Instagram Now Lets Influencers Disclose When Their Posts are Sponsored and Paid

Instagram Now Lets Influencers Disclose When Their Posts are Sponsored and Paid

In an effort to make the platform more transparent, and to make it easier for influencers to disclose when they have been paid to promote a brand on Instagram, Instagram introduced a new feature for the influencer who are promoting brands on the platform in June 2017.

How many times have you looked at a post from an influencer and realized that it was sponsored by the brand – without it being disclosed? Do you feel cheated and tricked if I say that it probably is a lot?

While some people don’t care, others are not as happy to hear that the recommendations from the influencer isn’t real and genuine, but is, in fact, a result of being paid by a brand and saying what they would like to hear.

In fact, a Mediakix study released in June found that 93 percent of ads posted by top celebrities weren’t disclosed in the manner required by FTC regulations. And that’s quite remarkable considering that it’s law that you should disclose when it is a paid endorsement.

This feature has made sponsored posts more obvious, and the most important part is that it has allowed influencers to properly disclose posts according to the FTC‘s sponsored posts regulations. The FTC regulations says that you need to make it clear that it is a sponsored post on social media, and this was something that people had very little knowledge of – until the FTC sent letters to 20 major influencers, warning them and telling them that they need to disclose when they are being paid for endorsing a brand.

Since the FTC started spreading the word about how you should disclose promoted content, people started talking about the subject that very few people had thought about before – including influencers. And Instagram soon followed after they realized that tons of influencers use the platform daily and that they need to do everything they can to improve their experience on the platform.

The feature allows users that share posts – both on stories and in the feed to make it clear that the post has been sponsored by adding a”Paid partnership with [brand name]” tag, as seen below:
Instagram sponsored posts

At first, the feature was only open for a few of the top accounts belonging to influencers and celebrities, but the feature was then opened up to more users in August and now, it is available to users with a high level of engagement and accounts that have access to Instagram Insights. In other words, your account needs to be converted to a business account to even “have a chance” of getting it.

Moreover, Instagram also says that users will begin receiving notifications when Instagram sees a post that could potentially be an ad but for some reason hasn’t been tagged as such.

Before this update, influencers used the hashtags #sp #sponsored #ad and etc. to disclose that their posts are paid, however, the FTC said that most people only read the first three lines of an Instagram post which means that if you add the hashtags at the bottom, or together with a bunch more hashtags, very few people will realize that it is, in fact, a paid endorsement post.

Instagram sponsored posts analytics

Instagram says the new tool will give both creators and sponsors access to more info on how the posts perform.

If a brand is tagged in a promotion post, it can then access the analytics of that post to see how well it performed. For example, by looking at the reach, engagement (likes and comments).

This gives brands more insight into the performance of their influencer campaigns, thus allowing them to better evaluate results as well as work more closely together with the influencer.

Since the Instagram sponsored post feature is still in developing process, they have no plan set up for fraud as of yet.

What does this mean?

It means that influencers may still make paid endorsement posts without disclosing that it is a paid partnership. However, I think it is important to point out that it is the responsibility of the influencer to disclose when a post is paid for – not Instagram’s or any other social media platform’s for that matter.

During Fyre Festival, 400 Instagram influencers hyped up the luxury music festival only to leave the attendees on the day of the event to dirt fields and a complete mess from the organizer’s side. And while it is the organizer’s responsibility, Instagram was soon dragged into it, having people who complained and saying they need to clarify which posts

Fyre festival instagram influencer fiasco

And that’s probably why Instagram felt a responsibility to introduce this feature. Party also to protect their own reputation and prevent it from ever happening again and getting part of the blame for it.

And with the feature’s introduction, it shows that Instagram is taking transparency of sponsored posts seriously.

How to get the Paid partnership feature?

So, now to the question, the whole internet is looking for the answer of: how do you get access to Instagram’s Paid Partnership feature?

Well, first, as mentioned, not all accounts on Instagram has access to this feature, and it works just like all of Instagram’s new updates where they only make them available for a few selected accounts in order to try it out, and then slowly roll the new feature out for the rest of the users.

At the moment though, the paid promotion feature is limited to larger accounts, and there is no clear way to how you can get it. If you don’t have it yet, you’ll just have to wait and see.

The flip side is that if you’re a large brand or influencer, you probably have access to this feature whether you know it or not.

In this gif created by Refinery29, you can see just how you can add the sponsored post badge (if you have access to it):
If you’re a influencer that has access to the feature, you can tap on “Advanced settings” at the bottom of your screen where you’ll find “Branded Content”. Here, you’ll also find “Tag Business Partner”.
If you, as an influencer selects that option, the name of the business you have selected that you promote will show up at the top of your post, where users also can click through to the brand’s Instagram page.
As a brand, you can go to your settings and select “require approvals”. This means that in order for people to include the “paid promotion by (your brand)”, you need to accept them to be able to do so.
Something worth having in mind is that although the new Instagram feature is great, it might not always meet the FTC´S requirements. During a Twitter chat hosted by the agency in September, they said that they didn’t think these sorts of built-in tools sufficed.
Main photo: Freepik