Since the launch of Instagram Stories in 2016, the format has taken off among advertisers. Users have demonstrated their love for Stories’ dynamic feel.
Agencies report 2-3X more engagement with Instagram Stories posts than with regular content.
Marketers have published a slew of campaigns to test the format since it debuted; however…
…The quality has been mixed while advertisers figure out what kind of Stories entices users and what bores them.
Below we’ve highlighted ten amazing Instagram Stories examples that reveal best practices from leading brands, as well as ten bonus examples to provide you with even more ideas.
We also include some proven strategies and pro tricks that you can use right now to engage your audience and grow your business.
You just need to take some time to get yourself a drink (an espresso? 😉 ), go through each of them, and get inspired for your own amazing Instagram Stories ads.
Although the Stories format is a relatively new feature, 500 million people use them every day, with more than one-third of the most viewed stories being posted by businesses. Half of Instagram business users have posted stories, and according to TechCrunch, one in five of those posts receives a direct message from users.
Facebook has already rolled out several product updates, such as Highlights, to help agencies stay at the forefront.
Bookmark these ideas when crafting your own Stories to save yourself hours of Googling, help achieve your campaign objectives, and amplify your growth!
How To Set Up Your Instagram Stories Ads
Let’s start with the basics.
Instagram Stories Ads pop up between users’ Stories in the same format (either a single photo or video up to 15 seconds long) and last for just 24 hours.
Setting up your Instagram Story ad is similar to setting up other Instagram ads.
First, make sure your Instagram account is connected to your Facebook business page — then follow the steps below:
- Using Facebook’s Ads Manager or Power Editor, Create an Ad in a new Campaign.
- Select your Objective (limited to Reach, Mobile App Installs, Video Views, Traffic, or Conversions for Story ads).
- After you’ve set your objective parameters and given your campaign a name, define your audience. (Use or create your own new, custom, saved or lookalike audience, similar to any Facebook Ad.)
- Under “Edit Placements” Select: Instagram Stories.
- Choose “single image” or “single video” format.
- Then, Upload and preview your image or video file. (Make sure to double-check that your specs are correct.)
- Finally, select a call-to-action (CTA), based on the goal you hope to achieve (e.g., “Learn More” to drive web traffic), and publish.
10 Amazing Instagram Stories Examples
Below are ten examples of Instagram Story ads that amazed and impressed us.
All these brands showcase a range of successful techniques to excite and engage their audiences.
These practical yet imaginative tips will help take your Instagram Stories to the next level — optimizing them to meet and even exceed your Instagram ad campaign goals.
1. Daily Harvest – Keep It Short, Sweet and Valuable
Daily Harvest delivers unprocessed foods in convenient frozen forms. This Instagram Story opens the target audience’s eyes to new possibilities within frozen foods via a rapid series of tantalizing images:
Daily Harvest succeeds at packing in a lot of critical information but keeps its message concise.
- PRO TIP: If you have nearly 30 words as Daily Harvest does, organize them in an easy-to-read and logical format to keep the user’s eye moving and facilitate the delivery of your message.
The brand also emphasizes the benefit of its service with a strategic headline.
Four crucial questions you have to answer when writing your Instagram Stories headline and copy include:
- Is this useful – do people see the value in it
Yes – valuable “superfood eats.”
- Is this unique – does it promise a unique benefit? (Is it differentiated?)
Yes – Daily Harvest allows you to build your own personal box.
- Is this urgent – does it lead the audience to act now?
Yes – it’s a fast, convenient service that you can “enjoy in seconds.”
- Is this ultra-specific?
While the instructions don’t include facts or statistics, Daily Harvest offers a detailed menu and very clear instructions for action.
Instagram Stories Examples Bonus #1
In this ad by Maille, the French gourmet food producer, the brand clearly communicates that you can win a year’s supply of their premium mustards, cornichons, salad dressings, and other products. It’s straight and to the point, and gets the job done.
More Pro Tips
While the rules for text overlaying your image are not as strict as the caption’s 2200 character maximum, it’s important to be mindful of how many words you use in your ad.
- Avoid using too much text because it can confuse users, prompting them to swipe away.
While text overlay and subtitles can add clarity to your Instagram Stories ads, the cramming or haphazard placement of text can ruin otherwise good creatives.
