Instagram is testing a new brand-influencer partnerships tool: the end of IM platforms… really?

Brand Collabs Manager by Facebook © Facebook

Key Take Aways :

  • Facebook is extending the test of its brand-influencer partnerships tool (called Brands Collab Manager) to Instagram
  • After regularly changing its API and hiding likes, this strategic move is nothing else than an additional step of Facebook group to play a more active role in this 20B$ industry (prev. 2020)
  • Other social networks like Twitter, Youtube, or Twitch also have the same strategy and this is nothing new for industry professionals than a confirmation that Influencer Marketing (IM) is THE new media.
  • Despite its power, Instagram/Facebook will not trust the Influencer Marketing market easily
  • Multi-platforms IM tool business models are not endangered at all, as they provide brands with trusted third party data about KOL’s full media coverage, far beyond the limited scope of Instagram/Facebook (on Youtube, Twitch, Pinterest, Snap, TikTok, WeChat…)

Facebook is extending Brands Collab Manager to Instagram (still on test)

So finally Instagram also wants to be a matchmaker between influencers and brands. Ok, so be it.

The image-sharing app just announced on dec 18th 2019 that it was testing an online tool facilitating partnerships between brands and influencers, providing brands with detailed insights on creators and audiences. In fact, Facebook had already launched in 2018 a test of a brand-influencer partnerships tools, called Brands Collab Manager. The test was on the US Market and for Facebook only. It is today extending the experiment to Instagram, in limited countries for a limited number of brands.

This strategic move is nothing else than an additional step of Facebook group to play a more active role in this 20B$ industry

This is an interesting new step of Facebook group confirming that the Influencer Marketing industry is booming. And that it wants to get the lion’s share. In a 20B$ market, where 1 agency is said to be created each day, and where Instagram represents 40% of the brands spending, it is very logical that the leading social network group move aggressively.

But it is not new, and every player in the market was waiting and preparing for it. 

Other social networks also have the same strategy

It is not new because Facebook is nothing but a follower in this industry (event though it is very credible :). Other « historical » social networks took the bet long time before Mark Zuckerberg. In 2015 already, Twitter bought Niche, a platform that helps advertisers work with influencers on Vine and other platforms (including Twitter). In 2016, Youtube (Google) bought FameBit, a marketplace that connects video creators with marketers who want to sponsor their content. More recently Twitch (owned by Amazon that knows some tricks about advertising and dealing with brand media budget) launched its own brand-influencers platform called Bounty Board, « a way for creators to browse and accept paid sponsorship opportunities (AKA bounties) directly from their Twitch dashboard ».

And it is not new also because Facebook has been clearly trying to discourage IM platforms to do effective business on Facebook and Instagram by gradually cutting any data access. It started with a regular decrease of accessible data through its official API 3 years ago (you probably don’t imagine the kind of detailed personal data tech companies – like us – were able to officially collect about influencers and their followers!). They accelerated this trend after Cambridge Analytica, changing their API overnight and drastically reducing data access. And they moved even further a few months ago by starting to hide likes in some countries, before extending it to the whole countries… pretending that they want to protect users « mental health » and promote genuine / quality content, but clearly cutting access to the main driver of content’s performance for intermediaries like IM platforms. 

So it is not new and Facebook should even go further by throwing up as much roadblocks as they can to IM platforms that overshadow their wannabe private preserve. 

On paper, it is a good news for brands and influencers. Brands will be able to easily spend their digital adverting budget for influencers on Facebook and Instagram, like they already do today on « Business Manager Facebook » today. Brands will also potentially access more influencers (an attractive potentially exhaustive directory!), with more accurate and trustable data about audience insights (demographics). And on the other side influencers will potentially have more brands proposals.

Despite its power, Instagram will not trust the Influencer Marketing industry easily

But this is not as simple as it seems to be, and Instagram/Facebook won’t trust the Influencer Marketing market easily. 

Because influencers are not only on Instagram and brands are looking for Key Opinion Leaders (KOL) that have a much wider media coverage, on other social networks like Youtube, Snap, Pinterest or TikTok for example. Would Brands Collab Manager from Facebook promote other social media account from those KOL (and those promote Instagram competition) ?

In addition, in times where brands are challenging social networks ethic as well as data (see the Digital Ad Trust initiative in France), are they going to partner with a player that will be defendant and judge ? Or will they look for trusted independent third parties like IM platforms ? Would you trust Facebook if the amount you pay to influencers was based on likes metrics that you cannot challenge because only available through it ?

How will Instagram guarantee that they are not promoting creators with fake communities (bots and pods for example) ? Is it in the interest of Instagram and Facebook to eradicate or even point out fake accounts (which should stand for a huge part of the official users communicated by the company) ?

Finally, which features and at which price will Instagram and Facebook sell the access to the Brands Collab Manager tool for brands and agencies? Competition in any market always favors buyers, whether for innovation, service quality or price. And a new Facebook monopoly will surely hurt brands more than serve them.

Multi-platforms IM tool business models are not endangered

Of course, IM platforms and data providers that only depend on Instagram are really endangered. And IM platforms that do not comply with Facebook and Instagram APIs (or policies) will have many difficulties establishing their credentials. 

But don’t be wrong. IM platform won’t disappear!

Other IM platforms, especially those with a strong product and those that have a solid innovation team, will still be able to address market needs beyond the somehow limited Brands Collab Manager tool on Facebook & Instagram. And provide brands and agencies with much complete, objective and powerful technologies and data.

Major IM analysts at global research and advisory companies we have been working with, as well as industry experts, are unanimous: efficient Influencer Marketing campaigns should cover the full range of Influencers (from celebrities – that have the highest engagement rate – to nano-influencers), and not only one social networks. Having to go through each different social network own tool will make marketing professional day to day job much more complicated than when using an IM platform.

At Kolsquare we are really enthusiastic and passionate about the Influencer Marketing future. As well as about our ability as a European leader to continue to disrupt this fast growing industry and better serve our (amazing!) clients needs like Coca-Cola, Birchbox, Kiko Milano, Clarins, N26, Sephora or Zadig & Voltaire.  

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