Back in March, reports indicated that Instagram was testing out a new Partner Tags option to provide more transparency on sponsored content posted to the platform.
Now, Instagram is officially launching their new partnership tool, which will provide a new level of clarity on paid posts and influencer relationships.
As you can see from these images, the process is fairly simple - when a brand's working with an influencer or partner business, that person or company can be added in the creation stage. Once they're listed, there'll be a note displayed on the image signifying that partnership, ensuring we see fewer of these types of posts where the partnership is designed to be less overt (and implied as a natural endorsement)
With the rise of influencer marketing, this is becoming a significant problem - a recent report by MediaKix found that over 90% of A-list celebrity endorsements on Instagram are in violation of rules around influencer marketing, with just 7% of sponsored content posted by the most followed celebrities on Instagram being compliant with guidelines and regulations set by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
That muddies the waters as to what's a genuine endorsement and what's a paid mention - and with influencers now making big money from sponsored posts, that can be a significant issue.
Facebook introduced a similar system on their main platform last year which enables verified Pages to share branded content on Facebook by tagging partner brand Pages in their posts. The posts are then published with the partner business listed in the main heading (in this example "...with Jasper's Market").
And similar to Facebook, Instagram's also adding new incentive to the program by enabling both brands and partners to view performance stats on any item in which they're tagged.
"When the partners use this tag, they will both have access to Insights to track exactly how their branded content posts and stories are performing. Creators will continue to see metrics in their Instagram Insights, and business partners will see shared reach and engagement metrics in their Facebook Page Insights."
Instagram also notes that they're looking at enforcement options to ensure the new process is adhered to - though there's no word on exactly how they might police this as yet.
It's a good way to facilitate the current influencer marketing trend and provide a more transparent, up-front option for these types of posts, making it easier for users to understand the context for a brand mention within a Story or post.
One element Instagram hasn't taken from Facebook, however, is the added incentive of providing increased reach based on the tagged partner. On Facebook, when you tag a brand Page in a post, the algorithm then uses your tags to increase the likelihood of your content being shown to a cross-section of people who are interested in both your Page and the Page you've tagged. Based on this, post reach can be increased, as the content will likely be of more relevance to that audience subset - in order to ensure optimal take-up of the tool on Instagram, they could use this same mechanism as a motivating factor to get brands to use the tagging function. No doubt this is another element in consideration for future development.
Sponsored tags on Instagram are being rolled out slowly - you'll start to see them appearing in the next few weeks before a wider expansion to all businesses.