Instagram has taken hold of society on a global scale, registering 1 billion total users in 2018, 500 million of which use the app daily. With its effort to cash in on the video market, the social media platform first debuted video capabilities in June 2013. Fast forward five years and it launched IGTV (Instagram TV). In between these two crucial timestamps, the photo- and video-sharing app launched Instagram Stories, a feature closely resembling rival Snapchat’s Stories.
A closer look at Instagram’s user numbers over the course of its existence shows impressive growth directly following the release of Instagram Stories—the full screen, vertical photo- and video-sharing feature that enables brands to immerse their audience in a unique business story.
Hovering at 500 million users when Stories launched in August 2016, the count shot up to 1 billion in just under two years. Another astonishing statistic points to Instagram Stories’ authority, as 40% of the platform’s billion users now post Stories daily.
As more brands pour dollars into non-traditional advertising options, many have begun to invest in a strong social media presence. Brands like Walmart, Wendy’s, Subaru, Starwood Hotels, and a host of consumer brands have turned to the all-powerful Instagram to elevate their social relevance.
With visual content pervading the social media fabric, Instagram’s relevance becomes ever more important. Instagram is especially fundamental for brands trying to reach an audience that’s eager to explore engaging content and receptive of sponsored content.
Currently, a third of the most-viewed Instagram Stories come from business accounts, with 80% of Instagram users following businesses. Suffice to say, brands have a massive opportunity to get in front of an audience eager to engage with the businesses they’re loyal to.
Instagram serves as a prime marketplace for businesses to work with social media influencers, and the Instagram influencer marketing industry alone is expected to reach $2 billion by 2019. While 400 million people use Instagram Stories daily, a third of Instagram’s total users claim they become interested in a product they saw on Stories. Need we say more?
To complement Instagram Stories ads, brands are pairing up with social media gurus who know how to leverage the high-reach of Instagram Stories and design Stories with flare. These Stories are more off-the-cuff and less self-promotional than Stories designed by businesses themselves.
Below are seven tips on how to create impactful sponsored Instagram Stories with social media influencers, as well as how to measure their success:
Instagram Stories offer the ability to drive immediate traffic without leaving the app, along with providing powerful insights into what your audience wants.
Here are seven ways to ensure sponsored Instagram Stories success:
Before launching a sponsored Instagram Stories collaboration, brands should ensure the influencers they work with post solid Stories on a consistent basis. Brands should only select influencers whom they’ve tracked and followed to confirm they have high-quality Stories regularly.
This vetting process acts as a safeguard against inexperienced influencers who hardly use Stories and therefore don’t have a following via that channel. Likewise, your brand shouldn’t partner with an influencer who produces subpar content that wouldn’t resonate with your target audience.
What Should Brands Pay Attention To When Finding An Influencer Who Produces Top-Notch Instagram Stories?
If interested in a set of influencers, be sure to watch their Stories to gauge:
“Pro Tip: In addition to the above qualifications, brands should try to work with influencers who have already created sponsored Instagram Stories. Those who haven’t run the risk of underperforming and not sitting well with their audience.”
Once you’ve found a set of influencers who have demonstrated high-quality and frequent Instagram Stories, the next step is to lay out formatting expectations for the sponsored content.
An Instagram Story consists of segments, meaning it contains multiple photos and videos that appear within a “slideshow” format. This is usually a combination of both photo and video components. To get the most out of a sponsored Instagram Story, we recommend at least three segments. Anything less might not be impactful enough to drive awareness or user action – it’s too easy for users to swipe past a single segment.
“Pro Tip: Instagram Stories last 24 hours, so a sequence of sponsored Story segments from one influencer should not be uploaded with large intervals in between. As suggested by its name, Stories should be seamless, not disjointed. Ask influencers to be reasonably timely with their posting schedule.“
In addition to clarifying how many segments the Instagram Story should include, your brand needs to discuss how your product or service will be presented. Influencers should have sufficient time getting to know your product or service. Likewise, you should be proactive in providing information on product/service details, highlights, or any other important information regarding your brand. Be sure you’re available to answer their questions so that you ensure the most accurate information is being presented. For instance, should the influencer mention any new product features, particular benefits of your product, special promotional deals, or causes attached to any purchases?
“Pro Tip: Brands should never have total control over what influencers say about their product or service. Within reason, your brand can provide helpful insights or certain promotional elements for them to weave into their Stories, but influencers should have full creative freedom over how they design their Story to maintain authenticity and effectiveness.”
While influencers will have control over the creative process, it’s not out of the question for brands to provide assistance. There are several Instagram Stories tools that allow businesses and influencers to create templates with a consistent style and aesthetic. Even if your brand doesn’t plan to use these tools, it doesn’t hurt to share them with influencers who will be designing unique Stories.
Free Tools To Design & Create Instagram Stories
Pro Tip: While branding is important for your brand, influencers have their own branding style. Templatized Stories are more useful for Business Stories, but certain elements can be transferred to influencer sponsored Instagram Stories.
Instagram Stories are meant to immerse the target audience in order to build brand lift and awareness, so it’s imperative sponsored Instagram Stories include a clear call-to-action (CTA). While communicating with the influencers about your campaign goals, be sure to inform them what CTA to include in order to drive appropriate user action. A sponsored Instagram Story that ends abruptly without next steps for the user will likely vanish within the saturated Instagram environment.
Available to verified accounts and business accounts with more than 10,000 followers, links within Stories enable influencers to point users in the right direction. Typically, the final frame of the sponsored Story includes a CTA to “Swipe Up” for more information on whatever product or service information the influencer just previewed. Examples of “Swipe Up” CTAs include:
In all these examples, the CTA link drives traffic directly to an optimal landing page without the users leaving the app.
“Pro Tip: The “Swipe Up” feature, also known as the “See More” call-to-action at the bottom of an Instagram Story, is a seamless way to direct the influencers’ followers to your website without forcing them to abandon their Instagram experience.”
In order to measure the success of your influencer sponsored Instagram Stories, incorporate trackable links, like Bitly links. By using these shortened links, your brand can have influencer partners utilize these links within their “Swipe Up” or “See More” CTAs for easy performance tracking. Bitly links allow your brand to measure click stats so you can determine how effective particular influencers are in driving engagement and traffic. This is particularly useful when your brand’s objective is to drive click-through rate (CTR).
“Pro Tip: If you want to add a campaign tracking code, like a Google Analytics UTM code, to your Bitly link, be sure to append them to the long, original version of your URL before shortening to a Bitly link.”
While Bitly links show how many people click on the influencers’ links, it’s also important to know how many users opened or viewed the Instagram Stories at all. Your brand can reach out to the influencers individually to request screenshots showing the reach and impressions per Story and/or segment. This will allow you to understand just how many of the influencers’ total followers opened the Stories, and how many remained engaged by viewing each segment.
“Pro Tip: Ask for these insights before the influencers launch their Stories so they’re aware what type of data you want. Keep in mind that full reporting won’t be available until 24 hours after initial Stories upload.”