On October 27th 2021, Instagram announced in this small blog post that they will release a new, game-changing functionality for all of its users, that is expected to drastically change the way the social media platform is used.
We are, of course, talking about Link Stickers. Hyperlinks that allow users to link to external web pages directly on their stories without having to pass through the infamous "Link in Bio".
While the previous ability to link to external sites from stories through "swipe-up" feature was available only to users with a minimum of 10.000 followers, this new feature will open the functionality to every user of the platform.
The end of an era, and the beginning of a new one.
In this article, we will go more in depth what Link Stickers are and how they work, what's special about them and what they mean for businesses, content creators and the average user.
Table of Contents (Click on the titles to jump to section):
What are Link Stickers, and how do they work?
Link Stickers are extremely simple in their functionality. They are hyperlinks that redirect you to any website, masked by the typical sticker format everyone is already familiar with, similar to location stickers, music stickers, donations, food orders etc. When people tap on the sticker, they’ll be redirected to the website page through the instagram mini-browser (not redirected to an external browser).
To add a Link Sticker to your story, you simply:
Capture or upload content to your story.
Select the sticker tool from the top navigation bar.
Tap the “Link” sticker to add your desired link and tap “Done”.
Place the sticker on your story — like instagram other stickers — and tap the sticker again, to see color variations.
Instagram is also working on ways to customize the sticker so it’s clear what someone will see when they tap your link.
What's so special about Link Stickers?
The possibility to link to external websites directly through Instagram-stories is not entirely new. The infamous swipe up feature, loved by some, hated by many, and craved by many more, has been available to high profile content creators and business accounts with over 10.000 followers for several years.
However, there are two reasons why Link Stickers are much more special than swipe up:
- Flexibility & Usability
Swipe up was somewhat of an antiquated and rigid feature, allowing to share only one link per story, accessible from the bottom of the screen, which made it sometimes invisible to the eyes of those on a casual swipe roll. On the contrary, link stickers are flexible (you can change colour and size), and you can place them wherever you want in your story, maximising their visibility. However, it is not clear yet if multiple stickers are going to be allowed in the same story.
- Available to everyone.
Swipe ups were only available to business accounts and verified content creators with over 10.000 followers. On the contrary, after 3 months of testing with a small pool of high profile accounts, Instagram has finally decided to allow everyone (yes, everyone!) to use link stickers in their stories.
Both features of the link sticker clearly communicate a change of direction of Instagram, moving away from their notorious "keep the user for as long as possible to use the platform main features" to a more open strategy that allows the user to safely navigate to external resources without leaving the Instagram environment.
From a business-influencer relationship perspective, link stickers mean one thing: follower counts are dead.
From now on, any instagram user can potentially be an influencer, and given the higher reach and engagement per follower that small accounts get compared to big accounts, going for a micro-influencer and User Generated Content strategy will be even more appealing strategies for businesses of all sizes.
This is something at Make Influence we anticipated long ago, with our decision to accept influencers on the platform not basing on follower count but on audience quality (no bought followers or shady follower count growth tactics) and business related performance metrics such as reach, impressions and clicks.
With the departure of the last "elitist" feature of the swipe up and its democratisation through Link Stickers, possibilities become endless. More about this below in the "what link stickers mean to businesses" section.
Why can't I find link stickers yet?
Instagram currently has 1.4 BILLION users! Each new feature is rolled out slowly and in batches to the huge pool of users which means that it will take a bit of time before everyone can make use of the feature. This is done primarily to preserve the integrity and stability of the platform, as well as test the feature on smaller samples, by using data to perfect and optimize it time after time in a reiterated way... exactly like you should work with marketing (yes, even influencer marketing 😉).
Why did instagram decide to make them available to everyone?
According to Instagram official communication:
"We’ve heard from the rest of our community that they also want to share things that matter with their friends and family. Whatever you’re into, from cooking to volunteering or shopping, you now have a space to share in Stories — regardless of your account size."
"We made this decision based on feedback we heard from the community about how impactful it would be for creators and businesses of all sizes to benefit from link sharing to grow in the same way larger accounts do"
Scarce explanation? We think so too.
Despite the noble intentions from the statement, the feature has a strong commercial value for instagram. As we said before, Instagram is definitely changing direction from a "keep the user for as long as possible to use the platform main features" to a more open strategy that allows the user to safely navigate to external content without leaving the instagram environment.
This is expected to create greater appeal for businesses and creators to stick to the platform, as competition for other platforms like TikTok is ramping up, the new feature open to everyone means greater monetization possibilities through the platform.
Based on our own data from Make Influence, to give you an idea of the volume we might talking about, we expect the volume of traffic from instagram to external domains to grow between 4 and 10 times in the next few months.
What do Link Stickers mean to businesses?
For businesses, especially for small ones, this feature is almost ground-breaking. Stories reach more users than ever and the new interactive features added in the past two years made them flexible tools to drive engagement. Link stickers follow the trend and should be a powerful tool to drive traffic directly to your website, both from your profile and from collaborators.
Let's take a look at the opportunities for businesses.
1. Grow your influence and revenue through micro influencers & User Generated Content.
Swipe Up was the feature most envied by small businesses and content creators who did not reach 10.000 followers, and for a good reason. Despite its limitations, swipe up has been driving a very significant amount of outbound traffic from Instagram, being a potent ally for influencers and companies boasting large followings.
To give you an idea of how powerful the feature is, on the Make Influence platform, given the same amount of monthly impressions, an influencer with access to swipe up features generates on average 4 times more clicks than one without swipe-up, which translates to three times the revenue (obviously, clicking a link in stories is not as intentional as going all the way to the bio and find the link there, which means less people who click on the link end up converting on the website, but as it goes with social media, usability and accessibility trumps everything!)
