How to use Instagram Stories to drive your bottom line
Last year, digital advertising saw the rise and fall of many players and trends - some that stuck and some that quickly fell to the wayside. One 2017 trend that’s here to stay is the growth of video advertising. SocialCode saw online ad spend surpass TV ad spend for the first time in history last year.
We attribute a significant portion of this growth to video, and vertical video specifically. At the beginning of 2016, video made up 41% of advertisers’ dollars. By the end of 2017, that figure had jumped to 58%. While many video units were introduced on each major social platform, Instagram Stories stands out from the crowd. According to our data, during the 2017 holiday season, Instagram advertisers scored 40% higher return on ad spend than they did during the 2016 holiday season. Brands also saw a 124% jump in click-through-rates on Instagram from Q4 2016 to Q4 2017.
When Instagram first rolled out the new placement, brands were slow to adopt. Uncomfortable with the idea of producing more vertical video content to fit the new placement, especially when used to propping horizontal TV spots on social, many brands were resistant to testing the unit. But more and more consumers started using the feature, and quarter-over-quarter, we kept seeing stories’ daily user numbers rapidly climb. Though initially skeptical, brands advertising with SocialCode began using Instagram Stories as an organic branding tool and started building learnings and best practices that prepared them for the inevitable: the day Instagram rolled out a paid Instagram Stories offering.
Today, Fortune 500 brands and young digital disrupters alike are investing in the unit. In 2017, consumers fully grasped a new, learned behavior: viewing a story and swiping up to visit a landing page, download an app, or view a longer video. Now vertical video is being deployed for branding AND direct response campaigns. Brands are now faced with a choice - either hop on the video bandwagon, or get left behind. SocialCode’s team of social experts compiled tips below for how to maximize the impact of Instagram stories for your brand.
1. Invest in Video, Or Get Left in the Dust
According to SocialCode’s dataset, advertisers invested more than 58% of their 2017 social media budgets in video content. Retailers that distributed video across Facebook and Instagram in 2017 paid 25% less for their paid social ads compared to brands that served static content only. Advertisers paid 35% lower (read: more efficient) CPMs on Facebook and 26% lower CPMs on Instagram when serving video content.
Retail brands advertising with SocialCode saw 10% cheaper CPMs on stories than they did overall on Instagram. Retailers investing in Instagram Stories are also driving a 31% higher click-through-rate and 53% higher return on ad spend, compared to retail brands investing solely in standard Instagram video posts.
During Q4 of 2017, advertisers invested 13% of overall Instagram budgets into Stories. Given its incredible user reach (300 million daily active users), and the higher returns and engagement rates brands are seeing, there is certainly room to scale Instagram budgets further.
2. Leverage Instagram’s Unique Storytelling Tools (Hyperlapse, Boomerang)
Our advertisers are seeing nearly 80% higher video view rates when using Instagram Stories’ Hyperlapse tool compared to conventional videos. While this may be a great tool for some clients, it’s certainly not a blanket statement so be sure to set your brand up for success by testing different video variations.
3. Choose Product Over Narrative Any Day
Attention spans are at a premium and people are consuming content faster than ever–make sure you leave consumers with a memorable impression of who they found in a feed. Campaign data indicates Instagram Stories focusing on the product in the foreground (in the first three seconds) drive 79% higher view rates compared to variants that introduce the product later in the video as part of a narrative. Highlight your brand quickly and prominently rather than subtly weaving it into a more emotional narrative.
4. Music Will Save the Day
Instagram is an inherently visual platform–by leaning into the visual storytelling with a soundtrack, you can more effectively draw people in to consume your video. Instagram Stories with music scored 60% higher view rates than dialogue-heavy video.
5. More Than Just A Branding Play
While we saw some heart-warming origin stories conveyed over Instagram Stories during the Olympics, branding is not the only use case for the ad unit. If you’re only using Instagram for awareness, then you’re missing out on a prized opportunity. Travel advertisers are using Instagram Stories to appeal to the travel enthusiasts that flock to Instagram for vacation ideas and encouraging them to swipe up to book a flight. Entertainment brands are touting teasers on Stories and driving consumers to a Fandango landing page where they can purchase tickets to the movie. CPG brands are using Stories to take people directly to an online grocery marketplace where they can stock up on beverages ahead of sporting events.