Instagram is introducing a new system for celebrities and other influencers to clearly mark posts for which they’ve been paid as sponsored posts. The way it works is similar to a recent change by Facebook that involves tagging the sponsoring brand and adding the required disclosure.
This seems to be alright and it certainly makes sense for Instagram to follow the lead of corporate owner Facebook. But with so much discussion about how influencers of various stripes aren’t doing everything they need to be doing to meet disclosure guidelines, I’m surprised they didn’t take it further and adopt a different approach.
Specifically, I’m thinking here of something like Facebook Mentions, the app rolled out a couple years ago that was specially meant for celebrities, allowing them to post and interact in a different, more manageable environment than the main Facebook app. It was meant to provide different tools and engagement options that were designed for these power users to take more control of their fan interactions.
So what if Instagram introduced something similar? A separate app available only to select verified users could be specifically for their sponsored posts and automatically add the disclosure statement – a hashtag or whatever else – to those posts. It would take the process completely out of the person’s hands and put it in without them having to do so manually. Instagram could work with various regulatory agencies to make sure that it meets standards. There could even be additional features like the ability to add enhanced links or something like that to make the app even more attractive.
Of course, adoption would still be an issue. Support from the big influencer marketing hook-up agencies, the ones that connect brands with people looking to monetize their social following, would certainly help. That’s especially true if they made use of the app a requirement for people to participate in campaigns being managed.
Basically, I see this as a good first step but there’s more than can be done to really bring some order to this industry. By removing it as a manual action that needs to be actively taken each and every time, something like what I’ve proposed here could bring required disclosure closer to 100%, far from where it is now.