As you probably already know, Instagram does not support clickable URLs anywhere other than in a single, lonesome link on a user’s profile. That’s it. Nothing new there.
Many speculate this is to pre-empt spam, a real possibility given the platform’s relatively open access to users. Not even Instagram’s new ad types are granted a sneaky URL . Much like a vegetarian restaurant, spam is something Instagram vigilantly shields its users from.
But as with all blocks of vegan Swiss cheese, there are holes in Instagram’s defences. Here are three ways to get around the single URL decree.
1. Work with what you’ve got
As stated, your Instagram profile contains one clickable link. A well-known exploit is then (naturally) the ‘link in profile’ method, whereby this profile link is changed in accordance with your most recent post. Mention that there’s a ‘link in profile’ in the caption and you’re in business.
Combine this method with a link to something regularly updated (for example, your company’s blog or Facebook page) and work is cut on your end.
Other than that, short, memorable, custom links might pass the memory test, if your followers are invested enough.
2. Think outside the box
When in doubt, get creative. IKEA recently launched its 2014 PS Designer Collection by creating the world’s first ‘website’ on Instagram.
Here’s how it worked. Each product in the collection was given its own Instagram profile. The URL in that product’s profile linked to a site to buy it. Then, each product was tagged in photos on the PS Collection’s own Instagram account.
Other barebones features like geotags, hashtags and @replies could be hacked in a similar (or completely different) way.
3. Get help elsewhere
Like To Know (LTK) is a simple service, employed particularly by fashion bloggers and Instagrammers. It’s straightforward enough – sign up to with your email address, then, when you ‘Like’ certain photos on Instagram, you’ll receive an email with that photo and a series of custom links.
It’s a bit clumsy but it works, so much so that @Vogue has been popularising the use of LTK for a while, and just recently, paired it with rewardStyle (an invitation only monetization tool from style publishers,) to become the first brand to successfully monetise Instagram – Items bought through LTK links earn Vogue a commission!
For now though, that’s it. Persist, innovate, or eagerly anticipate Instagram’s ever changing updates and potential cave to mounting pressure by advertisers and brands alike.
Written by Mark Starmach