Influencer Marketing Is Changing
Instagram is rolling out a new native feature which will clearly indicate when an influencer has been sponsored for a post. As the platform has become a networking and branding engine with unstoppable force, users have began demanding transparency.
This feature reflects just how important influencer marketing on the Instagram has become. It also shows that the demand for authenticity is higher than ever, as part of a predicted evolution given the Gen Z demographic.
Influencers have power
As a platform for inspiration and aspiration, Instagram is dominated by #goals and accounts which attract an audience based on their lifestyle. Whether you are interested in travel, fashion, photography or niche markets like embroidery – there are hundreds, if not thousands of influencers who share content of this kind.
However, bloggers and influencers have been failing to comply with the Federal Trade Commission guidelines which require them to “clearly and conspicuously disclose their relationships to brands when promoting or endorsing products through social media.”
Instagram has been known to be the only marketing strategy of some brands like Glossier, who advertise as well as sell through the platform. Hence why it is unsurprising that sponsoring influencers has become a worthwhile investment for businesses who want to raise their brand awareness.
What is changing?
Since the new feature is going to be compulsory, it will no longer be enough to use #ad or #sp at the bottom of a post, strategically nested in a bed of emojis.
Instead, the words “Paid partnership with x Brand” will now appear at the top of an Instagram post, much like the location tag. This will debunk any ambiguity about the products, services or experiences in the image, video or story.
Though the authenticity-loving community of Instagram may disagree with the practice, brand sponsorship will only increase in 2017. The new feature solidifies the platform as a legitimate and viable part of digital strategy.
What are the benefits?
As Instagram is so much about culture and lifestyle, successful influencers only partner with the brands who reflect their ethos and the values of their community. This is where the native feature could foster stronger relationships between like minded brands and influencers, which in turn will appear more organic to the audience.
In addition, brands who support and enforce the feature will receive the added incentive and benefit of analytics of the sponsored post. Making ROI and conversion easy to track and measure the impact of each sponsored post.
What’s the challenge?
Sponsorships between influencers and businesses tend to be looked at skeptically by the new Instagram generation. Gen Z’s are especially aware of traditional marketing and they display a certain disdain towards any campaigns that may come across as too artificial. So, even though sponsored posts could impact influencers negatively in the short term, this is a new era of authenticity.
Instagram has grown rapidly from one million users in 2010 to 700 million registered users in 2017, and it has naturally evolved into a digital marketing monopoly. Consequently, our verdict is that distinguishing branded content from non-sponsored content is a crucial step in the right direction.