Tying into its Creator Week showcase event, Instagram has announced some new monetization options for creators, including a new affiliate marketing program, which will make it easier for creators to earn money from product promotions, and new additions to its Stars creator donations process.
First off, on its new affiliate program - Instagram says that in the coming months, it'll begin testing a new 'native affiliate tool', which will enable creators to discover new products available for purchase in the app, then share them with their followers and earn commissions for any subsequent purchases that they drive.
As you can see here, the new process will enable creators to sign up for the new Affiliate program, which will then enable them to choose from products available in the app to add to their posts. And if users tap through on their post, and go on to make a purchase, the creator will get a commission - so it's essentially an influencer marketing process without the creator having to do any of the negotiation or leg-work to put the incentive deal in place.
You can also see the new “Eligible for commission” notifier at the top of the post in the second screenshot here.
It's an interesting idea, and it'll certainly open up new pathways for monetization, a key focus for every social platform amid the rise of eCommerce and the increasing push to provide more incentive to keep their top creators posting more often.
But it also seems potentially risky. Through this process, it seems like the brands themselves won't have any direct say in who endorses their products, which could be problematic in many ways. Would you want to allow a creator with a checkered history to promote your brand?
It's likely that Instagram has an approval process of some kind in place for this, and if it does, it could be a big step forward in helping creators make money from their Instagram posts quickly and easily, which could be significant. But the details seem a little thin at this stage.
Instagram says that it will test the option "with a small group of US-based creators and businesses" first, including Benefit, Kopari, MAC, Pat McGrath Labs and Sephora. The program will be expanded to more partners and regions in future.
Instagram's also adding a new option that will enable users to attach their existing shop to their personal profile, along with their business or Creator account.
That will provide more avenues for direct promotion, expanding audience reach - while Instagram is also adding another shops option which will enable creators who have their own merchandise lines to more easily set up a new shop by linking their account with one of four merchandise partners (Bravado/UMG, Fanjoy, Represent, and Spring).
That will essentially streamline the on-platform selling process for creators, by directly linking through to the supplier, as opposed to having to upload their own catalog and build it themselves.
Shops on personal profiles will be available from today, while the new merchandise linking option will roll out to all eligible creators in the US by end of the year.
And finally, Instagram is also adding some new incentive elements to its Stars donation system for creators, which is specifically focused on providing payment options for live-stream broadcasters in the app.
"Starting this week, creators on Instagram are eligible to earn an extra payout when they meet certain milestones while using badges in Live, such as going Live with another account, while Facebook is also launching Stars Challenges. Creators in the program can earn payouts from Facebook in the form of free Stars if they meet certain milestones, such as broadcasting a certain number of hours or earning a set number of Stars within a designated time period."
The new options will essentially provide an extra, gamified element to the Stars monetization process, which will provide financial incentive for creators to stream more often. Which is good for Facebook/Instagram, in that it'll ensure that more content is made available on their platforms, while it also provides another way for creators to make money, a win-win.
Well, probably not a win-win. No doubt Facebook will benefit more from having more content, and this won't tip the tables in favor of the creator entirely. But then again, the incentives here look okay. In the above screenshot, it notes that one task would reward the creator with $150 bonus if they earn 5,000 Stars. 5,000 Stars is equivalent to around $50 currently, so that's actually pretty valuable.
The push, then, is more designed to get more streamers sharing more often, and if they end up earning real money from their efforts, that will likely see them broadcasting more content, and will make Facebook and Instagram a more definitive partner in their process.
Which is the real aim of all of these options. Despite Facebook's many efforts to thwart it, TikTok continues to rise, and while Facebook hasn't been able to crush the short video app with its sheer scale, it can still provide better monetization and incentive options, which may well keep users from straying, and bring more top creators over to Instagram instead.
Worth noting that Instagram is also working on a new 'Bonuses' payment system for top Reels creators, which sounds similar to Snapchat's Spotlight payment process, which currently sees Snap paying out $1 million per day to the top Spotlight creators, in order to further boost interest in the option.
TikTok is still working out its monetization tools, and if, at some stage, more creators realize that they'd be better off making money from their content in other apps instead, that could become a key tipping point for the platform, if it can't provide similar, or better, incentives.
Which is where Instagram is headed with these new monetization tools, heaping more pressure on the competition, while also bringing more users to its apps.
Will that work?
It'll certainly prove a strong lure for some, and it'll be interesting to see if these options do indeed provide enough incentive to significantly boost Instagram's creator standing.