Gone are the days of 30 or 60-second commercials consumers watch in between prime time TV shows. With streaming, DVR and other on-demand capabilities, we live in a world where ads are ignored if they don’t grab the viewer’s attention within the first two seconds. The best way to capture your audience today? Insta Stories – a feature on Instagram that allows users, brands and businesses to post photos and videos that vanish after 24 hours.
While this may sound like a Snapchat imitation, the supporting tools and overall experience of the feature are much different. Insta Stories (IG Stories) is delivered as a natural extension of the already highly popular Instagram platform. The feature brings context and new forms of interactivity to the feeds of photo and video people are already engaging with. But the greatest distinction is the guaranteed audience reach that comes with the feature. IG Stories aren’t affected by the newsfeed algorithms that dictate what photos and videos followers can see, meaning that all newly posted stories will always show up at the top of your followers’ story feeds. The expanded audience reach is matched by a collection of other defining features, from the advanced targeting and analytics of the integrated Facebook Ads Manager – to a suite of “stickers” that allow brands to incorporate time, location, weather, countdown clocks, music and more into their story ads.
As a growing number of CPG brands begin to experiment with the feature, Metrix Lab, a global market research company, conducted a study of 30 different IG Story ads run by CPGs to identify the drivers of performance. The top performing ads had several key attributes in common – they instantly grabbed attention, were easy to understand, fit the advertised brand and included audio. Three CPGs creating ads that are effectively delivering on these IG Story essentials are Unilever, Mondelēz and Nestlé.
Below are several real-world examples of how these leaders are utilizing the app in innovative ways that are redefining brand storytelling and promotional engagement.
Building Brand Awareness
Ben & Jerry’s, a progressive sub-brand of Unilever, was one of the first consumer brands to take advantage of IG Stories. On their profile, not only is it likely that you see them posting to their story every day, but they have four distinct “Highlights.” A Highlight is another name for a curated story collection – or archive – of photos and video that fall under a user-defined category. Highlights are displayed as icons on the top of your page to emphasize different facets of your brand content. In Ben & Jerry’s case, their Highlights consist of: Flavors, Fun, Recipes and Value.
While ‘Flavors’ allows followers to explore new product releases and ‘Fun’ offers quizzes and humorous flavor name fails – ‘Value’ is being boldly leveraged to promote Ben & Jerry’s brand causes and encourage followers to participate. In using their ‘Values’ Highlight to share humanitarian, social and political views, Ben & Jerry’s is able to effectively shape and communicate their brand identity to followers, showing that there brand is much bigger than products. They are strategically using the feature to make their followers feel less like consumers and more like members of a community of shared purpose.
From ads about their commitment to renewable energy to promotion of their Pecan Resist ice cream flavor—a flavor created specifically to demonstrate their resistance to the Trump administration, Ben & Jerry’s isn’t holding back in using IG Stories as an activism vehicle. The success of their bold brand awareness efforts was evidenced in Facebook’s 2017 Q2 Report, which found that an awareness campaign employing the brand’s Instagram story saw a 14-point lift in ad recall and 2-point lift in purchase intent for a new product.
Optimizing Campaign Conversion
Oreo is the 21st century’s best-selling cookie, but even with this popularity, the famed cookie brand understands the challenge of trying to stimulate website traffic and product excitement. The brand found their solution in the “swipe up” feature of Instagram, which allows followers to instantly access a website link attached to a story by simply swiping up on their phone.
Oreo utilized the Swipe Up feature with their “Oreo Dunk Challenge” promotion, for which they created a series of IG story video advertisements targeted to followers between 18-34 years old. The ads encouraged followers to participate in an online “Dunk Challenge,” where fans were inspired to post images and videos of themselves dunking Oreos in creative ways and using the campaign hashtag for a chance to win a trip to Barcelona and other prizes. The global campaign was rolled out to more than 50 countries, but saw greatest success in Brazil, where the brand created an Instagram Story specifically targeted to followers located in the country. The Story featured ads that drove viewers to a campaign website where they could play a virtual Oreo-dunking game for a chance to meet famous soccer player Neymar.
Out of the 17 different types of media Oreo employed for the campaign, Instagram was found to deliver the fourth best cost per lead, acquisition and number of impressions. But not only did the ads show a 17% lower cost per lead, they also increased ad recall by 11 points and brand recognition by 6 points.
Conducting Consumer Research
From new product promotion to live event updates and employee profiling, Nestlé USA actively uses their Instagram for a variety of business activities. While the parent brand owns a large portfolio of sub-brands spanning a variety of categories, they choose to use one profile for their entire family of brands, enabling consumers to connect with any one of their products from a single account.
Nestle utilizes the tools of IG Stories to bring their brands closer to consumers in a multitude of creative ways, but one of the most effective examples can be seen with their clever use of the poll sticker. Poll stickers allow a user to ask their followers a question. The brand can choose to only offer a “yes/no” response – or they can create a custom set of response options for followers to select from. For National Coffee Day, Nestlé posted coffee stats on their story, with a poll below each data point that allowed followers to chime in on whether or not they agree with the above statement. The fascinating part of the campaign was that the poll answers closely corresponded with the numbers of the original data points. For example, 40% of coffee drinkers admit to enjoying coffee in the bathroom or shower. When asking followers their opinions, 37% clicked the “of course” button, proving Nestle’s market research to be true.
By integrating polling capability into their story ads, Nestlé was able to garner mass consumer insights at a minimal cost and in a friendly, engaging way that enabled their followers to have a voice.
By leveraging IG stories as a marketing vehicle, brands can engage followers in authentic ways that offer feel organic to the content viewing experience of the platform. They can develop their brand voice and create value-based communities, all while increasing ad recall and conversion at a lower cost per lead.
As it gets harder to stand out in a saturated market, CPGs can find comfort in knowing that there are results in inviting their shoppers to a more intimate form of brand-to-consumer connection.