Unless you are running an ad on Instagram, you don’t have a way to post links in the feed. That fact frustrates social media marketers longing to drive traffic to a website.
Instagram’s only free option to post links is in the bio. But do people really click them when instructed to in posts?
Our research in the Social Media Lab will explore the effectiveness of this strategy in this experiment.
A great example of this strategy is by the fantastic team at WeWork:
The goal of this post is to entice Instagram followers to click on WeWork’s username and subsequently the link in its bio, which should lead to information pertaining to the post.
Research on whether this traffic-driving strategy works seems impossible to find. Input on how to implement it, however, is everywhere.
Here are some quotes regarding this Instagram posting strategy found on Rebrandly:
“When you post a picture or an Instagram story about a product, say “link in bio” in the description. Then update your bio to link to that product. Most link clicks on Instagram come from people visiting your bio and clicking on the link that is there. Users don’t want to take the time to copy and paste a link that is in the description of a post..” – Steve Gow, Uppstart.io
“Instagram isn’t link-friendly for the average company. One way we like to use links is by encouraging users to click on the link in our bio through engaging captions. Whether you’re linking to an event that you’re hosting, a new blog post, or a job opening, we have found that catchy, to-the-point captions are a great way to convince users to visit your profile and click the link in your bio. ” – Lacey Woltz, Digital Marketing Specialist @ Blue Compass
All that is great advice on what to do with the link in your bio on Instagram, but it’s only advice. It’s not hard data about whether the effort is worth it.
If the method drives traffic, businesses should consider it. If it’s not driving traffic and is hurting the account, perhaps we should end this strategy.
As an avid Instagram user, I have never once been motivated by this strategy to hop over to the bio and tap on the link. This idea goes against the grain of normal activity by Instagram users.
I’m going against the “expert” advice on this strategy with my hypothesis.
Hypothesis: The “link in bio” strategy on Instagram is not effective at driving traffic.
Without data, this recommendation appears to be a waste of effort.
For this experiment, we are leveraging data discovered during another experiment that tested photos vs graphics on Instagram.
You’ll need to read the study to see which performed better, but we also noticed a few other insights we wanted to report.
This test will focus on the data from the previous test using the Agorapulse Instagram account.
As seen in the image above, the link in our bio refers followers to our main website.
For this test, we’ll post graphics (images using text and images) related to our blog and instruct followers to “click the link in our bio” to read more. That link will be changed out daily to correspond to the post with a bit.ly link.
A total of 30 posts will be made to our Instagram account and then we’ll pull data from each post to evaluate.
What did we find out about the link in bio strategy on Instagram?
We averaged together the link clicks of all 30 posts and discovered they only averaged 2.07 clicks per post.
After removing the top 2 performing posts that received 13 and 8 clicks, this average quickly drops to 1.37 per post.
I had to change the link in the bio to correlate with each daily post, for 30 days. That’s a lot of manual labor for about 60 clicks.
Based on this data, I conclude that the “link in bio” strategy on Instagram is not driving enough traffic to warrant using it.
Expecting followers to take the time to go to your bio and then tap on the link is futile. Our data suggests the strategy is a failure and could be damaging the Reach of your Instagram account.
In addition to the lack of clicks, we find another interesting piece of data in this experiment:
That’s a 33.96% decrease in Reach!
Social Media Lab readers have asked me on a number of occasions if Instagram was penalizing their posts when instructing followers to go to the link in the bio.
Our data seems to support this claim.
If I were Instagram, I’d penalize these posts as well.
Instagram is about photos in the feed and keeping users on the feed, unless sent outside of Instagram from an ad. It makes sense that Instagram would diminish the Reach of these “Free” ads.
I understand the urge to game the system and attempt to drive traffic to your website using this strategy.
We recommend no longer relying on this method to drive traffic from Instagram. Instead, focus on ads in the feed or, better yet, in Stories.