You may remember the “swipe up” on Instagram—the little finger maneuver that would take you to a linked article or product in someone’s story.
Now in lieu of that, we have the Instagram links: a clickable sticker on which the words can be customized, serving the same purpose—to drive the viewer to something you’ve linked.
Personally, I miss the swipe up. I always knew exactly where to find it (at the bottom of the page in someone’s story), and I liked the seamless feeling of the journey to whatever website was linked, even if it did mean I was leaving the Instagram experience. The link stickers, on the other hand, can easily get lost in the imagery or text of an Instagram story, and the lack of consistency just doesn’t feel right.
This sentiment is true as both someone who shares and clicks on the story links.
Which is why it was so interesting to read Wersm.com’s experiment on whether Instagram’s link stickers impact engagement—after reported complaints of the feature doing so negatively.
First, a refresher: Instagram introduced the link sticker last August, making it available only to accounts with 10,000 or more followers before opening it up to everyone. At the time, the platform said it planned to make changes and updates to the feature, such as adding context to the links so people would know what they could expect when clicking through. At this time, the only option available is to customize the sticker’s copy.
So the authors of the aforementioned experiment wanted to know whether using link stickers on Instagram Stories decreased engagement, and posted some stories with URL stickers and some without. The result: Of course, link stickers—particularly compared with other interactive stickers available on Instagram—fared worse in terms of engagement. People prefer to answer a poll about something while flipping through a story rather than click a link and leave the Instagram experience.
But what does that mean for accounts that really want to drive people to their websites directly (JCK magazine included)?
A quick breeze through two years of engagement history on JCK magazine’s Instagram showed that users definitely tended to prefer the swipe-up option—there were far more clicks using that method. But, as we have no control over what Instagram offers, we’re stuck with the link sticker.
At first, I began always putting the sticker toward the bottom of the story, to take direct place of the old swipe-up feature. But there’s something about a plain old click (as opposed to the flashier swipe) that feels like a dud, and putting it all the way at the bottom of the page doesn’t do it any favors. So I’ve been putting it toward the middle of the page, which feels a bit more up front, and I’ve tried to remain consistent. Is it working? Time will tell, but if you’re looking to drive traffic to your website, I’d recommend also finding a consistent, reliable approach so followers know what to expect.
That being said, if you’re simply looking for engagement (also crucial in your social strategy), the Wersm article offers other ways to do that, citing use of the question and poll stickers, and streaming on Instagram live.
If you’re a retailer, this also highlights the importance of making your products shoppable on Instagram, as this eliminates the whole issue and keeps users inside the platform experience while still being able to learn more about your brand and make purchases.
I’d like to know: Did you prefer the swipe-up method or are you good with the link sticker? And, perhaps more importantly, do you ever click on links when you’re browsing Instagram?
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