Sequential storytelling for Instagram is here

While Facebook and Twitter already offer the SME sector heavy advertising options, it was just a matter of time until Instagram joined in as well.

If you see Instagram posts that can be swiped and clicked these days, here’s why: Carousel ads. The official news came out recently on their blog, announcing what was considered inevitable by many:  through a sequence of advertised stories, also known as Carousel ads, businesses regardless of size will soon be able to advertise posts in a new and interactive way to the right audiences. Instagram thus made it clear that advertising goes beyond the square photo format we are all familiar with – it marks a milestone for the way small and medium businesses will be sharing content.

Instagram advertising taken to a new level

When 2015 came, news spread about where Instagram ads were heading in the upcoming year. Already offered in the US in 2013, as well as in the UK in 2014 for a selected number of big brands, Instagram advertising has now revealed that by the end of this year SMEs will also be able to create multi-photo stories, as well as clickable links and buttons with the help of the Carousel app. If you’re a brand or a social media manager, this is surely something to think about. Here’s what Instagram has to say about it:

One way to look at it is carousel ads bring the potential of multi-page print campaigns to mobile phones – with the added benefit of taking people to a website to learn more. (Source)

Carousel Ads in action

A while back, the Instagram blog has provided with a sneak peak of what is a Carousel Ad and how does it work in practice. Here’s how:

Source: Instagram Business Blog

The sequential photo post completely changes the content flow on Instagram. Let’s begin with the obvious: with the introduction of Carousel Ads, users can now swipe through a string of photos just like flipping through an e-magazine. Considering that in Denmark a considerable amount of traffic on social media networks is generated from a mobile device (national statistiscs have pointed out that in 2014 more than 2,2 million danes use social media networks from their mobiles, the fact that Instagram-ers are now able to spend more time on an individual post by swiping is definitely good news. Besides swiping through multiple photos, Carousel ads introduce something that has become almost forgotten on Instagram: clickable hyperlinks in posts. Through the “Learn More” option, users will be able to click and open a new url in Instagram’s internal browser, therefore being able to bounce back and forth between the link and the feed by tapping on the top bar.

Instagram’s sequential posts are not only easy to use, but also fairly malleable to a brand’s needs. While the basic post format is fixed, how a post is built both visually and textually is pretty much in the hands of the brand. Some brands such as GMC or TescoFood are using the series of Insta photos as a series of panorama. Here’s how a supermarket chain builds sponsored ads that can go a long way in terms of user experience.

(Source: WeRSM)

(Source: WeRSM)

With Tesco’s multipage ad campaign, users can swipe left and right through a 4-sequence panoramic image for a richer, more visually enhancing wide-screen experience. However, there is not only one way of using Instagram sequential stories – following your brand’s social media strategy and the communicative and marketing scope of your post, you can create and adapt Instagram app’s to best fit your needs.

A new way of telling stories

So Instagram posts become more visually engaging, but how will this really help the social presence of your brand? If you’re a small to medium sized business, you will probably not have to wait long until you can use sequential storytelling for more than just beautiful posts. With the launch Carousel ads, Instagram users are able to discover and engage with content by interacting with posts, buying products, downloading apps or signing up for services directly from the social network. And all of this through a new modus operandi that will make it easy for brands to employ Instagram advertising without any fuss. Sequential storytelling makes the user experience faster and richer, while at the same time providing businesses with the possibility of refining their value proposition through sharp images and copy.

Towards more defined target groups and richer UX

Sequential storytelling also shows how Instagram is channelling their efforts towards a more defined and strategic targeting method that will also enable SMEs to reach the right audiences and better measure social media ROI. If Facebook ads come to mind as a resemblance, you’re probably right. Facebook, which bought Instagram in 2012 for one billion dollars, has gradually started linking its smaller brother Instagram to their advertising efforts. In practice, what Instagram Carousel ads have to offer small to medium businesses is specific targeting of their audiences based on users’ age, gender, and demographic drawn from both the photo sequences they click and swipe, as well as their Facebook profiles. This makes the Facebook – Instagram connection more apparent than before, while at the same time improving the social media monitoring options for brands.

All things considered, Instagram’s Carousel ad is perhaps not entirely the new kid on the block, but it clearly turns the network into a growing marketing force for the SME sector. There’s  a hunch that many will start swiping and clicking soon.