No marking at all, #ad or #sponsered and eventually the officially introduced marking through the Instagram Branded Content Tool – we’ve seen all of these options on countless Instagram accounts of influencers on the popular app. After the first lawsuits have been filed due to insufficient marking of branded content, there is hope that official behavioral and marketing guidelines will be implemented on Instagram soon. The recently rolled out Branded Content Tool might just be the perfect feature for everyone to use.

Collaborating with brands on Instagram

Instagram is a platform used by millions – both individuals and companies – to share their content. As more than 80% of all Instagram users follow a brand’s profile on the app, businesses now have the possibility to communicate and engage with all those interested in the brand. Accordingly, working with influencers is a very attractive way of marketing for brands – chosen wisely, the opinion makers of the new world can present a product or service to the perfect target group and thus increase the reach of a brand. The best case being that, besides increasing sales and brand awareness, the chances for successful influencer marketing cooperations rise as well (source: Instagram for Business). The only thing missing up till now in these kinds of collaborations was a consistent policy on how such – usually paid – cooperations and product placements are to be marked properly by the influencer. This is where the Branded Content Tool comes into play.

The features of the Branded Content Tool

The Branded Content Tool can either be used when posting a picture or when uploading a clip on InstaStories. Right underneath the account name, we can then find the notation Paid partnership with… . The creator of a marked post can choose the brand they collaborated with prior to publishing their post so that the brand will be tagged in the notation. Not only can followers now clearly tell that a collaboration with a brand has taken place but it also allows the tagged partner to access the performance of the post in the Facebook page insights.

To publish a marked post, the influencer starts as usual: He or she uploads an image and edits it if necessary. We can now find a button Advanced Settings in the section where we edit the captions and pick connected social media channels to share our posts. With one click, we can reach a sub menu in which we’re now able to find the Instagram account of the partner we’ve worked with. Once selected, the brand is tagged in the post and can clearly be identified as the advertiser. When using InstaStories, you can pick your partner in the link menu.

Branded Content for more transparency on Instagram

While the feature is currently only available for verified accounts, it already provides more transparency in the community. There is now a set location for sponsored marking and users don’t have to check hashtags for clarity on the post’s branded nature. Just recently, the conviction of the German drugstore chain Rossmann – due to insufficient marking of collaborations with influencers – has emphasized the importance of a consistently valid tool for everyone.

We are hopeful that influencers will embrace the function to disclose their commercial work more transparently on the platform. We’re positive that the possibility to use the Branded Content Tool will, in a next step, lead to official policies and obligations for all parties. Now there’s only left to hope that there will be internationally valid guidelines soon. Until now, the lawsuits of Rossmann and the resulting obligations are only mandatory for German influencers – still, the new Instagram tool can be used worldwide, but it’s not obligatory in all countries. The Branded Content Tool translates the notation Paid partnership with… to the language of each user so that anyone can benefit from transparency – as long as the tool is used by the influencers.