How Media Companies Are Using Instagram To Drive Traffic

Photo of Hugh StephensHugh Stephens Posted

Instagram for business. Who would have thought that an app designed for sharing visual content would become such a powerful marketing tool?

Instagram currently has over a billion monthly active users. That is roughly three times more than Twitter! And as it has gotten more and more popular, Instagram has slowly added features that make it even more attractive as a social media marketing tool.

Major brands and media companies are using Instagram to interact with their community and earn themselves customers who are personally invested. And they keep coming back for more.

One thing that is unique about Instagram versus other social media platforms is that there are actually very few ways to drive traffic to a website of your choice.

It’s not impossible though, so read on to find out how smart media companies are using Instagram to increase traffic and grow their brand.

1. Switch to a Professional Account

How to switch a personal Instagram account to a professional account

When signing up for Instagram, it automatically creates a personal account. However, a business or professional account has added features that are essential if you want to drive traffic to your website.

Call to Action Buttons

The first benefit of this is the Call To Action buttons that are added to your profile. You can decide which ones to use; they include “Call”, “Message”, and “Email”. In order to activate these CTA buttons, you will need to fill in all of your contact information.

This includes:

  • Phone number
  • Email Address
  • Physical location.

Your physical address doesn’t create a CTA, but it does allow users to click on your location. And it will automatically open in Google Maps! In other words, Instagram can not only drive online traffic to your website – but it can also drive foot traffic to your door!

There is also the option to add a CTA button for some third party appointment booking apps such as Appointments by Facebook, Eventbrite, Quandoo and others. In order to do this, you will need your personal URL for whichever one of these services you may use.

Insights

Then there is the “Insights” feature. The analytics provided are not very detailed, but they are a great way to get a quick look at how well your Instagram account is working for you. The insights provided are divided into three main categories.

  • The first of these is “Content.” This shows you everything you have posted in the last seven day period, as well as how that compares to the week before. You can also view all your posts as they are divided into “Feed Posts,” “Stories” and “Promotions.”
  • The “Activity” tab is where you can view how many people have interacted with your posts or profile in the last seven days. Here you can see how many times you have been “Discovered” by users on the browse for content in whatever category they’re interested in.
  • The last tab is “Audience.” Here is where you will see how many new followers you have gotten in the previous week and whether this is more or less than the week before. Once you reach 100 followers, even more information about them becomes available to you. This information includes details such as which cities or countries most of your followers are from.

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2. Use the Instagram “Promote” feature 

Promote feature on Instagram

Another great benefit only available to Professional or Business accounts on Instagram is the Promote feature. What this does is allow you to create an Instagram advert by promoting a post of your choice.

All you need to do is scroll to the post you want to use, click on “Promote” and follow the easy guide. Or else you can use the “Promotions” shortcut in your profile. Then follow the steps to post the advert.

  • Choose the audience you would like to see the advert from the options provided.
  • Decide what your budget is and how long you’d like the advert to run for.
  • Finally, select what you’d like the CTA button on the advert to do. There are four options you can choose here, however, the two you would want to use are either “Your Website” or “Your Storefront.”

Some popular Call To Actions on Instagram adverts that take users to a website outside of Instagram are “Sign up,” “Learn More,” “Apply Now” and “Shop Now.”

Remember that Instagram now has a built-in shopping feature that allows users to buy a product directly from your Instagram feed. However, you do have to pay a percentage of each sale over to Instagram if you decide to use their storefront rather than directing users to your own.

It may take more than a day before your advert is posted. Instagram has a very strict advertising policy that every single user must abide by. In order to verify your Instagram advert, you may have to link or authenticate your Instagram account with a Facebook one first.

There is also no minimum ad spend on Instagram. You can set your daily spend to $5, and pause the campaign as soon as it reaches $1. Although that may be defeating the point of an ad campaign a little!

Another way to create Instagram adverts is by using the Facebook Ads Manager, and the process here is nearly identical. So if you’ve ever published an ad using this tool, then you may prefer to stick with what you know and create your advert that way.

3. Use Instagram Stories to their full advantage

Instagram stories and highlights

There are over 500 million people creating and interacting with Instagram Stories every single day. To help you understand the marketing potential of this – Twitter has roughly 330 million active users per month.

So in one day, more people use one Instagram feature than use an entire social media platform for a whole month.

In other words, if you’re not using Instagram Stories as part of your social media marketing strategy, then you are quite simply – crazy. You’re missing out on an insane amount of potential traffic every time you choose to Tweet rather than “Share your story.”

