Instagram is cracking down on influencers’ branded posts and the products they hawk. The company announced today that, although it’s always prohibited branded posts that advertise vapes, tobacco, and weapons, it’s going to start enforcing those rules more strictly. It’ll also start putting “special restrictions” around the promotion of other products, like alcohol and diet supplements. In these cases, the company says it’ll allow creators to restrict who can see their content based on age, an upcoming feature the company mentioned earlier this month when it announced that new users would have to input their birthdates.
Alongside this news, the company also says it’s opening up Facebook’s Brand Collabs Manager to a “select group” of Instagram creators, which means creators will be able to share insights and engagement with brands and find potential brand partners that align with their audience. This could be a monumental change to how the influencer system works on Instagram. Up until now, many influencers sent screenshots of their metrics to partners or gave a third-party app access to their account so the brands could check the metrics on their own. Now, creators included in this program can “source new deals, manage partnerships, and automatically share insights with them,” all from within Facebook’s own tool.
People expected Instagram to make a move like this when it began hiding the public like count on posts. That metric was the most obvious indicator of engagement for brands that were scouting potential creators and getting rid of it worried creators. With this test, Instagram could — if it expands the Brand Collabs Manager pool — contain everything about the influencer space within Facebook’s own products.
The influencer space has notoriously been self-run, and while that led to strange merch and other questionable ways that creators tried to make money, it gave Instagram an out: the platform could always say that this ecosystem existed outside of its machine. Now, however, if the company starts more formally recognizing the work that influencers do, it’ll also be more responsible for the posts that show up, which is why taking down branded posts that don’t comply with its rules will be essential.