Following research into the performance of thousands of Stories on its platform, Instagram has released insights on what makes them so effective.

According to Facebook IQ, 58% of Story viewers become more interested in a brand after watching them featured in a Story. With 500 million monthly active users, Stories are an unmissable opportunity for anyone looking to connect with a social audience. Whether you’re a brand creating organic content to keep your followers engaged, or a marketer generating Story ads as part of a media strategy, here’s how to make your creative shine.

Look and feel

Facebook was clear that creative content can make or break a Story’s performance. 56% of the brand’s sales lift can be attributed to the quality of the creative, so investing in high-quality assets is a must. Once you have, there are tips and tricks to optimise that content for Stories.

Tip: Grab attention with speed

People are consuming Stories content faster than any other mobile format. The habitual scrolling of the main feed has been replaced by tapping through Story frames at breakneck speed. Get your viewers attention with an impactful first frame, then use speed as a creative element to maintain it. Movement is crucial in the first few seconds of a post, particularly, for those with the sound off. The post needs physical action to grab attention and prove it’s worth watching.

A fast pace is not only attention-grabbing, but mindful of your time-poor consumer. Get straight to the point and communicate your message quickly and clearly. Facebook’s advice is to keep an ad ‘as short as it can be and as long as it needs to be’.

Tip: Enhance with sound

Adding sound is another effective tactic. While you can’t be sure that your customer is watching with sound, you should be prepared if they are. The more senses an ad engages, the harder it is to ignore. According to Facebook, 80% of Stories with voice-over or music drove better lower-funnel results than ads without.

Tip: Use text strategically

Facebook reported mixed results when it came to text overlays. While some helped land a key message, others overwhelmed the audience. Keep text to a minimum so it’s easy to read and consider its placement carefully. It shouldn’t detract from the focal point. 

Brand and product

Instagram is constantly evolving its Story functions to make it an attractive option for brands. Features like ‘swipe up’ and shoppable tags make it easier to convert potential customers the moment inspiration strikes.

Tip: Begin with your brand

Due to the speed users go through Stories, Facebook found that top performing ads integrate branding and key messages at the start. Keep your hero product, ambassador or logo front and centre in your frame to show the viewer what is important. Making brand elements unmissable at the beginning of your creative will assist with recall. 

Then keep to a consistent brand theme throughout. Content should feel in keeping with previous and existing content. This includes using similar colour palettes, fonts and logos. The viewer should be able to identify the brand immediately.

Tip: Call your audience to action

There are plenty of Instagram features available that help drive conversion. Maximise the potential of social ads by adding calls to action, the ‘swipe up’ function, or shoppable tags to encourage users to take action the moment inspiration strikes.

In Facebook’s study, there was an 89% chance of campaigns that emphasised a CTA (like ‘swipe up to shop’) driving more conversions than those that did not. Experiment with creative elements that make your CTA prominent and clear.

Format and execution

We all know that content should be mobile-first, but a video shared in Stories should be optimised for that specific channel too.

Tip: Split your Stories into scenes

According to Facebook, top performing ads have shorter, more succinct scenes. Try experimenting with bite-sized and fast-paced narratives to see if your completion rates improve. 

Tip: Mix static with motion

Campaigns with a mixture of static image and animation have an 86% chance of driving higher value for lower funnel metrics than video or static-only assets, according to Facebook. Consider multiple formats in your creative where possible. 

Boomerangs or gifs are easy and high-impact ways to bring life to your Stories. Even static images can be transformed into more eye-catching moving images with animated elements. An already engaging flatlay, edited to show a product rolling in and out of shot, is a great example of this.

Facebook pointed out that, despite these learnings, there is no single formula for a universally impactful Instagram Story. What’s right for you will vary on your brand and audience. Trial these tips and keep a close eye on your Instagram Business analytics so you can gauge the impact they are having to further refine your strategy.

Aaron Brooks

Aaron Brooks


Aaron Brooks, Co-Founder of Vamp.