Want to use more types of third-party Instagram content in your paid campaigns? Wondering how to turn Instagram collabs, @mentions, and more into effective ads?
In this article, you'll discover six ways to use Instagram partnership ads to amplify posts that mention your brand.
What Are Instagram Partnership Ads?
The concept behind Instagram partnership ads isn't new but the name certainly is. In May 2023, Instagram renamed branded content ads to partnership ads. This rebrand is much more effective at communicating the purpose of this kind of content: amplifying collaborations with influencers and other partners.
In their previous iteration, branded content ads were somewhat limited in scope, as they only supported paid partnership content. As of May 2023, partnership ads let brands promote a much wider range of UGC—from Instagram stories with the Paid Partnership label to posts with collab tags. Below, we'll cover all of the newly available options.
Are partnership ads worth adding to your media mix? According to Instagram, adding partnership ads to your sponsored content library can drive pretty impressive results. A recent study shows that campaigns that include both business-as-usual ads and partnership ads increased click-through rates by 53% and decreased cost per action by 19%.
How can marketers act on this data? In your next campaign, consider including a partnership ad that complements the promoted content that your team developed in-house. Below, take a look at six types of partner content you can now include in Instagram ads.
6 Types of Partner Content to Promote on Instagram
Here's how can you use partner content to your brand's advantage.
#1: Paid Partnerships
If your organization has an influencer marketing program that compensates partners for their own content, paid partnerships will probably be a big part of your promotional strategy. What qualifies as a paid partnership? Instagram's Branded Content Policies require influencers to use the Paid Partnership tag when posting content for which they received payment or free products or services.
Below, @lucyedendesign partners with @adobeexpress on a reel featuring the design app. The creator positions the content for fellow designers, highlighting how Adobe Express helps her develop templates and collaborate with clients. The reel features a walkthrough of the design app and includes a call to action (CTA) encouraging viewers to get started for free.
Below, the @nichedbynoto reel features a paid partnership with @tryhopscotch. The short-form video walks followers through how to use the payment platform and the caption highlights key perks for freelancers. The reel's CTA invites followers to try the platform for free, using the creator's unique link in bio.
Why should you further paid partnerships? In most cases, influencers drive the creative side, yet brands usually offer input on the concept and messaging. Your team might even provide valuable talking points, hashtags, promo codes, and unique URLs for influencers to use in campaign content. In other words, this form of partnership is most likely to produce content that aligns with your business goals, making it ideal for an ad campaign.
Note that the ability to use paid partnerships in Instagram ads isn't new. Now that Instagram allows brands to boost several types of content that are new (see below), you may want to reconsider your user generated content mix for ads.
#2: Instagram Collabs
Unlike paid partnerships, Instagram collaborations don't include compensation or freebies. Instead, they involve working jointly toward a shared goal with brand partners, generally in a way that provides similar value to both brands and creators.
Below, the @smartsweets post is a collaboration with @noshballs.to. The post features a co-branded giveaway that allows the two brands to cross-promote, grow their audiences, and boost brand awareness. Because the post uses the Instagram collab tag, it appears on both brands' feeds and has the potential to reach both of their audiences.
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Below, the @mindandsoil reel uses the collab tool to tag @westcoastseeds in an educational video that shares tips for pruning basil. Although the reel doesn't directly call out the brand partner or include a CTA for either account, it successfully drove substantial reach for both brands—more than 6 million total views.
Why should you further Instagram collabs? In many cases, collaborative content is better geared toward awareness and reach, making it ideal for ad campaigns with top-of-funnel goals. Since collab posts can display in both brands' feeds, they also have ample opportunity to drive organic reach alongside paid reach.
Note that the ability to use collab posts in partnership ads is new as of May 2023. Using collab posts in paid campaigns does require an ad budget but it doesn't require influencer payments. That may make collab posts a more affordable option for getting your business in front of a new target audience.
#3: Product Tags
If you have an Instagram shop with an active inventory, any Instagram user can tag your products in their content. That means anyone can get your products in front of their audiences—from professional influencers seeking to work with your brand to customers who just want to share their experiences.
As of May 2023, you can use third-party content that tags your brand's products in your ad campaigns, as long as you get approval from the creator. So why should you promote UGC with product tags? Here are a few reasons to use this content form in an ad campaign:
- Since it's unpaid content, it features the genuine opinions of the original creator, which can add a more authentic feel to an ad campaign.
- UGC provides social proof and shows potential customers that people like them are buying from your brand, which may encourage others to do the same.
- Because the content already features product tags, it streamlines the shopping process, making it as easy as possible for customers to browse and purchase.
#4: People Tags
While product tags are great for eCommerce, they aren't the only way users can call out your brand on Instagram. Influencers and customers can also tag your brand in user generated content that highlights their experience with your products, services, or physical location. As of May 2023, you can now use this form of content in your ad campaigns, too.
Below, @raleigh_on_a_budget tags @umbrella_drybar in a reel teasing the business' opening. Although it's technically also a collab post, the reel uses a people tag to highlight the alcohol-free bar so the creator's followers can easily tap to visit and follow the new business' account.
