Turner PR

What Instagram’s New Branded Content Ads Mean For Travel Brands

Your Instagram feed is about to get much more influencer heavy. This week, the popular social media platform began allowing advertisers to promote branded content from influencers. These will appear as ads not just in your feed but also in Stories. To put it simply, you will start seeing influencers’ paid partnerships — called Branded Content Ads – with specific brands much more often. And that’s whether or not you’re following those brands. Here’s a look at the good, the bad and the unknown aspects of this new development.

The Good

The new Instagram advertisement developments will vastly widen the reach of “branded” posts beyond an influencer’s following. Previously, brands could only run ads on Instagram natively by paying to “promote” previous posts, which reappeared in follower’s feeds. Now, businesses can reach targeted audiences beyond the people who follow the brand and creator accounts. And by running ads, they’ll have access to measurement and can optimize and test their campaigns against their set goals for more effective marketing campaigns.

“With branded content ads, businesses have an opportunity to tell their brand stories through creators’ voices, reach new audiences and measure impact,” Instagram wrote in a blog post. This means ads will feel more personal, which brands believe will yield higher engagement and conversion rates.

“Promoting content directly from an influencer’s handle inherently gives the post more authenticity than coming from a brand handle, and we’re seeing significantly higher engagement rates using this strategy,” reported Liat Weingarten, Old Navy’s VP of Brand Communication.

The Bad

Brands should be very wary of the backlash – the last thing they want to do is annoy users. Already, some commentators are bemoaning the new policy. Gizmodo summed up the feeling in a typically sarcastic tone: “You know what we definitely need more of on social media? Influencers and ads. And lucky for us, Instagram has announced a new tool for surfacing a hybrid of the two in your feed. Your Insta has never looked more #sponsored, baby!”

In other words, what’s good for business might not be good for users. Overloading feeds with branded content ads from influencers may turn users off from using the platform regularly, which will result in lower engagement rates and ROI.

The Unknown (Tips for Travel Brands)

So what should your strategy be when it comes to Instagram’s new branded content ads?

  • Personalization is key. avoid the backlash and consumer fatigue of seeing too much ad content. Remember – people actually even re-share ad content when it’s compelling or clever.
  • Keep it unique. When it comes to travel, especially, it’s important that you ensure influencers’ sponsored posts depict something unique about the property or destination and keep audience targets in mind. It’s easy for hotel rooms, pools and beaches to blend into one to consumers who are scrolling quickly. “Thumb-stopping,” striking content that invites engagement via questions in captions that encourage comments or even Instagram polls and quizzes will boost a post’s reach and get audiences to stop scrolling.
  • Find your niche. Making sure your advertising is targeted to niche geographic and demographic audiences will strengthen your results as well. Use influencers who showcase locations that appeal in a seasonal fashion (tropical resorts look great to those stuck in blizzards in the Northeast, but are less applicable to milder winter weather locales). This also ensures that you don’t turn off audiences by serving up content that doesn’t sync up with their lifestyle or location.
  • Don’t over-sponsor. Do not sponsor every single piece of content. Be deliberate in making your selections. That way, your ad sets won’t be competing against each other and you won’t oversaturate your audience. Rather than run a large quantity of ads at once to similar audiences, have influencers direct to your Instagram profile for a more-in-depth visual experience. This content can expand on resort activities through a “choose your own adventure” Instagram Highlight on your branded page or provide further details on the best times to visit with a motion graphic in your feed.