On the heels of dozens of letters sent by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to influencers and marketers, cautioning them to make appropriate disclosures on social media, Instagram announced that it will make the disclosure process easier for its users.
Those who work with sponsors will soon be able to tag a brand within their posts. If the brand confirms the relationship, the post will be marked as an ad with a “paid partnership with [brand name]” tag at the top.
The new system is currently being tested on a few celebrities and businesses. If successful, it will be rolled out more widely on the social networking site. “Our goal is to get a ton of feedback,” Charles Porch, head of global creative programs at Instagram, told Bloomberg. “It’s all about transparency within the community.”
Instagram’s new feature appears at just the right time. The FTC recently sent more than 90 letters reiterating that influencers and marketers must clearly disclose their relationships to comply with the agency’s Endorsement Guides.
The agency specifically called out Instagram in its letters, noting that consumers who view posts in their streams or on mobile devices typically see only the first three lines of a longer post unless they click “more,” which many consumers do not do. “Therefore, an endorser should disclose any material connection above the ‘more’ button,” wrote Mary K. Engle, associate director of the FTC’s Division of Advertising Practices. “In addition, where there are multiple tags, hashtags, or links, readers may just skip over them, especially where they appear at the end of a long post.”
Instagram’s new feature appears to alleviate these concerns, although the company cautioned that it wasn’t guaranteeing compliance. “This is actually something we’ve done internally on our own,” without the urging of the FTC, Porch said. “Every creator should defer to their local authority that gives best practices.”
To read Instagram’s announcement, click here.
Why it matters: The new feature could prove beneficial to both influencers (who will hopefully comply with the FTC’s Endorsement Guides and avoid an enforcement action from the agency) as well as marketers, who will be able to access data about the post’s engagement with Instagram users because of the tag