Hot off the heels of the launch of Instagram’s Checkout feature comes the latest addition to the platform – the Creator Account.
Back in December 2018, Instagram announced they were testing a third, brand-new type of account to add to the options for a profile. Joining Personal and Business accounts came Creators, which were then rolled out to a small testing group as part of the latest Instagram development launch. As of May 2019, the Creator Account is slowly being introduced out as an option for all users on Instagram.
This addition further demonstrates Instagram’s forthcoming strategy and the platform’s focus on segmenting users across the platform, while allowing creatives to control their experiences, and those of their followers online. It’s a further move away from the blanket, egalitarian offering that Instagram launched with – as they offer more ways to work intuitively with their controls and allow people to grow and interact with their communities.
The new features, optimised for Influencers and other celebrities/public figures who use social media to earn money through paid collaborations and affiliate schemes, recognises that the Business accounts many had been using until now are far from optimal. They’re designed for brands to communicate with customers and build their followings, admittedly using many of the same strategies as Influencers but ultimately with quite different requirements. 80% of Instagram users currently follow a Business account, which speaks to how used we’ve become to interacting with organisations and professional individuals on social media.
Currently, Creator account features include:
MORE DM FUNCTIONS
A new 2-tab inbox that includes both a Primary and General section for users to categorise their following. Like any email account, this will enable the ability to flag and filter messages by read, unread or flagged. Encouraging Creators to segment their following is incredibly useful from a business perspective, given the amount of DMs and enquiries received by high profile accounts.
Additional data and insights around follows/unfollows to understand what content helps grow audiences, by mapping new and existing posts to net follower changes. This will be segmented between Feed, Stories and IGTV to allow Creators to drill down into what content works (and doesn’t work) for them. The ability to track this information will inform fundamental future strategy for Influencers. From an industry perspective, any verifiable analytics that can be shared with a brand to demonstrate engagement, conversion rates or growth are incredibly helpful, so you know that this is to incentivise Influencers to recategorize their accounts.
CATEGORY LABELS & CONTACT DETAILS
Category labels (such as athlete, author, blogger, comedian, or ‘public figure’) can be added into Creator bios, although they are optional and can be turned on or off as desired. In the era of the multihyphenate career it will be interesting to see whether this feature is adopted across the board, because as any good blogger-podcaster-social media consultant can tell you, in 2019 the key is not restricting your line of work to just one thing.
There is also the option to remove contact information all together (not an option a Business account supports) meaning that anyone wanting to get in contact must use DMs.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
There has been pushback on the term ‘Creator’ as a possible replacement term for ‘Blogger’ or ‘Influencer’. They are all relatively vague terms for people who make content purpose-built for social media channels, and historically an issue has been that they seem to shy away from the commercial elements of the role.
We agree the term Influencer has an unfortunate connotation with persuasiveness that some of those in the space do not like to consider themselves involved in, but we feel strongly that the longer we try and mask the fact that brands pay to work with this collective of people in order to generate a commercial return (especially in this present climate) the more slowly the industry will develop to a place we are all happy with. In our view, digital content makers who refuse to embrace the fact that unless they can justify the fees they charge and provide a viable return for a brand who chooses to hire them they will struggle in the industry in the long term.
Separating ‘Creators’ away from ‘Businesses’ is a fascinating decision, and we think an indication that Instagram is paying close attention to users, and not just those who make money from social media. Scepticism over bad paid campaigns, especially in the Influencer community, is consistently being reported, so the argument is that the platform is keen to delineate what followers can expect from the people they follow – are they 1. Real life connections (friends, family, colleagues), 2. Brands that they expect to speak with as consumers, or 3. Creatives/celebrities, people that inspire, and who need a deep understanding of what resonates with their online communities to ensure that they stay consistent and authentic.
Social media in general, and Twitter and Instagram in particular, have been successful mediums to bring first traditional influencer holders (celebrities), and Influencers as we know them today (social media stars and content creators) into the phones of their fans, and break down the barriers to communication that would have been safeguarded by PRs and mediated through journalists – by allowing people to directly message the people they follow in the same way as you would a IRL friend, allowed the profiles of some to flourish, and indeed created the Influencer era we’re currently living within. What will the ability to remove the feature of being able to contact your favourite public figure, be they actor, entrepreneur or blogger, whether they have 10,000 or 10 million followers, mean for Instagram and its users?
However, this move allows audiences to instantly see how a particular Instagram user uses the platform, and therefore is an encouraging nod to recent regulation updates that stipulate no consumer/follower should be left confused or questioning the context or positioning of product features and advertising in Instagram content. Essentially, as a user tends to visit the profile page of an account holder in order to follow them, it means they should instantly gain an understanding into whether or not to expect paid-for or commercially led content.
The real impact of the new Creator Accounts remains to be seen, as inevitably there will be more special features to be added to the suite of tools available when you switch your account. It also calls into question what other changes they’ll experience too – after all, when Business accounts were first introduced across Instagram and Facebook, there were complaints that organic reach for posts declined following the switch from a Personal account.