Instagram is trying out new creator monetization options prior to the Christmas shopping season, with the goal of assisting its most famous users in maximizing their earnings potential through branded content deals.
To begin with, Instagram is experimenting with a new 'Partnerships' message folder within Instagram DMs, which will serve as a separate location for tracking sponsored content offers and communications.
Along with your 'Primary,' 'General,' and 'Requests' folders, Instagram is exploring a new 'Partnership Messages' section in your inbox, which would house these specific conversations.
Those messages will be handled through Facebook's Brand Collabs Manager platform or through a new brand search option, which will make it easier to connect with creators who either follow their brand profile or have specifically indicated that they're interested in working with them.
As a condition of using the new connection capabilities, all brands contacting through this folder will have met Partner Monetization policies.
While it appears that Instagram would be better off providing another swipeable tab in the Direct inbox, rather than swiping through a folder at the top of the stream, four tabs may be too many, and this is a cleaner UI choice.
Instagram is also testing a new digital shop option for affiliate program participants, giving individual creators another chance to advertise sponsored products to their audiences.
As seen in these examples, creators will now be capable of creating their own stores with products that they recommend, giving businesses more exposure and giving creators more revenue sharing choices.
This might be a very appealing alternative, as it allows brands to reach these users' engaged networks through direct endorsement on their profile. The feature is presently being tested with Instagram's native affiliate program participants in the United States.
Finally, Instagram has introduced new branded content advertising in Reels, marking yet another step toward monetizing the short video format.
According to Instagram:
“We brought branded content to Reels earlier this year and now follow with the introduction of branded content ads in Reels.”
The option resembles Instagram's Branded Content tags for Reels, except with the addition of a 'Sponsored' marker rather than just 'Paid Partnership.' As TikTok's model has shown, the only true way to achieve traction in the format is through Reels creator collaborations, with traditional, disruptive advertisements failing to elicit the same levels of interest in short-form video feeds.
Although, unlike longer videos, you can't incorporate pre-roll or mid-roll adverts into 30-second clips, thus efficient monetization of short-form video remains a challenge. This limits your ability to attribute revenue sharing to specific uploads, which is why branded content formats like this are a significant option for creator monetization, giving popular Reels stars more reason to keep producing.
Instagram's Boost for Branded Content feature will also allow users to boost organic Feed and Story posts to turn them into ads.
These are important additions to Instagram's broader creator monetization drive, which the platform has highlighted as a path forward for the app on numerous occasions. Which, again, is particularly true for Reels, but also for Instagram in general, as more users turn to TikTok and TikTok evolves its revenue share tools, a lot more popular users could end up spending more time on that app instead of Instagram, unless Instagram can attract them back with more enticing, hugely profitable revenue share deals.
And, given Instagram's greater concentration on eCommerce, these might be significant additions – but there's also a risk that Instagram could become too eCommerce-focused, losing part of its attractiveness as a result.
We'll see what transpires; these new experiments are currently being tested with a small group of users.