The other great thing about Stories is that there are multiple formats you can use. Post a single image, or single short video clip. Or you can create a carousel type post with multiple images or multiple video clips that together make one video. You can also combine both.

Besides the fact that Instagram Story posts are more popular and encourage engagement more than any other on the platform, there is also a range of benefits that are only available with them. If you would like to know how to create a Story, read our previous post on Story Highlights here.

The main benefit of Instagram Stories is the “Swipe Up” feature. This allows you to add a link to any part or slide in your Story. That means that with Instagram Stories, you can send whoever is viewing it wherever you would like to.

This could be to a product page, a recent blog article, your home page, YouTube channel, or any landing page of your choice. You could even send someone to an article that you just found interesting and have to share with your followers.

One Story post can link to multiple pages as well; you don’t have to create two different Stories that are essentially the same if you would like to send someone to individual products or pages that are both part of a collection. For example, two different posts about different Instagram Story features!

Various Stickies are available that are just fun to use! But if used correctly they can help new followers find you, promote your brand and also drive traffic.

You can add a Location to your slide, @mention someone (another person in the image or video clip, or a collaborator for example), and add a hashtag to increase your Discovers. To increase engagement, use polls, let viewers ask you anything, create a poll or quiz, or start a chat thread. 

By using Story Highlights – these Stories can live on your profile forever, or as long as you want them to at least. That means that they become a permanent way to drive traffic to your content.

And with a URL shortener like Bit.ly, you can track which links are doing this best and adjust your strategy accordingly.

4. Use the IGTV and #linkinbio hacks to direct users to your website

The “Swipe Up” feature in Instagram Stories is unfortunately not available to everyone. You have to have a business account, which is easy enough. But you also need to have 10,000 plus followers in order to use this feature.

Getting that many followers is no easy task, and it could take some time. But there are two very clever little workarounds that will still allow you to direct Instagram users to your web page, YouTube video or shopfront. 

For the first one, you will be using IGTV to direct users to a link of your choice. For the second, you will be using the @mention stickie and a link in your Instagram bio.

These both involve a little more effort than swiping up, but they are an effective way to get people who are interested to visit the link you choose.

Method One: Using an IGTV Story to direct users to your link

IGTV Story to direct users to a link

Step One: Create an IGTV video

The first thing you will need to do is create a video that you can upload to IGTV. You might want to do that from within the dedicated IGTV app, but for the purpose that we want to use it for you can do everything you need to from Instagram itself. 

What this video looks like is completely up to you – you could record yourself pointing upward and to the right and actually telling people to click on the link. Or, you can create a “static” video with arrows pointing to the spot you want people to click on.

Recording your screen while you create an image for your Instagram Story is another great idea.

Step Two: Add a title and description for your IGTV video

This is the most important part of the whole process. While you could give your video any title you like, it would be a good idea to reinforce your CTA by naming it “Click here for the link” or something similar.

And now the most crucial step of all – the description for your video. Here, there is no need to add any other text but the link you want to direct users to, although it is a good idea to add something short and sweet.

The best part? This link is clickable. All the viewer has to do is tap, and off they go to whatever you wanted them to see.

Step Three: Create an Instagram Story

Once you have a video uploaded to IGTV, you will see that you now have the “link” option available when you create an Instagram Story. Don’t get too excited – you still won’t be able to link to any webpage. But you will be able to link your Instagram Story to the IGTV video of your choice. 

Click on the link, add the correct IGTV video, and, like magic, you have a “Swipe Up” link on your Instagram Story.

Method Two: Use the @mention stickie in your Story

Using the @mention stickie in Instagram story

Step One: Create your Story

This step is very simple, and we’ve explained it before. The one difference is that at least one of the video clips or images in your Story need to include a CTA to “Click Here.” Where and what exactly the CTA is pointing to is up to you.

It could be your business logo or a midsized icon. Whatever it is, it needs to be noticeable and if possible, something that will disguise the @mention stickie you’re going to add in the next step a little.

Step Two: Add the @mention stickie

What the @mention stickie does is take a user to that person’s profile page. And from there – directly to the link in their bio as well. Typically you would be mentioning yourself in the post because you want to direct users to the link on your profile.

But you could also mention one of your team members, an influencer or some other person whose bio link you want a viewer to visit. Now you need to make the stickie small enough to not be noticed, and place it on top of the logo, icon or element that your CTA is pointing to.

