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Creators wonder if platforms punish branded content and links

Creators find that brand-sponsored content on platforms such as instagram and ICT Tac are not as successful as organic posts, occurrences that are potentially boosted by algorithms removing certain content that does not directly benefit them. In addition to general frustrations, this has the power to impact the relationship between creators and their brand partners.

Kayla Cummings, a designer with 194,000 Instagram followers, posted an Instagram Story in partnership with a brand, the DIY and home-focus designer’s main source of income, and received around 16,000 views. The next day, she posted an organic piece of content and received double the views.

Abraxas Higgins, a creator with 16,000 Instagram followers, can get over 28,000 views for a reel of him playing the piano. For a partnership with fashion label Ted Baker, he got less than a fifth of that.

These experiments reflect a larger pattern where creators feel like Instagram, and sometimes TikTok, is removing branded content and posts that encourage users to leave the platform via an outside link, five sources said. creators at Adweek. Some have said that it seems views for this type of content have been particularly low recently.

Over the past few years, tech companies have tried to woo creators with benefits and money to ensure their platforms are filled with attention-grabbing content. But the interests of creators and platforms are not always aligned; when a brand directly pays a creator for promotion, the platform loses potential ad revenue. When a creator posts a link, a way to earn money through affiliate marketing programs, it encourages users to leave the platform.

The problem is not universal. Several creator economics sources told Adweek that they had not experienced this type of pattern, either saying the algorithm was unstable but not consistently, or that it was possible to play, or that the Views depend on the quality of the content of the creators and not on the algorithm. . But, if some creators feel the platforms are working against them, it’s harder for Instagram and TikTok to woo creators at a time when the internet economy is facing an unprecedented situation. headwinds.

TikTok declined to comment on the recording and referred to a blog post stating that its algorithm is determined by user interactions, video information, and device and account settings. Instagram did not respond to requests for comment.

A system to play?

An easy rebuttal to creators’ accusations that Instagram and TikTok are removing their branded or related content is that people are less interested in seeing it. Still, industry sources can point to patterns that don’t make sense without algorithmic intervention.

“All [organic] part of the story someone gets 35,000 [views]then somehow the four sponsored frames go down to 15,000 [views] and more,” said Lindsay Nead, CEO of Parker Management, a creative talent management firm. “It’s hard to imagine that it could fall like that and come back up.” In theory, if users aimlessly open stories at the top of their feeds, they should be no less likely to open a branded story than an organic story unless deletion is involved.

In another quirk of the system, Cummings said branded content worked much better if she was able to caption it with a hashtag of the brand’s name and “partner” instead of adding the #ad or #. sponsored more typical.

You don’t know if a brand is pissed off unless they say they don’t want to work with you anymore.

Abraxas Higgins, creator

The situation can be just as cryptic when creators add links to their stories and posts.

Megan Frantz, talent manager at influencer agency Whalar, said when creators, especially on TikTok, post videos urging viewers to click on a link in their bios, those videos tend not to work as well. well, a trend she’s seen especially in the second half of 2022.

“Any version of ‘link in bio, visit my profile’, you’ll notice [creators] be very creative in communicating that call to action,” she said, noting that sometimes creators ask fans to post a comment with the advice to follow a link or try to change the punctuation they use to avoid detection by the algorithm.

Joey Gagliardi, director of education at influencer agency G&B Digital Management, said platforms can be particularly punitive when creators link to content on other competing platforms.

“I’ve definitely noticed that platforms like TikTok or Instagram will direct less traffic to a piece of content that displays links in general, because those links will navigate traffic from off-platform audiences,” he said. he declares.

Yet conversely, Scott Fisher, founder of Select Management Group, which owns a creator talent management business, said platforms can actually reward creators on TikTok who connect to their YouTube and vice-versa profiles. versa, as it can bring new users to both platforms.

But the acceptance that platform algorithms are boxes of blocks is causing growing frustrations. While it’s difficult to plan content, the lack of engagement from potentially deleted posts could lead to shorter brand deals, Higgins said.

“You don’t know if a brand is pissed off unless they say they don’t want to work with you anymore,” he said.

Nead added that at least three creators she works with have asked Meta representatives about these inconsistencies and have been told that the algorithms have no preference.

“I would like us to get straight answers,” Nead said. “I wish it wasn’t such a mystery.”

Abraxas Higgins is a member of the Adweek Creator Network.