Instagram’s Latest Update Targets Influencer-Sponsored Posts

LTblog_PaidInsta_Embed_1200x628Advertising on Instagram is considered to be a profession these days, a particularly lucrative profession at that. From Sugar Bear Hair Care pills to beauty products galore, influencer marketing (which includes Instagram sponsored posts) are taking over the world of social. You can find hundreds of articles online discussing whether a product is legitimate or an “Instagram scam.” In fact, this kind of marketing has become so huge that there are agencies dedicated to representing bloggers, celebrities, and influential names on the photo-friendly platform. How huge, you ask? It was recently reported that influencer marketing is now a billion-dollar industry

Working with Instagram influencers

In addition to being a powerful tool for advertising, influencer marketing is in constant transformation. In the app’s most recent discovery, influencers weren’t living up to the app’s transparency standards. Until now, influencers were able to stealthily promote a product while getting paid. Moving forward, the Facebook-owned app is forcing users to be completely transparent about whether or not they’ve been paid to promote a product. It will be crystal-clear whether a celebrity is working in partnership with a business. The bread and butter of influencer marketing is as follows:

  • Fancy celebrity by the name of Megan has 100k followers
  • Fancy brand by the name of Coach pays Megan to promote Coach
  • Megan receives free products and money, and tells followers why Coach is fantastic
  • Megan’s followers buy Coach products
  • EVERYONE WINS (except for those of us who are easy bait and decide to spend serious cash money on Coach products)

insta3Up until recently, this transaction would have ended at Step 5. Since Instagram stepped in, attempting to provide “disclosure” to audiences, Step 6 would involve Megan receiving a letter from the Federal Trade Commission should she fail to clearly tell her followers she’s being paid. The official rules are pretty straightforward.

How to use the new Instagram update

With this new feature, Instagram-sponsored posts will be identified with a label or tag. This will live at the top of the sponsored post where the “location” is normally displayed. Instead of seeing #spon, #sponsored, #ad, or any variation of this hashtag, users will be able to clearly understand what’s sponsored versus what isn’t.

“Paid partnership with ____” — it doesn’t get more clear than that, folks. According to Instagram, this brand spankin’ new feature will be beneficial for a few reasons. “Both the creator and business partner will have access to Insights for that post, making it easier to share how followers are engaging with these posts.” A quick #ad will no longer suffice, so listen up, Insta-savvy beauty teens. In a blog post released by Instagram, the main reason behind this change is explained to be quite simple. “Partnerships between community creators and businesses are an important part of the Instagram experience, and a healthy community should be open and consistent about paid partnerships.”

In an attempt to define “community means clarity,” this is what the new Instagram-sponsored posts will look like. instagram influencerFirst off, I’d like a brand-new Volvo (How can I be you, @songofstyle?). In exchange for free or discounted products, this new update doesn’t seem half bad. The post is still considered to be a piece of original content, highlighting the blogger’s style and personal flair.

In addition to giving followers a clearer understanding of which posts are sponsored, this new tag will give both parties (influencer and business) the ability to track how these posts are performing. Analytics will include reach and engagement metrics that are shared directly with the user. Creators can view these metrics on the app, while businesses can view these insights in the Facebook Page manager tab.

Sounds like a win win to us?excited dancingInfluencers, brands, and celebrities alike are on board for this simple change, according to Instagram. Peter McGuinness, Chief Brand and Officer of Marketing Officer at Chobani, states that “As a modern brand that really grew up on social and digital, we’re always testing ways to make more engaging content for our fans. The partnership with Buzzfeed, and this new tool from Instagram to view post insights more easily, was a great opportunity to do what we love to do — create something beautiful and delicious to share with our fans.”instagram sponsorshipOK, we’re clearly distracted, but how delicious does that cake look? Send a free Volvo and a slice of Buzzfeed-created cake our way, please.

It’s tough to say how many users have taken advantage of this feature, considering it’s still a new update. According to Charles Porch, Creative Program Director at Instagram, this tool is available to only a handful of creators so far. The app will surely see several of these posts start to roll out in the coming months. Instagram plans to release an “official” policy in the future, featuring rules and enforcement that will model that of its owner, Facebook. Instagram suggests that influencers check with their team before ditching the #ad hashtag.

We will continue following how this new tool affects the performance of influencer marketing on the platform. Until then, we’ll be dreaming of a world where Volvos are free and upside-down cake is available 24/7.

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