Instagram today is rolling out a new feature for adding links to user profiles that challenges Linktree, Beacons and numerous other “link in bio” solution providers. The company announced on Tuesday it will now allow users to add up to five links to their Instagram profile bios, which can direct their followers to other content — like their online businesses, brands they want to promote, causes they care about, or even their profiles on competing social platforms, among other things.
The company says the feature has been a top request among creators, but in reality, it’s also an example of how Instagram’s failure to adapt to the needs of that community has allowed alternative solutions to thrive.
Linktree and others came into existence largely because of platform limitations, like those on Instagram and other social networks, which had for a long time prevented users from adding multiple links to other sites in fear they would be helping to direct users to content outside their own apps. The platforms would rather keep users trapped inside Instagram or their own network, rather than potentially lose users’ time and engagement.
Instagram wasn’t alone in making this choice. TikTok today even limits clickable links in its bios to only those with business accounts, making it harder for regular users and creators to direct fans and followers to other websites.
Instagram’s decision to now, after all these years, finally address creator demand for increased access to links-in-bio may actually be due to the complaints over TikTok’s stricter limitations.
The company likely sees how expanded access to links could be seen as a competitive advantage, potentially luring creators back to its app. In fact, Instagram calls out that its ability to add multiple links to a profile will be available to “all accounts,” including business and creator accounts.
To use the feature, users will tap “Edit profile,” then “Links,” then “Add external link.” They can then drag and drop the links in the order they want them to appear.
In testing the feature briefly, we didn’t have trouble linking to competing platforms, like TikTok or YouTube, for example. In addition, below the option to add multiple links to other websites, Instagram also allows users to add a link to their Facebook profile with a dedicated linking option. This link has a more professional appearance, with a rounded Facebook icon and text that reads “Facebook profile.” External links don’t include any special customizations, like small icons.
Meta says users are allowed to link to any URL that abides by its Community Guidelines and Terms of Service, and links are scanned to ensure they are within those guidelines and not harmful. It does not plan to block Linktree links or those from other link-in-bio platforms. (In fact, as Linktreee pointed out in a tweet, Meta’s own account is using one of its links at present.)
However, the links don’t open the website in question in a separate browser window — the link opens inside the Instagram app. If you want to move to your built-in browser, like Safari or Chrome, you’ll have to tap the three-dot menu at the top of the page and choose “open in system browser.”
The new feature was announced in a short post on Mark Zuckerberg’s broadcast channel. (Channels are a relatively new feature that allow creators to send one-to-many messages out to their entire community.)
His message didn’t share much except to say that support for multiple links in the bio was “probably one of the most requested features we’ve had.”