We already know that social media is a powerful marketing tool. Even if Google has said that social media is not a ranking factor (this is debatable—it very well might be), we’ve seen the importance of using social media to engage a community, build a brand’s voice, and promote content. However, once you build an audience on your social channels, how do you get their eyes from your beautifully curated feed to converting on your site? I’m going to focus on how you can drive organic traffic and conversions through Instagram (IG). The popular social network is not only a visually pleasing platform full of scenic drone shots, fashion bloggers, and doggie influencers, IG is also a platform that can be used to sell products. Instagram boasts the highest engagement rate of popular social networks and is second behind Facebook in number of monthly active users. And the app’s popularity keeps on growing: as of June 2018, IG has 1 billion monthly active users and announced a new long-form video app, IGTV.
I’m going to share five tips for driving traffic from your IG to your website organically (without paid ads).
1. Include a link in your bio
Every IG account only has one spot on their profile for a clickable link—that is, the “link in bio.” Use a shortened URL to keep this space clean and uncluttered. There should always be a link present in your bio—either to your homepage, shop, a promotional landing page, or wherever you’re hoping to drive traffic. Encourage users to visit this link by referring to your link in bio in the captions of your photos. “Link in bio” is the only location for hyperlinks that every account on IG is able to use. Business accounts with 10K or more followers have more hyperlinking opportunities that we’ll get into later.
Case Study: Bite Beauty, Urban Outfitters, and Into the Gloss
Many B2C brands, like Bite Beauty, will set the link in their bio to a shoppable feed of products featured on their account. Urban Outfitters links to a page on their website where they repost other accounts’ IG photos that feature their products (this encourages user-generated content, or UGC). Into the Gloss (ITG) follows a common approach, which is to use your link in bio to promote a new piece of content or product. ITG’s link goes to a new article on their blog about sunscreen, and they included a CTA on their most recent photo, encouraging their audience to click on their link in bio.
2. Creatively engage your audience to “swipe up” on Instagram Stories
My favorite Instagram feature is Stories because the feature provides even more opportunities for creativity. Instagram first launched Stories in August 2016, and as of November 2017, Stories has over 300M daily active users—meaning over 300 million people watch Stories every day, that’s more than Snapchat’s 187M daily active users. Stories is a relatively new feature, and for many brands, it is an untapped platform for creating and sharing content in a unique way.
Stories have a number of compelling features, including GIFs, location tags, stickers, boomerangs, and filters. Arguably the best feature of Stories is the ability for users to “swipe up” on a Story post. Business accounts with at least 10K followers have the option to add a link in their story. If your brand’s IG isn’t yet set up as a business account, get on it: business accounts have access to analytics data and special features. Users can access this link by swiping up on a Story post. Other than “link in bio,” adding a link to an IG story is the only other way to directly link to your website from IG.
Brands can use stories to creatively entertain and influence their audience. Stories should be fun, informative, and engaging—they should make users want to keep tapping through. They also shouldn’t overtly try to sell, even when including a link to a product or content piece. Stories disappear within 24 hours, but with the highlights feature, you can save your best Stories to your profile to continuously drive traffic to the links in your Stories.
Some ideas for creatively engaging your audience on stories include:
- Take your audience behind the scenes–let them see the personality of your office
- Provide demonstrations of products (and give sneak previews of new releases)
- Promote giveaways, and partner with influencers to “take over your IG story” for the day
- Add polls, post boomerang videos, use fun GIFs and stickers—make use of the growing list of stories features
Case Study: Glossier
It’s no secret that Glossier, a skincare/makeup startup founded by Emily Weiss, is crushing the social media game. Glossier gained a cult following largely through the use of social media and word of mouth. Glossier’s social media strategy focuses on building a community and gaining their audience’s trust. Glossier engage their audience in stories through:
- Behind the scenes: Glossier posts videos around the office where they ask employees questions or show off earlier iterations of a just-released product.
- Product demonstrations: Glossier posts videos of both makeup artists and their employees using their products, showing viewers how to create a look.
- Engaging their audience: Glossier encourages UGC by asking their followers what they’re looking for in new products, to review recent releases, and to tag them in photos. Glossier will repost follower’s content to their Stories.
