This week, Instagram announced a new policy to increase transparency and authenticity on the social platform, just months after shutting down two of the largest automation tools: MassPlanner and Instagress. Beginning with just a few users, Instagram will roll out a feature letting influencers sponsor-tag their partner brand in the post, accompanied by a “Paid Partnership” line above the post. In order to get brands and agencies on board, Instagram grants the ability to connect the brand account to Instagram Insights for the post directly. Brands then have the ability to track data first-hand, instead of relying on the influencer’s measurements. Once tested, Instagram will likely require sponsorships to include this tag.

The new policy follows action from the Federal Trade Commission encouraging influencers and brands to make sponsored posts more clear and conspicuous. Since Instagram and the FTC cracked down on unmarked influencer posts, users have been tagging posts #sponsored #sp #ad, or simply stating “Thanks [brand]!” Along with ambiguity, most users place these hashtags at the bottom of a post surrounded by other fine print so that it will be ignored. The FTC argues that this information should be presented above the fold, before the “more” button, and the post should be clearly displayed as an advertisement.

This announcement is likely to put a damper on the growth of influencer marketing, at a time when 84% of marketers say they would launch an influencer campaign in the next 12 months. The appeal of influencer marketing, particularly on Instagram, is that sponsored posts feel like a suggestion from a trendy friend. Making each post scream Paid Partnership eliminates that informal and intimate connection that separates influencer marketing from advertising. The months following Instagram’s full roll-out of the policy will define the future of influencer marketing, with Instagram offering such impressive success metrics. The ball is in your court, marketers.

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