Instagram has just announced it is testing Facebook’s Brand Collabs Manager with the aim to roll out an in-built influencer marketing platform that connects brands and influencers for collaboration opportunities.
Instagram certainly supported the mainstream emergence, rapid growth and industry sophistication of the influencer marketing space, and this new announcement shows Instagram is taking a more active role in the industry, which according to Business Insider Intelligence estimates, based on Mediakix data, is expected to see brand spend up to $15 billion by 2022.
Describing Brand Collabs Manager, Facebook says it is a “marketplace that helps brands and creators find, learn more about and connect with each other.”
Instagram’s Brand Collabs Manager will help brands and marketers:
- Find influencers and creators with the same audience you want to reach
- Explore customised lists of influencers who have engaged with the brand in the past
- Create target influencers lists and shortlists
- Connect with influencers and creators via email to start collaborations
If Instagram is duplicating the model of Facebook’s Brand Collabs Manager platform, then brands and marketers will also be able to create project briefs, track partnership collaborations, manage content approvals and report on performance data.
The announcement that Instagram will also launch Brand Collabs Manager follows the launch of the “Shopping” tab on the Explore Page, “Checkout on Instagram” which allows consumers to buy from brands without leaving Instagram and “Shop From Creators” which is in a beta testing phases in the US and allows consumers to shop directly from the Instagram Post of a handful of celebrities and influencers who are involved in the trial.
Access to Instagram’s Brand Collabs Manager is limited and in a testing phase but brands, advertisers and marketers can apply for the rollout. In the meantime, it seems like Australian brands can already use Brand Collabs Manager to find influencers and creators on Facebook and view their audience data. The screenshot below is from within Brand Collabs Manager and shows data, insights and branded content partners and partnerships from influencer Mel Watts Facebook page.
Brand Collabs Manager doesn’t seem to show any Instagram influencers and creators within the platform. At least, not yet.
So what does this mean for influencer marketing in Australia?
Having run hundreds of influencer marketing campaigns in Australia over the last 4 years and being a Director of two businesses in the influencer marketing space - Free Folk Agency, a marketing agency specialising in influencer marketing, and Ivy Talent Co, an influencer and talent management agency - I’ve learnt a thing or two about how to run a powerful influencer campaign and the tools that you need to make it happen.
So, will Instagram’s Brand Collabs Manager transform influencer marketing and fit into the space? Yes, and no. There are four things to keep in mind.
Transparency at the forefront
When Brand Collabs Manager does launch, transparency will be at the absolute forefront and influencers who are trying to fudge their numbers and inflate their influence will have nowhere to hide.
Understanding audience data and having it available to make smart influencer marketing decisions is not a new topic, but until now, it’s been hard to have a real source of truth. There are a lot of influencer marketing platforms in the Australian market (and even more in other markets) but the data can be confusing as some, like Q-83, have direct access to the Instagram API while others use machine learning and artificial intelligence to draw conclusions on an influencers audience and their demographics and interests.
When Instagram launches Brand Collabs Manager in Australia, it will give brands access to the data that they so desperately crave. Whether or not it will be freely available, we’ll have to wait and see. Will Facebook and Instagram take a clip of the budget, will they force ad spend for campaigns run through Brand Collabs Manager or will it be a SAAS model like other influencer marketing platforms?
Influencer Marketing is more than Instagram
Brand Collab Manager will transform influencer collaborations and partnerships that exist on Instagram, but we need to keep in mind that Instagram isn’t the only platform for influencer marketing. TikTok, Pinterest and YouTube are big contenders in the influencer marketing space and all have been used, and are being used, to drive powerful results for brands.
Clare Winterbourn, who is the Founder of Born Bred Talent, a talent management and influencer marketing agency that specialises in TikTok, said while the announcement of Brand Collabs Manager is exciting for brands running Instagram collaborations, brands are missing out on a big opportunity if they don’t explore other platforms too.
“We are seeing great success on TikTok both through the influencers we manage and the brands who are adopting a new platform across all areas of their marketing strategy, but in particular for influencer marketing.”
“As Instagram becomes saturated with sponsored content, competition in the Australian market ramps up and the algorithm becomes more of a pay-to-play space much like Facebook, brands and influencers just aren’t getting the organic reach and engagement they are used to.”
“It’s incredibly smart to consider TikTok in your influencer marketing strategy and you need to do it now, before it is too late.”
Even with Brand Collabs Manager, other influencer marketing platforms like Q-83 still have a place and we will continue to use them to run campaigns on other social media platforms.
Automation isn't the silver bullet
Almost every influencer marketing platform I’ve seen claims to automate the influencer marketing and collaboration process, but is that really the silver bullet for influencer marketing to be a success?
While platforms can certainly assist in automating parts of the process and streamlining steps, a good campaign requires an actual human.
Relationships and human connections are at the absolute core of executing a strategic and powerful influencer marketing campaign. Platforms can’t do due diligence, they can’t quality check content and they certainly can’t keep up with the changing variables and speed of managing an influencer campaign. While parts of the process can certainly be automated and you can use platforms to support implementation (like Q-83 to vet an influencer’s audience and streamline reporting), the reality is that influencer marketing isn’t seamless. I’ll be interested to see if Brand Collabs Manager will be the silver bullet for Instagram collaborations, but I’ll keep my money in my pocket for now.
Does Facebook and Instagram have an ulterior motive?
Facebook and Instagram know that they are facilitating influencer marketing collaborations and brands are investing big budgets in the space, yet the social platforms don’t get a piece of the pie when cash is exchanged offline between the brand and the influencer. So why wouldn’t Facebook and Instagram try to control more of the influencer marketing action that happens on their platform and in the process, funnel more cash into their pocket. It's a business after all, and it’s an incredibly smart move by Zucks and his team to control more than the distribution of influencer content.
While Brand Collabs Manager will be a shiny new toy for brands, marketers and influencers and has potential to be a game-changer for Instagram collaborations, we need to not lose our minds and abandon best practices and existing processes, especially if they are working.
How can influencers use Brand Collabs Manager?
Facebook is saying that Brand Collabs Manager will make it easier for influencers to be discovered by brands and apply branded content labels to their branded content and partnerships.
Facebook is pitching Brand Collabs Manager as a new way for influencers and creators to monetise their content, showcase their talent, make it easy to collaborate and share data with brands and browse active campaigns they can apply for in marketplace model.
There is more information on Brand Collabs Manager for influencers and creators here.
If you need expert support and guidance to run your next influencer campaign, I’d love to help you get the most out of this exciting, and ever-changing, marketing channel. You can read more about our influencer marketing offering and how we approach influencer marketing, on B&T here.
Header image photographed by Elle Rampling from @allherflowers