Step Three: Use a service like Sked Link

Instagram wants its users to stay in the Instagram app. And to help ensure this, the only place they allow you to add a clickable link is in your bio. What many people do is simply direct visitors to their home page or something similar.

What Sked Link does is effectively allow you to have more than one link in your Instagram bio. So now you will be able to direct people who visit your bio to your YouTube channel, a specific blog post, your home page or any landing page of your choice.

Step Four: Put your custom Sked Link in your bio

The final step – but the most important one. First, you will need to build and publish your Sked Link. Once that is done, add your personalized Sked Link to your Instagram profile. And you are done. Now visitors to your bio will be able to choose from a selection of links that you decide on.

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5. Leverage #hashtags

Although Twitter is the most well-known place for hashtags, the fact is that you can use them on just about any social media platform, whether this is YouTube, Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest.

And, as people don’t necessarily want to follow a hundred different accounts with the kind of content they’re interested in, they’ll often follow a hashtag instead.

Instagram posts can easily get lost in the clamour of someone’s feed. But with hashtags, those posts remain discoverable forever. So do some research on trending and popular hashtags and add about five to each post.

Avoid generic ones like #marketing and opt for more specific tags like #mediacompany so that your post doesn’t get lost in a sea of content.

You can also use your caption to direct people to your #linkinbio. Try not to make your caption too long though. Instagram is first and foremost a visual platform. People are not going there to read mini-articles no matter how great you think they are!

6. Collaborate with influencers and engage with followers

The best way to increase your traffic from Instagram is to get more followers. And the two easiest ways to do this are to interact with your current followers and collaborate with influencers whose followers would be interested in your content.

User-generated content (UGC) is the easiest way to get fresh, interesting content for your own Instagram feed. Sharing, reposting or “regraming” a post, as it is known on Instagram, is not as easy as with other social media platforms. But there are apps that allow you to do this. And if the original poster has allowed sharing of their Stories, then you can add it to yours.

So, search for a specific tag or create a unique hashtag for your brand and wait for Instagram to provide your content for you. Remember to always tag the original poster in your caption or comments and add a couple of hashtags of your own as well.

You can also approach an influencer and sponsor a Story or post on their feed. With the Instagram “paid partnership” tag, you can now have influencers feature your product or service, mention you in a story and also add a link to “Swipe Up” to your website.

Another collaborator idea is the Instagram takeover. What you are essentially doing is creating a Story or post for your own Instagram account, only it is being posted by someone else. So you share your content with their audience, possibly earning new followers in the process.

You could also swop accounts for a takeover. This means someone in a related niche posts something on your feed that your followers may be interested in, while you post something on their feed.

Whether you use the official “Swipe Up” feature or one of the “Swipe Up” hacks – you are putting your brand in front of new faces that may not have been aware of it any other way.

7. Use IGTV to create “commercials”

IGTV is Instagram’s answer to YouTube, and the great thing about it is that it allows you to post videos that are longer than 15 seconds. In fact, the minimum length of an IGTV video is 15 seconds! Users can set up a channel and share videos that are up to an hour long. 

Not everyone has access to such long videos at first. But even those people who currently have no followers can post videos up to ten seconds long. That is usually more than enough to get whatever message you want to share across.

Originally, you were only able to create IGTV vertical or portrait videos. But Instagram announced in May that they would now support landscape videos as well. Many will prefer to stick to the portrait format – this does make it easier to create certain types of videos.

Another way to use IGTV is to turn them into what is effectively a commercial. Add a text call to action asking viewers to visit your website. Or, simply add the URL as a text overlay on your video. That way, viewers know where to find you if your video piques their interest.

The very best thing about IGTV video though? Any link you add in the description of your video is clickable. You don’t need 10,000 followers or any kind of hack for it to work. Simply paste it in, add a CTA directing viewers to check out your description and you get potential customers that are already engaged heading for the page of your choice.

Create a teaser for your YouTube videos, a video tie-in for your blog posts, tutorial videos for your Story Highlights or a simple commercial about your brand, product or service. Then add a trackable link to measure which videos and which links generate the most traffic from Instagram.

Instagram prefers its users to stay in their app. They don’t make it easy to drive traffic to another website. However, with these seven tips, Instagram becomes more than a way to boost your brand awareness and attract potential leads.

With a smart strategy and creative thinking, you can bring all that Instagram traffic straight to your website as well. And with Instagram being designed around creating loyal followers – the potential for organic web traffic never fades.

Photo of Hugh StephensHugh Stephens

Hugh Stephens

Hugh runs Sked Social, and has strong opinions about the future of the social media space.

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