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How to Run an Instagram Story Ad

instagram app open on iphone

What if your business had the greatest story to tell and no one actually paid attention?

Social media is a great way to market your business to a wide variety of customers. And an Instagram story ad lets you tell your story in an intimate and engaging way.

However, most companies don’t know how to run an Instagram story in an effective way. They end up spending a ton on marketing without having much to show for it.

If you’d like to get an amazing ROI from your next Instagram story ad, keep reading to learn the secrets!

Primary Goal

Your first job sounds deceptively simple: you must determine your main goal for your Instagram story ads. However, doing so may be more difficult than you imagined.

Instagram actually asks you to pick from several possible objectives. These include audience engagement, app installations, lead generation, customer messages, or video views.

The objective you choose should sync up well with your current KPIs and overall marketing plan. For example, video views is a great metric if you are focusing on brand awareness, but lead generation is better if you are focused more on short-term sales.

The Right Ad Format

Next up, you must figure out what format your ad will be in. This mostly comes down to picking between a photo-centric ad and a video-centric ad.

On the one hand, video ads can be more expensive. They require actors, professional editing, lots of complex equipment, and so on.

On the other hand, video is insanely popular for your audience. Thanks to the ability to stream video on everything from Youtube to Netflix, your audience expects video when it comes to entertainment.

You must make the choice that is best for you and your budget (more on this in a little bit). But if you have the money, you’re likely to get a better ROI from a video Instagram story.

Making the Seconds Count

If you decide to do a video ad, we have good news and bad news. The bad news is that there is no universally-successful way of creating a video ad.

The good news is that this means you can be really creative. Consumers reward risk, and doing something bold or unique in your video is likely to drive up clicks and engagement.

Whatever you do, though, make those first few seconds of video amazing. In an online world saturated with video, customers are likely to move on to something else if they aren’t instantly captivated by your ad.


Whether you do a video ad or a photo ad, there is one thing you’ll need to focus on: your very specific audience.

Instagram allows you to customize who your ads target. And you can do multiplatform targeting by using tools such as Facebook Ad Manager.

However, the ability to target specific consumers is useless if you don’t know who your dream demographic is. That’s why it’s important to gather as much demographic data as possible well before you start running Instagram stories ads.

Remember, the audience drives everything about a good ad. If you don’t know who wants to buy your products, then you won’t know how to market to this group.

Pay Attention to the Rules

No one likes to hear this, but it’s the truth: sometimes, you need to really follow the rules. And that’s especially true with Instagram story ads.

Instagram has very specific guidelines for images. They must be in JPG or PNG format, must be at least 600 x 1067, and can’t be larger than 30 MB.

You’ll need to experiment further to find what works best for your own images. For example, we prefer to use 1080 x 1920 for images: you get a crisp image on any device, and it makes everything in the image really pop out at customers.

The Budget Game

As with any kind of marketing, it’s important to figure out what your budget is. And Instagram offers a few ways of making this easier for you.

Your primary option involves setting a daily or lifetime budget. With a daily budget, Instagram will spend up to a fixed amount on your ad each day and then stop. With a lifetime budget, Instagram will selectively deploy your ad at different points through your campaign timeline.

Next, you must choose between standard and accelerated delivery. With standard delivery, your ads will be spread out over a fixed time period. With accelerated delivery, Instagram will try to get them out as soon as possible.

The final choice is “Budget Optimization.” If you select this option, Instagram will try to balance your budget against your objectives and determine how much you should spend to accomplish your goals.

Keep in mind you will still need to bid to run ads, and this will also affect your overall budget and strategy. 

Don’t Forget the CTA

The call to action is a very elemental form of marketing. We expect to see these at the end of blog posts, e-mail marketing, and so on.

However, a CTA is also important for your Instagram story ads. It’s not enough to get the customers’ attention–they need to know what you want them to do!

This, too, can be tied to your overall objective. Ads that are weird and humorous may have a less explicit CTA, but that works to simply build brand awareness. If you’re trying to boost sales, of course, the CTA must be much more explicit.

Brief and to the Point

Whether you use photo or video ads for your story, space for text is limited. That means you must be short and to the point on messaging.

Try to distill your message to something direct and simple. Bonus points if it involves something that can easily be used as a hashtag!

How to Run an Instagram Story Simplified!

Now you know how to run an Instagram story ad. But do you know who can help you do it?

We specialize in all things digital marketing. To see how we can help with your social media marketing and beyond, contact us today!



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