3. Take advantage of the Shopping feature
In 2017, Instagram began rolling out a shoppable feed to business accounts with over 10K followers. This feature allows brands to link to their products directly from their IG photos, making it easy for users to purchase products directly from the app. Previously, the only way brands could link to products was through a single link in their bio. When a user taps on a photo with products tagged, they see annotations of each item’s name, price, and a link to the product page on the brand’s website. The user can also click on a “shop” button, visible on the top of a brand’s profile, to view a feed of all photos with products tagged. Test. Commerce is going to continue to grow on Instagram, as they just announced they’re rolling out shoppable stories.
Case Study: Madewell
Almost every photo on Madewell’s grid is shoppable (as indicated by the white shopping bag icon in the upper right hand corner of a photo). Even though Madewell’s posts link to products, their photos are not overtly selling a product, but rather present a pleasing visual experience. Madewell’s feed feels cohesive, displays a lifestyle their followers want to mimic, and their witty captions are relatable (i.e. “show ‘em who’s embossed” on their photo of sandals) while informing the brand’s identity.
4. Use analytics to understand your demographic and when to post
Instagram Insights provides business accounts with key metrics to help inform their posting strategy, including:
- Account Activity:
- Impressions (total number of times all of your posts have been seen)
- Reach (unique accounts that have seen any of your posts)
- Link clicks (number of clicks to your link in bio)
- Profile visits (number of times your profile was viewed)
- Content Insights—for posts and stories:
- Profile visits (number of times your profile was visited from a post)
- Follows (number of accounts that started following you)
- Reach (number of unique accounts that have seen your post)
- Impressions (total number of times your post was seen, and where they were seen from—homepage, hashtags, etc.)
- Taps forward
- Taps backward
- Completion rate (number of people who watched all the way through)
- Exits (number of people leaving your story)
Analyzing Instagram data can help you understand your audience and inform your social media strategy—when is the best time to post? When are your users most engaged? What kind of content is performing best? For example, if your videos have a wider reach, that could be a good indication that you should invest more time in creating and posting videos. Use your analytics to your advantage by posting when your users are the most active. Post 10 minutes before your audience’s peak activity time—that way, when users login, your content is waiting for them.
If you don’t have a business account yet and therefore don’t have access to analytics, studies show it is generally best to post between 8-9am and at 5pm (these times align with typical commuting hours). However, it’s best to experiment with posting at different times to determine when YOUR audience is the most active.
Instagram insights on a post:
I’m going to use my dog Millie’s Instagram account (isn’t she cute?) to show how Instagram Insights works. Millie has a business account, and I can see under the “activity” tab her account’s reach and impressions. From the “content” tab, I can see an overview of her recent feed posts and story posts, and when I click into a feed or story post I can see more data specific to that post.
5. Collaborate—Partner with other brands, influencers, and your audience
Collaborate with other brands, influencers, and your audience to increase traffic to your IG account and engagement (comments and likes) on your posts.
- Partner with other brands - Work with other brands to do a giveaway. Ask your followers to like and comment on the post to enter. Have other participating brands tag you in their post and ask their followers to also follow your account to enter.
- Sponsor an influencer - Chances are an influencer has a larger and more-engaged audience than your brand. Send them free products or sponsor a post on their feed to drive their followers to your IG. Make sure they tag your IG account and link to your website on their Story. I like to use BuzzSumo to find influencers.
- Encourage your audience to comment/like - Encourage your audience to interact with your content by responding to and liking their comments, writing captions that ask them questions, and reposting their photos on your Stories. If you repost their content, make sure to tag their account to give them credit.
The more your followers interact with your content, the more likely Instagram will serve your photos to the top of their feed. When Instagram sees likes and comments on your post, they’ll also see it as more valuable content and will be more likely to display your post on the explore page.
Case Study: Away
Away created their own hashtag (#travelaway) to encourage UGC. They’ll repost (and tag) their followers’ photos of their luggage that feature the hashtag #travelaway or that tag Away’s IG account. (If you search #travelaway on IG right there, there are over 29,000 posts). PLUS they’ll collaborate with IG influencers. (Just about every travel blogger/vlogger has one of these suitcases now and posts about them.)
Final Thoughts & Discussion
Are you ready to step up your Instagram game and start driving conversions? Instagram CAN be an effective tool for selling products and driving organic traffic to your website when used strategically. Consider doing a social media content audit to develop your content strategy and identify what your competitors are doing well.
What other tips do you have for driving traffic to your website from social channels?
Leave a comment and let us know!