Instagram influencers regularly reach out to fans with sponsored posts, but now those posts can appear in your feed even if you’re not a follower. On Tuesday, June 4, Instagram announced branded content ads, a form of advertising that allows influencers to work with brands to promote posts beyond their own followers.
Sponsored posts are common on Instagram and allow some influencers to make a living as a social media personality. Brands reach out to Instagram users with high follower counts and offer payment in exchange for a post. The result is an “ad” that looks more organic (and doesn’t pay Instagram at all).
Those sponsored posts, however, only appear to the influencer’s followers. With branded content ads, those same photos and videos can make their way into the feeds of non-followers. The ads will be indicated with a “paid partnership with” tag and will appear in the news feed first before infiltrating the Stories format.
Instagram says the update allows brands to reach more users while also enabling measurement tools.
Brands capitalize on influencers’ high follower counts to reach potential customers via a method that doesn’t feel like traditional advertising. According to an Instagram survey, 68% said they use Instagram specifically to interact with creators. The new ad type will still look and feel like Instagram sponsored posts but will expand the reach of that post by also popping up for some non-followers.
Instagram ads are typically met by frustration with users, however. Instagram didn’t say if the new format would affect the number of ads users see inside their feeds and Stories.
To enable the type of ad, influencers have to give business partners permission to promote a post in the new format, an option found under Advanced Settings. The business can then see the posts and choose whether or not to promote it any further. That means that while influencers can prevent this type of post, brands are the ones choosing to boost that sponsored post.
Instagram users will start seeing the branded content ads in the feed in the next few weeks, while the format will head to Stories in the next few months. That’s not all that Instagram has in store for ads, of course. “This is just the beginning and we’ll continue to invest in branded content to provide even more value for people, creators, and businesses,” Instagram said in a blog post.