by Cydney Hatch July 24, 2019

Influencers are Your New Best Friend: Instagram Branded Content Ads

Did you know that 68% of people say they come to Instagram to interact with creators? Well, Instagram has definitely taken advantage of this statistic as it has become new BFFs with influencers and ambassadors alike!


Well, Instagram recently rolled out a new type of content ad that solidifies its love for influencers: Instagram Branded Content Ads. With this change, businesses have an opportunity to tell their brand stories through sponsored content generated by influencers and ambassadors to create a more official friendship lovefest between creators and marketers.

With the FTC cracking down on authenticity and transparency online, sponsored posts have definitely become more popular and with new tools available, businesses can reach targeted audiences beyond the people who follow the brand and creator accounts.

As Instagram explores new ways to connect brands and influencers to amplify quality content, this is an interesting one as an advertiser to look into! So, in this article, let’s take a look at everything you need to know about Instagram Branded Content Ads and how you can get started with them today!

What are Instagram Branded Content Ads?

So, you might be wondering how this type of Instagram ad is any different than what Instagram already has.

Well, in simplicity, Instagram Branded Content ads will let marketers pay to make influencer posts appear as ads so that they reach a bigger audience. Until recently, brands who paid influencers to post sponsored videos or images on their Instagram profiles have had their reach limited to that particular influencer’s following on the platform.

Although this is fantastic, that is just the beginning…

Now posts made by influencers and creators can be posted using Instagram’s Paid Partnership Tool which will allow people to boost a business partnership post. What this means is that it’s introducing the ability for marketers to promote creators’ organic branded content posts as feed ads.

“Paid Partnership” text, as seen above, will appear on those ads when they run in Instagram’s feed, along with the brand name being part of each post. This will be an important piece for Instagram’s continued investment in advertising transparency.

As we all know, branded content is an ever-evolving trend and this play from Instagram will allow brands and creators to increase the reach of paid for posts and target them towards relevant audiences, especially since so many businesses are increasing their social and influencer budgets.

Why Instagram Branded Content Ads?

In short, Instagram Branded Content Ads offer an extra advantage for marketers to not only reach but target their dream users.

Businesses working with influencers to promote branded content is nothing new, but they were unable to use influencers’ posts as ads that can be targeted beyond the influencer’s organic reach…until now. This is honestly a super smart move from Instagram as influencers thrive when they supply their followers with authentic experiences.

If you can create more connected messaging, it’s a win-win for influencers and businesses as influencers get more following, and businesses get more authentic content their followers want to see! Awesome sauce!

If that is not reason enough, though, below are some of the reasons why you would want to dip into not only influencer marketing but these new Branded Content ads:

Better Reach and Target Your Dream Users

Instagram Branded Content ads provide scale, simple as that. Your ads as a business can now resonate with everyone in your target audience regardless of if they follow you or your influencer of choice.

Your content is powerful because it extends way beyond yours and your influencer’s existing followers…you can actually work towards industry domination! Just like your other Instagram ads, you can promote and boost the posts the same way which means more visibility and connection with your target audience.

More eyeballs, more money! Brands are able to gain a better ROI from their partnerships with influencers by customizing and targeting their ads.

Optimize Like No Other

Instagram Branded Content ads help you optimize specifically toward your campaign objectives by creating new opportunities for your branded content to drive performance. Looking for better engagement? Great, you are getting new people involved. Wanting better traffic numbers? Awesome, you are getting your content circulated to more people within your industry.
Instagram’s Insights is also amazing at obtaining insights quickly so you can make more informed decisions on how to execute branded content most effectively. Between the content share and the insights, you will be able to swiftly make marketing decisions that will benefit your brand like no other!

Influencer Marketing Isn’t A Joke, Take It Seriously

Instagram Branded Content ads are a beautifully strategic move to center Instagram’s content around people, not businesses.

This works because posts that perform best always feature “real” and “authentic” people in a lifestyle form of content—content influencers rock at. This type of content helps people visualize products in their own life, which is something advertising has failed to do on a more intimate level—hence why influencer marketing has soared over the past year.

If you have questioned the power of influencer marketing, it’s time to stop. The fact that Instagram is expanding their features to allow brands to run sponsored ads with partnerships proves that businesses are taking influencers and creatives and more seriously and understand the monetization power they hold.

Now, more than ever, businesses should consider influencers to be a legit asset to their marketing strategies!

Be at Ease About Transparency

In today’s world, there is no doubt that people are concerned about keeping their online information private. From Facebook data leaks, phone app breaches and credit card fraud becoming more frequent in our digital lives, people are feeling like their digital “drawers” are out for the public to see.

When you add the influx of retargeting and other targeted advertising, people are feeling used and abused online.

Instagram is trying to ease the negative feelings about ads on the platform but creating more transparent ad copy and listing to branded content. When Instagram Branded Content ads appear in feed and stories, people will see “Paid partnership with” along with the brand name on each post—which is very important for ads transparency.

