These easy-to-implement strategies can help you use clickable links on Instagram and drive free traffic from the platform to your website. Instagram is notorious for not being link-friendly, but this facade is quick to fade. Sure, you can’t link a standard Instagram post, but this doesn’t mean the platform can’t drive significant traffic to your site.
Let’s dive into the strategic ways to add clickable links and earn free website traffic from Instagram.
- Post consistently
- Don’t preach—tell stories instead
- Build a strong brand
- Have a visually consistent feed
- Choose the right hashtags
- Create a branded hashtag
- Focus on user-generated content
- Explore the full range of Instagram video formats
- Use Instagram video subtitles and closed captions
- Embrace Instagram AR filters
- Take advantage of Instagram’s video ad formats
- Give Gifs a chance
- Use Instagram traffic to increase website traffic
- Use SEO to ‘win’ Instagram
- Partner with micro-influencers to create brand authenticity
- Host an Instagram contest
- Convert Instagram followers into email subscribers
- Embrace Instagram Stories
- Add a link to Instagram Stories
- Use emojis effectively
- Promote your Instagram channel on other social accounts
- Add CTAs, everywhere
- Track and learn from your best-performing Instagram content
- Add Action Buttons to Your Instagram Profile
- Partner with Instagram Influencers
1. Post consistently
According to studies, the sweet spot is a consistent 1-2 posts a day. This way your feed stays fresh and relevant, and you have more opportunities to attract eyeballs to your content. Knowing when the best time to post on Instagram is is also critical especially when dealing with Instagram’s algorithmic timeline.
Recommended post times can vary wildly depending on which expert you listen to. With some advocating 8 AM – 9 AM or 2 PM – 5 PM for your first post to even 5 AM for your second, this inconsistency can create genuine confusion for content planners.
2. Don’t preach—tell stories instead
You should captivate audiences through images, video, and text, not simply preach marketing missives at them. To increase engagement rates, become a storyteller instead, offering ‘micro-stories’ via your captions, videos, Instagram stories and profile. People today crave connection, and storytelling is a way to create this experience. When people feel an emotional connection to your content, they are much more likely to buy into it and share it with their peers.
3. Build a strong brand
Try to focus on core areas like presenting your profile, creating style patterns that keep your images looking fresh, and mastering hashtag use. You should also be interacting regularly with your followers to build up engagement and loyalty. By roadmapping your processes and brand best practices for Instagram, you can present a positive and consistent brand to your target audience.
4. Have a visually consistent Instagram feed
Although glossy perfection is falling out of style, the heart of Instagram is visual content and that will never change.
Today, users gravitate towards authentic expression and diverse perspectives. Visually, high-saturation filters and perfectly-positioned avocado toasts have been replaced with candid shots, muted, earthy tones and a low-key editing style. A popular look is to reduce highlights and increase the brightness of photos, without touching the colors themselves too much, resulting in a natural look. Some people even go for a “no-edit edit”.
But more important than following any specific editing style is to have a visually consistent feed. According to a WebDam social media report, 60% of the best-performing brands on Instagram have a consistent look every time they post. Your look should match with your brand identity and appeal to the audience you’re trying to attract.
5. Choose the right hashtags
Make your hashtags too generic – think #christmas or #fashion – and your post will face competition from potentially millions of others. Instead, use a mix of trending and industry-specific hashtags to find the best hashtag to connect with your targeted followers.
For the best results, research each hashtag. Look at the type of content and the number of likes on its top-performing posts—if your content matches up, you’ve got yourself a winning hashtag. The number of hashtags you deploy is also critical. While Instagram allows for up to 30, a mass of tags underneath your caption risks looking both untargeted and unprofessional. That’s why 91% of posts by top brands use seven or fewer hashtags to get many likes. According to some, posts with over 11 hashtags get the most interaction. Even one hashtag can increase engagement on your post by up to 12.6%.
6. Create a branded hashtag
The best starting point is a general branded hashtag. It should be short, memorable and include your brand name in some form.
The benefits of a branded hashtag are to make your content more discoverable, drive traffic to your profile and create a stronger community around your brand. It will also help you organize your content, making it easily findable and trackable. Place the hashtag in your bio, so that it’s easily visible to anyone visiting your profile.
7. Focus on user-generated content
It’s an approach that has paid dividends for the best user-generated content campaigns. User-generated content on Instagram is the holy grail for marketers. It’s a chance for followers to involve themselves more deeply with a brand while reducing marketing costs because content is being created and approved by your audience.
8. Explore the full range of Instagram video formats
A picture may be worth a thousand words, but a video is worth 1.8 million.
From Instagram Stories that can mash up videos and stills into a single ad. to standalone 60-second videos ideal for long-form features, make sure you use the strengths of each video format. For instance, consider Instagram stories’ live video option for a Q&A or big reveals about new products or services or use a prerecorded ad to offer up authentic, behind-the-scenes stories to your followers to increase Instagram engagement. And don’t forget about IGTV. Although some experts have proclaimed the feature dead, the diagnosis might be premature.
