Are you using Instagram to drive traffic to your website?
A few years ago, people would have laughed at you if you asked that question.
The photo sharing social network made its name for selfies, food snaps and image-distorting filters.
But now with over 600 million users, you might be missing a trick if it’s not on your radar as a traffic source.
The problem website owners, digital marketers and small businesses face with Instagram, is that it’s a totally different playing field to the more established social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
If you use the same tactics on Instagram in an attempt to drive website traffic, that have worked on these other networks, you’ll likely fall flat and get no results.
So how then do you actually make the most of this fast growing audience of highly engaged users?
Let’s unpack 10 things you can do right away to get more traffic from Instagram:
1. Optimise your profile
One of the quirks with Instagram is that you can’t include click-able website links in your photo shares or comments. This makes it extremely hard to maximise the amount of people that go from Instagram back to your website.
The one place you CAN include a click-able link back to your site is on your profile page. Like this example from Nike:
Because this is the only place you are allowed to include a click-able link, you need to make the most of it.
Here are some guidelines to consider when choosing what to link to from your Instragram profile page:
- What is the most important page on your website? If it’s your home page, link straight to it. However, if you have a services page, product directory or some other page that is important you may like to choose that.
- Don’t just set and forget. This could be a link to ANY page on your website, so don’t just choose one and forget about it. If you happen to be running a contest, campaign or just have a new blog post you’d like more traffic for, change up this link and direct people to those pages.
- Make sure the link you use is track-able. Just like with any kind of marketing, you need to track how well something is performing so you can test, iterate and improve over time. Use a site such as Bit.ly or a simple Google UTM parameter tag on the URL you use on this page, so that you can see how many conversions it is driving.
2. Focus on brand consistency
Success on Instagram is about consistently turning up with high-quality content and engaging with your audience. This idea of consistency is where most businesses fall over.
Consistency is more than just “how regularly” you post images. It’s about your brand colours, your posting schedule, the type of images you use, the commentary associated with those images, as well as the other posts and accounts you like and follow. All of these things contribute to a consistent brand message and overall impression of your business.
By being consistent in all of these areas it builds trust with your Instagram followers and encourages other people to not only follow your account, but also check out what’s on the other side – your website.
A great example of brand consistency on Instagram is Modcloth:
Modcloth lead the way with all of their social media activity from a branding perspective. Their photos are all high quality, with a consistent vibrant colour scheme that highlights what their brand is all about.
Of course this tactic doesn’t offer an immediate boost in website traffic, if that’s what you are after. But you need to look at things with a long-term perspective.
If you run ads to people on Instagram, pay influencers, run contests, host online events, or giveaway offers, it is going to send more and more people to your profile where all of your images and posts are there to see. If these posts don’t quickly build trust and brand equity then your conversions from profile view to website traffic will be non-existent.
3. Use an aggressive follower growth strategy
It’s not necessarily a simple equation from “followers” to “traffic”, but if you are regularly gaining new followers it certainly increases your chance of being noticed.
The more people that follow your profile, the more people that will see your site link, and inevitably the more people that will make their way back to your website.
Quickly growing your Instagram following used to be a very time-intensive activity. It required you to always be present, liking, commenting, and following other profiles.
These days you can achieve all of those things with some smart automation tools such as Instagress. Instagress automates a large proportion of the regular activity you would need to do on Instagram in order to grow your following.
For example, you can automatically like and comment on Instagram posts based on a set of filters and interest tags. The tool also allows you to follow and un-follow accounts based on similar parameters.
This style of automation can land you in hot water with Instagram and even get your account banned if you don’t know some basic rules. However, Instagress unlike many other tools have built this know-how into their system.
For example, you can pre-set the “Speed” at which you like, comment, follow and un-follow other accounts using some simple dropdown menus.
Just like this:
For each metric, Instagress lets you know the recommended rate of interaction per hour so you don’t send off alarm bells and risk getting your account in trouble.
4. Make the most of online events
Did you know that over 60% of marketers are using webinars or online events as a part of their content marketing programs?
It’s because they work, and people love them. Nothing beats a free live online presentation because the perceived value is significant for the viewer compared to many other forms of content.
So with that in mind, and your desire to drive more website traffic from Instagram, consider hosting an online event and promoting it with your visuals on the social network.
Here is a great example of Ramit Sethi promoting one of his online events on Instagram:
What you’ll notice from this example is that the image is well designed, brand congruent and includes a very clear value proposition. Then in the comments section, Ramit has included a longer description as well as a unique link for people to copy and paste into their Internet browser.
Do you think that hosting an online event is beyond your capability? Think again. With the webinar software available today, for essentially any budget, hosting an online event has never been easier.
5. Run an Instagram ad campaign
If you truly want to drive traffic and conversions from Instagram, don’t be afraid of paying to play.
The Instagram ad network isn’t a new kid on the block anymore, and because of its relationship with Facebook the targeting is pretty amazing. The added benefit of advertising on Instagram is that these sponsored posts tend to have a higher recall than many other online advertising platforms.
If you’re already familiar with Facebook ads, getting started with Instagram is going to be a quick transition. You can even choose to manage your campaigns through Facebook’s ad manager itself.
