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People are catching on to ads on social media – so the only ads that *work* are the ones that appear genuine, unique, and natural.

This is especially true on Instagram stories (which is basically the NEW newsfeed; you’ve probably noticed).

In this episode, I’m joined by our Senior Strategist, Taylor, and we’re answering a host of your questions about Instagram stories ads! Taylor takes the lead for team trainings about this exact topic, so she’s full of helpful tips + tricks for you, too.

Here’s a few things we cover…

  • How to use IG stories ads as an influencer
  • How often and what to post organically, to boost your profile “rating”
  • And how to tell a *story* with IG stories ads (i.e. carousel ads!)
  • Tune in right now, and then head over to Instagram to share your takeaways! Tag @emilyhirsh for a shoutout.

Key Points:
[1:41] Act natural.
[2:51] It’s the *new* newsfeed.
[3:45] Don’t post on Instagram every day. Do this instead.
[5:06] Your profile is “rated” by your organic engagement.
[6:36] “What can I do if I don’t have 10k followers?”
[7:20] Carousel ads: How to tell a *story* with IG stories…

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Episode Transcripts:  

Emily Hirsh: I’m Emily Hirsh, and this is The Hirsh Marketing Underground Podcast. Attention innovators, influencers, creators, and game changing entrepreneurs, your internet domination begins right here.

We are the powerhouse marketers that you’ve been looking for. You’re already making waves in your industry, and we’re here to help amplify those waves of change by creating a connection that cuts through the noise. We take everything you’ve built inside your zone of genius and find its audience. With killer strategy and laser eye for impact, we launch multimillion dollar campaigns and skyrocket your reach online.

And now we are doing the unheard of. We’re unveiling everything we’ve learned, taking you behind the scenes with the Hirsh Marketing team, and giving away the secrets to our clients’ success. Stay tuned for top converting strategy, ROI reports, and insider knowledge that you won’t find anywhere else. You’re changing the world, and we’re the team to help.

All right, in today’s episode, I have a new special guest, Taylor, from my team. She is a Senior Strategist, and has actually been on Team Hirsh [for] over a year. She started out as an Ads Manager, and she now runs an ads team of four Ads Managers, and is our amazing Senior Strategist.

I brought her on today to talk specifically about Instagram stories, and that’s it. We’re going to talk about both ads and organic, a little bit organic Instagram stories, and Taylor had dominated this on her team, and actually taught our other ads teams some strategies. Thanks Taylor, for joining us.

Taylor: Yay, I’m so excited to be here.

Emily Hirsh: Yay. Let’s just start with, kind of, what you’re seeing working and not working with Instagram stories, and go from there.

Taylor: I think across the board what we’ve really seen is, people are catching onto ads, and the trend of ads, and what they look like. For us, it’s really important to position [ourselves] as organic as possible, while still being a sponsored post. Instagram stories are a really good way to do that, because a lot of our clients do them anyways.

A lot of the times, if you’re writing on an Instagram story, or making one yourself, we have them save it and then send it to us, that works really well, because it looks so natural in the feed. A lot of static image ads on Instagram story, paired with videos, in a carousel ad. Anything that looks super natural.

We’re seeing a fade from an image that says, “Free webinar, sign up.” People don’t want that, that’s not scroll-stopping. As opposed to hitting out a pain point, or having a really cool video where you’re grabbing someone’s attention before pitching, “Sign up for my free thing,” or, “Grab your free download,” is really working.

Emily Hirsh: That’s awesome, and that makes total sense. I mean, that’s basically what we talk about with ads, is, how can you make it connect with your audience so that it doesn’t stand out as this ad.

I think zooming back just a little bit, too, Instagram story ads are dominating right now, because in my opinion, I think that people are consuming and watching Instagram stories more than they’re even scrolling the feed. Stories are the new feed. If you’re not testing Instagram story ads in general, you definitely need to be.

One of the other things you guys brought up on one of our team calls that I thought was interesting was, you’re seeing a lot of success with Instagram story ads for lead gen and webinars, but not as much [for] sales, is that right?

Taylor: Yeah, I think it’s because you have to really be sold on a sales ad, and you need a little bit more context, whereas Instagram stories, it’s more scarce in what you can actually fit in an image or in a 15-second video clip, because there’s more limitations. But it’s a really, really inexpensive way to generate leads versus a Facebook ad or something like that.

