Let Us Tell You a Story… ~10 min

How businesses can leverage Instagram Stories

Instagram has been a tremendous success story. The photo and video-sharing platform reached one billion monthly users. Along the way Instagram’s baby, Stories, has also been riding high. Three years after Mark Zuckerberg announced the launch of Instagram Stories, it has accumulated 500 million users, and 40% of Instagram’s daily users play around with Stories every day.

Instagram Stories is an efficient ad option for brands to showcase creativity without fear of over-posting. It gives the audience a native experience as users can add text, emojis, stickers, polls or draw on photos and videos to bring them to life. The audience is in control - they can tap back, forward, and pause the content at their leisure.

Such user control leads to higher conversion rates. Stories Ads show the sponsored label and display a visible “Swipe Up” call-to-action button that offers link or deep link capability.

This deliberate choice by engaged users leads to better conversions.

Let’s Talk Business

People are spending more and more time on Instagram – up to 32 minutes a day – and this growing engagement follows from the addition of Instagram Stories.

Half of Instagram’s business accounts create Stories in a typical month. One third of the most viewed Stories are from businesses, and almost all marketers in the US plan to use Stories Ads in the next six months.

Stories take up the entire mobile screen with the 9:16 format, providing a distraction-free experience. One in five organic Stories from businesses triggers a direct message from a user, who can then be converted into a potential client or customer.

So better engagement and conversion rates can be on offer with Instagram Stories Ads.

But how do you harness the opportunity? The following guidelines may help you to run an Instagram Stories ad and get tangible results.


The 9:16 fullscreen vertical format is designed for mobile; it’s been shown to attract user attention for longer and be more memorable. Given Facebook predicts that by 2020 there will be a “solely mobile” global generation, this format is particularly useful for businesses.

Stories specifications:

  • Recommended resolution is 1080x1920;

  • Photos must be .jpg or .png (plays for 5 seconds);

  • Video must be .mp4 or .mov (0-15 seconds per media);

  • Carousel can have up to 3 media cards, compatible with any feed asset; and

  • Maximum film size is 4GB for video and 30MB for photo.

Campaign objectives and actions

Stories offers the most campaign objectives of anything in the Facebook family. Creative can be targeted for any segment of the marketing funnel: from Brand Awareness, Reach and Video Views to Lead Generation, Conversion, and App Installs. There’s also the standard set of call-to-action buttons such as Install now, Download, Learn more, Sign up, and more.

Stories ad format

Stories Ads allow you to measure and get insights on reach, impressions, replies, and exits, so you can design more relevant content that engages with your audience.

According to Facebook, there are three types of mobile feed consumption behaviours:

  • On the Go users have limited attention and are unlikely to deep dive into content. They check social media while getting ready, commuting, or between meetings.

  • Lean Forward users consume content while waiting for lunch or an appointment, but are still not fully committed.

  • Lean Back users sit back, relax and look for content to absorb on a deeper level.

You should identify the behaviour of your target audience to choose the most suitable Stories Ads format: Single Ad, Carousel, and Canvas.

Single Ad

Video source: Facebook Blueprint – Bring Your Business Story to Life With Instagram Stories

This format was the beginning of adverts in Stories. It’s an immersive format that provides a sound-on storytelling experience with a 15-second video.

You can use targeting, reach, and measurement capabilities to connect with a suitable audience. It works well for creating brand awareness. It is ideal for the On The Go audience: the main idea is to show your brand within three seconds to introduce yourself immediately.


This format provides users with a native Stories experience as it operates the same as any other Stories content: tap pass, swipe back and forward, or hold to pause the content. This would attract Lean Back and Lean Forward users as it can catch attention with multiple cards and the content will be no longer than 45 seconds. To learn how to launch a Carousel, follow our latest guide.


Video source: Instagram Blog – Give Advertisers More Flexibility in Instagram Stories

Facebook’s fast-loading full-screen Canvas format is available in Instagram Stories. It captures audience attention with a single advert combining videos, photos, carousels, tilt to pan and more. Create a compelling big story of your brand and fully showcase your products or services.

As this format requires time for the audience to view, it’s most suitable for Lean Back users.

Creative Guidelines

To help you create effective Instagram Stories campaigns, we’ve gathered key suggestions. Before you start, make sure your creative complies with Facebook Advertising Policies.

  • Sound on: 60% of Stories videos are played with sound on. Use attention-grabbing music or sound effects to help tell your story.

  • Keep it short and sweet: As users can speed tap through content, you must grab their attention. Shorter ads tend to perform better - and try to display your branding at both beginning and end.

  • Change scenery: Consider speed and multiple scenes when designing creative as they are more likely to keep people engaged and tend to perform better than creative without fast-cut moments. The Stories format is fun; have a play.

  • “Everybody’s shuffling”: Shuffle individual cards in Carousels, using one of these two main strategies:

    • While Facebook suggests to display branding at the beginning and end of your creatives, we have learned from our fintech client that holding your brand back and using the two first stories as teasers can be beneficial. Evoke a sense of mystery, then reveal your brand at the end. The same strategies can be used in a single video: show your brand first and last, or reveal it only at the end, grabbing viewers’ attention with a catchy video sequence.

    • However, if you consider such strategies too much hassle, you can take a simpler approach. Our client L’Oréal Paris used three static images in their Carousel, and by simply demonstrating three different products in each managed to decrease cost per click by 40%.

  • Product Demos drive numbers: Use Stories to demonstrate how your product works. Demos perform better in key metrics like understanding, relevance, brand fit, and purchase intent.

  • Use micro-influencers: Stories can engage people by showing unfiltered and behind-the-scenes content. With the help of micro-influencers, brands can get access to relevant audiences and promote products or services through smaller opinion makers. Micro-influencer campaigns have a 60% higher engagement rate and 22 times more weekly conversations compared to larger accounts on Instagram.

Take a look at these creative secrets of Instagram Stories from Instagram itself.

Our story ends, yours is just beginning

So there you have it - what you need to know to get started on creating Instagram Stories Ads. Have a play, harness the power of this format, and watch the good results roll in. Use our guide on how to run an ad, and let your Story deliver a happy ending for your brand.