Instagram Creator Week 2021 Highlights and Take-Aways

The first ever Instagram Creator Week just ended. Let’s look at the highlights to come out of the event and what it means for Instagram influencers and the influencer marketing industry.

What is Instagram Creator Week?

The three-day virtual event took place from June 8th to June 10th. It was the platform’s professional development conference for creators, also known as influencers.

While Instagram Creator Week focused mainly on the US, there were also some sessions designed for the European market. The event was invite-only, but Instagram made a portion of its content public on the official Instagram @creators profile.

Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook (which owns Instagram) kicked off the event with opening remarks via IGTV. He said:

I think that any good vision of the future has to involve a lot more people being able to make a living by expressing their creativity, and by doing the things they want to do rather than things they have to. And having the tools and the economy around them to support their work is critical to getting there. And so our goal is to be the best platform for creators like you to make a living.

An Instagram post to the @creators account showing Mark Zuckerberg giving opening remarks for Instagram Creator Week.

New features to come out of Instagram Creator Week

Zuckerberg also announced three new tools that will help creators earn more money from their content: Creator Shops, Affiliates, and updates to Badges.

Creator Shops

Instagram is opening up its Shopping features so creators can use it in a more robust way. First, creators can now link Shops to personal accounts instead of just business accounts. This way, they can promote and sell products to fans directly from their personal profile.

Instagram creators will also be able to set up new Shops by linking to one of the platform’s four merchandise partners: Bravado/UMG, Fanjoy, Represent, and Spring. These online merch platforms help creators to design, manufacture, and sell their own products. And now with the new Shops feature, they’ll be able to promote those products on Instagram. This feature will be available for all creators in the US by the end of 2021.

Affiliates

Instagram will soon start testing a native affiliate program. As of now, influencers can tag brands whose products they promote. But with the new affiliate tool, influencers will be able to share products with their followers and then earn commissions for the purchases made through their profiles. 

And to make sure followers understand that their purchases will help support the creator, affiliate posts will have an “eligible for commission” tag at the top. This will appear in the same way the current “paid partnership” tag appears for brand-influencer collaborations.

A mockup of Instagram's new Affiliates feature, announced during Instagram Creator Week.
Source: Instagram press release.

Instagram plans to test the feature in the coming months with a small batch of US-based creators. And some top brands from the beauty sector, like Sephora and MAC, are on board to test as the first business partners. If all goes well, Instagram will roll out the feature to more partners in the future.

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Badges

On IG Live, Badges are a way for influencers to earn rewards from their followers. Viewers can buy badges, which come in 1, 2, or 3 heart versions, for different prices. Then, that revenue goes to the creator. For their purchase, viewers get perks like showing up on an influencer’s badgeholder list. 

Now, Instagram will offer new ways for creators to monetize their badges. It looks like the feature will be a sort of “unlock achievements” setup, in which creators get bonuses for hitting certain milestones. 

What else happened during Instagram Creator Week?

Like any professional development conference, there were lots of sessions designed to help creators learn how to grow and manage their profiles. Here are two examples.

Think Global: How to tap into Instagram’s international community to grow

@aaronstray from Australia, @syllyworld (South Korea) and @_jenni_2017_ (Japan) came together to discuss what creators can do to reach out to a more global audience and grow their followings. 

An Instagram Live chat about how to grow globally, part of Instagram Creator Week.

One of the topics they discussed was content trends from their respective countries. All three mentioned content that revolves around humor and just having fun. In South Korea, @syllyworld noted that Reels are very popular, and she believes it’s because their entertaining content is so easily consumable because we’re all a bit stressed out nowadays with the pandemic.

From Getting Products to Getting Paid

Instagram’s @kristiedash hosted a talk about all things branded content with creators @ayshaharun and @noordinarynoire, and @nyasnoise from agency Digital Brand Architects. The 40-minute session started by tackling the question of how to transition from getting gifted products to getting paid by brands. 

@ayshaharun said she made the transition by simply showing an interest in the brands and putting herself out there. She said she’d create organic content featuring the gifted products, and then reach out to brands to tell them how much she enjoyed the products and that she’d love to be kept in mind for any future paid partnerships. Aysha also said she’d reach out via DMs initially, as it can be difficult to find an email contact for the right person. She said 9/10 times she got a response, and once given a contact, would move over to email.

@noordinarynoire agree. She said the most important thing was to create an organic space where you can build a relationship with the brand. This includes creating organic content, tagging them constantly, and interacting with their own page.

What does this mean for influencer marketing?

The event is further proof that the influencer industry isn’t going anywhere. Instagram is betting on influencers as a way to keep the platform relevant and lucrative. 

Instagram Creator Week also shows us that influencers are getting more and more professional by the day. Even part-time influencers can access content to help them develop professionally, and one day go pro. Marketers need to stay tuned to this, so as to not undervalue influencers when proposing collaborations.

The From Getting Products to Getting Paid session should also peak marketers’ interest. If you don’t do it already, make sure someone is monitoring your DMs, your brand mentions, and your branded hashtags. You might have influencers who already love your brand and are trying to get your attention. And if you’re going to pay someone for a collaboration, why not pay someone who’s enthusiastic about what you do?

Take away

Although Instagram Creator Week was for creators, there are important take-aways for brands, too. The industry is rapidly evolving, and events like this one show how much so. Further, understanding the perspective of influencers can help you better build and manage relationships with them.

If you’d like to see more content from Instagram Creator Week, head over to the @creators account today!

 

Kate works on the Marketing team at Heepsy as a content writer. When she's not online you can find her traveling or trying out a new recipe.
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