Why should you promote content with people tags? Like product tags, UGC with people tags helps get brands in front of creators' audiences. It also gives brands an easy way to add more lifestyle content to ad campaigns. This type of content can add a genuine touch to your branded campaigns while also providing social proof and sharing key messaging.
Since people tags don't require an eCommerce setup, they can work for virtually any business on Instagram. So how can you source this type of user generated content for your ad campaigns? Check the tagged tab on your Instagram profile. Look for posts that fit your brand's aesthetic and flag those that have the most genuine engagement from the creator's audience.
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People tags typically give brands more exposure since anyone can view them on their Instagram profile. But if customers and creators tend to mention your brand in Instagram captions instead of tagging your account in the post or reel, you can now promote this type of content in an ad campaign.
Why should you promote UGC that mentions your brand? Like people tags and product tags, content that mentions your brand can provide valuable social proof and relatable lifestyle content. According to Instagram's study, adding this type of content to your paid campaigns can increase CTRs and decrease CPAs, resulting in more successful campaigns.
In many cases, mentions may be from creators you haven't formally partnered with. The best way to get permission to use their content in a paid campaign is to reach out to them via DMs. There, you can make an initial ask to use their content in an ad and request to set up an ad partnership.
#6: Expanded Partnership
One of the biggest benefits of partnership ads is that creators develop the creatives independently. That means your team doesn’t have to devote resources to the process and creators can produce content that’s more likely to resonate with their target market.
But when you have an account-level partnership with a creator, your team can develop relevant ads and run them with the partner’s handle. This expanded partnership is ideal when your team wants more control over the creative but you still want to leverage the creator’s influence.
How to Set Up a Brand Partnership on Instagram
Before you can promote UGC from a partner's account, you need either account- or post-level permission. Then you can build an ad using Meta Ads Manager.
Approve Influencers as Brand Partners in Instagram for Post-Level Permission
In most cases, you'll probably want to manage influencer partnerships in the Instagram app. This workflow hasn't changed much since the partnership ads rebrand and it's still your best bet for working with influencers on one-time partnerships or collaborations that are limited in scope.
To onboard an influencer or brand partner, open your Instagram business account and navigate to Business Tools and Controls. From the menu, tap Branded Content and go to Approve Content Creators.
Then search for the influencers you intend to work with and add them as pre-approved content creators.
Now the influencers you've approved can tag your brand as a paid partner when they publish a post, reel, or story that your business has sponsored. Once buried under Advanced Settings, the Add Paid Partnership Label option is now listed on the Instagram app's main publishing menu for reels and posts.
When influencers add the paid partnership label to their content, they'll see an option to allow boosting, which switches on by default. When this option is enabled, your team can use the post, reel, or story in an ad campaign (see below for ideas).
Note that influencers can always request to add your business as a paid partner on any post, reel, or story, even if you haven't already approved them. Pre-approving partners via the workflow above just makes the process easier and avoids unnecessary back-and-forth during publishing and promotion.
How to Request an Ad Partnership in Meta Business Suite for Account-Level Permission
The workflow above is best for one-off partnerships and small-scale collaborations. If you're planning longer-term collaborations with influencers or if you work with creators who don't need to use the paid partnerships tag, using Meta's Ad Partnerships tool is better for including user generated content in your ad campaigns.
To set up this tool, open Business Suite and go to Settings. Select the Ad Partnerships tab and click the Add Partnership button in the upper-right corner. First, search for a creator you want to partner with.
Then select your Instagram account from the business asset drop-down. Make sure to enable Partnership Ads (which switches on automatically) so you can easily add the creator's content to your ad campaigns.
Click Send Request for the creator to approve.
Note that adding partners in Meta's Ad Partnerships tool gives your business account-level access to influencer content. Once approved, you can promote any post from a partner account that tags your business.
This tool also lets you create ads from partner accounts without using existing Instagram posts. To set appropriate expectations, you'll want to create a separate written agreement and promotion strategy with influencers before using this tool.
It's also important to note that Meta's Ad Partnerships tool replaces the Meta Collaboration Center. If you've managed partnerships in the Collaboration Center in the past, plan to shift your workflow to the Ad Partnerships tool instead.
How to Create an Instagram Partnership Ad Campaign
After setting up these partnerships, you can set up an ad campaign in Ads Manager. At the ad set level, you have the option to target the creator’s engaged audience, which can help you get more value from the partnership.
At the ad level, you can add relevant UGC to your paid campaigns. The easiest way to do so is with a partnership ad code. Creators who have added the paid partnership tag to their content can generate and share a partnership ad code with you.
Then you can add the code in your Ads Manager. At the ad level, switch on the Partnership Ad option and click the Enter Partnership Ad Code button. Enter the code from your brand partner to add the creator’s handle and content to your ad automatically.
If you don't have a code but you do have an account-level partnership, you can click Select Identity to choose the partner. Then you can build the ad creative from their partner content. With an account-level partnership, you can also design a new ad creative from scratch.
Instagram's partnership ad tools look to be incredibly helpful for both brands and influencers. By giving brands new options to promote their businesses and creators new ways to leverage their influence, these tools make it easier to pursue partnerships and optimize ad campaigns.
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