With over 300 million users and 70 million photos shared daily, Instagram is an invaluable platform for advertisers. Brands don’t always have the same influence popular instagrammers do though, so they’ll look into partnering with them to reach wider audiences.
Sponsta wants to make this connection easier. Unlike ad agencies, Sponsta doesn’t act like the middle man or arbiter – it simply enables interested parties to communicate directly.
The tool launched in beta form two weeks ago and currently has about 300 popular accounts signed up, together amounting to about 11.3 million followers. There’s a vetting process for each applicant; only about 50% of them have been approved so far, and the platform’s likely to become a bit more selective as it grows.
There are some tools to help brands narrow down their searches; you can set parameters for follower count, gender, age, location and influence categories (think ‘travel,’ ‘food,’ or ‘nature’ for instance).
Once you find a potential influencer, their profile will display their information and stats, a brief description of his or her ideal collaboration, as well as a collection of most recent and most popular photos.
Brands can then choose to contact the instagrammer, which happens through Sponsta’s own messaging interface.
Sponsta’s CEO Philip Bock says that by providing a platform where instagrammers can promote themselves, his company is putting control back into the artist’s hands.
Typically, a brand or ad agency will make the first move to reach out to the instagrammer with an offer – many of these might have never thought about monetizing his or her popularity before. As such, reign over terms remains largely in the agency’s hands – the instagrammer is compelled to agree because it’s the best offer he or she can find.
Providing a platform where instagrammers can market themselves instead lets them dictate who they want to work with, or negotiate more favorable terms if there’s more than one suitor. It still works out well for the advertiser though – a database of popular social media sharers could help them discover partners they mightn’t have otherwise considered.
Of course, Sponsta has to get something out of it – the current business model involves a fee for both the instagrammer and advertiser. Bock was insistent about his goal of benefiting the creator over the advertiser, however; as the platform expands to become more sustainable, he hopes only brands will be charged.