Yes, you heard us correctly. This is not a drill. Instagram has finally released its much-anticipated update bringing link functionality to all users.

*Moment of silence for micro-influencers and social media marketers everywhere*

Instagram’s official statement reads.

“When we first introduced Stories links, the feature was limited to verified accounts or those with a certain number of followers. We’ve heard from the rest of our community that they also want to share things that matter with their friends and family.

Whatever you’re into, from cooking to volunteering or shopping, you now have a space to share in Stories – regardless of your account size.

This is an update that has been demanded by marketers and small businesses across the globe, and by finally releasing it, Instagram has provided unlimited potential to those who know how to use it effectively.

Market-leading brands and influencers have been using “Swipe up” links as they are commonly termed for years to promote products, drive traffic to their sites, and share news content and petitions where appropriate.

This feature will change the way in which many micro-influencers (users with less than 10k followers who usually possess highly engaged local audiences) interact with their followers. These creators will now be able to drive their audience to external sites, making them an even more enticing collaborator for small brands.

Any good marketer will tell you the importance of minimising areas of your customer journey where a prospective lead could potentially drop off, and one of the biggest gaps in a social media users’ journey is driving users from a profile or feed to a website landing page. Not only does this update remove this potential gap, but it does so with a bright and engaging link sticker, further encouraging users to click through.

This is an encouraging step in the right direction in terms of Instagram supporting smaller independent creators, but it also presents a great opportunity for social movements and individual accounts to support them.

Social Media has transformed from small networks built for connecting and communicating with friends and family to huge platforms engineered to influence purchasing decisions and ideas. Ecommerce companies capitalised on these channels early, but political movements and non-profits also noticed this emergence and began to think of ways in which these platforms can be used differently.

Today, it’s not unusual to navigate to Instagram and see stories featuring petitions, political news, highlighting injustices abroad or educating users on the power of democracy for change.

The past few years have seen huge media stories that have created social media-led movements, including the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, which sparked “Blackout Tuesday”, an event where users shared no content other than petitions and safety messaging.

At midday on Blackout Tuesday, Forbes had reported that over 28 million users had posted the same black square.

Now imagine if all these people had been able to direct their individual audiences to centralised petitions via stories, or perhaps a link to contact your local representatives to demand action via email, or even simply a news page educating users on the injustices that are happening.

Since this event, social media has been at the centre of many other injustices demanding action such as the murder of Sarah Everard. Before that, it was Times Up and #MarchForOurLives.

Providing all users with the ability to share links is something that should have happened a long time ago, and it will benefit a whole host of different users and businesses in a wide variety of ways.

One thing is for sure, it’s safe to say that this update may have more of an impact than simply driving product sales.

This opinion piece was written by our Social Media Executive, Ben Harrison. Visit our blog for more social media and marketing news, or explore First Internet’s social media services today.

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