Does saying “Link in Bio” affect your Instagram post performance? (Experiment)

Internet water cooler rumors have been circulating lately: Are posts that contain the words "Link in Bio" in the caption less preferred according to the Instagram algorithm?

As much as we love juicy gossip here at Hootsuite, so much do we love cold, hard social media facts.

So we decided to do a little experiment, put this theory to the test, and find out the truth once and for all.

Read on to unpack our experiment and find out whether "link in bio" is a momentum killer or not.

Bonus: Download a free checklist This shows the exact steps a lifestyle photographer took on Instagram to grow from 0 to 600,000 followers, without a budget and without expensive equipment.

Hypothesis: Including "Link in Bio" in your caption will degrade Instagram posts' performance

The fact that Instagram doesn't allow clickable links directly in subtitles is a major marketing hurdle.

Despite the incredible number of monthly users (a billion!), Instagram only sends a fraction of its traffic to other websites. Twitter, which has only a third of Instagram's active users, generates five times more web traffic by comparison.

To butcher that old quote from Jurassic Park, it goes without saying, "Links will find a way." Users found a workaround to drive traffic to their websites by using the URL in the bio section of their Instagram profile.

For this reason, the phrase "Link in Bio" is often displayed at the end of a label, which refers the followers to a clickable link.

In fact, an entire home industry of link-in-organic products has sprung up around this practice. These are products that create a landing page that collects multiple links in one place, such as: B. Linktree or Campsite.

A Parse.ly study actually found that link-in-bio tools increased Instagram referral traffic by 10 to 15%.

Despite the effectiveness of this hack, there are many people who believe that Instagram is actively trying to suppress this creative problem-solving.

Between individual reports and gut feelings, social media experts were full of suspicion. A member of the Facebook group Social Media Geekout even tried to conduct an experiment last September in which the engagement for two posts was compared: one with a “Link in Bio” in the text, the other without.

Your conclusion? The post with "Link in Bio" was much less engaged.

These were pretty juicy results that sparked a lot of conversation. Has Instagram deliberately penalized posters trying to direct users off the platform? Did the “Link in Bio” call to action only distract followers from getting involved in other ways?

But ultimately, as some commentators suggested, this study was inconclusive. There were just too many variables involved: The poster compared two very different images with very different content that were published on different days and at different times.

How did she know that it was only the “Link in Bio” factor that was affecting her engagement?

To really find this out, we need to compare posts that were identical except for the addition of "Link in Bio" to a caption. That's exactly what we did.

methodology

For this experiment, I decided to use an Instagram Business account for a wedding magazine that I help edit to make sure we have a large pool of followers to experiment with: over 10,000.

The plan: To compare the engagement of the exact same picture and caption posted on the same day of the week at the same time, with the only difference that in a week at the end of "Link in Bio" I'd add the caption.

I repeated the same format with two other pictures on different days of the week to see if we could see any patterns in case picture # 1 was just an all around non-committal type.

I've posted a total of six times. Three of these posts had "Link in Bio" in the caption.

All of my followers probably thought something very strange was going on, but when they talk about the brand, that's positive, right? Hot Social Media Tip: Always let your audience guess in order to develop a touch of mystery.

Results

TL; DR: All of my Instagram posts that had "link in bio" in the caption did a little better than those without.

To compare the performance of Instagram posts with and without "Link in Bio", I used the Instagram report in Hootsuite Analytics. In the Instagram table, you can sort posts by likes and comments.

Hootsuite Analytics Instagram Post Table

Our duplicate on Wednesday featured a happy, handsome couple with an impressive bouquet of flowers.

Real wedding photo of married couple with bouquet

I posted this on February 10th and a week later on February 17th, both at 6:02 p.m. (why not!). The lettering was exactly the same … except on February 17th I added "Link in Bio".

Real weddings photo of couple with bouquet link in organic

Link in Biopost: 117 likes and 2 comments.

No link in Biopost: 86 likes and 1 comment.

The winner? Link in bio. That's an increase in likes of more than 30%. (The comment sample size is probably too small to count. Shame.)

Let's look at our duplicate posts on Thursday. There were no people to be seen in this photo, just a beautifully set long table ready for a wedding reception in the mountains. I posted this on February 11th (no "Link in Bio") and again on February 18th (with "Link in Bio") at 8:01 pm. on both days.

Real wedding reception in the mountains

eal weddings reception in the mountains link in bio

Link in Biopost: 60 likes and 1 comment.

No link in Biopost: 60 likes and 2 comments.

The winner? We have to call this a to draw.

On Saturday February 13th and Saturday February 20th I posted double photos again, this time of a trendy wedding dress.

Real weddings in trend wedding dress no link in organic

Real weddings on trend Wedding dress Link in organic

Link in Biopost: 45 likes and 0 comments.

No link in Biopost: 40 likes and 2 comments.

The winner? Link in bio. That's a 15% increase in likes. Not too shabby!

I was a little happy about the lack of comments and went into Instagram's in-app analytics (a.k.a. Instagram Insights) to see if I could find out anything else. And when I sorted To reachI learned something very interesting …

Instagram Insights reach data

The posts with "Link in Bio" were all seen by more people.

Here is a comparison table:

POST REACH WITH "LINK IN BIO" REACH WITHOUT "LINK IN BIO"
Pair 1,700 1.333
table 1,372 1.173
dress 1,154 974

What do the results mean?

When I started this experiment, I expected that at some point I would be involved in a rousing discussion and analysis with Hootsuite's seasoned social media strategists to analyze the meaning of the results until the wee hours of the morning. I was ready to slam down on a desk and yell, "Damn it, Brayden, people need answers!"

But to be honest … I don't think I need to waste your thinking power on it. It feels pretty dry to me.

If it comes to a major Instagram collusion that burying "link in bio" comments, it hasn't happened in the last two weeks of experimentation.

For whatever reason, all of my posts that included "Link in Bio" actually did better. Not necessarily by far, but all of them reached more eyeballs and captured more likes.

Why were comments so sparse? Well, that's probably more of a personal problem. I think I'll instead stay up all night braising over it.

This was obviously just a quick and dirty experiment with a small sample size, but what I conclude is that you can create a bio to your heart's content without fear of retaliation from Instagram.

However, if you try your own scientific investigation and discover something else, we'd love to hear about it! Tweet us @hootsuite and let us know how your own social media lab is performing.

In this ever-changing world, we are just trying to outsmart the algorithm at every turn. The more data, the better.

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