- Unless you’re directing people there to follow you, it’s generally a good idea to draw attention away from the ‘sponsored’ tag in the top, left corner of your ad.
- Generally speaking, you should focus on placing your text messaging toward the center and bottom of the screen.
- Avoid the appearance of being spammy or excessively promotional with text that emphasizes benefits over features will help users to better focus on your message and CTA.
- Because Instagram users scroll quickly through their feeds, your ad should immediately communicate to users what they get for swiping up. That means you should be simple and direct in both your headline and copy.
2. Alexander McQueen – Use the Luxury Strategy
In contrast with Daily Harvest, designer Alexander McQueen refrains from using text at all (except for its logo) in the powerful Story ad below.
Here, stylish women in bold, luxurious dresses walk through a muddy jungle. The lack of explanation creates an air of mystery:
Studies have shown that when information gaps exist, readers experience a sense of suspense, which makes them want more information.
Put more plainly: questions make people curious; curiosity leads people to click.
Instagram Stories’ disappearing nature is great for this; viewers won’t be able to bookmark your offerings for future scrutiny or reference unless they follow your CTA.
Pro Tip: If you’re aiming to target a more elite audience, don’t always give your customers what they expect.
Whether you’re targeting an elite audience or everyday people, find ways to make people curious, since it makes people want to learn more.
Instagram Stories Examples Bonus #2
Bonus example: Vogue’s above ad featured an attention-grabbing image along with the enticing headline to pique users’ interest and a “See More” call-to-action to encourage swipe ups.
More Pro Tips
Two ways to use the Luxury Strategy:
1️⃣ Create a Sense of Exclusivity.
Exclusivity is fundamental to the concept of luxury because it fits with high-end consumers’ desire to seek out things and experiences that are rare. Think about it: If everyone could afford to buy a Rolls-Royce, the auto brand would lose its appeal as something reserved for relatively few.
Almost any advertiser can create the “just for me” feeling of exclusivity with the following tactics:
- Creating offers that people can’t find anywhere else
- Offer to digitally deliver special offers or loyalty perks to repeat customers
- Limited-time offers for special products or services
- Finding ways to provide personalized experiences
2️⃣ Create Aspirational Ads.
One of the most effective ways generate engagement and solicit action from people is by creating ads with honest aspirational content that inspires, informs and educates Instagram users.
These days, brands who are viewed as the most authentic are the ones who are best able to tap into the emotions of consumers by depicting “relatable” lifestyles and values that connect on a deeper level with their target audience.
- Make them feel part of a special club, community or tribe, not a customer list
- Show them that you believe in some bigger than your product or service
- Give them a voice to offer feedback to help improve your offerings
- Empower them to make a difference by positively impacting the world
- Provide them with social currency, validation, and status
3. Follain – Master the Power of Silence
Since much of your audience will see your Instagram Stories in silent mode, you have to figure out a way to deliver your message visually.
The beauty brand Follain spells out their offer in plain text:
More than simply describing their products and pricing, however, Follain starts this Story with a question: “How Clean Is Your Beauty Routine?”
This Instagram Stories ad uses text in strategic and interactive ways to increase traffic and sales and this form of interactive content reaches out to the viewer, capturing their attention to drive additional web traffic.
While a lot of hype has been given to interactive content like quizzes, contests, and calculations — yours doesn’t need to be that complicated.
Pro Tip: Phrasing a question that accurately reflects and piques the curiosity of your target audience is proven to drive clicks.
Follain also incorporates a bold and specific CTA “Swipe up to claim,” pointing users in the direction of an enormous discount.
Create compelling headlines and ad content that speaks for itself (without sound), like posting questions that generate interest and engagement from your target audience.
Instagram Stories Examples Bonus #3
Although strategically using text is crucial, since 60% of all Instagram Stories ads are viewed with the sound turned on, audio can be as important as video.
As the above Pine-Sol ad shows, you can dial up the emotions with a catchy tune.
More Pro Tips
Be strong but silent.
When creating ads for a potentially sound-off environment, it’s crucial to create ads with strong visuals, headlines and text overlay that is compelling enough to convince people to swipe up. Do that with bold headlines and graphics, powerful imagery and animations that draw viewers in.
