JUNE 08, 2019
Instagram’s latest announcement may be an annoyance to the everyday user, but it’s good news for business. A new advertising offering dubbed “branded content ads” allows brands to make influencers’ sponsored posts appear as ads to a wider audience. Before, businesses had to work through influencer partners and their accounts to get posts sponsored, but the ability to do so more directly will likely mean more influencers in your feed than before.
Sponsored posts mean big money for both Instagram and the brands who use it with stellar ROI and advanced targeting options thanks to the app’s owner, Facebook.
This move also underscores the importance for both influencers and brands of disclosing paid posts. Branded content ads will let users know that the post is a paid partnership, but to avoid FTC guidelines breaches, both influencers and brands should be diligent in using #ad on campaign content.
This headline was initially puzzling to me: Are the audiences for LinkedIn and Disney’s “The Lion King” that similar? Where does “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King” fit in with the latest SlideShare on blockchain or retaining clients?
The campaign is contest-based; LinkedIn users must create a video (a relatively new function on LinkedIn) about their career goals and professional journey in order to win a two-day learning experience at Disney, one of LinkedIn’s top companies for job seekers, including a trip to the world premiere of “The Lion King.” It’s a smart move to encourage user-generated content, reinforce the prestigious reputation of a job at Disney and, of course, promote a new film to an audience that likely grew up loving the original version in an unexpected way.
This is a signal that brands need to start looking at LinkedIn more creatively. LinkedIn has over 500 million members and many of them are highly engaged, seeking out LinkedIn for content that’s deeper and more meaningful than what you might find scrolling through your Instagram feed.
A few weeks ago at Facebook’s F8 event, influencers and companies around the world were thrown a curveball: Instagram was considering hiding the number of likes a post gets. Many business users on the app rely on metrics like likes and engagement to prove ROI, cement brand partnerships and report to investors and stakeholders. Plus, once likes on a post begin to tick up, the content has a better chance of earning “viral” exposure via the Explore page. Other platforms like Twitter have expressed interest in revamping engagement metrics in a similar fashion (the New York Times article linked above dives deeper on this).
Canada is the testing ground for this new initiative, and we now have some initial feedback on the change, though Instagram did put likes back up on Canadian feeds after a short period. Some users and even influencers expressed that they were happier without vanity numbers like likes, instead focusing on the quality of content and conversations fostered via direct messages.
While this change could drastically alter how we report, we feel optimistic about Instagram prioritizing great content and authentic connections over a metric that can be skewed. We will be watching closely as Instagram decides how to proceed.
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