After covering the BLM protests live on Instagram last summer, we received an outpouring of support and donations to continue that coverage. I’m wondering if there are other ways to monetize Instagram, outside of sponsored posts? For example, I’ve seen influencers and creators use Instagram’s “Close Friends” feature to deliver exclusive content to their paying members. Have you heard of this approach being used in newsrooms, or any other ways to monetize Instagram content? — Social Butterfly
Penda: There certainly are other ways to monetize your Instagram audience outside of sponsored posts, including:
- Affiliate Marketing: This is where you review a product for a manufacturer or retailer, and you get a percentage of each item sold through your unique URL.
- Direct-sold advertising: It appears your audience is engaged and large, and that spells success. Create a sell sheet on your Instagram audience. Followers, post shares, etc. Highlight how often you post, daily and weekly, and how engaged your audience is. Direct-sold ads typically return between 50% — 75% higher revenue than sponsored posts, and you control them.
I’ve never heard of Instagram’s Close Friends feature being used by newsrooms, and it isn’t something I can speak to. I’d love to hear from any newsrooms who have had success with this and we can share that back out with members.
We’re a micro-local news outlet that’s looking to hire a contract salesperson to help us sell direct advertising and sponsorships. Is there a default flat commission rate that media sales professionals expect (e.g. 30 percent)? — Sales Solicitor
Penda: Thank you for your question. The short answer is YES. Typically 15% is standard as a commission for agencies working with clients to place advertising with you, and the same applies to most independent sales professionals. For a person selling for you directly on a contract basis with no salary, I would expect to pay a slightly larger commission — up to 20%. If a salary is involved, the commission can fluctuate based on benchmarks you each agree to up front. You should negotiate this percentage with the person you hire. A comfortable range for most would be 7 to 15%.
We cover small communities in rural southern Vermont (populations from 800 to 4,000), and for years we’ve tried to find someone to sell ads for us with no luck. How do I stir up enough interest to get people to at least apply? — Jilted Employer
Penda: Messaging is everything, especially if you’re advertising the position on social media. Consider shorter posts around your mission, and try including a call to action to boost engagement. For example, your social ads might direct people to a short survey with an offer to win a $10 gift card if they fill it out. This will increase your engagement, and who knows, it might just help you find your next hire!
Big news: LION’s Media Liability program expands to all US states
All 50 states available now, with Washington, D.C. coming October 1.
Introducing the 24 news businesses in our second Google News Initiative Startups Boot Camp
We’ll help these teams launch publications that directly meet their audience’s needs, particularly in underserved communities
Media Liability Insurance for LION Publishers Members
Details on what’s available and when it starts.