Originally, Instagram intended IGTV to be a destination for original long-form video content. Adoption has struggled though, with 72% of brands reporting no intention to create IGTV content in 2019. However, this also presents an opportunity for savvy marketers. Being a first-mover on IGTV, brands will have less competition for views. Plus, they’ll be working in a unique, mobile-friendly layout that’s perfect for evergreen content, like featurettes and interviews.
9. Use Instagram video subtitles and closed captions
According to Instagram, 60% of stories are viewed with sound on… meaning that 40% are viewed without sound.
With video increasingly dominating the online space, audio has become a poor cousin with a significant number of users preferring not to enable sound when viewing a video. It’s why subtitles have become so essential for marketers, enabling core messaging to be delivered on-screen alongside visuals.
Research from Facebook (Instagram’s parent company), shows that captioning videos increases average video view times by 12%. Messaging effectiveness is also boosted massively, boasting a success rate of 82% compared to 18% with sound on and zero captions. Another study found that 80% of people said captions would make them more likely to watch the enitre video. You can create an auto-captioned video on Facebook which you can save and post on Instagram (though be sure to check any captioning for errors) or, alternatively, you can create your own dedicated captioning file. To learn more about how to add closed captions, head here.
While no one can deny the attention-grabbing power of captions, they’re officially not part of Instagram’s best practices for stories. Most stories are still watched with sound on. And, once a user enables sound, it’s on until they disable it—making it important to still invest in providing a great sound experience.
10. Embrace Instagram AR filters
Instagram opened up the creation of AR filters to the public with its Spark AR Studio last year. Since then, AR has taken the app by storm, with some of the best filters getting well over 1 billion views.
While still primarily popular among younger users, there is a growing industry around AR filters and many brands are opting for producing their own. As a brand, try creating AR video effects that allow your followers to experience your product or recreate your visual style.
11. Take advantage of Instagram’s video ad formats
With 75% of Instagrammers stating that they take actions “like visiting sites, searching, or telling a friend” after being influenced by a post, mastering the platform’s range of advertisement formats is essential. While photo ads remain a stalwart of the platform, Instagram video formats are an increasingly invaluable tool for targeting a selected audience.
The platform offers three key video formats to create Instagram ads: single video ads offer the opportunity to create up to 60-second commercials, ‘carousels’ allow more message real estate by enabling followers to swipe across for additional images or videos, and Instagram Stories offers a vertical full-screen format where images and videos can be spliced together to create visually-arresting ads.
12. Give GIFs a chance
With research showing more people watch to the end of videos that are 15 seconds or less, learning how to create and how to post a GIF should be mandatory for marketing departments. Celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2017, the GIF format is more appealing than photos – GIFs are shared more than either JPEG or PNG formats – and are more cost and time effective than producing videos.
13. Use Instagram traffic to increase website traffic
Instagram traffic can help boost visits to your website with the platform allowing for a single clickable link in your bio.
Maximize the potential of your link with special offers and promotions to encourage followers to click through. You should also combine strong calls to action with your URL in a text overlay on any images or videos. In Instagram stories, you can insert a link with a “Swipe Up” CTA if you have over 10k followers. Don’t forget that all of Instagram’s ad formats offer a call-to-action button that followers can click on to take them to your website.
If you have partnered with an influence, work with them to promote your URL in their own content as well. Finally, to ensure you can view relevant traffic stats, deploy analytics software to glean insights on which Instagram content is driving traffic to your website so you can target your campaign further.
14. Use SEO to ‘win’ Instagram
Instagram and SEO might not seem like the most obvious of bedfellows – but creating an SEO strategy for your Instagram account is vital on the increasingly competitive platform.
The two key areas that affect SEO are your account handle and account name. The first is the ‘@’ name that you register with, which should clearly reflect the sector in which your business operates. Make this short, sweet and memorable. Then there’s your account name, which appears under your profile picture and should reflect your account handle and industry. When people search Instagram using words or emojis, it’s your account name that Instagram will check searches against.
Insert your industry or a keyword related to your business in the name field to get the most out of this feature. The key here is to think of words people would use when searching on Instagram.
15. Partner with micro-influencers to create brand authenticity
Instagram influencer marketing has become increasingly significant these days, allowing marketers to work with key thought leaders in their sector and push brand messaging out to a wider audience.
Because influencers are seen as ‘independent’, aligning your brand with their authoritative voice can add genuine authenticity to your messaging. How to select the right influencer can be challenging though. Marketers can fall for the glamor of working with a celebrity instead of focusing on what the influencer can actually bring to the table. It’s essential that marketers understand the definition of what is an influencer in the first place, planning out an influencer strategy that features a short trial campaign period to see how receptive the influencer’s network of followers is to your brand.
16. Host an Instagram contest
Contests are a powerful engagement tool on Instagram, generating 3.5 times more likes and 64 times more comments than regular posts. Despite this, they’re regularly overlooked by brands, with only 2% of accounts hosting contests and a mere 0.6% of posts actually offering them in the first place. This means there’s a huge, relatively untapped resource for marketers to capitalize on.
