With 300 million daily active users, and counting, Instagram Stories has been one of Facebook’s most successful additions. Shamelessly replicating a key feature of Snapchat, Stories provides people with another way to share, and has become so popular that even Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said that he sees Stories eventually superseding the News Feed as the primary social media interface.
And of course, with the popularity of Stories rising, advertisers are also looking to tap in – Facebook says that half of businesses on Instagram now create at least one story per month. The challenge is that Stories requires a very different approach to regular social ads. If you’re experimenting with video and/or animation, you likely have an advantage, but even then, the full-screen, vertical presentation format of Stories does require dedicated focus and attention.
And now, Facebook’s conducted research to determine, more specifically, what users best respond to in Stories ads.
As explained by Facebook:
“To help marketers understand and master this new format, Facebook IQ commissioned a survey with implicit and conscious measures to explore how people in Brazil, Indonesia, the UK and the US perceive Instagram content in stories. We also commissioned a meta-analysis of US Instagram Stories ads to determine which creative elements help capture attention and drive real business results.”
Facebook’s broken their key findings down into five key considerations, as highlighted below:
As you can see, many of the lessons here are similar to common video recommendations. Relevance is a fairly obvious one (people don’t want their Stories experience interrupted with off-topic ads), but there’s also a desire for short, up-front ads, with the main message and/or branding appearing earlier in the flow.
Facebook itself has noted similar in video content – in a report published last year, Facebook recommended to video advertisers that:
“The earlier you can place your brand in the video and the clearer you can make the message, the better.”
Really, most of the notes would suggest that users are most responsive to minimally disruptive ads, so short and sharp is key – while showing the advertised product in use also helps boost response.
In essence, you should approach your Stories ads in the same way you would regular video, but you also need to utilize the unique features of Stories (vertical presentation, mobile optimized) to maximize response.
When broken down like that, the format seems much simpler to understand – but still, the best way to broaden your perspective on Stories content is probably to view as much of it as you can yourself, and to see what other advertisers are doing. You’ll get a sense of what works for you, and what doesn’t, and in combination with these research notes, that'll help you optimize your own Stories approach.
You can check out Facebook’s full Instagram Stories research report here.