Like you were saying before, I think people are really hanging out on Instagram stories, because that’s more what’s dictating the algorithm now. Something, we can talk about this, too, is, we tell our clients it’s not great to post on Instagram every single day, because what ends up happening is you’re competing with yourself on the feed.

In terms of the feed, we would want you to post every two or three days, but show up on stories daily, because that’s where people [are]. That’s where you’re going to get more organic reach, and especially sponsored ads is critical to have there in that placement.

Emily Hirsh: Yeah. The cool thing is, Facebook, organic reach is totally gone. You can’t even get any organic reach, but with stories you really can still, even a little bit with Instagram posts and hashtags, but Instagram stories and the algorithm is super in your favor, so you should be doing them every day. It just creates a whole new level of connection, because you’re sharing totally unpolished, behind the scenes stuff with people.

Especially as an influencer, that’s what’s going to get people to connect with you, and then ultimately buy from you, but build that trust factor. Show up on Instagram [stories] daily, regardless of if it’s a promotion or anything, just put the content out there, and then pair that with ads, and you’re going to be massively setting yourself up for success.

Since we brought up the organic piece, let’s talk about that a little bit, because I know you guys have talked to me about how, when you use the features in Instagram stories and get that interaction, it does so much better. Tell me about that a little bit.

Taylor: Anytime you can really use anything that Instagram gives you, do it, because it will help you in the algorithm. There’s polls, or questions, or a swipe feature, and filters. Anything you can incorporate, we recommend doing, because that will definitely boost your engagement.

Like you were saying before, it doesn’t have to be a promotional post every single time. What people really like on Instagram stories is, how do you get ready for work, or what do you do in the morning, or do you have pets, or are you in a relationship. People really want to see your more personal side of things on stories. Anything you can snap a quick picture of, or take a quick video, or even a Boomerang, or the Super Zoom. There’s so many features to just highlight your day that don’t take a lot of time, that really help your audience get to know you.

Emily Hirsh: Yeah, and with everything in Facebook’s and Instagram’s algorithms, they’re favoring that interaction. If you can do polls and you’re getting people to engage, or you’re getting replies to your story, or votes, they’re going to really favor you both organically and when it comes time for ads. I think people kind of misunderstand that, but your profile’s rated. If you have really good organic reactions and reach, then that will help your ads. We see that on Facebook and Instagram, but I think this, specifically for Instagram stories is important.

One thing that just came to my mind, that I know people are going to ask, because I get asked this all the time, is, “I don’t have 10,000 followers, so I can’t run ads to the swipe up.” I want to say on here, so everybody knows, because a lot of people don’t know that, it doesn’t matter. You can still run ads, sponsored Instagram story ads, as a placement, and have the call to action … like, the swipe up will be the call to action. I’ve had that confusion a lot.

Even if you don’t have 10,000 followers, you can run the ad, and people can swipe up, and they will see the ad and be able to do that and go to wherever the destination is that you have linked to. Wanted to make sure we said that, because that’s a very common question. We forget those things since you guys are in Ads Manager all day, and it’s so obvious to you guys.

What was the document … You just shared, Taylor just shared with our team, our other ads teams, some really great information about Insta stories. Then on one of our recent huddles, another Ads Manager was like, “Oh my gosh, I started implementing what Taylor shared, and it’s working so well for my clients.” That was really cool. What was that, that you shared with them, and what were the specifics in there?

Taylor: So cool. So we have a lot of Insta stories right now, with a lot of movement. We like to incorporate movement, and video, and static images, so it’s not just something mundane and complacent. We’ve been testing carousel. A carousel ad is where you can put three different components of creative in one ad, and when people see it in the feed, it’ll come up like you’re tapping on organic, and it would come up [as] something else.

We’re doing a mix of an image, something like, “You’ll never believe it,” or, “I have the secret to your X, Y, and Z.” Then the second piece of the carousel is a video, so it’s the client actually speaking to the thing that they were just reading about, and then the third image is like a gif. We have a really cool automated moving image that says, “Swipe up to save your seat,” or, “Swipe up to sign up,” or whatever it is.

