Just last year, brands faced a big issue on Instagram: sharing external links with followers. Can you recall posting about a new blog post on your account and having to direct followers to your bio to click the link? No one cared to take the time to go to your account and check out the content. This wasn’t a convincing nor effective method and the low rate of user responsiveness made this a big loss of interest for marketers.

Although just a few months after the birth of Instagram Stories, came their golden solution to every marketers’ problem.

Instagram introduced a “swipe up” feature, allowing brands to link a URL to their story, creating a “see more” option below the post. Then if users wished to see further content, it was only a swipe away, thus creating greater user compliance. The linking component is only available for verified accounts. For the marketers who can use it, it’s a dream.

We were already aware of the popularity surrounding Instagram Stories, but we wanted to see how brands are utilizing this newer feature. We decided to follow 149 top brands in 8 industries – including Amazon, Adidas, JetBlue, and Coca-Cola – to see what do they share on their stories and where they guide their followers to.

Here’s what we found:

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There are 5 main categories where brand’s linked to:

  1. Shoppable page: Typically, the company’s website, allowing the consumer to purchase what was featured or advertised on their story
  2. Other social platform: Leads to YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, or another platform to give extended access to the shared content
  3. Blog Post: Links to their blog or an article
  4. Campaign Page: An invite for fans to submit their own content or enter to win a contest sponsored by the brand
  5. App: Prompted users to download a relevant application on their mobile device

Our findings showed that most stories were being used for e-commerce purposes by sponsoring products and then leading followers to purchase said products. Another popular method was brands would show teasers and short videos in their stories and then guide users to other social platforms, primarily YouTube, where the content was longer. Links to blog posts were mainly posted amongst the fitness industry. Lastly, brands were less likely to guide their fans to campaign pages and apps.

Where brands link to directly corresponds from what story they posted – but what ARE they posting? We conducted additional research to see what kind of stories brands were publishing and how story use differs between industries.

most popular story types on Instagram stories

From watching each story, we were able to categorize them under 7 specific topics. Again, you can see how product promotions is a common theme for brands, where almost every advertisement or product feature came with the option to swipe up and make a purchase.


From the eight industries in our research, the ones who posted more frequently were the fitness and fashion industries. It was interesting to notice that while food is strong on Instagram, it’s not that popular on the stories side.

Within those industries, we determined a winner of Instagram Stories users by the most active brands using this feature.

These are the brands who proved they outshine others in the Instagram Stories game:

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Instagram Stories Inspiration

Brands fully integrated the Stories in their Instagram marketing strategy. The linking availability made it easy for them to adopt the feature and create new content, even though it vanishes from the feed in 24 hours. As a brand, you can follow what these bigger brands did on your own Instagram Story. If you need creative ideas of what to share in your stories, check out the 5 Genius Ways Brands Are Using Instagram Stories.

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