Instagram Stories continues to update and expand its set of artistic and geospatial features and capabilities. Stories are now equipped with an array of information-markers, including live hashtags, mentions, and geotags, to create more lively and dynamic posts. The recent introduction of “story links” allows verified users to link the photos and videos in their stories to outside webpages, accessed simply by swiping upwards to “see more”. This feature bypasses the previous restrictions Instagram users faced when trying to include live, clickable web links to their posts. However, only verified users have the ability to include this feature into their stories.
For verified influencers, this tool has the potential to change the nature and scope of their partnerships and campaigns. The inclusion of a direct webpage link can drive followers to outside content, more so than a tagged mention or live hashtag. By swiping up, Instagram users arrive at the exact desired web destination put forth by the influencer. This feature serves as an effective method to maximize blog post readership, for example, and subsequently increase advertisement revenue, if ads appear on the blog. Additionally, story links can deliver a follower directly to a product page, presenting the opportunity to make a purchase within a few clicks, all without leaving the Instagram app. Similar to the app’s “shop now” feature which business accounts have access to, influencers can push products to their followers and increase the likelihood of impulse shopping. Shopping via social media is already optimized with the ability to store one’s credit/debit card information on his or her smartphone. This creates a welcoming environment for e-commerce, and the potential to influence consumer behavior.
Combining a linked product page with the artistic and personalization capacities of stories masks some of the more traditional indications of an advertisement, creating a less intrusive experience of an ad campaign or partnership. Vetro Analytics quoted in 2016, 85% of the time consumers spent on their smartphones was in apps, as opposed to exterior mobile browsing. The amount of time users spend on smartphone applications suggests a high level of browsing comfort, and arguably, comfort is a precursor to making a purchase. Trusting in both the influencer and the app sets the conditions for making a purchase, where the incentive to buy lies in the recommendation of the influencer, and the access to the product is provided by the linked webpage.
Although the “link in bio” days are not gone for good, this update may be foreshadowing a future where Instagram users can include hyperlinks in their captions, further expanding the scope of campaigns with influencers.
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