If you want your business to have a social media presence, you most likely need to be on Instagram. Now the second most popular social networking app in the U.S. (just behind the giant that is Facebook), Instagram offers significant benefits for businesses. For instance, more than one-third of users have used the app to make a purchase, Instagram allows for very specific ad targeting, and business profiles offer additional features just for brands.
To take advantage of all the benefits of Instagram, your strategy should include stories. Instagram stories are made up of a set of photos, videos, or live content and stay at the top of followers’ feeds for 24 hours, providing your brand with greater visibility.
A new feature of stories is the capability to include links. This is important because you are unable to include links in regular organic posts on the platform. Instead, you have to rely on CTAs that send users to your bio, where you can only have a single link. This makes running multiple campaigns at the same time difficult. An alternative is to add a URL that is not clickable — but this is far from user-friendly.
Who Can Post Links in Stories?
After an Instagram product manager noticed a large number of brands using stories to promote content, the platform decided to allow links in stories. Originally, this feature was limited to users with at least 1 million followers and verified accounts. Worse still, you can only become verified if Instagram decides you’re the right fit, which so far has included mainly celebrities and public figures as well as some brands.
However, Instagram has now expanded the types of eligible accounts for Instagram story links. Now, verified accounts AND business accounts with at least 10,000 followers can add links to Instagram stories. Even better news: in the future, it is likely to expand to yet more users.
The process to request a verification badge is a simple 1-2-3:
- Tap the three lines in the upper right of your profile screen.
- Tap Settings –> Request Verification.
- Enter your full name and provide the required form of identification (i.e. government-issued photo ID if you’re a person or a legal or business ID if you’re a business).
How to Create an Instagram Story with Links
Step 1: Start a New Story
Begin making a story by clicking on the camera icon at the top of the screen and take a picture or start filming. Alternatively, you can import an image or video, but it must be no more than 24 hours old. If you are uploading an image, you can get round this restriction by taking a screenshot and importing that instead.
Step 2: Click the Chain Icon
Verified users and those with at least 10,000 followers will see a chain icon at the top of the screen.
Click this icon to make a new window appear. This window contains a field to input your URL.
Once you’ve added a link, either click “Done” (on iOS) or the green check (on Android). The chain link you clicked earlier should now appear highlighted.
Step 3: Complete Your Story
Edit the image with text, filters, stickers, and anything else it needs to be complete, such as a CTA. Although Instagram adds “See More” to the bottom of stories with links, this may go unnoticed by users.
Telling followers to click or swipe up (or even drawing an arrow near the “See More”) will make it obvious that there’s more to the post. This is especially important for users who have never come across a story with a link in it before. Plus, it gives you the opportunity to tell users why they should want to click the link.
Linking Best Practices
Throughout your story, include just one or two links. Too many links will overwhelm users, meaning you may end up receiving fewer clicks (or swipe ups). A good rule of thumb is one link to every three or four posts in a story. However, not every story necessarily needs a link.
Another thing to bear in mind is that Instagram analytics offers no support for tracking clicks on your links. For this reason, it’s best to use a distinct URL for tracking purposes. For instance, you could use a link shortener service that allows you to track metrics.
Finally, whatever you include as a link should relate directly to your story. There are a few types of content that work especially well with links in Instagram stories.
Your audience may appreciate more information about a topic that is difficult to cover in visuals alone. Lead those who are interested in finding out more to an in-depth blog post — this is also a great way to gain new readers for your blog. To intrigue followers, consider adding a few lines from your blog post to the story, talk about the points the post covers, or pose some questions users will want answered.
One type of blog post that is likely to be extra successful is a tutorial. You can summarize the points in the Instagram story and then offer the blog post with full instructions to followers who want to try the tutorial for themselves.
Encourage followers to check out your posts more often by offering exclusive promotions that are only available through links in your stories.
Product and Service Pages
If you use stories to showcase your products or services, add a link to pages where users can find out more or make a purchase.
Any business with an active presence on Instagram needs to be using stories with links. You’ll instantly drive traffic to your website and gain more from your social media strategy. If you currently fall short of the 10,000-follower requirement, work at building up your following through organic and paid means. Even if you are far off, increasing your followers will still be beneficial, as you may be able to start taking advantage of links in stories when Instagram reduces the number of followers you need.