Last Updated on March 2, 2023
Instagram stories has increased the amount of time people spend on the app which is great news for brand engagement and growth, providing you know how to take advantage of the extra time.
The best way to take advantage of Instagram stories is to transform all that extra engagement into traffic. And there’s no better way to do that, than to add story links (also known as swipe up links) to your Instagram storytelling.
What are Instagram story links?
Instagram story links are clickable links that can be incorporated into an Instagram story. They were first introduced back in early 2017.
The story links feature allows eligible account holders (we’ll get to who’s eligible in a second) to redirect traffic to any website they like (usually their own!) by including a “swipe up” link on their Instagram story feed.
The link feature allows businesses to incorporate a call to action into their Instagram story. This is great for promoting new products and services, or even events, simply by encouraging the user to swipe up for more details.
Who can use them?
This desirable feature isn’t available to everyone. As is usually the case, verified account holders were the first to get access to this new marketing feature. But then in May 2017, business accounts with 10,000 followers or more were also granted access.
To qualify right now, you either have to be a verified user (which basically means you need to be a celebrity or a huge brand). Verified accounts are the ones that have a little blue tick icon like these:
Or alternatively, you can get access to the link feature by having over 10,000 followers on your Instagram business account.
Anyone can apply to become verified on Instagram, but whatever you do, don’t hold your breath because the honor is only granted to the select few who meet Instagram’s strict criteria.
While the coveted verified user status is almost impossible to get, bagging yourself 10,000 followers is relatively easy – you can simply purchase them. So I’d suggest that’s where you should start if you want to get yourself access to the story links feature.
How to add Instagram story links.
Once you have enough followers, you’re ready to start promoting. Let’s go through exactly what you need to do to add the swipe up links to your Instagram stories.
1. First things first, tap the camera icon to get started.
You’ll find the camera icon at the top left of your screen on your main feed:
Now choose whether you want to take a photo or shoot a video. You could even use a Boomerang loop if you have the app. You can also access your existing images and videos to import anything you have captured from the last 24 hours by swiping up from here.
2. Next, hit the the link icon.
See the chain symbol below? If not, then you’re not yet eligible to use the service.
This link icon will only appear for users who qualify for Instagram story links, so you won’t see it until you’ve got enough followers or your account is verified.
3. Select the option to add a URL.
If the link icon does appear for you, tapping on it will open up a new window and you’ll see a prompt to input your URL that looks like this:
As you can see, you are also given the option to link your story to an IGTV video, so go ahead and select that option if you prefer to go down that route.
4. Add a URL.
At this point you want to type or add your chosen URL to the text box that pops up. Remember to click the top right where it says “done” (iOS users) or hit the green check mark (for android users) when you’re finished.
URL links are not currently tracked on Instagram Story analytics. So you should probably use a link shortener like bit.ly or rebrand.ly to make it easier to track your Instagram story data and statistics.
If your link has been created successfully, the link chain icon should now appear in a highlighted form like in the example below:
5. Publish your story.
When you’re ready to publish your story, hit the “+ story” button at the bottom right. You should then be able to see your story, complete with a “see more” link at the bottom centre like in the redbull example below:
As you can tell from the above example, the “see more” link can be difficult to spot. This is why you might want to experiment with different techniques to draw attention to it and also come up with some unique ideas to entice people to swipe up.
6. Optional but recommended extra step: add a creative call to Action
As you can see from the example above, Redbull have added arrows and a massive sign saying “swipe up” to their story page. You don’t have to do this, but it’s definitely a good idea if you want to maximize your traffic.
Here’s how. Before you tap on the + story icon that we talked about in step 5, you can choose to edit your story.
At this point you can add any call-to-action you like. You could try something like “swipe up to learn more” or to find out, “swipe up to see this discount”, “learn more”, “find out how”… you get the idea.
The only limit to the possibilities here is your imagination! So why not get creative and have some fun with it?
Need inspiration? Let’s take a look at some of the best Instagram stories campaigns and see how they use the swipe up feature creatively.
How to use Instagram stories and the swipe up feature.
Promoting new content.
Got an awesome new blog post, article or video to share? Maybe you have some awesome news and can’t wait to get the word out.
Whatever form it’s in, if you have a great piece of content to promote, why not use Instagram story links to deliver it quickly and efficiently to your audience and get more eyeballs on your content?
Using Instagram stories to promote your content is a great way to increase number of shares and reach a much wider audience.
Create hype around your pre-orders.
If you’re looking to hype up a new product, you can use the fleeting nature of Instagram stories to create a sense of urgency.
The Instagram stories format is perfectly designed for teasing customers about upcoming products. Tailor your story to create maximum excitement, include a link to a pre-order purchase page and watch the sales roll in!
Grow with giveaways and competitions.
It’s official. Nothing boosts your engagement on Instagram like a giveaway.
Instagram stories is the perfect place to advertise giveaways. Because of the sense of urgency Instagram stories create, time-sensitive giveaways do particularly well on this platform.
Putting a link to a giveaway in your story is a sure fire, tried and tested way to get traffic to your site, so if you’re not doing it already, now is the perfect time to get started!
Use your influence to sell stuff.
If you happen to be an influencer, you can use your Instagram stories links to advertise and sell products.
Check out how Ali (a fashion and style blogger from the Bachelorette) uses her influence and her Instagram story links to sell clothing below.
Ali often posts images of the outfits she’s wearing and includes links to where her followers can buy the individual items online.
Cleverly, she also includes discounts for the swipe up, further intensifying the desire to make a purchase.
Don’t go link crazy!
A word of caution. When it comes to adding links, make sure that you don’t go over the top.
It’s far too easy for marketers to get overzealous when it comes to adding links. But, you need to reign in this tendency if you want your campaign to be effective.
Limit yourself to 1 or 2 links per story. A single link in a 3 or 4 post story is enough to get you traffic and/or engagement. If your story is 6 to 8 pages, then, depending on the context, you could perhaps get away with 2.
Remember that millennials are savvy and nobody likes to be sold to constantly, so keep links subtle and keep them relevant.
It’s a good idea to include links that benefit the audience in some way. You could achieve this by offering a discount or some valuable information for example.
Time to get started!
That’s it guys. You now have all the information you need to kill it with Instagram stories links!
All you need to do is follow the tips above and you can’t go wrong. So what are you waiting for? Grab that phone and tell your Instagram story right now!