Does the “Link in Bio” Instagram Strategy Actually Work?

Posted on in Blog, Oneupweb's Instagram

I’m new at Oneupweb, in a new role as social media coordinator and one of the first changes I implemented was to start using the “Check the link in our bio!” strategy on Instagram.

As a 26 year old, I spend a lot of time on Instagram. Because I’m a sucker for celebrity gossip and other cheesy content, one of my favorite accounts to follow is Cosmopolitan. They routinely post photos that correspond to a blog on their site and drive Instagrammers to their website with the “link in bio” strategy right in the posts.

It works like this: You write and publish your blog content then you post the corresponding blog photo to Instagram. In the caption, you write something to the effect of, “Click the link in bio for more information.” At the top of the Instagram page (the bio area), you’ve inserted a clickable link to the blog post – which takes the Instagrammer to where the blog post lives on your website.

oneupweb instagram category landing page
The landing page we created to house our blogs tied to Instagram posts.

Lately, there has been some disagreement over whether this marketing strategy actually works.

After reading Agorapulse’s blog on the matter (they dismissed the strategy), I wanted to run some tests of my own to see if it was making a difference driving Instagram traffic to our website.

How the “Link in Bio” Strategy Got Its Start

Instagram is a platform designed for images. Like other social media platforms, IG is continually optimizing its platform to keep you engaged as long as possible and to get you to come back frequently. Also like most social platforms, making a good first impression on your Instagram bio is essential. Unlike LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter, there is no place in an Instagram caption for a clickable link. In fact, there is only one spot on each profile to add a website link.

At first, I was updating the link in Oneupweb’s bio each time I created a new post. It wasn’t long before I realized that this tactic wouldn’t work well for our team – we’d be limited to only pushing out one photo with a link at a time. And because of Instagram’s algorithm, our posts may be shown out-of-order, leading users who click to our profile confused when they search for a bio link posted last week that’s already been replaced with a link to newer content.

The Oneupweb Solution

Like so many other marketers, I searched for a way to drive traffic from our Instagram to our website in a way that was useful and logical for the user. I was used to a great experience reading blogs from Cosmopolitan’s “link in bio,” which is run by a third-party called Dash Hudson, and I wanted to provide that same user experience to our readers.

Throughout my search, I discovered other “link in bio” hosts, including Linktree and before determining that nothing on the market would provide the exact experience I sought.

I approached Paul, one of our talented developers, with my dilemma. Paul and I worked together to come up with a solution optimized for our needs.

Our solution? A landing page designed to host links to the Oneupweb blog posts with the same images we posted to Instagram. From there, it was as simple as replacing our “bio link” with a link to the custom page and then implementing a new strategy (where you have a dedicated landing page and address it in the copy of each post) for posting.

Alright Let’s Talk Tracking Specifics

The aforementioned blog from Agorapulse made two claims:

  1. Having a link in the bio didn’t drive additional traffic to their website from Instagram posts.
  2. Instagram is punishing these posts because they want to keep users on the platform (as opposed to driving them off-platform to your website) – that is, of course, unless your organization is paying to advertise on Instagram.

With these two points in mind, I took a deep dive into the sessions to our website via the link in our Instagram bio from the time the new landing page and strategy (sending readers to your bio to click on your specific link) was implemented.

It’s worth mentioning that there are many factors that affect social media engagement. Factors such as the time of day of the post, the type of content, the hashtags and so much more affect where your post will be seen and if it will reach your audience.

I chose to stick to the numbers.

branded bar graph showing sessions growth in april 2019 compared to march 2019
Sessions were up 1,071% from March 2019 to April 2019.

Our Instagram Bio to Landing Page Strategy Drove Significantly More Traffic to Our Website

The landing page link Instagram bio went live on April 5, 2019. I spent a couple days using and testing the new page and strategy before I began monitoring with the intent to benchmark future sessions.

In March, we had seven users reach our site via Instagram. In April, we had 82 users reach our website via Instagram. That’s a 1,071% increase month-over-month.

Like I stated previously, there are many factors that impact the performance of social media accounts. In this instance, we did not account for these other variables. I have to believe that, in addition to posting more, utilizing a hashtag strategy and just having all-around solid content, users on the platform wanted to read our blog. And having the link in bio so clear  and addressed each time a new post was made just made it easy for them, like it has for me in my personal social media endeavors.

On Instagram posts that directed users to our link in the bio in the post, we had an average of 5.72 users landing on our profile from posts. Without that language in the post, it’s about 1.3 users (unique or repeat, we don’t know).

screenshot of google analytics view showing sessions growth from instagram in april and march 2019
Instagram traffic from March to April, right from Google Analytics.

Does Instagram Throttle Reach on “Link in Bio” Posts?

Like I mentioned before, there are a number of factors that affect reach on social media. Without being able to account for all the factors at play in the Instagram algorithm, I can make assumptions based only on the data we have.

Agorapulse claimed that because Instagram wants to keep users on the platform, the platform will de-emphasize posts that have “link in bio” language in the caption. Before implementing the strategy where posts direct users to our page and website, our posts averaged a reach of about 200 users. With the strategy, the average is up slightly to 213 users per post.

While we don’t see a dramatic increase in post reach, we’re definitely not seeing a decrease. We do not believe Instagram has made any effort to de-emphasize content with “link in bio” language in the post itself.

screenshot of instagram post from oneupweb with paintings of woman taped to a wall
One of our more popular Instagram posts from April sent 14 users to our website in just five days, 12 of which were new.

Key Takeaways

Marketing strategies will and should change frequently. Social media platforms are constantly updating their algorithms and it’s our job as marketers to morph with them.

Most important, what works for us, might not work for you. Agorapulse ran tests on their own photos to see what the results were, so I chose to do the same for Oneupweb. We are two very different companies with different marketing goals (not to mention all the other factors that go into social media management). Thus, the results of our experiments are different.

I wrote this blog with the hope that someone (like me, who had recently implemented an Instagram strategy) wouldn’t get discouraged by other research out there. My research shows the Instagram “link in bio” marketing strategy works. Yours might, too.

We love running experiments and trying out new marketing techniques on our own content. If you’re struggling with social media strategy or management, we can help.

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