On October 27, Instagram announced they were expanding the ability to add links in Instagram Stories to all accounts. (Yes, even yours.)
Once a feature only accessible to verified accounts or those with 10,000+ followers, Stories links are now available to everyone. That’s a big change for influencers, brands, and the affiliate marketing industry, not unlike the NCAA’s NIL rules change earlier this year. How it will ultimately play out is still to be determined. In the meantime, here’s what marketers need to know.
Stickers: A New Way to Add Links in Instagram Stories
All users can now use the new Link sticker feature to add external links to an Instagram story. The sticker, a new feature introduced in August, replaces the “swipe up to see more” functionality users are used to seeing at the bottom of linked Stories.
Users are redirected once they tap on the sticker, which can be placed anywhere (as opposed to stuck at the bottom of a screen).
How to Add a Link Sticker
- Capture/upload content to a story
- Tap the sticker tool in the top nav bar
- Tap the “LINK” sticker, add the destination URL, and tap “Done”
- Place the sticker on the story and adjust as you would any other sticker, or tap it to see color variations
- Tap “Share” to set the story live for 24 hours
Here’s a gif of the process:
(If you don’t see the option to add a Link sticker in your account, try updating your app, or closing and restarting it.)
Benefits of Link Stickers
According to Instagram, the Link sticker provides multiple benefits over the swipe-up experience, including:
- A more streamlined creation experience in Stories
- More creative control — stickers can be styled, resized, and placed anywhere
- More engagement, as users can react/reply to posts with a link sticker (but couldn’t with the old swipe-up link)
Note that accounts are not allowed to promote posts with Link stickers as ads (which still use the swipe-up functionality). A story can have a Link sticker and be marked as branded content, but brands cannot use the Paid Partnership tag if there is also a Link sticker present.
Some analysts believe this change was prompted by the rapid growth of TikTok, another influencer-focused platform. TikTok provides users with tools that encourage real-time engagement and creativity over planned-out promotions. This in-the-moment authenticity has been a driving force behind TikTok’s success, and is something that other social media companies will likely try to replicate in their own platforms.
Link Sharing Versus Tracking Links in Instagram
The expansion of Stories link sharing to all users does make it easier for micro-influencers and small businesses to drive valuable traffic with a wider audience. However, Instagram still does not allow clickable links in unpaid posts — you can add a URL, but it won’t be hyperlinked, so the user must copy and paste it into a browser. This is the reason companies that specialize in “link in bio” functionality, such as Linktree, are popular on the platform.
In addition, Instagram does not allow multiple redirects in links. That’s a problem for performance-based advertising campaigns, as affiliates often use tracking links that redirect two to three times, sometimes more. If influencers can’t redirect through different publishers and tracking servers, is performance marketing even possible on Instagram?
In a word, yes. TUNE solves this issue with Direct Links, a tracking link that doesn’t redirect through TUNE’s tracking servers. Since Direct Links take the user straight to the landing page, these links provide SEO value and reduce the potential number of site redirects. They also allow offer and partner ID information to be passed in the URL to the landing page itself, streamlining the information sharing process for advertisers and affiliates.
While not as granular as Direct Links, promo codes (e.g., clickless tracking) also allow brands to track partner performance on Instagram, through podcasts, and in almost any other channel. Promo codes are easy to use and have minimal technical requirements, which is the reason they have been a staple in traditional advertising and on social media platforms for years.
Making the Most of Marketing on Instagram
Now that anyone can put a link in Instagram Stories, the platform is sure to experience change. Will consumers see this as a good thing? Will influencers and brands?
We’re guessing yes. Here at TUNE, we believe in opening up opportunities to creators and businesses of all sizes. It’s what partner marketing is all about. This change is hopefully one of many that continues to move the ecosystem in the right direction.
If you would like to know more about Direct Links and other TUNE tracking solutions, please email [email protected].
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Becky is the Senior Content Marketing Manager at TUNE. Before TUNE, she led a variety of marketing and communications projects at San Francisco startups. Becky received her bachelor's degree in English from Wake Forest University. After living nearly a decade in San Francisco and Seattle, she has returned to her home of Charleston, SC, where you can find her enjoying the sun and salt water with her family.