You only get one link on Instagram, but Tap Bio lets you point that to a customized landing page full of all the sites you want to share. Rather than constantly changing your Instagram profile URL, you can easily add slides equipped with links to your Tap Bio corresponding to your latest Instagram posts. Tap Bio could be a powerful tool for social media stars, digital entrepreneurs or anyone trying to market themselves via Instagram.
It’s a deceptively simple idea, yet one that the big website-creation platforms like Squarespace, Wix and Weebly have missed. It’s dumbfounding that there’s no popular mobile-first site builder, though an app called Universe was one of the hottest companies that graduated from Y Combinator’s accelerator this month. But by starting with an obvious problem, the bootstrapped Tap Bio could gain a foothold in a business dominated by heavily funded startups, and angle to become the center of your online identity. People interested can sign up for the private beta here.
The whole reason for Tap Bio’s existence is a brilliant decision of Instagram’s. You can’t post links, and you get just one link in your profile. URLs in post captions don’t hyperlink and can’t be copied. That means the focus is on sharing beauty, not driving clicks. But promoters gonna promote, so the “Link in bio” trend began. Instagrammers change their profile link to where they want to send people, then mention that much-derided phrase hoping their followers will open their profile and click-through. Unfortunately, though, anyone reading one of their older posts might be confused when the “link in bio” has changed to point somewhere unrelated.
“The fact that you can’t link from posts has contributed to the quality of the experience,” says Tap Bio CEO Jesse Engle. “But it’s created a major pain point for people who are promoting something, which is a lot of people.”
Engle is experienced with filling social platform gaps. He co-founded Twitter scheduling and multi-account management app CoTweet in 2008, which sold to ExactTarget in 2010 and eventually became part of Salesforce. Over the past few years, he and Tap Bio co-founder Ryan Walker, who just left Apple, have been running Link In Profile, a more basic but similar tool that just recreates your Instagram profile but with links attached to each post.
With Tap Bio, you set it as your Instagram profile link, and then create different cards to show on your mini-site. One can show two columns of your recent Instagram posts that instantly open whichever link you want to pair with each. Another offers a more visual full-screen profile with links to your other social media presences, like on Twitter and YouTube. There’s a focused, single-link call to action page if you’ve got one big thing to promote. And Tap Bio is adding more card styles.
Tap Bio is “forever free” if you only want one profile card and one of any other card; $5 per month gets you three extra plus analytics, while $12 per month grants unlimited cards across up to three Instagram accounts — though there are discounts for yearly billing. It will compete with traditional site builders and less-polished alternatives, like Linkin.bio and Linktree.
But the biggest risk for Tap Bio isn’t competition, it’s its host platform. Instagram could always shut down links out to Tap Bio. After all, it did just suddenly kill off a big part of its API three months ahead of schedule as part of Facebook’s big data privacy crackdown. Luckily, Engle says, “we’re mitigating this risk by building a close relationship with Instagram, openly sharing our plans and offering whatever value we can to them. They’ve been very helpful in sharing their plans, and we are confident that we’ll continue to play a role in this space well into the future.”
Tap Bio’s potential goes far beyond Instagram, though. It could become the hub for your web presence. About.me is outdated, Twitter’s too temporal, Facebook’s too personal, LinkedIn’s too formal and Instagram’s too informal. Unless you have your own full-fledged website, it’s unclear which one link your should give people you meet online or off. If Tap Bio plays it right, it could become your digital calling card.