digital marketing

Swipe Up: How to Make Instagram Stories Ads People Want to Click

Instagram has evolved into a powerful marketing platform geared toward brands of all shapes and sizes.
Immensely-popular Instagram Stories hold a special place in the promotional arsenal. They serve as an extension of an organic media strategy, a tool for spearheading growth and customer acquisition.  Ads tailored to this channel make up and increasing portion of the digital marketing mix, which is reflected in spending across different industries.
And for modern consumers, Stories are a captivating window display to the world, a true haven of discovery. They seek to express themselves visually and take part in something bigger, something that matters. That is why they so eagerly connect with their friends, influencers, and businesses via this booming channel.

The meta-narrative

Creating video ads for Instagram Stories is a novelty trend that started off as a Snapchat knock-off. Despite somewhat humble beginnings, it rapidly gained traction, propelled by the rise of the ephemeral, temporary content.
For marketers, influencers, and entrepreneurs, the floodgates opened when they were rendered able to insert short ads in between these pieces of content. Ads can take the form of 10-seconds photo display or up to a 15-seconds-long video. It is crucial to note right away that they are supposed to fit the Story format and echo its purpose.
They must not disrupt user experience (UX) because people can then tap on the screen and make short work of the advertisement. Also, take into account that the level of activity is off the charts— there are more than 400 million people using Stories feature every day. The million dollar question is how to come up with attention-arresting ads that pierce through the noise and keep UX intact.

The right tone and angle of approach

Well, one thing you want to avoid is bombarding people with sale pitches. Instagram Stories are the stage for a different kind of show, are a chance to unveil your human and creative side and deliver an immersive experience. They are highly-effective tools for building deeper and meaningful connections, as well as business and personal branding.
A compelling Instagram story communicates what the brand is all about, shaping people’s perception and influencing consumer behavior. From a business standpoint, the most vital correlation to focus on is the one between viewing an ad and willingness to make a purchase. That being said, a brand can establish other main objectives, such as increasing app downloads, number of followers, or website visits.
The takeaway is clear: take a deep breath and know what you want to achieve before diving in. While at it, grasp the bigger picture— your overarching brand aesthetic and visual identity. In other words, ensure that colors, typeface, videos, images, and other visual elements are in tune with the rest of the digital collateral.
That way, you avoid sending mixed signals and improve brand consistency and recognition.

Medium is the message

Beyond that, the options and tactics can go in many different directions.
High-quality media is paramount, even though the quality itself is not measured only in production values. Some big brands try to emulate the look of a raw, authentic, and home-cut Stories typically created by celebrities and influencers. Others aim towards a more polished experience.
So, you can browse directories of companies that specialize invade production and hire them to get pro-looking product worthy of million clicks. Or, you employ tools like Ads Manager to create and edit content yourself. In any regard, videos play a key role in Instagram strategy because they tend to spur 5x more engagement than still images.  Then again, with videos, there is no copy or titles attached, which means the video itself has to be self-explanatory.
In the case of photos, a brand must make sure to present bold images with clear brand insignia and straightforward messages. Users need to get the taste of who you are and what you do before the ad runs out. In the process, they have to be entertained and engaged in order not to drop out. The combo of strong visuals and clear messaging is what wins the day.

Best of the best

To navigate a labyrinth of key decisions, embrace a community-first approach and develop a deeper understanding of the Instagram shopping journey. Consumer behavior is not uniform and every audience is a bit different. Therefore, translating your ideas into practice is seldom simple. It requires thorough research and optimization of ads for maximum conversions.
Namely, only data and targeting can enable publishers to craft timely and relevant content. Here, it pays off to draw lessons from brands dominating the Instagram ecosystem. SOSO Life, for instance, regularly runs performance tests, evaluates the impact of ads on incremental sales (the main campaign objective), and uses acquired insights to elevate sale conversions.
Furthermore, take the example of a Video game publisher, 2K games, which employed mobile-optimized Instagram ads to reveal superstar Lebron James as a cover athlete for NBA2K19. The ads were targeted both to core and prospective audience segments, which was the key to impressive ad recall (24-point spike). Users could swipe up on a “Learn More” call-to-action button and pre-order.
This campaign showed us how to successfully generate excitement and awaken curiosity for upcoming releases. It also reminded us how important it is to optimize content to the vertical full-screen format of mobile devices. One final lesson worth noting is that you need a strong call-to-action.
It is that special ingredient that prompts people to take action and follow up for more information, deepening the relationship with the brand.


From a user’s standpoint, Instagram Stories are a fresh way of experiencing a brand. On the other hand, businesses and brands use the channel to accomplish a variety of goals and improve business outcomes. To really strike a chord and target with laser-like precision, though, they have a lot of ground to cover.
They must dive into pools of data and understand consumer behavior in order to. The trick is to stand out and seamlessly weave ads into the fabric of brand storytelling. So, you better find a way to make it memorable and eye-popping, short and to the point.
Following these tried and tested steps, you should be able to penetrate the immensely crowded market and witness the avalanche of clicks coming your way.

Angelina Harper
Latest posts by Angelina Harper (see all)

Angelina Harper

Angelina Harper is a contributor to the Visionary Marketing news website.


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