Storytelling is woven into the very framework of what it means to be human. However, as technology continues to evolve, so too do the ways in which we tell stories.
The rapid rise of smartphones and social media has shattered conventional norms and redefined traditional storytelling. In today’s digital-first world, where everyone has access to a high-quality camera and a means to distribute their work, we’re increasingly communicating in a visual language.
According to Facebook, every day more than 300 million people are using Facebook and Messenger ‘Stories’: short collections of photos and videos that disappear (unless saved) within 24 hours. As this ephemeral content emerges as the main purveyors of consumers’ attention, Facebook expects Stories to exceed the number of Feed posts by next year.
Given this paradigm shift in user behaviors and expectations, the social media giant is doubling down on its investment in this full-screen, vertical, immersive content format. Introducing Facebook Stories ads.
What Brands Need to Know
What does this mean for brands? The short answer is: now is the time to join the Stories movement. In order to understand and master this new format, it’s important to first understand how these ads work.
Facebook Stories ads look and feel similar to the Instagram Stories ads. Like Instagram Stories, Facebook Stories ads will appear between people’s organic Stories. Other notable product features include:
Formats: single video or image
Lengths: Photos will be supported lasting up to 6 seconds and videos will be supported up to 15 second
Aspect ratios: recommended 9:16 (but will also support ratios up to 1.91:1 landscape)
After working with dozens of brands to create Stories content, we’ve noticed certain trends to among the highest performing ads. Below are 3 tips for achieving optimal results.
1. Optimize for Mobile
There is no doubt about it --people are spending more and more time on mobile. In fact, nearly half of US adults say they check their phone a whopping 80 times a day. Considering that the majority of a brand’s Stories ads will be delivered on mobile screens, marketers need to optimize their content to work in this space. Below are some creative tips to consider when building for mobile:
Deliver Early: The non-linear nature of mobile means that people are consuming Stories content faster and more frequently than ever before. People have developed trigger-finger reflexes to skip through Stories that don’t capture their attention from the first few seconds. That said, it’s increasingly important to creatively and organically express your brand ideas early and often (even at the end) to keep thumbs from swiping to the next Story.
Explore Vertical Ratios: There’s a reason why Facebook Stories are optimized for a vertical, full-screen view. Simply put, this is how people are naturally interacting with their phones. If your brand is not already harnessing the entire mobile screen to enhance your storytelling, now is the time to start. However, if you have no vertical video to work with, you can also explore using vertical photos or cropping horizontal photos or videos to fit the vertical format.
Design for Sound On and Off: Sound can help add relevance to your Stories ads. And, while it’s important to use the attention-grabbing power of music and effects to engage your audience, you don’t want to rely on sound to communicate your core message. This can be accomplished through creative tools such as text overlays and stickers.
2. Prioritize Video
As marketers, we hear it all the time: video is more engaging than photos. However, this is especially true when advertising on a visual medium like Stories, which is specifically designed for quick and easy browsing. As the competition for eye-popping content grows, videos are key to bringing brands and products to life. But it doesn’t have to be a high-production, expensive video ad -- even a small amount of motion from a cinemagraph or gif is enough to catch a person’s eye as they tap through their Stories. What’s more, since stories are inherently ephemeral, brands should focus less on perfection and more on authenticity.
The launch of Facebook Stories ads represent largely uncharted territory for marketers. That said, none of us have a true market advantage because there is no proven recipe for success. As more advertisers experiment with this feature, we will lead and define what a good Facebook Stories ad campaign is. In the meantime, brands should throw preconceived notions out the window and not be afraid to embrace a ‘learn by doing’ approach. Now is the time to reimagine traditional, linear storytelling and experiment with innovative story arcs.
Facebook Stories ads In Action: Sphynx
The portable female razor company was one of the first brands to work with Social Native to test content performance across Facebook Stories ads. Within just 72 hours, Social Native created 5 full-screen, vertical videos for the brand. Over the course of 2 weeks, Sphynx used this content run Facebook Stories ads targeting female millennials.
Compared to Facebook benchmarks, Sphynx saw impressive results:
47% decrease in CPA
106% increase in CTR
To conclude, as brands increasingly look to meet consumers where they are, the importance of Stories ads cannot be ignored. What we’ve shared is what we’ve learned so far, but it is just the beginning. Together, we will collectively forge a path from ‘good’ to ‘great’ digital ad campaigns.