Instagram Introduces New Tool to Help Easily Identify Branded Content [Updated]

It's an effort to make sponsored posts more transparent — particularly those from influencers and celebrities.
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A screenshot of Instagram's new "Paid partnership with" feature. Photo: Instagram

A screenshot of Instagram's new "Paid partnership with" feature. Photo: Instagram

Influencers, celebrities and brands alike have found themselves under fire in recent months for the now-common practice of sponsored social media posts. The Federal Trade Commission has increasingly cracked down on undisclosed or misleading #SponCon, mandating that all paid posts must clearly be marked with #Ad or #Sponsored to prevent any confusion on the part of the consumer.

While influencers continue to come up with creative workarounds — iterations involving #partner are a current favorite — Instagram is stepping in with a new feature to make disclosure just a little bit easier. Over the coming weeks, the social media company will roll out its new "Paid partnership with" tags, which will appear where the Location tag sits on Instagram feeds. The feature will also be available to use on Instagram Stories. Beyond just making full disclosure easier for all parties, Instagram will also be offering insights around those paid posts, allowing brands and influencers to track performance.

Instagram's new "Paid partnership with" feature in Song of Style's Instagram story. Photo: Instagram

Instagram's new "Paid partnership with" feature in Song of Style's Instagram story. Photo: Instagram

So far, the feature has been tested through BuzzFeed Tasty and Song of Style, indicating that Instagram intends for the feature to be used for sponsored content across media platforms as well as by influencers and celebrities. Of course, the "Paid partnership with" tag doesn't fall within those FTC guidelines of #Sponsored or #Ad, so it remains to be seen if the new feature will satisfy critics. In the blog post announcing the feature, Instagram promises it will be "launching an official policy and enforcement for creators" in the coming months.

Update, Aug. 29, 2:45 p.m.: Instagram has officially rolled out its branded content tool, through which all branded posts must be created. Not only does the tool facilitate posts that note its sponsored nature (the post's header will include the phrase, "Paid partnership with [business partner]"), but it also allows for tagged business partners to access metrics and track engagement in their Facebook page insights. It's safe to say this will be a game-changer for plenty of brands and influencers who rely heavily on the platform. 

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