Should Your Small Business Promote Instagram Stories? Weighing The Pros & Cons

By: Cori Widen, Product Marketing Lead at Boosted by Lightricks

By this point, your small business is likely already using Instagram Stories. We love Instagram Stories because they allow small businesses to easily create high-quality, engaging content that disappears after 24 hours. But should small businesses be paying to promote their Instagram Stories as ads?

There are many reasons why a small business owner might consider paying to promote their Instagram Stories such as maximizing reach, increasing views and driving users to their website but are there any reasons a small business might want to avoid promoting their Instagram Stories? We’ve weighed the pros and cons when it comes to Instagram Story Ads for small businesses below. (Bonus: Scroll all the way to the bottom for 5 key tips to keep in mind before promoting an Instagram Story.)

The Pros of Instagram Story Ads

1. Immersive Ad Experience

When you promote an Instagram Story the ad will appear in between non-sponsored stories on the Instagram app. Instagram Stories are viewed full-screen so when a user sees your Instagram Story, the only thing they can see is the content itself. This creates a fully immersive ad experience with nothing else on the screen competing for your customer’s attention.

2. Brand Awareness

One of the obvious positives when it comes to paying to promote your Instagram Stories is increased brand awareness. By boosting your Instagram Story you can place your small business in front of people who could be potential customers.

3. Less Competition

When it comes to Facebook and Instagram News Feed ads, Instagram Story ads are still relatively ‘new’ and are less saturated. Many brands are already doing News Feed ads so there is more competition to capture a potential customer’s interest. Small businesses might have less competition when promoting Instagram Stories

4. More Authentic

As we mentioned, Instagram Story ads pop up between organic, non-sponsored Stories which makes it less obvious to customers that they are actually viewing a paid ad. Instagram users might feel bombarded by blatant ads in their News Feed but if a small business promotes a fun, engaging Instagram Story, the ad will feel more authentic.

The Cons of Instagram Story Ads

1. Less Click-Friendly

Instagram has become a more click-friendly platform over the years but links in Facebook ads are still typically easier and more click-friendly. If your number one goal is to drive traffic to your website, paying to promote Instagram Stories might not be the platform for your small business.

2. CTA (Call to Action) Is Less Visible

If you are already familiar with Instagram Stories, you know if you look to the bottom of an Instagram Story you can find a swipe up to “See More” prompt. Unfortunately, it’s not a super obvious CTA and if someone isn’t looking for it or doesn’t know about it, they might never notice it.

3. Less Advanced

For any small business owner who has run a paid ad campaign on Facebook, they know they are able to set up highly detailed targeting. Instagram Ads can be managed through Facebook but overall, paid Instagram ads offer less advanced advertising options.

4. Younger Audience

Instagram has a huge user-base but the majority of Instagram users are between 18-29 years of age. Also, Instagram Stories might be more popular among younger users so promoting an Instagram Story might not give your business the best ROI if your customers are a little older. (We included this as a con but if your target customers are mostly under 30 it could be a positive!)

5 Key Instagram Stories Ad Tips for SMBs

  • Use Volume

The majority of Instagram Stories are viewed with the sound on. When creating an Instagram Story to promote, be sure to include music.

  • Create a Look-a-Like Audience

In order to promote your Instagram Story to the people who are most likely to be interested in your business, use Facebook Ads Manager to create a look-a-like audience for more advanced targeting.

  • Optimize For Website Traffic

The person who is most likely to click on your paid Instagram Story is someone who has already visited your website. Target users who have clicked on your website before and optimize your ad for clicks.

  • Target People Who Know You

Paid ads are more effective when targeted to someone already following your business on social media. Be sure to promote your Instagram Story to someone who has already engaged with your Instagram account.

  • Use Strong CTA’s

Since users might not know about or are actively looking for the swipe up to “See More” prompt, it is important to include a strong and obvious CTA. Be sure to clearly ask users to “Swipe Up” in an Instagram Story ad.

Cori Widen is the Product Marketing Lead at Boosted by Lightricks. She has been leading product marketing campaigns and doing qualitative market research in the tech industry for 10 years.

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