Up until now, branded content on Instagram has been entirely organic. With Branded Content Ads, Instagram is now introducing a new feature that allows companies to promote branded content just like sponsored ads. The big benefit of Instagram’s newest addition is, that branded posts can be made available to a broader audience and are no longer limited to the reach of each creator. In this blog post, we’ll summarize for you how branded content ads work for both companies and creators, and where the weaknesses of Instagram’s new feature lie.
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Why Use Branded Content Ads?
More and more companies are investing in influencers and branded content as part of their marketing strategy. The goal behind this often is to generate authentic advertising content and add a personal component to the products. In order to increase this effect, Instagram is now introducing branded content ads. The new feature allows businesses to scale images and videos beyond the reach of influencers and creators by promoting them as an ad. The big advantage for companies that comes with this is, that these sponsored posts have the appearance of a regular feedpost, except that they are marked with Paid partnership with and the respective brand name is mentioned. Despite clearly being labeled as advertising content, sponsored branded content posts do not seem like ads at first glance and thereby have the potential to draw more attention and reach a wider audience.
This also makes working with branded content ads more appealing to creators and influencers. Advertisements on Instagram are placed via targeting and thus automatically appear in the feeds of users who suit the respective brand’s target group. Consequently, branded content ads also reach people on Instagram who neither follow the brand nor the original creator.
Here’s how it works for brands
In order to work with branded content ads, companies first need to allow being linked as a business partner. The feature can be found in the Instagram settings under Company → Branded Content → Business Partner Tagging. In addition to a general approval, brands also have the opportunity to require confirmation before users can link the brand account as a partner.
Once approved, creators will have the option to select the brand in their branded content post settings under Allow Business Partner to Promote. Organic feed posts can only be placed as an advertisement by the comanpy linked, if this consent is given.
The promotion of the ad, as well as the subsequent evaluation of range and engagement can be managed via the Facebook Ads Manager. The process of creating branded content ads is exaclty the same, as it is for any other ad in Instagram. The approved images can be found under the tab Use Existing Post.
Here’s How It Works For Creators
For Creators, working with the new Instagram feature is just as easy. In order to generate potential branded content ads, creators follow all the same steps they would take when creating any other post. The only additional step before posting a photo or video is tapping one little button in the Advanced Settings. There, creators have the opportunity to link a business partner and set the Allow Business Partner To Promote button to blue.
Once a post is promoted as a branded content ad, the creator receives a notification. One and the same post can be sponsored several times over a period of time. As long as a post is being used as a branded content ad, however, the creator can neither edit nor delete it.
Posts that have already been uploaded can subsequently be edited to allow their use as branded content ads. All it takes is a tap on the three dots at the top of the screen to enter the Edit menu. Brands can then be tagged under Add Partner.
What are the weaknesses of the new function?
Content that is shared through the branded content ads feature can currently only be used for Instagram ads. A promotion on Facebook or other social media channels is not possible. Also, the feature is currently not available for Instagram Stories. Creators cannot sponsor stories as branded content ads, nor can ads generated from branded content be published as a story.
Further, neither the caption of the post nor comments that appear below it can be influenced by the brand promoting the post. Accordingly, the function is more suitable for brands that have been working with influencers for some time and have already created a clear brand fit between creator and brand.
In the long run, branded content ads could possibly have a negative impact on the authenticity of influencers and, consequently, influencer marketing. Although branded content ads are clearly labeled as such, the boundaries between paid advertising and independently created posts are becoming increasingly blurred with the new function.