Ninety Instagram influencers recently got a warning for not being upfront about when they were being paid to promote a product on their account.
Now the app is getting a new feature to help make things clearer for users.
Instagram said it's rolling out a new "Paid partnership with" label that influencers can use to show something is essentially an ad. It'll show up on both posts and stories – right beneath the user name at the top.
Here's an example from their blog announcement:
It'll be available to select people and businesses to use in the coming weeks, with a wider rollout after that.
Why does this matter?
Well, it's against federal regulations to not declare these types of paid partnerships.
Anybody who is promoting a product they got for free, or is doing so for an endorsement/marketing deal, or has any other kind of "material connection" to the product, has to say that in a clear and easy-to-see way, the Federal Trade Commission explains.
"The point is to give readers the essential information. A simple disclosure like ‘Company X gave me this product to try …’ will usually be effective," the agency says.
This disclosure has to be easy to see
Instagram's new paid partnership label feature would seem to solve one of the main gripes the FTC had.
The commission, when it sent letters directly to influencers for the first time ever, made it a point to address where and how disclosures happened.
The FTC said it needs to be within the first three lines of a post (not hidden beneath the "more" button). And you can't bury it in a mountain of hashtags or emojis either, or use vague language like #sp or #partner.
Instagram's newly announced option for partners and brands to put it right at the top would seemingly address this concern.
And if you're into the behind-the-scenes workings of brand advertising, this new tagging option lets both the influencer and the partner see analytics from the post. It's more data for both sides.
So what happens now?
This is important. Social media personalities reach millions of users – and many don't take the time to see if something is a paid ad, or an actual post.
Forbes said this kind of advertising is going to “explode” in 2017, with 84 percent of marketers it surveyed saying they plan to take part. The benefit is that it reaches you – the engaged consumer – directly, and can be targeted based on things you like.
And this study by Mediakix says Instagram influencer promotion could be a $2.4 billion industry before 2020.