Tap the power of sound.
Whether using infectious music or interesting dialogue, sound done right can give your videos an additional layer of interest and help set the tone for your visuals.
Find ways to use captivating audio, whether a song, musical tune, voice-over or sound effects to draw your audience in and make your ads pop compared with others in their feeds.
4. CPK Frozen Pizza – Make Everyday Moments More Exciting
Boomerangs are another excellent tactic to make soundless videos more interesting.
Boomerangs start with your original clip, take a series of ten photos, and transform them into a whimsical short video.
The concept is similar to using GIFs on other social media platforms like Tumblr and Twitter; however, since Instagram doesn’t currently support .gif image files, Boomerang is your best alternative.
Here CPK Frozen Pizza animates the otherwise ordinary cheese grating process:
If you’ve got something that is cute, tantalizing, or even plain and ordinary, use Boomerang to loop it back and forth and enhance it through repetition.
Instagram Stories Examples Bonus #4
Ukrainian micro-influencer Oleksandra Vaskova used Boomerang to amp up the simple act of trying on a new outfit and taking a twirl, adding a touch of excitement that users will remember.
Boomerang is very popular among influencers and Instagram diehards.
If you’re trying to appeal to a Millennial audience, Boomerangs can bring that chill factor.
More Pro Tips
What you need to capitalize on Boomerang’s ability to effectively draw attention:
- Planning – Boomerang moments don’t have to happen spontaneously…just look like it. So plan your composition, angles, actions and lighting carefully. Record a few takes, then use the best one for your ad.
- Simplicity – Keep things simple and let the app to the work by bringing even the smallest movement to life, whether jumping, dancing or changing facial expression.
- Steadiness – Successful Boomerangs require a stationary filming position, so use a steady hand (or better yet a tripod or stable surface) so that moving objects stay in focus.
- Speed – Since Boomerang functions on the idea of filming an object forward, then repeat the action backward, be aware of speed when filming. Slow movements will not be as attractive when shown backward, while those that are too fast will appear frantic.
5. Noom – Use the Element of Surprise
Studies show that humans remember images based on how distinct they are. And using the surprise and delight strategy helps keeps people engaged.
Catch your viewers off-guard with an initial Story frame that is unexpected or out of place
In one of their best Instagram Stories ad, the healthy lifestyle brand Noom does it with a woman about to crush a dozen eggs with a hammer:
Strange, counterintuitive imagery can make a huge impact — and the Instagram Story format adds an even greater dimension to this, especially if you’re using video.
Create a surprising Instagram story by simply enlarging an already strange or whimsical moment by adding slow-mo, drawing out the drama.
Don’t be afraid to get creative; Instagram Stories themselves are an innovative format that is constantly evolving.
Instagram Stories Examples Bonus #5
Playing to Instagram’s strengths and crafting content that is also experimental will help bring your brand alive.
Samsung Indonesia added a touch of the unexpected to its Stories ad campaign by dropping its new smartphone into a fish aquarium to highlight the “water resistant” feature.
More Pro Tips
Surprise is one of the most powerful emotions you can leverage with Instagram Stories.
Using surprise with the feeling of joy (delight) is a winning ad combination because users are first hooked by an unanticipated event, then motivated to take action, even if that action is simply remembering your Instagram Story.
The feeling of joy has a huge influence on viewer engagement, video completion rates, message retention, and purchase intent — thus overall advertising success. The reason is people respond more intensely to happy events when they’re not expecting them.
In fact, a study by Marketing magazine in Canada found that 95% of respondents said surprise and delight experiences increased their positive perception of brands.
Try something new, bold, daring or completely out of the ordinary to take advantage of the power of surprise. And find ways to use movie-style suspense, plot twists and unexpected endings in your Instagram Stories.
6. Hopper – Offer an Easy-To-Get Reward
Interactive content is quickly gaining traction in social media marketing.
Contests, quizzes, and calculations have been highly successful in getting clicks, likes, and driving conversions. But your ad doesn’t need to be that complex.
Simply offering a tantalizing reward — one swipe away — can lead viewers to take that (easy) extra step.
In this case, the travel company Hopper offers a 40% discount to users that Install their app.
