At Facebook’s annual developer conference, F8, it became clear that Stories-style content consumption will ultimately surpass that of News Feed. Did you know that a Stories-type format (as content, not ads – yet) is also live on WhatsApp and goes by the name Status?Mark Zuckerberg shared that 450 million people use the feature every day on the messaging platform, while Instagram has 300 million users story-ing away. Before we jump into the why and what of Stories advertising, don’t forget to check our Instagram refresher at the end of this post if you need to recap the basics.
Stories – Why Now and What's New?
Facebook is investing heavily in Stories-style content solutions. Right now, brands can run two types of Stories ads (not counting still and video as their own): single or a Carousel of up to three consecutive “cards”. The maximum length is 15 seconds and should ideally be designed in vertical format, although you can also run horizontal and square ads where the rest of the space is filled with a similar tone blur to cover the entire screen, as seen on the right-hand side below.
Stories-Related F8 Announcements
Facebook launched third party integrations with other apps in beta, meaning that you can share anything from any app directly to Stories. For example: instead of screenshotting your Spotify, you can share a song to your Stories and have your friends click to listen. Or you could connect a GoPro to stream video to Stories, the opportunities are endless.
Augmented reality in the form of Camera Effects (ie. face filters) is in closed beta as I type this. With this solution, brands can in the near future create custom Camera Effects their followers will access automatically and use on their Stories. If you see another user’s story that includes a camera effect, you can try it on from Stories, too, most likely built this way to encourage virality and sharing.
Scaling Stories With Video Automation
As for other placements, we do recommend prioritizing short videos for Stories. The good news is that you can streamline production with automation tools such as Smartly.io Video Templates. Our customer eBay, for one, automated their holiday ads for Stories by using our bespoke Video Templates solution.
Here’s how it works: the template editor allows brands to design predefined visual and animation rules that pull content dynamically from a product catalog or feed. This makes it possible to run video ads even from still assets: you can animate transitions and overlays and combine them with product images. Read more and see the first customer examples on video automation here.
Instagram Advertising Refresher
You don’t need a separate Instagram account to advertise if you have a Facebook ad account – although, we do recommend having one especially if you’re a up-and-coming challenger brand looking to break through the clutter. In many categories, such as fashion or beauty, users are prone to do further research on an unknown brand to see if it’s up their alley, or to get confirmation that it is legitimate before typing in those credit card numbers.
Campaign Types Supported by Instagram:
- Brand awareness
- Traffic (for clicks to your website or your app in the app store)
- App installs
- Engagement (for post engagement only)
- Video views
- Conversions (on your website or in your app)
- Lead generation
Best Practices for Designing Creative for Instagram
If your ads are performing well on Facebook, the general recommendation is to run those on Instagram, too. Having said that, there are some cases where it is worth the effort to create separate assets for the two platforms.
Instagram is a haven for inspiration and discovery – if your brand fits this type of consumption (just think of a hair care brand providing hair inspiration or a clothing e-commerce sharing outfit ideas), chances are you could benefit from mimicking native content on Instagram. It’s also good to track what kind of content works well for you organically, and translate those learnings to your paid creative strategy.
With Stories in particular, we recommend you mimic what your audience is posting. Don’t be afraid of the content feeling user-made or organic; have fun with stickers, GIFs, text overlays to ensure your ad blends in the Stories feed and doesn’t get skipped. Your content should be 15 seconds max, with Carousel Stories, the maximum length of the three cards is a combined 45 seconds.
Coming Soon: Instagram Payments
Instagram has launched native payments on its platform, available for limited partners for the time being but we assume that this will become available for a wider group of brands soon enough. The first partners include services like Resy for restaurant reservations and they also mention movie tickets as a near-future expansion of the service.
This announcement is particularly lucrative to e-commerce – brands have already been able to use shoppable tags to help users buy the products seen on Instagram, however, that experience has still required the user to open their browser to complete the transaction.
It will be interesting to see what happens once users can discover and complete purchases all in one native experience. Stay tuned, we’ll report more as soon as this feature develops.
Facebook’s example on native payments.