Just like the social media platform’s poll, question, location, and music stickers, the new feature is interactive – tapping the link sticker redirects viewers to an external e-commerce site, blog, or product page. This will now be the only way in which users can add external links to their Instagram Stories, which brings both advantages and disadvantages for brands and influencers.

The pros

1. Consistency – with link stickers joining Instagram’s stickers gallery, all interactive Story features can now be found in the same place and used in the same way, which is a definite plus. Story stickers help users express themselves and share what matters to them. Since they’re already familiar with stickers, creating consistency makes Instagram a lot more user-friendly.

2. More creative control – one of the reasons behind the change was that the swipe-up feature was seen as limiting users’ creativity in attaching links to their posts. Now, as with other stickers, users can tap on the link sticker to toggle between styles and colours and place it on any side of the Story frame for maximum impact and performance. This will make the Story more engaging and exciting for followers.

3. Increased user engagement – one of the weak points of the swipe-up model was that it limited users’ ability to interact with stories containing swipe-up links. Viewers weren’t able to quickly reply or react to linked Stories, causing frustration among many followers who couldn’t engage with their favourite influencers or products. This limitation isn’t a problem with link stickers, which is great news for business owners and influencers, since their audience will now engage with them directly.

For a brand, a high engagement rate (ER) means its audience truly interacts with the content and implies high-quality posts. Important post engagements such as comments, likes, re-shares, and views mean securing more brand collaborations.

The cons

1. The learning curve – It will take some time for users to adapt to the new feature, especially as it’s not implemented uniformly (ads still use the swipe-up design). Users aren’t yet familiar with tapping to visit a link via Stories, and an instinctive reflex to swipe up to Stories that intrigue them may cause a slight decrease in link clicks in the short term.

In addition, users may not be looking out for the new stickers as much as they did the swipe-up option. Therefore, brands and creators will need to carefully consider the ideal placement of their link stickers.

2. No love below the 10K follower glass ceiling – as with the swipe-up function, link stickers are currently only available to pages with more than 10,000 followers. Excluding businesses or influencers below this threshold for follower count may make it harder for accounts with smaller followings to get brand deals.

Follower count isn’t the only number that counts, engagement rate is just as important, and in many cases, smaller influencers have more engaged audiences than their larger counterparts. When it comes to influencer marketing, brands often get better results from using a handful of micro-influencers rather than one macro-influencer.

However, Instagram has hinted that it may roll out link stickers to all users in the future since all their other Story stickers are free from such exclusivity.

A streamlined approach

Having everything from location, mention, questions, polls, and now links in one place makes Instagram a lot slicker. Although there may be an adjustment period, the increased creative freedom for influencers will be a massive benefit in the longer term. Also, by enabling influencers to have more interaction with their followers, link stickers will undoubtedly become a treasured feature of the platform.

If made available to all users, it could also open up those benefits to smaller, boutique businesses that have previously not been able to easily direct users to their own websites, press coverage, or other resources.

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