Rumors have been swirling around the internet water cooler lately: Are posts that include the words “link in bio” in the caption less favored by the Instagram algorithm?
As much as we love some juicy gossip, we love cold, hard, social media facts even more.
So we determined to do a little experiment, put this theory to the test, and discover the truth, once and for all.
Keep reading this guide to unpack our experiment and explore whether “link in bio” is a momentum killer or not.
The truth that Instagram doesn’t allow clickable links straight in captions is an enormous marketing hurdle.
Regardless of its mind-boggling number of monthly users (a billion!), Instagram actually sends only a fraction of traffic to different websites. Twitter, which only has one-third of Instagram’s active users, generates five times more web traffic by comparison.
Of course, to butcher the old Jurassic Park quote, “Links will find a way.” Users have discovered a workaround for directing visitors to their websites by using the URL in their Instagram profile’s bio section.
That’s why you’ll typically see the phrase “link in bio” at the end of a caption, pointing followers to a clickable link.
In fact, an entire cottage industry of Link-in-Bio products has sprung up around this practice. These are products that create a landing page that collects many links in one place, like Linktree or Campsite.
One Parse.ly research actually discovered that Link-in-Bio tools increase Instagram referral visitors by 10 to 15%.
However, despite this hack’s effectiveness, there are many people out there who believe that Instagram is actively trying to squash this creative problem-solving.
Between anecdotal reports and gut feelings, experts about social media have been a-buzz with suspicion. One member of the Facebook group Social Media Geekout went so far as to try an experiment this past September, comparing engagement on two posts: one with “link in bio” in the text, the other without.
Her conclusion? The post with “link in bio” got much lower engagement.
These were pretty juicy outcomes that sparked a ton of conversation. Was Instagram intentionally punishing posters who’re trying to direct users off of the platform? Was the “link in bio” call to action simply distracting followers from engaging in different methods?
But finally, as a couple of commenters suggested, this study was inconclusive. There were just too many variables at play: the poster was comparing two vastly different pictures, with vastly different content, posted on different days and times.
How could she realize it was the “link in bio” factor alone that was hurting her engagement?
To find out, we’d need to compare posts that were identical other than the addition of “link in bio” to one caption. So that’s exactly what we did.
For this experiment, I decided to use an Instagram Business account for a wedding magazine I help edit. Then we had an enormous ol’ pool of followers to experiment on 10,000-plus.
The plan: to compare engagement of the same picture and same caption, posted the same day of the week, at the same time, with the only difference being that one week, I would add “link in bio” to the end of the caption.
I repeated this same format with two different images, on different days of the week. Doing that to see if we could observe any patterns, in case Pic #1 was just an all-around unengaging dud.
In total, I posted six times. Three of these posts had “link in bio” in the caption.
All of my followers most likely thought something very weird was happening. However, if it got them talking about the brand, that’s a positive, right? Hot social media tip: Always keep your audience guessing to cultivate an air of mystery.