Instagram celebrated the first anniversary of IG Stories earlier this month. In one year, the platform has become one of the most important online channels for brands to reach customers as more than 70% of IG users follow a brand page and 22% of shoppers have regularly used Instagram to browse products.

With 250 million daily active users, Instagram Stories has become a new favourite tool for marketers as half of the businesses on the social channel have produced a story in the last month alone.

Its appeal comes from the contrast of Instagram’s two functions; the polished image shots and the “raw” side of the capture process.

“Within the same platform now we’ve got this lovely juxtaposition that allows you to tell a richer story, but maybe [providing] a more authentic, or more earthy experience alongside the more polished core visuals,” said Hugh Pile, CMO L’Oreal Western Europe.

Instagram Stories Brands

L’Oreal’s post on Instagram Stories

However, with so many advertising channels now available to brands, it is important to know what is the right content to produce on Instagram Stories for success.

The path to conversions

There are five main categories of activity that brands can encourage users to do with the feature in the ads for Instagram Stories, but shopping is the most popular objective for brands as 59% of the ads Stories produced since its launch in March linked to a page where the products featured in the ads were available online.
Instagram Stories Brands


“Instagram has integrated ecommerce handoff technology into Stories, namely swipe-up links leading to brand sites, linked influencer tags, and checkout buttons that support brand efforts to move beyond engagement metrics and render their live video content shoppable.” – L2

Brands also use Stories as a gateway or teaser to drive traffic to more elaborate content on platforms like Youtube or Facebook where shareability and engagement are more likely with the user.

Product promotion is still the most popular type of content in Stories, which accounted for 36% of content produced by brands, followed by ‘behind-the-scene’ pieces, and influencer endorsement.

Instagram Stories Brands

Video has also increasingly become a more effective media format that drives online shopping – 34% of Indonesian youth were influenced by video ads to shop online.

With more tools available for brands to engage consumers, especially in a market like Southeast Asia where online marketing channels are dominantly Google and Facebook, it’s time for brands to get more creative.

Known to a growing number of marketers, Instagram isn’t simply for documenting lunches or #throwbackthursdays, the social media platform is also a tool and platform for ecommerce.

And it’s relevancy to retail increases as Instagram released a function earlier in the year that allows ads within Instagram Stories – the social channel’s Snapchat clone.

Instagram has officially started selling ads through Facebook’s Ads Manager and Power Editor to allow brands to display ads within a user’s Stories feed that links out to a third party site.

The new direct response feature basically allows brands to allocate CTAs in their ads, directing a potential customer to their ecommerce page or to find out more about the brand.

The ads can be used to achieve a few objectives:

  • View the video
  • Visit a website
  • Install an app
  • Complete a specified conversion task i.e. adding a product to a shopping cart

How have brands used IG Stories overseas?

Dairy Queen

For its ad on Instagram Stories, Dairy Queen promoted its Blizzard ice cream using the caption: “Served upside down, or the next one free”.

Dairy Queens used Stories to target its demographic on the social media platform

Consumers targeted were between the ages 18 – 34 and depending on their interests, they would be targeted with different flavours of the ice cream. For example, those interested in carnivals were shown the Funnel Cake Blizzard.  

The campaign reached over 20 million people in the US and its effectiveness was tested using ‘ad recall’ tests – where a sample of respondents are exposed to an ad and at a later point in time asked if they remember.

Dairy Queen noted an 18 point lift in advert recall among 25 – 34 year olds, a group that responds more effectively with online advertising.

Ben & Jerry’s

Ben & Jerry’s specifically used Instagram Stories to promote its new product, Pint Slices, to target individuals in the US as the product was only available there.

Both Dairy Queen and Ben & Jerry’s took to Instagram Stories to promote new products and to increase conversions offline

The campaign drove up ad recall by 14 points, brand awareness by 6 points and created a 2 point increase in purchase intent among potential customers, according to Ben & Jerry’s Nielsen brand effect study.

Apart from ice cream brands, other companies such as e-payment device SumUp tested out the function.

SumUp’s Stories ad

The new ad function is currently being employed by a handful of brands in the US, and is gradually becoming more popular in Southeast Asia.

Considering the platform’s popularity in the region – Thailand has 9.1 million Instagram users, Indonesia has 28 million – brands have an opportunity to speak directly to consumers, without targeted consumers even following their page. Here are a few examples of what brands are doing in the region:

ZAP Clinic Indonesia

The image lists out promotions and a flash sale, and at the bottom provides a CTA: “See More” that takes curious visitors to its site.

KFC Thailand

By clicking on “Learn More”, customers are taken to KFC Thailand’s home delivery page, where a simple click of “Order Now” will have KFC delivered to the user’s home address in under an hour.

KFC Thailand had a clear CTA for Instagram users

As marketing channels become clogged with brand content, ads on IG Stories create a way for companies to better reach their already loyal consumers through content – especially seeing as viewers are anywhere from 64-85% more likely to buy after watching a product video.