Paying a higher cost to acquire customers up front can be worth it in the long run as you jump-start your community. With 700 million monthly users in 2017, you have an enormous opportunity to reach a large set of potential customers.
Pro Tip: If you are a young company, potentially with an influx of funding, Instagram Stories are an excellent vehicle through which to offer promotions.
Instagram Stories Examples Bonus #6
London-based luxury shoemaker Dear Frances chose to showcase its footwear with Stories ads featuring beautiful images and text, highlighting a special deal and using a clear call-to-action urging customers to act to save money.
Consciously or subconsciously, people always ask the question, “What’s in it for me?” So, your ads should offer to solve problems or satisfy wants and needs.
More Expert Tips
Here are some easy-to-snag rewards you can offer Instagram users:
- Percentage of discounts
- Dollar value discounts
- Free shipping
- Free gifts
- Free downloads (ebooks, white papers, etc.)
- Email newsletter subscriptions
- Weekly or monthly discounts
- Pre-launch offers
- Holiday and seasonal deals
- Abandoned cart incentives
- Referral incentives
- First-time shopper offers
- Minimum purchase discounts
- Customer loyalty offers
- Retargeted promotions
- Influencer offers
- E-commerce promo codes
- In-store coupons
7. M.Gemi – Go Behind the Scenes
Instagram Stories are a great place to showcase behind-the-scenes footage of your company.
Although you’re allowed just 15 seconds, that’s enough space to provide an exciting sneak peek.
Here, the Italian shoe company M.Gemi uses the Story format to offer a window into their traditional manufacturing method.
If you’re a brand targeting consumers that are used to making online purchases, it’s difficult to distinguish yourself with just catchy colors and cute designs.
Using the Instagram Stories format to give people an insider’s look at your brand will add a new dimension to their understanding of your products and help users feel more connected and knowledgeable.
Beauty, fashion, and/or luxury brands, in particular, tend to thrive in this format.
Instagram Stories Examples Bonus #7
Calvin Klein took Instagram users backstage at the 2018 Emmy Awards with Stranger Things’ star Millie Bobby Brown.
Behind-the-scenes Instagram ads help humanize your brand and take your target audience to a place they otherwise would never see or experience.
More Pro Tips
Ways to take people behind the scenes:
- Shine a spotlight on your people. Whether it’s the business owner, company employees, your customers or your brand advocates, leverage the power of the human element to wow your audience.
- Show them what makes you tick. Do you have a special office environment, manufacturing process or support an important social cause? Use it to show and tell how you stand out from the competition.
- Highlight your products or services. Use interesting storytelling and great visuals to showcase your offerings and generate interest with history, methods, events that show your uniqueness and authenticity.
- Give them a sneak peek. Creating or building something new and different? Partnering with a special or well-known partner on a project? Tell your audience about it with compelling visual content.
8. Postmates – FOMO and Instagram Stories: the Perfect Pair
Like Sponsored Snaps, the disappearing nature of Instagram Stories adds an extra level of excitement and urgency, prompting viewers to act before opportunities vanish.
For marketers, Instagram Stories provide a unique chance to achieve campaign goals quickly.
Postmates exemplifies a twist on this with its seven-day delivery credit offer:
In addition to the short window of time in which this post will play, Postmates uses further FOMO marketing techniques to present an enticing, short-lived opportunity, which is a particularly effective strategy if your brand targets a younger crowd.
Research shows that a staggering 69% of millennials feel a sense of loss when they can’t attend some sort of event.
Increase the pressure to click by offering your audience deals they can’t refuse within an already immediate format!
Instagram Stories Examples Bonus #8
To promote its new Anthem release, game maker EA Sports capitalized on the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) by offering Instagram users the opportunity to be the first to try the new action role-playing game — giving them the feeling that they would become members of an exclusive club.
More Pro Tips
A great strategy is to use time-based or situational offers to create a sense of urgency.
For example, mentioning a sale or special “for a limited time only,” “available to the first 50 customers,” or “use promo code BUYIT within 24 hours for a 30% discount” gets consumers’ attention, prompting them to grab their wallet and order right away.
Even if you’re not advertising a specific offer, CTAs that inspire urgency give people the feeling that they could be missing out on something special.