There’s really layers, which keeps people engaged, too. It’s not just, “Here’s someone talking for 45 seconds,” or, “Here’s 45 seconds of a video,” it’s different visual elements. I think that keeps people hanging on a little bit longer, too.

Emily Hirsh: So good, so you’re telling a story with the three clicks…

Taylor: With the stories, yes!

Emily Hirsh: So good, yes, that’s amazing. It’s really just coming down to thinking, how do you capture that attention? If you can get them to watch the full 45 seconds of an Instagram story clip, that’s awesome, and you’ve made that touch point, started to build that trust and that visibility, and then also obviously getting them to take action.

I’ve also seen, I think, us try in a few accounts, that was cool, of just the call to action to reply to the Instagram story, and then running that as an ad. If you’re doing higher ticket applications, you could … if your goal is to start conversations, you could definitely use that as a strategy, too.

I think it’s like, how do you take what you could do organically and then turn that sponsored into ads, and really use that strategically. Bottom line, you should be doing Instagram stories, and running them as ads, and using that as a placement. If you’re not, you’re missing out.

One mistake I see people do across the board with Instagram ads is they will just select it as a placement in Facebook, and then it will show up as like a Facebook image in the feed. Definitely don’t do that. Everybody will ignore that.

Taylor: You can’t see me right now if you’re listening to this, but rolling my eyes for sure at that one! Like you said, the algorithm is really favoring meaningful conversations. That’s literally what Facebook came out to say. If you’re posting something that has a call to action, or if you’re just posting something organically and someone is even giving you the clapping hands or the heart, it’s not really a direct reply, but it’s important for influencers to respond to those, even if you’re just like, “Thanks for the love,” or sending back an emoji. Don’t leave those unnoticed, because that helps build the meaningful conversations.

Instagram can track how long are you conversing, how long are you typing, how long is the back and forth going. It really starts to measure that and say, “These two people like each other, now let me find more people like that to show your content to along the way.”

Emily Hirsh: Yeah. It all is such a complex algorithm that people don’t realize how complex it really is.

Bringing this in, let’s just summarize number one, do Instagram story ads, make sure you create that specific content so it’s sized for Instagram stories, so it fits that. You can do 15 to 45 second clips in one ad for Instagram story.

Then, using Instagram stories so that you’re creating the ads so they’re made for Instagram. They’re highly connecting, very organic-seeming. You can even make an Instagram story, download that picture, and then use that for your ad by putting the different features on there. Then just prioritizing that connection and getting people to engage.

Is there anything else that we missed here, to share?

Taylor: I would just say, what we see a lot is, we follow all of our clients on social media, to make sure we know what they’re up to and what their content looks like, so we can stay super cohesive. A lot of the times we will see something that’s gold, and we’ll send an email to our clients and be like, “We want to use this, it’s so powerful,” but they would never think that it could be an ad component, or run as an ad.

Anytime that you are making stories, I would just recommend saving them for marketing later, because a lot of the times they are super powerful to use, especially like I said, if you’re drawing on them, or using the polls, and using the features, they can still be uploaded as an ad later.

Emily Hirsh: Yeah, that’s such a good point. That is just a testament … I don’t tell my team, “You have to follow our clients on social media and stalk them,” but that is what our team really does. We honestly, genuinely care that much. That’s so awesome. I think yeah, people have that kind of disconnect of like, “It’s an ad, so it’s a different piece of content,” but you can tie in what you would just naturally put on your social media and on your Instagram stories as the ads. You will see so much response and success from that, so that’s an amazing point.

Thank you so much for sharing that with us and all that, you are amazing. Our team is so lucky to have you, and our clients are so lucky to have you.

Taylor: Yay, thank you so much.

Emily Hirsh: Yeah, and lastly, if you want to apply to work with Team Hirsh, as you can tell we are so awesome, because we will not only do your ads, but follow you on social media. Go to HelpMyStrategy.com, and you can apply to work with us.

Thank you so much, Taylor. See everybody later.

Thanks for listening to the Hirsh Marketing Underground Podcast. Go behind the scenes of multi-million dollar ad campaigns and strategies, dive deep into The Hirsh Process, and listen to our most popular episodes over at HirshMarketingUnderground.com.

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