Over the past few weeks, you may have noticed a new paid partnership feature on Instagram.
Wondering what it means?
With the FTC recently taking a ton of new measures to crack down on influencers and businesses that violate its requirements, Instagram launched a new paid partnership feature to eliminate some of the risks associated with creating sponsored posts.
The feature, which first released to a small group of influencers and businesses in June, was expanded to more users in September. Just recently, Instagram made the feature available to all accounts “with high levels of engagement” and access to Instagram Insights data!
Here’s everything you need to know about how to use Instagram’s new paid partnership feature, and why it may not be enough to satisfy the FTC.
Why Instagram’s Paid Partnership Feature Matters
Influencer-driven marketing has become of the biggest (and best) ways for brands to reach Instagram audiences.
By partnering with influencers to launch sponsored content campaigns, businesses can tap into a treasure trove of potential customers.
And Instagram users, on their part, are able to learn about products and services from the voices of the accounts they follow.
And, as a result, the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) has started taking violations of its Endorsement Guides more seriously.
In fact, just last month, the FTC sent warning letters to 21 Instagram influencers, including Lindsay Lohan and Naomi Campbell.
That’s why Instagram created its paid partnership feature: to bring greater transparency and consistency to sponsored content on Instagram.
What Exactly Is Instagram’s New Paid Partnership Feature?
With the above goals in mind, Instagram created a tool that A) helps influencers disclose when a post is sponsored, and B) helps businesses gather insights about how their sponsored content campaigns performed.
For influencers, the paid partnership feature allows them to “clearly” disclose (via an Instagram tag) that they’re publishing sponsored content.
When a post is tagged, people will see “Paid partnership with [business partner]“ in the post’s header–where you would usually see the post’s location.
The feature also works for Instagram Stories, in which case the tag will appear at the top of the story just below the user’s name.
When a business is tagged in a paid partnership post, they’ll now be able to see the reach and engagement (likes and comments) of the post in their Facebook Page Insights.
And for Instagram Stories, tagged businesses will have a 14-day window to see such metrics as reach, taps forward, taps backward, replies, and exits.
Businesses will also have the option to turn a “Partner Approval” setting on, giving them the ability to approve (or disapprove) any sponsored content partnerships before a tagged post is published.
Does Instagram’s Paid Partnership Feature Follow the FTC’s Guides?
Here’s where things get a little tricky.
While Instagram has marketed the feature as a way to bring transparency and consistency to sponsored content, the FTC doesn’t necessarily agree…
In its recently updated Endorsement Guides, the commission discusses the issue of built-in platform disclosure (such as Instagram’s), stating that they don’t always meet the FTC’s requirements.
In particular, the FTC takes issue with the location or placement of the disclosure (above the Instagram post), saying that it may not attract a viewer’s attention.
They also said that simply flagging that a post contains sponsored content might not be sufficient if the post mentions multiple brands and not all of the mentions were paid.
The big-picture point is that, ultimately, the responsibility for clearly disclosing a material relationship on Instagram rests with the influencer and the business, not the platform.
So does that mean Instagram’s paid partnership feature is totally useless?
Not at all!
While simply tagging a business with the feature may not sufficiently meet the FTC’s requirements — meaning you probably still need to disclose any partnerships in your Instagram caption — the feature still offers a ton of great insights and is definitely a step in the right direction.
For instance, businesses have never before been able to monitor the success of their sponsored Instagram campaigns with such detailed metrics.
As a result of this new data, they can make better decisions when planning their influencer marketing campaigns, in terms of who to partner with and what ROI to expect.
Influencers can also benefit from this kind of data, whether it’s optimizing their sponsored posts or finding new businesses to partner with.
How to Use Instagram’s Paid Partnership Feature
At the moment, Instagram’s paid partnership feature is being rolled out to a select number of celebrities, influencers, public figures, publishes, and businesses.
It’s unclear exactly when or if the feature will be available to the general public, but according to a recent Medium article by Eduardo Morales (who runs @pinlord on Instagram), he received an in-app notification when he was accepted to try out the new feature.
Image by Eduardo Morales
Getting Started With Paid Partnerships as a Business
Once you’ve been granted to the feature as a business, you’ll want to begin by turning the partner approvals setting on.
1. Go to “Options” and scroll down to the new “Branded Content Approvals” section.
2. Next, toggle the “Require Approvals” button to on.
Now, whenever an influencer requests to create sponsored content for your account, tap “Approved Accounts” immediately below the “Require Approval” button.
Here you can approve accounts to create sponsored content for you.
Once an influencer has been accepted, whenever they tag you in a post (using the paid partnership feature), you’ll receive a notification via Facebook and Instagram. If they tag you in a sponsored Instagram story, you’ll also receive the notification by Instagram Direct.
If you want to be removed from the tag, you can do so in one of two ways:
1. The first option is to use the Business Manager on your Facebook page. To remove a tag, you can select either the posts tab or Stories tab, and then click on the downward arrow next to the influencer’s Instagram handle, and click the “Remove Tag” button.
2. A second option is to remove the tag within Instagram. Here, all you have to do is click the ellipsis button on the right-hand side above the post and select the “Remove Me From Post” option. For Instagram Stories, the ellipsis button will be in the bottom right-hand corner.
Accessing Your Paid Partnership Insights as a Business
Once a sponsored content campaign goes live, you’ll be able to find your insights in the “Branded Content” tab in your Facebook Page Insights.
You can also see your Stories insights here, however, you only have a 14-day window to see these metrics.
You can also find your paid partnership insights with Facebook’s Business Manager in the “Branded Content” tab under “Measure and Report.”
Getting Started With Paid Partnerships as an Influencer
Once you’ve been granted to the feature as an influencer, you can immediately begin tagging businesses in your sponsored posts.
1. If it’s a regular Instagram post, start by selecting “Advanced Settings” on the last page of the new post creation flow. If it’s on Instagram Stories, simply tap the “link” button at the top of the screen.
2. In both cases, you’ll now see a new “Branded Content” section. Select the “Tag Business Partner” button.
3. Here you’ll be able to search for the business you want to tag in your post or story. If the business requires approval first, once you’ve selected them, they’ll appear below in a “Require Approvals” section.
4. Once the business approves you, you’ll find them under the “Branded Content” section in “Advanced Settings.” Tapping on their name will add them to your post or story.
Updates to Instagram’s Paid Partnership Feature
With the expanded rollout of the paid partnership feature in November, Instagram also added a few new capabilities as well.
Specifically, influencers who have access to the branded content toll will now receive in-app notifications when Instagram’s system finds content that falls outside of their policy. In these cases, the influencer will be notified through the Instagram app and will have the option to tag a business.
Basically, these notifications are intended to make it easier to use the “Paid Partnership with” tag and educate the community on Instagram’s branded content.
Instagram also commented on the future of feature, stating that they hope to offer more flexibility to influencers and businesses that use the tool. “Over time, our goal is to make it simple for all Instagrammers to identify commercial relationships on Instagram.”
While Instagram’s new paid partnership feature may not alone satisfy the FTC’s rules, it’s definitely a great feature for both influencers and businesses! Have you been given access to the feature yet? Let us know in the comments what you think!
Download our free flowchart to keep track of when (and how) to disclose different types of sponsored Instagram posts!