For instance, using “Try It Free Today” or “Call Now” is more effective than “Get a Free Trial” or “Contact Us Anytime.”
Effective words and phrases for creating urgency:
- Don’t Miss Out
- Limited Time
- Today Only
- One Day Only
- Final Sale
- Last Chance
- Never Again
- Don’t Delay
- Now or Never
- Offer Expires On…
9. Shein – If You Got a Lot To Show, Highlight Your Story
Stories are also a great venue for showcasing a series of products and/or a single product from multiple angles.
SheIn, a women’s fashion brand, uses this Story to flip through a series of new swimsuit prints:
Instead of making a user swipe through a carousel ad themselves, the Story format moves through a series of images automatically.
SheIn is quickly able to show the breadth of its patterns before the user moves on.
Instagram recently released the Highlights feature for Stories that allows brands to keep certain Stories visible at the top of their profiles after the 24-hour window has elapsed.
Highlights for Stories are a great tool if you have several posts that you want to organize for your audience.
Above, SheIn uses it to categorize several of its products into “Spring” and “Sales”.
If your users are looking for specific products, Highlights makes the process easier for them — and allows you to showcase your best material.
Instagram Stories Examples Bonus #9
In the above ad, home goods site Wayfair used a series of overlays to show their bold collection of area rugs, punctuated with a “Swipe up to Shop” call-to-action.
More Pro Tips
Other ways to display a number of products when you use Instagram for e-commerce:
- Use Carousel Ads.
Three-card carousels are a great way to highlight multiple products or collections. Each card can feature a specific product or group of products with call-to-action (CTA) buttons (like “Shop Now”) that linked through to the relevant product pages on your eCommerce website, where visitors can purchase the items.
- Use Collection Ads.
This format makes it easy to showcase a range of products in a way that users can easily discover, browse and purchase them. Creatives start with an enticing image or engaging video on top, and feature several product images underneath. The format allows a full-screen Canvas experience with multiple tabs that showcase different groups of products. Tapping on individual products can take users that product’s detail page on your website.
10. A Quiet Place – Show Your Audience Heroes They Can Relate To
Particularly when working with the video format in Instagram Stories, with the compressed time frame, it can be tempting to just flash your most exciting moments across the screen.
However, it’s important to be strategic about how you weave your narrative to avoid confusion.
One tactic is to show your audience heroes or figures they can relate to. This is proven to help viewers emotionally connect with your post and mirror the reactions of the characters.
Do you want to elicit excitement? Drama? Desire? The film “A Quiet Place” does all three by zooming in on the expressions of its main characters — leading viewers to want to click to watch more.
Master the art of storytelling in your Instagram Stories to enter the minds of your customers and inspire them to take action!
Additional successful tactics include employing common story arcs and even hiding information.
Instagram Stories Examples Bonus #10
CoolSculpting, a non-surgical fat-reduction procedure, targeted men interested in golf, weight loss and fitness by featuring pro golfer Ian Poulter with a lighthearted campaign that their audience could identify with.
More Pro Tips
Familiarity and relatability are everything when it comes to activating and retaining your target audience.
By using recognizable faces, whether celebrities, influencers or everyday people your audience can relate to, you can create valuable connections between your offerings and Instagram users.
How to make hero marketing work for you:
- Start with a solid foundation by first getting insights into who your audience is and what motivates them
- Choose heroes that best fit your brand with influencer-finding tools like BuzzSumo or Upfluence
- Constantly measure and tweak your hero campaigns to keep them fresh and put your ads in front of new audiences
What Makes A Good Instagram Stories Ad?
In the end, a great Instagram Story ad compels the user to act quickly.
You can achieve this through clear text directions; delivering a slew of lovely products in rapid succession; creating a sense of intrigue and mystery to elevate your brand; using keen narrative techniques, or simply making everyday moments more exciting with Boomerang loops and other video editing tools.
When plotting your Instagram Stories strategy, it’s a good idea to take a look at some great examples of successful Instagram ads and to be aware of these common Instagram ad mistakes brands make (and learn how to stay clear of them).
You have a range of creative tricks at your fingertips to take advantage of this fast-evolving and increasingly popular ad format to distinguish yourself for better results.
What’s your next Instagram story? And which one you liked the most in our selection? Let us know what you think, leave a comment!