8 Tips for Creating an Effective Instagram Stories Ad


Though it is just over one year old, Instagram Stories has already amassed roughly 250 million daily active users. That means more people use Instagram Stories than use all of Snapchat. Instagram announced earlier this year that all businesses would have the ability to create Instagram Stories ads.

Today, brands as diverse as TD Bank, Reebok, National Geographic and Disney use Instagram Stories to connect with target audiences in a whole new way. And because Instagram is owned by Facebook, marketers have access to a rich set of audience behavior information that makes it simple to create an effective Instagram Stories ad campaign.

For those interested in beginning an advertising campaign on Stories, here are 8 key tips that the best Instagram advertisers follow to drive meaningful business outcomes.

1. Keep the message simple

Instagram Stories happen in the blink of an eye and expire after 24 hours of being viewed. In order to get your point across, it is important that the message of your Instagram Stories ad remains clear and to the point.

Take the example of Peel (above) for inspiration. The ad features a clear message and a crisp visual that drives home the message behind the ad. Furthermore, the advertisers at Peel made use of the Instagram Stories content feature. By swiping up, the person viewing the ad can go directly to the Peel e-commerce store.

2. Make use of Facebook-powered targeting.

As mentioned earlier, Instagram Stories ads are managed through the Facebook Ads Manager. This is great news for Instagram advertisers because it means you will have access to detailed demographic and geographic information that can make it easier to identify and target the perfect audience.

Instagram marketers can target users by age, location, Instagram accounts followed, interests, education and employment history (among other categories).

3. Create a cross-platform series of ads.

While Instagram Stories ads are effective on their own, integrating the ads into a wider cross-platform campaign is the best way to create an ROI-positive initiative. In the example below, TD Bank uses a geographically targeted Instagram Stories ad to advertise an upcoming experiential marketing event taking place in New York City.

Similar to Peel, TD Bank encourages viewers to swipe up to learn more about the upcoming event.

4. Consider retargeting ads.

Retargeting ads use a tracking pixel embedded within your brand website to target website visitors who went to your website but failed to take the desired action.

Marketers can use retargeting Instagram Stories ads to remind a specific audience to reengage with your brand. Since this ad vehicle makes it easy for viewers to visit a branded website (via a simple swipe up), Instagram Stories can be a terrific fit for retargeting ads.

5. Use FOMO to create a feeling of urgency.

FOMO, short for “fear of missing out,” is an effective marketing strategy in a variety of settings. However, this tactic can be especially effective with regard to Instagram Stories. Since the platform is ephemeral by nature, users engage with Stories because they want to keep abreast of the latest trends. In the example below, CrossFit and their premier sponsor partner, Reebok, created an Instagram Stories ad that uses FOMO.

The line “It’s back…for a limited time” is a great piece of marketing, creating a sense of urgency among potential customers.

6. Follow other brands to learn best practices.

As Pablo Picasso said, “Good artists borrow, great artists steal.” Similarly, some of the brands that are great at social media marketing turn to other organizations for inspiration. When it comes to Instagram Stories, brands like Nike and National Geographic have a mastery of the platform that marketers should take note of.

7. Partner with an influencer.

A recent survey of marketers found that nearly 95% of respondents believe influencer marketing is effective. Partnering with an influencer to create compelling Instagram Stories content can be a great way for your brand to build a truly stunning ad.

If you are considering an influencer marketing strategy, remember that each target audience is different. An Instagram influencer who might appeal to members of Generation Z will likely fall short of influencing senior business people, for example.

However, if you are able to find an influencer who is aligned with your target audience, an ad featuring the influencer’s work, followed by “organic” promotion from the influencer on his or her own channel, can create a meaningful buzz among those in your target market.

8. Write compelling and complementary copy.

While most think of Instagram as a purely visual platform, it is important to create compelling written copy to complement visuals. This is true when posted organic content on your brand’s profile, and when creating an Instagram Story ad as well.

Take a look at National Geographic’s ads for inspiration. This brand has done a fantastic job of crafting well-written captions for content they post on Instagram.


Instagram is quickly becoming the platform brands turn to in order to reach their target audience. And within Instagram, Instagram Stories is rapidly becoming a favorite among hundreds of millions of users. Brands will eventually start turning to Stories in droves, but today, marketers who are bold enough to try the newest ad platform offered by Instagram will likely benefit from a meaningful first-mover advantage.

To get started with Instagram Stories, keep messages simple, with a clear call to action. Take inspiration from other brands that are already using Instagram Stories ads, and consider partnering with an influencer to further amplify your message.

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David Epstein

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