There’s no doubt about it, 2020 was a year of improvements for branded content and creators on Instagram. Most recently, the big news was that advertisers would soon be allowed to create sponsored posts through the accounts of these creators. Over the years, social media platforms have worked hard to make sponsored posts fair for all. In addition to businesses and creators, they need to be fair for those who consume them. Not long ago, there was trouble on YouTube as content creators weren’t informing their viewers of sponsored products and services. Now, those who fail to inform their audience could land themselves in big trouble.
It’s no secret that influencers/creators work with businesses and Instagram has spent most of 2020 making improvements for both sides. In this guide, we’re going to look at some of the biggest introductions on this global platform.
For those keeping up to date with Instagram news, you’ll know that branded content ads were actually introduced back in 2019. Influencers suddenly had a way to clearly state when a brand/company sponsored a post. For Instagram users, the post appeared in exactly the same way apart from the ‘Paid partnership with…’ tag.
Despite the many positives of this feature, one of the biggest problems was the logistics of creating such a post. For example, the influencers would have to publish the post before the company then claimed and sponsored it.
With a new update to the system, it seems the process will streamline, and businesses will now create sponsored content ads without having to go through the influencer. In other words, the influencer won’t have to create the normal post and then wait for the company to sponsor it. Of course, the creator will need to give permission for the company to act in this way. With approval, the company has the freedom to develop content.
We’re sure that both companies and creators reading this will have concerns over how it all works. To start, the business needs to send an ad creation access request to the influencer. Without this, it won’t have access to anything from the influencer, so head into Branded Content and then Request Ad Creation Access from the Business section of the settings. You’ll need to enter the name of the creator before sending the request.
Once sent, it’s up to the influencer to either approve or reject the request. Above all the normal notifications, the creator should see a notification next to ‘Branded Content’. Therefore, it shouldn’t get lost in a sea of other notifications. After tapping on the notification, a page pops up called ‘Ad Creation Partners’. In addition to the request, influencers will see all other approved partners. The ‘Approve’ button will create a relationship between the two parties and allow the business access to certain features.
For all influencers, it’s important to read the terms of the agreement before approving access. At the top of the page is the following message:
‘These partners can create ads and submit them for your review. Only the ads you approve will go live.’
Thankfully, it’s a quick system and advertisers can send ads for review as soon as the relationship is established. From here, the creator doesn’t need to do anything except wait for the advertiser to make the ad. After it’s submitted, the creator approves, and the ad will publish from their own account. It’s important to note that the ad won’t appear on the profile page of the creator which is something that caused issues for both parties previously.
Though access is granted for the business to act on behalf of the creator, it doesn’t overstep any privacy or account control boundaries. Creators have the power to reject all requests as well as all ads; if creators don’t like the ad, they simply hit the ‘Decline’ button. Also, there’s even an option to pause an ad after approval.
As mentioned previously, Instagram has made it easier for creators to disclose when posts are sponsored. With this in mind, the branded content tag is now available on Reels. What’s more, the platform is also testing the feature for Live posts. With the tag soon to be available across all formats, creators can generate branded content while remaining transparent, a key quality for the audience.
Additionally, there are now tappable elements in Stories with branded content ads. For example, this includes location, @mentions, and even hashtags. Previously, branded content ads in Stories were noticeable because they were different in appearance and nature to organic posts. Now, the tappable elements allow brands to provide an organic experience for all viewers.
Another thing that businesses and creators know is that branded content ads previously could not contain product tags. We can’t tell you the number of businesses that struggled with this; wondering why they can’t promote a creator post when it was actually because the post contained a product tag. This year, Instagram has made necessary changes to accommodate both scenarios. Companies can promote posts with product tags and users can shop directly from the influencers that inspire them.
In recent years, shopping from creators is a trend that seems to have gone from strength to strength. In many ways, it’s like the new word of mouth because we trust the word of creators just as much as the word of family and friends. Even when an ad is sponsored, it doesn’t seem to deter most customers because they assume their favorite influencer will only partner with reliable and trustworthy brands.
As time goes on, Instagram will continue to test product tags and other ways to shop directly from creators, and we’re all for it.
It’s not all selling on Instagram, and the platform has a responsibility to keep younger audiences away from inappropriate content. With this in mind, all businesses and creators can now choose a minimum age for branded content. Depending on the brand, it’s possible to either choose a universal minimum age or a minimum age per country. As an example, the legal drinking age is 21 in the US and 18 in the UK; this is where some brands will vary their approach.
With all these changes, it’s clear to see that this is an important area for Instagram. The improvements are not only helping businesses and creators, but they’re also improving the experience for everyday users.
From a business perspective, there are many benefits of choosing branded content ads, and this list has grown with the improvements of 2020. First and foremost, reach has always been an impressive factor with branded content ads on Instagram. Businesses have a desire to find as many people as possible with a potential interest in their products/services. One way to achieve this is to team up with creators who have a ready-made audience in this field. Working with a social media creator can put your content in front of people who don’t already follow your brand (or even know about it!).
Another benefit of using Instagram branded content ads is targeting. Compared to normal influencer relationships, branded content ads bring a more precise targeting to the table. Over time, it’s possible to interact with those interested in the brand and to potentially lead to positive conversion rates.
Furthermore, we’ve just seen that brands can now include product tags on branded content ads, and this is a huge step forward. Without product tags, we’re still relying on interested consumers to either click on a link or through to our profile. Either way, there’s still another stage of selling before they actually purchase something from us. With product tags, Instagram users are taken straight through to product pages for a seamless and stress-free shopping experience.
Even after this, we should point to the fact that more people are using mobile devices for shopping these days. With branded content ads and product tags, consumers feel inspired and purchase items while commuting to work, waiting at the dentist, or even sitting comfortably on the sofa. All they need to do is tap; the days of redirecting, waiting, or even getting up to grab the laptop, are over.
Branding capabilities for creators have improved once again, demonstrating Instagram’s commitment to this market. Previously, creators would have to publish a post organically for the business to then sponsor it as an ad. Now, relationships off-screen are imitated on-screen and creators can trust advertisers with a certain level of access to their account. Of course, creators will always have the final say with their partners and all ads.
Other improvements to branded content ads in 2020 include the addition of product tags, the branded content tag in Reels and Live content, and tappable elements in Stories. If you aren’t already utilizing branded content ads, it’s something worth exploring as we move into 2021.
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