Below is an example of an Instagram sponsored post from clothing brand Forcast:
As you can see the sponsored post looks very much similar to a regular Instagram post, which helps with user engagement and acceptance. The primary difference is that you can include a click-able call-to-action with your Instagram ad that sends people straight to your website.
6. Leverage the reach of influencers
If you want to drive website traffic from Instagram, it doesn’t necessarily have to be from your own profile.
Just like any well-established social network, Instagram has influencers. Influencers are people with a lot of followers and engagement on their profile already, who are specifically targeted towards your ideal customers.
If you can work with influencers, on a paid or non-paid basis, to feature your website, product or offer in one of their posts, it can result in a huge uptick in traffic for your business.
Some of the most common ways to work with influencers and exchange value are to:
- Offer them free products or merchandise,
- Offer them a monetary incentive, or;
- Offer them a commission on any direct sales that come from the promotion.
It’s important to work with the right influencers and make sure you don’t “over-sell” your product to their audience. Subtle product placement that is smoothly integrated with their regular Instagram posts work the most effectively.
If you’re looking to find some relevant Instagram influencers that you can collaborate with, you may like to check out a marketplace such as InstaBrand that pairs businesses with relevant influencers:
7. Create teaser blog images
Another effective way to take people from Instagram back to your website is with engaging blog content.
If you regularly publish high-quality blogs on your site, Instagram can serve as a platform for distributing those posts to a larger audience.
The easiest way to use Instagram to increase views of your blog posts is to repurpose your blog images along with a brief description, URL and some hashtags.
Jeff Bullas does this for all of his blog posts as you can see below:
The drawback to this tactic as a traffic-building strategy is still the fact that you can’t include a click-able link in the comments section, which means that people will need to copy and paste your blog URL to go and see it.
One thing Jeff could have done better on this occasion is to include a clear benefit or value proposition in the image itself, along with a shortened more memorable URL that people could easily type into their browser.
Either way, if you are building an Instagram following and regularly produce blog content, you may as well utilise a bit of cross-promotion.
8. Jump on popular or trending hashtags
Hashtags help people find the type of photos they are most interested in when they search for content on Instagram.
If you are good at using hashtags, it can quickly attract more exposure for your Instagram posts, which means more people seeing your profile, and more people going to your website.
The problem is that most people either over-use hashtags, don’t know which hashtags to use, or use totally inappropriate ones for their business.
To find the best hashtags for your business do some research. Have a look at which hashtags your competitors are using, which hashtags your customers are using, and which hashtags the influencers in your space are using.
Once you have a collection of potential hashtags, look them all up on Instagram and see how many photos pop up in the searches. This will help you decipher whether or not a hashtag is getting a lot of interest.
You can also find trending hashtags on Instagram by using Hootsuite’s TrendSpottr application for Chrome:
When you use your chosen hashtags, try to only include 3 or 4 at a maximum in your original post. Then, to get more exposure you can be the first to comment on your post and include a lot more hashtags in that first comment. The reason for this is that the first comment often gets hidden after a while and then your post doesn’t look over the top with hashtags.
9. Include offers in your images
Even though you may be restricted in terms of the direct links you can include on Instagram back to your website, you can get creative with calls-to-action in your photos.
If you offer someone something almost irresistible within your image, and to claim that thing they need to visit your website, they are much more likely to do so.
For example, if you are running a time bound sale or discount offer, you can include a unique entry code for your Instagram followers.
Here is an example of this in action from Smiley Miley Whites:
One thing this company could have done better is to also include the direct website URL within the image, and within the comment section of this post. That way, people don’t need to always go back to your profile to claim the offer. Instead, they can just copy and paste the URL and jump straight into their browser.
You may like to use a tool such as Pretty Links if you want to create easy-to-remember URLs for your Instagram followers.
10. Run a contest
Most contests on Instagram are all about tagging friends, submitting photos and spreading the word for a brand.
But if you want to run a contest that drives traffic from Instagram back to your website, here’s some quick tips:
- Pick a compelling prize that your audience is desperate to claim. Discount coupons don’t usually cut it. Instead, try to offer something tangible or emotionally driven.
- Create a hashtag that is unique to your contest and include it on ALL your marketing collateral.
- Don’t just promote the contest on Instagram, make the most of other social media networks.
- Use your website for contest registrations. This is the big one for driving traffic, because if people need to visit your website to enter the contest it gets them off Instagram, and closer to your business.
There are a number of great tools available for running Instagram related contests, a good place to start is with Gleam:
The reality is, despite its huge potential, most businesses aren’t making the most of Instagram for driving website traffic.
If you want to break that trend and outdo your competition, there are a lot of effective tactics you could be using.
Start by optimising your profile, creating a consistent brand strategy and growing a big following.
Make the most of your other content marketing efforts such as online events, webinars or blog posts to cross-promote your Instagram profile with your website.
Then consider scaling things up with paid advertising, influencer marketing, relevant offers and contests.
You don’t need to jump right in and start using every one of these tactics tomorrow. But over time if your strategy includes an appropriate mix, you will start to see an improvement in traffic.
How well are you using Instagram to drive traffic to your website?