Instagram Testing Tools That Better Connect Creators with Sponsors

Instagram is performing a limited test of new tools that would make it easier for creators to connect with sponsors, therefore improving the ability for users to make money on the platform.

Called “affiliate shops,” the tools would be an extension of Facebook’s already widely available shopping features but would create a storefront for creators to link to products that are already part of affiliate arrangements. Last June, Instagram allowed select creators to tag products from brands they work with or use Instagram Shops to sell products they create but said that it would be testing a new “native affiliate tool” in the coming months that would allow them to “discover” new products and share them with followers, which would then, in turn, earn them a commission of the purchases they drive.

That promised test is rolling out today and Instagram says that, for now, only creators who are part of the affiliate program can use the feature.

Additionally, Instagram is testing a new inbox feature that it says will make it easier for creators to connect with sponsorships. Instagram direct messages will get a new dedicated “partnerships” section that is where messages from potential sponsors will be filed. Instagram says that these messages get “priority placement” and will be more useful than the current “message requests” section where these requests currently are filed.

According to Engadget, Instagram is also working on tools that would match creators with sponsors proactively. Supposedly these tools would give creators a way to identify brands they want to work with directly from inside the app, while brands would be able to browse creators that fit specific needs that can be sorted, such as age, gender, and follower count.

Instagram is still in the very early stages of working on these particular tools, as the company has said that only a few companies and creators are participating for now — though an exact number of each was not provided. Engadget notes that this move is in line with what Mark Zuckerberg has said in the past about creating a branded marketplace for Instagram users to help facilitate what he called a “creator middle class.”