagram Stories provide effective tools for almost any marketing objective. With the count of users growing daily, and more features being added all the time, we don’t see Instagram Stories going away anytime soon, so pour yourself a cup of coffee and start planning your first story campaign!


If you’d like to learn more about incorporating Instagram Stories into your marketing strategy, send us a note and let’s chat!

About the Author: Kaylah Rodriguez is a Social Media Marketing Specialist at Musictoday. She manages both organic and paid social campaigns, as well as sweepstakes and giveaways.