The Rise Of Instagram Stories And How To Use Them To Your Advantage

July 11, 2018 · 4 min read

Instagram is growing by leaps and bounds. Recently, Instagram launched IGTV: a video-centric channel specifically for mobile-ready videos. In a time when Instagram is making tremendous moves, it’s also important to look back to the not-so-distant past and Instagram stories.

The popular Instagram stories feature enables users and businesses to interact and engage in some pretty awesome ways. From photos to videos and even targeted video ads, there’s a lot to like about the feature.

Are you using Instagram stories for your business? No? Well, let’s find out how to use it to your advantage!

What is Instagram Stories?

For the unfamiliar, Instagram stories is a series of pictures and/or videos that are put together in a sort of digital collage. The aim is to capture a moment or series of moments in a cohesive manner. For example, a trip to a concert or music festival. For businesses it could be a special promotion or a one-day only event.

Instagram stories are viewable for only a 24 hour period. After that, they disappear into the Internet ether.

Instagram stories launched in 2016 but really started to take off in 2017. It wasn’t too long before users and businesses were publishing stories with regularity. An early feature for businesses was the ability to add links to their stories which drove their audience to their website, landing page, or elsewhere.

How Can I Use Instagram Stories For My Business?

There are several ways that businesses can use Instagram Stories to their advantage. As discussed above, Instagram Stories will self-destruct within 24 hours of posting, so you must keep that in mind anytime you create a story.

Are you having a flash sale? A one-day only event? Stories can go a long way towards promoting these types of occasions. Best of all, once you post your story, you don’t have to worry about taking it down or having someone see it long after the event has passed. Poof, 24 hours and it’s gone.

Instagram stories are a great way to share relevant visual content about your business. From your video marketing ads to behind the scenes looks, pictures of your products, and more. Instagram is a great place for restaurants, bars, clubs, or any type of consumer product. Travel or leisure companies? There’s room there as well.

Really any type of business can thrive on Instagram as long as you have a healthy diet of visual content to share with your audience.

There’s another way in which businesses can use Instagram stories to their advantage. How’s that? With video ads, of course!

Instagram Stories Video Ads

There are two types of ads you can run with Instagram Stories. Photos and videos. For photos, the image will display for 5 seconds. Videos have a maximum of 15 seconds. How it works is that while users browse their friend’s stories, your advertisement will pop up in the middle.

Instagram’s goal is to make the transition from a friend’s photo or video to your advertisement as seamless and uninterrupted as possible. To this end, the idea is that it should almost seem as though your content fits into the flow of the story.

The great thing about running an ad in this way is that you don’t have to worry about how long your content will be visible. Stories disappear in 24 hours; your ad doesn’t. Rather, it will continue to be shown for the length of the campaign.

Creating Ads

For the most part, creating a video ad for Instagram stories is not unlike creating a Facebook video ad. Not surprising, considering Facebook owns Instagram. The ad targeting, budgeting, and scheduling is a similar process using Facebook’s ads manager tool.

You are able to set the gender preference, location, and age range of your target audience; enable a budget; and schedule your ads with ease. In fact, Facebook’s ad targeting is so simple, the only thing you have left to do is create your video.

Your Video Ad

You have up to 15 seconds to make an impression. Keep in mind that users can swipe through stories and ads are no different. Given that, you want to open strong and grab their attention. Hard to do in 15 seconds? Not so fast.

15 seconds may not seem like a lot of time, and in the cosmic sense, we’ll concede that it isn’t very long. However, take a break from reading this and just sit for 15 seconds. Go ahead. We’ll wait.



As Einstein said: everything is relative. When you’re sitting back in your bed, scrolling through stories on Instagram and an ad pops up, fifteen seconds is a long time! Most importantly, it’s long enough for a great, effective marketing video that gets your point across to your target audience.

Create your video ad with a clear focus in mind. Remember that unlike other social media channels, Instagram is 100% a mobile app experience. You’re putting your content literally into the palm of your audience’s hand, so consider what action you want them to take. This may be clicking through to your website or downloading your app.

Make a high-quality video that incorporates music to enhance your ad and help grab your audience’s attention. According to Instagram, 60% of stories are viewed with the sound on.

If your ad focus includes a promotional offer such as a percentage discount or coupon code: this is a great time to share it.

The Bottom Line

Instagram ads are a great way to promote your product or service to your target audience. Even though Instagram is in the process of innovating their platform, stories aren’t going away anytime soon. In fact, over 300 million people use Instagram stories every day. It’s a fair bet your audience is in there!

Building a brand on Instagram is not unlike building a brand on other social platforms. Instagram is just a more media content driven platform than others. This means that photos and videos are the keys to building a strong Instagram following.

Businesses of all kinds can also make great use of the ad features in Instagram stories. All you need is a great marketing video, a mobile phone, and an Instagram account to get started. Your audience awaits!


Head of Content at * * * Storyteller by day. Content consumer by night. Habitually inspired.

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