An especially popular contest type on Instagram is the giveaway. This involves giving away a product or service, and users enter the contest by following your account, liking the post and tagging their friends in your post. If the giveaway is executed well, this can be a powerful tactic to boost engagement and brand awareness.
How to run an Instagram contest requires planning, from partnering with another brand to increase reach and identifying contest rules and goals – for instance, ‘enter to win’, ‘like to win’ or ‘follow to win’ – to the creation of the attention-grabbing contest post. Once ready to deploy, strategize the contest’s promotion; along with Instagram ads, think email blasts, website banners, social network plugs and more.
17. Convert Instagram followers into email subscribers
Email remains the de facto channel for building truly deep customer relations. It’s why brands strive to convert Instagram followers into email subscribers via three established steps designed to create effective Instagram marketing for email.
First, create a clickable incentive in your Instagram posts depending on your target audience. For instance, consider offering a prize, free content, or a discount.
Second, once the audience clicks through, ensure the landing page features a strong call to action linked to an email submission form.
Third, create a mailing list to effectively wrangle your new email subscribers so you can begin to develop more meaningful relationships with them.
18. Embrace Instagram Stories
Instagram stories have become the most popular feature on the platform with 500 million users every day. There is even talk that stories are becoming the main feature of Instagram, even replacing the main feed. It perhaps shouldn’t come as a surprise then that one-third of the most viewed Instagram stories actually come from businesses.
Stories enable you to post a mix of photos and images in a single post that disappears after 24 hours. But their benefits can last much longer for your reach and engagement rates, pushing up your chances of appearing in the Explore section and helping you gain new followers in the process. Using stories can make your brand seem more authentic and approachable, and create a sense of urgency that keeps users coming back to engage with your brand.
Critically, followers are automatically notified of any new prerecorded or live stories. Live stories are ideal for drawing people in because they’re happening in the moment, while pre recorded stories are perfect for in-depth coverage of your products, one-time quick fire promotions, or sharing narratives.
19. Add a link to Instagram Stories
Previously only available to verified Instagram account holders, you can now add a “See More” link to a story if you have a business account and 10,000 followers or more.
To add a link, you’ll need to upload your photo or video to Instagram as before. Next, you tap the link icon at the top of the screen. Type in the link, do a quick preview to check all is well and hit ‘done’. Remember to add a CTA to your story, so that users know what they are swiping up for. That might seem like a simple option, but it’s an essential one for driving even more Instagram traffic to your website.
20. Use emojis effectively
The power of images over words extends to emojis—especially on Instagram. One study found that emojis are used by 92% of the online population.
With thousands of emojis available (and climbing), it is essential to create a strategy on how to use emojis that captures your brand without looking too informal. Used right, emojis can help you insert personality and fun into your brand, and help build a more emotional connection to your audience.
21. Promote your Instagram channel on other social accounts
Spread the word about your Instagram channel as far as possible. For instance, promote your Instagram account on Facebook by making an announcement on FB with a clickable link to your Instagram page.
You can also exploit Instagram’s auto-post and cross-promotional tools. The cross-promotional tools allow you to instantly post from Instagram to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and more, bringing followers together from across your social networks. Remember not to cross-promote all your Instagram posts to other social channels or you risk ‘cannibalizing’ your content, negating the need for followers to visit your Instagram channel in the first place.
22. Add CTAs, everywhere
Followers may love your Instagram ads, but be sure that all that love actually leads somewhere by using a powerful Instagram call to action. While CTAs can be introduced into your profile, images or caption copy, the most direct way to increase interaction rates and push followers in a certain direction is to make use of the official CTA buttons that Instagram makes available to enterprise.
These appear below your post and are ideal for delivering short, punchy CTAs such as ‘Learn More’ and ‘Call Now’ that snare followers’ attention. For the best Instagram call to action examples and how to create them, head here.
23. Track and learn from your best-performing Instagram content
Learn the ‘formula’ of content that will drive up your Instagram engagement rates, using it to further hone your Instagram marketing strategy. There are many ways to do so, whether through identifying the most effective hashtags and visual styles or through learning when the best times are to post.
24. Add Action Buttons to Your Instagram Profile
Sometimes it’s worth stopping and thinking about why you want to drive traffic.
Is it for people to contact you by phone, email, or text? Maybe it is to book an appointment, reserve a table, or buy tickets for an event? All these actions and more can be taken directly on Instagram with profile action buttons. By cutting out the middle man of your website, you could drive more conversions.
25. Partner with Instagram Influencers
- You don’t have a large Instagram presence?
- You get very few views on your post or IGTV?
- You can’t link stories?
While you work on it, partner with a brand ambassador who has the reach. Not only can this amplify your brand message, but in parallel your sessions. There are thousands of influencers on Instagram – but a high number of followers isn’t enough.
Consider how their audience aligns with yours and how the endorsement of your brand will be received. As you’re working out the agreement, ensure you include guidance to the influencer to use effective calls to action to send their followers to your website.