Good news for small business owners, there is now a way for EVERYONE to get swipe on on Instagram stories event without 10,000 followers!

Instagram stories are great for small businesses, and with 500 million daily active story users worldwide, you could be missing a great way to connect with customers if you’re not already harnessing their marketing power.  But with Instagram only offering one placement for an external link (the bio), one of the questions I am asked most often since Instagram rolled out the swipe up option in stories, is:

“how do I add a link to my Instagram story?” 

The basic swipe up feature is only available to accounts with over 10,000 followers, or verified accounts (that illusive blue tick). And if you do happen to fall into one of these two categories then you’ll see a chain link icon at the top of your stories screen. For the rest of us, who haven’t yet hit the magic 10k, it can be really frustrating not being able to link out from our stories. Whether that’s to a new blog, or a product sales page.

Of course we can tell people to go via the link in our bio and keep our fingers crossed that they will do. But a simple swipe up would be so much quicker and easier for them (and us).

Luckily, there are a few other options we can use for the time being while we are working on growing our audience.  So we don’t need to wait until we have 10k followers and the swipe up feature before adding links to stories.

How to add a link to your Instagram story when you don’t have 10k followers.


1. Use IGTV

IGTV is Instagram’s long form video platform.  Launched in 2018 to rival YouTube in terms of video sharing, it’s not really been picked up by many brands yet meaning you have the upper hand when it comes to beating the competition.  The best thing about IGTV is that you can link to an external source within your description! Once your IGTV is published you can link to it from your stories, meaning you can reuse your evergreen video content time and again via stories, giving your followers more opportunities to click onto the external links within the video description.

What should you use IGTV for?

Any longer form video content thats relevant to your audience is great for IGTV.  The beauty of Instagram means that you can share highly produced tutorials or product demos, or raw behind the scenes, unedited videos and really the only rule you need to adhere to is remembering to shoot in portrait mode.  IGTV is particularly great for service based businesses as you can share tips and advice, offer free mini trainings, and even repurpose blog content by creating a short video and you can always tell people to check out the link in below to drive their attention to your website.

2. Add shopping tags

If you are selling physical products then hopefully you are already utilising Instagrams shopping feature to tag your photos.  But did you know that you can also use shopping stickers in Instagram Stories?

Instagram shopping stickers allow small businesses with under 10,000 followers to drive traffic to their products through their stories!

To use the shopping feature within Instagram stories you first need to get verified and set up your products following some simple steps outlined here.  Once you have done the initial set up it’s pretty simple to start tagging products.

  • Open stories and take a photo, shoot a video or upload something from your photo album
  • Tap the stickers button and select the “product” sticker.
  • Select a product from your catalogue
  • Move the sticker to wherever you need it
  • You can also change the colour of the sticker to suit your brand colours
  • Publish your story

Once published, anyone watching your story, can tap onto the product sticker to learn more about the product and, hopefully, make a purchase. Right now this feature is only available for businesses selling physical products so if you’re a service based business this isn’t going to work for you sadly.

3. Pay to swipe

As with everything, if you’ve got budget you can always pay to promote your Instagram story!  And with a paid story ad you also get a swipe up option, regardless of how many followers you have.

The most important thing to remember when it comes to paying for swipe up is to ensure you plan the story.  You can promote stories of up to 15 seconds and it is important to have a strong call to action (CTA) to encourage people to swipe up instead of swiping to the next story in the feed.

Instagram won’t allow you to promote any stories where you have @ mentioned someone or used filters and there are also restrictions on some of the other in app features.  You can however use polls in promoted posts so it’s worth thinking about how you can incorporate one into your story.

These stories have all drawn attention to the swipe function to entice their viewers to take the required action instead of skipping to the next story.

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Promote an Instagram Story

You can promote active stories and stories that have been featured in your highlights or archived.

To promote an active story:

  1. Go to your profile.
  2. Tap your profile picture to access your story.
  3. At the bottom of the story you’ll see 3 dots, tap them, and then tap Promote.
  4. Fill in the details of your promotion by setting Audience (who you want to reach), budget and duration (how long you want to promotion it for).
  5. Tap Next once you’ve completed these details.
  6. To complete your promotion, tap Promote.

Promoted stories will run for as long as you set the duration for, not just the typical 24 hours however, the active story on your profile will expire after 24 hours.

Create story ads within ads manager

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If you have a budget for promoting your stories then this is the best way to get bang for your buck.  Creating story ads within ads manager means you can also show your story in Facebook and Messenger stories without the need for any additional budget or creative.

Using ads manager to create your story ads also gives you better control over your targeting so you can really laser target (and retarget) the people you want to reach.

Once you have the visuals set up, story ads are pretty simple to create and you will be able to access in depth data so you can analyse the results, see where your money went and test and optimise to get the best results.

As with all types of Instagram and Facebook advertising, there are some tricks to getting the best results and this post will get you started.


So, thats how you can add a swipe up to Instagram stories without having 10,000 followers!

If you need any more advice on how to do any of this check out my Power Hour service where you can get 1:1 support and advice on all aspects of social media marketing, including advertising.

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by Laura Moore

Laura is a Facebook marketing consultant specialising in Facebook and Instagram ads.  She works with businesses to help generate leads and increase sales.  To find out more about how Laura can help you click here

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