The art & science of branded content & storytelling – by Instagram’s Caroline Drucker

Caroline Drucker is Director of Strategic Partnerships at EMEA Instagram

Brands have always wanted to serve a purpose – to have meaning in people’s lives. Branded content (or influencer marketing) means you aren’t just talking about what people love, but you are part of it. Being part of that culture that people care about – emotional connections build brands that matter.

On Instagram, creators and publisher’s shortcut these connections – when products fit with beliefs or culture of creators you can fast forward business outcomes. The creator has done some of the heavy lifting for you in the audience they’ve built and the content they’ve created. The way a creator expresses your brand can add relevancy, they have more creative freedom and a strong voice.

Branded content has become a critical component of the media mix. And branded content continues to grow and evolve. It has moved to become a critical component in the media mix with 66% of marketers using influencer marketing in their campaign mix.

Creative Principles for Branded Content

  • Authenticity – chose a partner who believes in your brand
  • Great content – engaging content matters most
  • Mobile first – design for sound off and grab attention

The future of branded content is democratized, transparent and good for everyone. On Instagram, the Brands Collabs Manager is available in UAE, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Through our brand collabs manager tool, brands and creators can match on projects, check follower relevance, and see all their insights in one place.

With Creator Studio, creators can view their content library, access activity and audience insights and publish and schedule IGTV and Feed posts.

People come to Instagram to connect with a vibrant community and share their passions, and if your business aligns with those passions, they connect with you too. We have access to content from across the world, created by friends, creators, publishers, artists and brands. This is all on mobile – personalized and curated.

Creators and publishes help us discover brands and products:

  • 69% of Instagram users like that they can interact with celebrities
  • 61% of 18-34-year-olds are swayed by influencers
  • 81% of consumers purchase based on posts

Making sure the right audience sees your brand is also super important. We know there is a lot of discussion around organic and paid, with both offering different benefits. Think of it like this; if organic is starting the engine, think of paid as pressing the accelerator. You can amplify great content, and plan and see who you’ll be reaching, like all your other campaigns on our platforms. When you run an ad campaign you amplify further and can control who sees that great creative.

Let’s now look into the various ways we can bring storytelling to life through different parts of the platform to communicate your brand story, connect more closely with your audience and amplify your branded content. The biggest tip? Use the whole platform!

A great recent example was commissioned by Mac Cosmetics in the Middle East where MAC partnered with a five content creators who custom made their own shades and then launched their limited edition lipsticks. The creators took their communities throughout the creative journey of creating the lipsticks and shared their personal connections with the shades.

View this post on Instagram

أخيراً!! احصلي عليهم قبل ما يخلصو! ألوان جديدة محدودة الإصدار حتزيد من تألقك وروعة شفايفك! تسوقيها اليوم من كل المحلات في الإمارات والسعودية والبحرين والكويت ولبنان وعُمان و الاردن وأونلاين في الإمارات والسعودية وفي مطارات مختارة. الإطلاق في قطر حيكون في 5 مارس! JUST DROPPED!! Get them before they're gone! New Limited Edition shades that will step up your lip game! Shop today in all stores in UAE, KSA, Bahrain, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Jordan, online in UAE an KSA, and select airport locations Launching in Qatar on March 5th!

A post shared by M·A·C Cosmetics Middle East (@maccosmeticsmiddleeast) on


How to engage with your fans in Stories & Live

Stories is a canvas for you to express yourself creatively. Did you know it’s also a surface to engage and reward your fans? Another great way to engage with fans is to reshare the stories they tag you in. What better way to reward fans than to share their posts with your community, acknowledging them amongst their peers?

Questions in stories is amazing because it enables you to easily create content while answering questions from your community. Bonus points: tag the person who asked you the question, so they get a notification that you responded.

When going Live, say hi directly to viewers, host Q&A to answer questions in real-time, or go live with a fan and bring them into your Live video.

Instagram Stories ads

Instagram Stories is a creative, engaging and immersive full-screen format that drives action. This ever-growing ad format is powered by Facebook’s advanced people-based targeting, a scaled audience and measurement solutions you know and trust. Stories ads are an unmatched creative canvas that results in real business outcomes for both brand and performance advertisers.

There is no single formula for creativity on Instagram Stories. Stories is an extremely flexible medium; its impossible to have one set of rules for everything we do. The only rule is that we need to create for how people behave on the platform, for how people consume content in stories.

Key tip: Tell your brand’s story. People come to Instagram Stories with an open mindset seeking visual inspiration, making it an ideal platform to tell your brand’s story. We offer various awareness objectives that generate demand and build loyalty for your brand/product including:

  • Reach
  • Brand awareness
  • Video views

Stories ads can be used for the auction or when buying with Reach & Frequency. Include stories to increase reach. Running ads across the Facebook family of apps typically provides a cheaper cost per outcome and delivers additional outcomes without having to increase budget. When we ran a 3-cell test that compared IG Stories standalone, IG Feed standalone, and IG Stories + Feed, we found that reach increased by 20% in the combined cell without impacting delivery frequency and cost per incremental conversion. So don’t be afraid to diversify your content!

IGTV: The next generation of video  

IGTV is an entirely new ecosystem.  IGTV is built for how you actually use your phone. Vertical video is the new standard, which we learned with Stories. Now the videos you watch will fully embrace the full screen nature of your phone. IGTV is simple. It starts playing as soon as you open the app. You don’t have to search or browse to get started. Finally, there’s a lot of content out there, but we’ve focused on giving you the ability to experiment and create your own channel.

So why IGTV? We know people spend less time watching traditional TV and more time watching digital video — this is particularly true for young audiences. We expect this trend to continue.

  • 70% of teens watch videos on smartphones weekly or more often
  • 50% of all video viewing will be done on a mobile screen by 2020
  • 60% increase in time spent watching videos on Instagram year over year

Source: 1. eMarketer, April 2018 2. YPulse Topline report June 2018 3. Ericsson Consumer and Industry Insight Report, TV and Media 2017, October 2017 4. Internal Data, Jun 2017

What does this mean for brands? Longer vertical video on Instagram makes it even easier to get closer to your audience and be discovered by new people.

There are two ways to get started with IGTV. First and foremost, continue thinking vertical! Master short vertical video with stories and stories ads and hold tight for monetization opportunities for IGTV will be coming in the future. If you’re ready to jump in, you can be a creator today. We recommend this if you already have a comprehensive video marketing strategy and target a younger audience. You can start playing with longer vertical video content and experiment to see what resonates with your followers. You can even interact with your viewers with comments to see what they’d like to see from you.

Since launch, we have seen a few categories rise to the top of IGTV based on watch time, specifically Entertainment, Arts & Crafts, Music, Fitness, Lifestyle (bloggers), Sports, Fashion & Beauty.

For more info and tips on branded content for Instagram you can visit: https://help.instagram.com/116947042301556