Influencers Can’t Get Brand Deals on Instagram’s Creator Marketplace

  • Instagram started testing its Creator Marketplace tool in July.
  • Since then, select US creators have been invited by the platform to try it out.
  • Out of the dozen creators Insider spoke with who use the marketplace, only one has inked a deal.

Bethany Everett-Ratcliffe, a fashion creator with 70,000 Instagram followers, was one of many influencers disappointed to find out that Instagram was shutting down its affiliate marketing program.

The program was one of many initiatives aimed at helping creators make money and allowed them to earn a commission from in-app sales. In July, Instagram confirmed it was sunsetting the effort.

There was, however, a silver lining: Instagram would now focus on building out its creator-brand marketplace, a space where brands can discover and message influencers about paid partnerships and sponsored content.

“Campaigns are my biggest income,” Everett-Ratcliffe told Insider last fall. “Being able to do that through Instagram would be huge.”

First teased in April 2021 during a livestream with Mark Zuckerberg and head of Instagram Adam Mosseri, Instagram’s Creator Marketplace connects brands with creators directly within the app.

“Branded content is the economic engine behind the creator ecosystem in a lot of ways,” Mosseri said during the April 2021 livestream. “We just want to help facilitate that in a responsible way.”

Screengrab of Instagram creator marketplace eligibility

Instagram’s Creator Marketplace is currently invite only. Creators can see if they are eligible by checking their professional dashboard in the app.


For about a year, influencers waited in anticipation for the feature to drop. And in July, Instagram unveiled the program, inviting select creators, including Everett-Ratcliffe, to test out the feature.

But two months in, “I’ve got nothing,” she said. And she’s not alone.

“I haven’t had any brands that have reached out,” creator Kristen Bousquet told Insider.

“It’s crickets,” wrote Catarina Mello in a direct message.

Insider spoke to over a dozen creators, including five who either have not set up their accounts or have not been granted access. Twelve creators told Insider that they had started to use the Creator Marketplace — but only one of them had been able to ink a deal.

“Creator Marketplace is still in early testing but we’re pleased to see many creators and brands already connecting and negotiating new deals through the platform,” a spokesperson for Meta told Insider in an email. “We’re confident about the potential and excited to see what creators and brands put together as we expand the test and add functionality over the coming months.”

How Instagram’s Creator Marketplace works

Instagram’s Creator Marketplace isn’t exactly a no man’s land: There are more than 100 brands listed in the app’s marketplace, Mello said.

Many of the brands listed are large, national corporations such as and Nike, Bousquet added.

Creators look through the brands and select the ones they’d want to work with, as well as up to 10 areas of interest, said Alessandra Davin, a food blogger.

“When brands are exploring creator partners, they will see which creators have already expressed interest in their priority list,” Instagram wrote in its onboarding guide for creators.

Once creators add their preferences, they then wait for the brands to get in touch via DM and offer a potential deal. Payments and contracts happen off-platform “for the time being,” per Instagram’s onboarding guide.

For fashion creator Najm Loyd, the only influencer Insider spokes with who landed a deal, the process was smooth. A brand reached out to him via DM in his Partnerships Messages, a prioritized inbox Instagram introduced last year. The DM conversation then went over to email, where contracts and final details were handled, Loyd said.

But since that first deal this summer, he’s been waiting for another.

“I honestly hope that I get more via Instagram since it was so seamless,” Loyd said.

Instagram is already the destination for influencer marketing

When it comes to influencer marketing on social media, Instagram has a tight hold over marketers. The platform is estimated to be used by 72.6% of marketers in 2022, according to recent data from eMarketer. By 2024, that is expected to increase to over 80%.

eMarketer Insider Intelligence Social platforms used by US Marketers for Influencer Marketing


While the platform has introduced features like a “Paid Partnership” label and enhanced messaging tools for creators and brands, the Creator Marketplace is its most direct foray into influencer marketing.

“For a decade, Instagram really just let influencer marketing happen on their platform and kind of reap the benefits without being super involved,” said Lia Haberman, a social media and influencer marketing professor at UCLA.

The broader influencer-marketing ecosystem has been dominated by third-party companies such as Collectively, Fohr, and Aspire that connect brands with creators, often charging the brands a fee to use their services.

But larger social media platforms are starting to try their hand at the space: In 2019, TikTok launched its own influencer marketplace — which has more than 500,000 creators enrolled, per TikTok — and even Shopify has made similar moves.

Introducing tools that could help brands manage marketing campaigns and bring more creators on the platform would be a win for Instagram — especially if it were to charge brands a fee. But how Instagram plans to monetize its creator marketplace isn’t yet clear.

“Instagram is incentivized to help creators because they need them to remain competitive amongst social media platforms,” said Lindsay Lee Lugrin, founder of creator economy startup FYPM and a creator herself. “But at the end of the day, they get their money from the other side.”

What influencers want to see from Instagram’s marketplace

In the end, Instagram’s Creator Marketplace is still a limited test, and ups and downs are to be expected.

“I’ve probably had access for maybe about a month now,” said Bousquet, who is still waiting to hear from brands after checking all the right boxes. “It hasn’t been something that I’ve even used too much because it doesn’t really seem like it’s ready for creators to use.”

Still, some creators are hopeful that Instagram’s marketplace could meet their needs as entrepreneurs on the app.

Here are a few things creators want to see in the marketplace as it evolves:

  • Fair pay rates. Brittany Bright, a creator and influencer marketing consultant who has used other platforms’ creator-brand marketplaces, said that she’s seen lowball offers from brands.”When platforms go into this avenue of offering brand deals through the actual platform, they’re always kind of smaller, unknown brands and lower quality partnerships that I personally would never do,” Bright said, referring to offers she’s gotten on TikTok and Facebook’s marketplaces.
  • Low barrier to entry for creators. As of now, the Creator Marketplace is invite-only. Bright hopes to see it evolve in a way that will let creators of all follower sizes utilize it, which would “make it easier for brands to partner with and find new influencers.” Otherwise, the marketplace could alienate smaller creators, Bright said — and Instagram has reiterated that smaller and emerging creators are a core focus.
  • Incorporating local and small businesses. Davin wants to see Instagram expand its marketplace to include smaller businesses. “Even to a localized level, like restaurants, that can search the area they are based in and find content creators to partner with,” Davin said in an email.

There is more to come from Instagram, too, as it continues its test. Last month, a prototype of in-app media kits was spotted and confirmed by Instagram. These kits make it easier for creators to market themselves to brands.

“It’s going to take time,” Haberman said.

Amanda Perelli contributed to this report.

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