Back in April, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) sent out 90 letters to Instagram influencers reminding them to properly disclose any “material connection[s]” they have with brand partners. Those links “should be clearly and conspicuously disclosed,” the FTC wrote, “unless it is already clear from the context of the communication.”
Instagram seems to have taken that message seriously. The social media platform is beginning to roll out a feature through which users will be able to easily mark posts that include sponsored elements.
The new feature — which Instagram is testing with a select group of influencers before rolling it out to all users — is a tag through which creators can denote the sponsorships tied to their posts. The stylish Instagram star Aimee Song, for example, used the tag to disclose a deal with Volvo, as pictured above.
As TechCrunch notes, Instagram’s new tag is more than just a way to comply with FTC guidelines — it’s also a way for brands to receive more complete data for the influencer campaigns they run. When a sponsorship tag is added to a post, the sponsor in question automatically receives that post’s reach and engagement data. Given the size of the influencer marketing business on Instagram, the arrival of a new method for tracking sponsored content is a notable change.
“People want to be transparent with their fans,” said Charles Porch, the head of global creative partnerships at Instagram. “They’re building a really strong relationship with the people who follow them, and they want to transparently communicate when there’s a value exchange.”
Instagram hasn’t yet revealed when it plans to roll out its new sponsorship tags to its entire community.