When you buy into this ad type, you are putting yourself at ease by not having to worry about the accountability of your influencers to use hashtag transparency.

Instagram Branded Content Ads: How to Get Started

If you are interested in dabbling with Instagram Branded Content ads there are 2 main steps you need to master.

First, branded content creators need to enable their business partners to promote their post as an ad, which they can do in Advanced Settings. Once they do this, the business partner will see the post on Ads Manager under Existing Posts and can choose to run it as an ad in feed or stories format.

Below is a more in detail list of steps you need to take to start branded content ads for both business and creators:

Business: Getting Started

Are you a business trying to get Instagram Branded Content ads up and running? See the steps below:

Access Permissions

Give the creator permission to tag your business in their branded content post.

  1. Go to your advertiser profile within the Instagram app and select the options wheel above the “edit profile” button and select “Business Settings”
  2. If the “Require Approvals” is toggled on you can see “Approved Accounts” (if the “Require Approvals” is off, no further steps are needed)
  3. Select “Approved Accounts” and add the creator’s Instagram handle that you will be partnering with
  4. Select “Done”

When a creator makes a branded content post on their Instagram Feed and tags your business, they can opt to Allow Business Partner to Promote. This will give you permission to promote the creator’s organic branded content feed post as an ad.

Campaign Set Up

When creating an ad from a branded content post on Instagram, you can use either the Reach, Brand Awareness Objective (BAO), Video Views, Traffic or Engagement objective. Learn more about the different objectives on Ads Manager.

Once the creator has tagged your business in a branded content post and given permission to promote it, follow these steps:

  1. Go to Ads Manager and create an ad.
  2. Pick one of these objectives for your Branded Content ad: Reach, Brand Awareness Objective (BAO), Video Views, Engagement, Traffic.
  3. Continue creating your ad: At the Audience step set your targeting and at the Placements step, select Instagram Feed.
  4. At the Ad level, your Branded Content will appear in the Use Existing Post section. Click into the Use Existing Post section then click on Select Post/Change Post in the Creative section (note, during initial setup, Change Post will appear as Select Post).
  5. In the Select Post window, navigate to the Branded Content tab and click. You’ll see the list of the branded content posts that a creator has given you permission to promote. Choose the branded content post that you want to promote on Instagram.
  6. You’ll see a preview of your ad. If everything looks good, finish creating your ad and click Confirm.

Creator: Getting Started

Are you an influencer trying to understand the ins and outs of being in a business’s Instagram Branded Content ad? If so, see the steps below:

Access Permissions

Promote a creator’s organic branded content post as a Branded Content ad in Feed on Instagram. You will be able to edit or delete your post before the business partner has promoted it, but once promotion begins you will not be able to edit or delete the post unless the business partner completely deletes the promotion.

Creating New Branded Content Post:

  1. In the Instagram app, select a photo or video and add the accompanying caption, effects and filters.
  2. Prior to sharing the content (tapping Next), select Advanced Settings.
  3. Add the Branded Content tag onto the post by tapping Tag Business Partner and search for the business (note, be sure to select the name of the correct business/brand associated with the post).
  4. Under the Branded Content Partner Permissions section, toggle on the Allow Business Partner to Promote button to give the brand/business access to promote your Branded Content post.
  5. Tap Done at the top right of the screen.

Using Existing Post Without Branded Content Tag:

  1. Navigate to post and tap three dots at the top right.
  2. Select Edit.
  3. Select Add Partner.
  4. Add the Branded Content tag onto the post by tapping Tag Business Partner and search for the correct business associated with the post (note, if the business appears in the search results, but doesn’t allow you to tag it, you must contact your business partner and ask to be approved).
  5. Under the Branded Content Partner Permissions section toggle on the Allow Business Partner to Promote button to give the brand/business access to promote your Branded Content post.
  6. Tap Done at the top right of the screen

Once the campaign ends, your branded content post is eligible to be promoted again by that same business partner, unless you toggle off the Allow Business Partner to Promote option. As long as you give permission, your post can be promoted as a Branded Content ad.

Looking Ahead

Sponsored content is not going anywhere, so are you going to be a part of the money-making trend?

Over the past few years, audiences have proven that influencers influence their buying decisions, so as a company, wouldn’t it make sense to have them highlight your products?

These Branded Content ads will be available to all marketers in the coming weeks and for stories over the coming months. My hope that this encourages more businesses that have been hesitant about influencer marketing to dive into creating boosting strategies that they can control! Instagram Branded Content ads do just that!

If you have questions about influencer marketing, how to pick the right influencer for your business or you need more direction on Instagram Branded Content ads, reach out to me here! I would love to help you make influencers and ads be best friends!

What do you think? Does influencer marketing work and should Instagram move towards promoting it? Does it annoy or inspire customers? Share your opinions below! 

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Cydney Hatch

Cydney Hatch

Cydney is a polka dot wearing business owner, photographer, cupcake enthusiast and writer, who through her work, shares her personal passions about visual marketing, branding and business strategy.

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