The playing field has been leveled, and everyone will have equal opportunity (with the due consideration in terms of reach and impressions size), to generate great amounts of traffic to your website.
This means that you now have incredible opportunities to expand your influencer program to micro-influencers and create armies of generic users.
However, be careful: Not every user is created equal. More than ever, you will want to go in depth regarding key metrics that are pre-indicators of collaboration performance. Audience metrics such as sex, age, and location distribution as well as activity metrics such as reach, impressions and click through rate.
Are you a business owner or social media marketer and would like to learn how make influence can help your business scale their marketing with performance based influencer marketing?
2. Drive more traffic with CTAs through your profile stories
Link stickers allow businesses, and especially e-commerce webshops to place links more prominently within their stories in the form of a call-to-action.
This means that as a business owner you have more opportunities to convince your audience to click through your content. With more flexible CTA placement and look, you can create eye-catching stickers that attract attention and lead people to the action you want them to take.
On top of this, the new feature allows you to experiment with your CTA wording more than previously possible with Swipe Up feature.
3. Engage and grow your audience while growing traffic
While traffic to your website is the most prominent benefit of a free for all link in stories, be creative when it comes to how not only you use it, but how you let others use your branded links.
As an example, you can now engage your followers through competitions that not only ask them to tag you in their stories, but also put a link to, for example, a landing page where people can participate to the competition.
What do link stickers mean to creators and influencers?
Link stickers place into a broader strategy and effort of instagram to help creators make a living out of their work on instagram.
With Link Stickers, the direction traced by instagram is clear: more creators and users should have the ability to drive commercial value on the platform, as well as create engagement with their community through links to causes that matter to them, even if not brand collaborations.
This translates into several implications for professional influencers, as well as micro influencers. Let's go through them in more depth.
1. Micro Influencers with less than 10.000 have an extra powerful weapon in their collaboration arsenal.
Obviously, the most important aspect of link stickers is their democratization to every user on instagram. This means that follower count matters less than ever, and the difference between an influencer with 12'000 followers and one with 8 thousand becomes almost irrelevant.
As a matter of fact, we have calculated that with amount of impressions grow less than exponentially with the growth of follower count. In simpler terms, a user with 10'000 followers has slightly less impressions per follower compared to an influencer with 8'000 followers, as well as a lower engagement rate. Despite of this, swipe ups gave influencers with more than 10'000 followers an unfair advantage compared to the "smaller" ones, with Click Through Rates almost 4x higher. This, was obviously driven primarily by the possibility to use swipe up in their stories.
How do we know this? Simple, Make Influence allows you to use data to create better, more informed and more commercially driven collaborations. Learn more about how make influence can help you grow as an influencer and
2. More Creative Control
As a content creator, swipe ups were utterly limiting in how you could use them creatively. Link stickers, on the opposite, offer all the functionality and flexibility that is offered by the other already widely adopted stickers: location, music, donations, food orders etc.
In particular, Link Stickers give you the ability to control the placement, color, size and copy of your call to actions. What does this mean?
Better stories, more engagement and more traffic. In the future, it is expected for Instagram to build upon this feature and create even more engagement functionalities!
3. Increased engagement on promoted stories with Link Stickers compared to Swipe Up.
As we just mentioned, link stickers will help you create better stories. One of the reasons for this is that, by freeing up the bottom part of the story (that was previously used by the swipe up feature), the link stickers will allow users to reply and share to your stories that link to an external page (this was not possible with swipe up), so that you can increase engagement on them and further expanding their reach and impression counts!
This is a massive benefit for creators that master all the functionalities of stories and can create compelling experiences, rather than limiting to lazily promote a product through a picture and a swipe up, as they will see their influence grow at faster rates together with reach, impressions and
What negative implications could link stickers have on Instagram and its community?
At Make Influence, we are positive about this new feature and the value it will bring to the community of creators, businesses as well as the average casual user to have access to share external content they are passionate about in a simple and democratic way.
However, the limit of 10.000 followers to link sharing was put in place with a very precise and legit intentions: stop spammers from making new accounts just to share malicious links. Limiting the access to the feature to less accounts (a significant percentage of which, verified) was also making it easier for Instagram to monitor and identify content addressing to sites that violate community policy, for example sale of dangerous or illegal goods promotion, among others.
At the same time, with misinformation and hate speech more rampant on the platform than ever before, this essentially helped gatekeep such content.
However, Instagram seems to have pondered their decision cautiously. For example, link-in-bio services such as Linktree, despite being extremely useful to content creators using them in accordance to instagram policy, provide a sneaky way to somewhat hide malicious content partly "outside" of instagram "jurisdiction". With this move, instagram hopes to partly re-gain control of what links are shared on their platform, and hopefully, they have devised AI aided ways to identify malicious content with a higher success rate and accuracy.
Finally, Instagram has reassured its stakeholders the functionality will help identify spam accounts faster, and those using it improperly will see the feature revoked from their account, as well as facing more serious problems like account suppression or deletion in more extreme cases.
Are you an influencer or content creator on instagram and you are also excited about this new feature? The idea of starting to monetize from your posts and stories even if you have less than 10'000 followers sounds too good to be true?
At Make Influence, we now accept influencers with down to 1.000 followers (restrictions apply in terms of your reach and audience quality).
It is 100% free to be on Make Influence (and there is no limits to how many campaigns you can participate to, or how much money you can make!).