Instagram is more than your business’s pretty face. Beyond stunning shots of tempting food and gorgeous vacation spots, Instagram is a great tool to engage with potential clients and customers in every industry. Instagram story ads in particular are an effective way to build relationships that grow your business. Here’s how to use Instagram stories (and Instagram story ads) to build brand awareness and give your business a boost.

What are Instagram story ads?

Instagram stories are a built-in feature of your Instagram account. Consisting of photos or videos, Instagram story ads flow seamlessly from one post to another, disappearing after 24 hours.

In 2018, Instagram reached one billion monthly users and pulled in eight billion dollars in ad sales. Of those billion users, a third are viewing (and posting to) Instagram stories every day. In terms of engagement, 20% of Instagram story ads get a direct message from potential (or current) clients.

Here’s how they work: Instagram users already tap to view the stories of the accounts they follow. Each story cycles through until the user decides to exit. Instagram story ads are inserted between regular stories of the user’s follows. In the best case scenario, these ads blend in with the content created by people the user already follows. They are more subtle and focused than other types of advertising that delivers the pitch in a direct or blunt way.

How much do Instagram story ads cost?

There are two ways to pay for Instagram story ads. The first is pay-per-click (PPC, but also referred to as cost-per-click, CPC), and this cost ranges depending on your industry and your target audience. The more competitive the industry (e.g., apparel), the higher the cost.

Another way to figure Instagram story ads cost is “per mile.” This is industry-speak for how far your ads travel, or how many people they reach. The average Instagram story ads cost-per-mile is around $5 per 1,000 impressions (the number of people who view the ad but do not necessarily click).

Whether you choose to set your ad budget at CPC or cost-per-mile depends on your Instagram story ad objectives.

However you look at it, the ROI is good. Instagram story ads, even though they are part of the Facebook ad platform, can have ten times the engagement of Facebook ads. They flow with the user’s regular content and are less disruptive to their experience. This makes users more accepting of ads on their social media.

Instagram ads also generate higher dollars in sales or purchased services than any other platform, with an average of $65 per referred sale (as compared to a little over $46 on referred sales from Twitter and $55 from Facebook).

If you are not already using Instagram for business and Instagram story ads, now’s the time to get started.

How to create Instagram story ads: Four steps to take

Using Instagram for business is an affordable way to build your client base. Here’s how to create Instagram story ads in four easy steps.

How To Create Instagram Story Ads That Convert: Your Beginner's Guide In 2019 | Boost

Step 1: Create your Instagram for business

Although you can view your Instagram feed on your desktop, posting to Instagram is possible only through the mobile app. Download it and set up your business account. If your business already has a Facebook account, you can log in with your Facebook info and connect the accounts. You do not need a Facebook account to have an Instagram for business, but Instagram will automatically create a business Facebook page and ask if you want to claim it.

Fill out your profile completely, including all business info and a profile picture (a company logo if you use one or another interesting and high-quality profile picture). If you plan to use a few core hashtags, you can add those to your profile, too.

Step 2: Invite people to follow you (and follow back!)

If you have a business Facebook page, head over to the settings menu on Instagram (the gear icon in the top right corner of your profile screen) and use “invite Facebook friends” to let your Facebook followers know you have a new Instagram.

Search hashtags relevant to your industry and follow influencers and other accounts that follow you.

Step 3: Make sure your website is ready to go

While this step seems unrelated to creating Instagram story ads, what happens when clients eagerly click your ad and find a website under construction, or one that has no contact information?

At the very least, make sure to update contact information for visitors. If you are selling a product through your Instagram story ads, direct customers to a high quality landing page for that product when they click the ad (and have an ordering system up and running).

Step 4: Create your ad

Whether your ad is a series of photos, videos, or a mix of both, you will create your Instagram story ads in ad manager on Facebook. You’ll choose an objective and fill in all of the details for your ad, including ad placement, budget, and schedule.

At this step, you will select your target audience. You can specify geographic location, gender, age, language, and more. There are clear prompts for each of these; complete as many as you can for the most targeted approach.

You will also be able to preview your ad before it runs. This is helpful, as you will be able to see exactly what Instagram users see.

Creating the first ad comes with the steepest learning curve, but Facebook and Instagram make it as easy as possible for novices to use Instagram stories for business.

Creating an ad that matches your brand message

While the steps to get started are simple, many business owners struggle with striking the right tone in Instagram story ads. It’s important to create an ad that matches your brand message in everything from content (what you’re saying) to design (how it looks).

There are basic specifications set by Facebook in terms of the size of pictures and video files that work, but everything else is up to you.

Focusing on video is a great place to start. Video ads last up to 15 seconds (photos up to ten), but for both you need high-quality media with clear messaging to capture the user’s attention.

Add targeting for more conversions

It’s important to keep an eye on how your ads are performing. Are you targeting the right demographic to get the most bang for your buck, or are your ads not getting where they are supposed to go? Are people viewing them, but not clicking over to your website?

You can view the metrics of your Instagram story ads on ads manager for performance, adjusting the placement of your ads as needed. Facebook ads manager also offers optimization that includes split testing (A/B testing) to see how different types of ads (i.e., video versus photo) perform in relation to your objectives.

If you need to go back and change your demographic data to trim your budget or more clearly define your target audience, that can be done through ads manager, too.

Still need help getting started with Instagram story ads? Get in touch with Boost. From helping you define your target audience to creating and running your ad campaigns, we have the social media experience you need to get you the results you are looking for.