The importance of disclosing sponsored content on Instagram can’t be overstated. With influencer marketing on the rise and visual content becoming so important to the consumer, Instagram is the perfect social platform for affiliate content publishers and influencers to partner with a brand and promote their products. However, these partnerships need transparency. The FTC recently sent 90 letters reminding influencers to disclose their content, and brands can get in a lot of trouble if their influencers don’t properly disclose sponsored content.
Recognizing the importance of sponsored content disclosures, Instagram has taken a step forward to make sponsored posts clearer and easier to identify. In a June 14 blog post, the Instagram Business Team announced that a new “paid partnership with” tag will be coming for Instagrammers. According to the post, this tag “will help creators more clearly communicate to their followers when they are working in partnership with a business” and that “not only is this level of transparency beneficial for our community, but it also gives content creators and businesses the ability to track and share insights around a partnered post.”
For influencer marketing this disclosure feature is an FTC win as it protects brands and influencers while following proper sponsored content disclosure guidelines.
The above example (from Instagram’s blog post) highlights how this new feature will appear on posts. You’ll notice that the “paid partnership with” meets compliance needs set by the FTC: the disclosure language is clear, it’s early in the post (and not hidden in the text), and is simple and to the point. These are basic but critical needs to address for properly disclosing sponsored content, and Instagram’s new feature is a benefit to publishers and advertisers. Note that this is not a be-all-end-all solution, but it is a good step forward to influencers. Any content disclosure questions should always be handled by a legal team or lawyer, rather than left to chance!
Brand Quality & Regulatory Compliance Senior Manager at Rakuten Marketing Jennifer Moor had this to say about the rollout of Instagram’s latest content disclosure feature: “This is definitely a step in the right direction for creating transparency to the consumer when influencers are commercially incentivized to promote brands. However, we are still going to need oversight to ensure influencers are leveraging this capability within the platform.”
Not only is this good news for content publishers and influencers, but the affiliate channel as a whole. When asked about this, Jennifer added that “one thing that is important to understand, the term affiliate, publisher, endorser, or influencer, could all mean the same; if there is commercial intent behind the post, then it could require a disclosure. If a publisher posts a brand’s product organically on Instagram (and we know publishers typically receive a percent of sale), that post could be deemed an advertisement and would require a disclosure.”
Instagram’s rollout of this feature joins the likes of Facebook’s Branded Content Tools and YouTube’s Paid Promotion Disclosure Feature as resources for influencers to leverage for all sponsored content.