If you are a content marketer, you cannot ignore sponsored content. It’s all around social media now. As such acquiring a new set of target audience is not a piece of cake. Holding their attention is even tougher. However, sponsored content takes care of both aspects.
As brands try to figure out how to cut through the noise and make their content visible, sponsored content makes it possible to not only reach the relevant audience but also to evoke a response from them. So, let’s move on to all the things you should be knowing about creating sponsored content.
What is Sponsored Content?
Creating sponsored content comes very close to native advertising as it mingles easily with the rest of the content of a website or platform. It blends so well that it does not look like a marketing effort at all. Publishers invest a significant amount of resource into sponsored content which spans through a range of content types such as articles, videos, social media posts or even entire microsites.
The American Press Institute says that “it is better to define sponsored content by what it does than by what it looks like”. Sponsored content can be molded to take the form of an original piece on the website. It won’t be blatant advertising rather it usually informs or entertains the audience with the aim of projecting a positive image of the sponsor brand in the mind of its target audience.
A perfect example of creating sponsored content is an Instagram content creator posting a picture related to the product of a brand with a disclosure that the post is a ‘paid partnership’ between the brand and the owner of the Instagram account.
Take a look at this sponsored post by Tripoto, a travel company, which is promoting MG Motor India within an Instagram post.
Notice how the content blends in as a travel post and yet is making the audience aware of the sponsor brand. This is the beauty of creating sponsored content!
Why do you need sponsored content?
Organic reach is not going to be enough. If you have an incredible brand and want the world to know, then you need to go beyond organic reach. The use of ad-blocking and ad-skipping technologies is increasing. 615 million devices are reportedly using an adblock now. There’s no doubt that traditional advertising is no longer going to work. You have no option left but to explore innovative and authentic ways to reach your audience.
Understand why a creating sponsored content would work over traditional ways. Trust and rapport are defining factors here. If you’re being introduced to a brand from a trusted source, you’re more likely to place your trust in it. You’re taking the help of another brand which has already built a rapport with their audience and through them, you’re directly reaching out to your potential audience.
Sponsored content also acts as a one-stop destination for all your marketing efforts. The brand or influencer you’re partnering with is going to figure out both the creation and the distribution part of it. They take care of how the traffic inflow will happen by a strategically laid out plan which will include all facets of it.
What to do before creating sponsored content?
Here are a few things you should definitely know if you’re using sponsored content.
Analyze the needs of your target audience
Before you sign up for a publication, website, or an influencer for your sponsored content campaign, understand their target audience. If you think they will be interested in consuming your content and also recommend it to others, you should go for it. A study found that 84% people are quite open to high-quality, value-adding advertising efforts from other brands. For instance, Buzzfeed followers actually look forward to good quality sponsored posts that match up to the website’s standards like the one below.
Package it well so that it doesn’t look like an ad
If your content gives the impression of an advertisement that is blatantly promoting a product or service, people will usually reject it. I came across an article published by Gigaom which is glaringly pitching an IT security solution to the reader. The post comes across as tasteless and quite self-promotional. It’s a good idea to learn from such an example and make sure the sponsored content does not look like an ad to the reader. The content should be able to educate or entertain the reader in some way so that it adds value to the viewer’s experience.
Depend on consumer insights, not on guesswork
Before you zero down on the content piece, make sure you’re not relying on guesswork. We often can’t make the right judgment about the kind of content that the audience is looking for. In this context, analytics and research would help you out. While you’re brainstorming the concept ideas, come with audience insights. One example is to look for what people are searching for the most in your content category. You can come up with innovative ways to answer their questions and make their life easier!
Integrate a story
Stories have a greater impact on people and telling a good story through your sponsored content will ensure engagement and brand recall. People will actually look forward to more content from your brand if they come across an interesting story they want to hear. Chances are, they’ll remember you for that story that made their day!
Now let’s get to know more about creating sponsored content on each platform.
Creating sponsored content on Facebook
Sponsored posts or sponsored content are paid promotional efforts on Facebook. These posts will appear on your news feed just like any organic content but will have higher visibility and reach. Here’s an example of sponsored content on Facebook.
Creating sponsored content on Facebook is relatively easy. You don’t even have to access the Ads manager to conceptualize a post. Facebook itself nudges a user to sponsor posts to enhance their reach and engagement. However, don’t just blindly start doing that. You need to lay out a strategy to align with the campaign goals of your sponsored post.
If your goal is to enhance engagement for a particular content piece or post, Facebook sponsored content is the way to go. Make sure to set out the aspects of the target audience as it will ask you the details while you create the campaign. This is how the dashboard will look like.
Creating sponsored content on YouTube
Sponsored video content on YouTube is conceptualized when a brand approaches a YouTube content creator with a good subscriber base to endorse their products by integrating them within their videos. YouTubers who have a subscriber base that sometimes runs into millions are quite valuable for brands because of the level of trust and rapport that they’ve built with their audience. This kind of trust brings a human element to the promotional effort and that’s what works for them.
If you’re a content creator and wish to integrate paid product placements and endorsements in your videos, you need to let YouTube know by putting a check on “video contains paid promotion” box in your Advanced Settings. Creators should also need to dig deeper into the legal obligations about disclosures related to paid promotions.
Creating sponsored content on Instagram
We’ve already given an example of a sponsored post on Instagram towards the beginning. Creating sponsored content on Instagram is synonymous to Instagram influencer marketing. Pew Research Center suggests that Instagram is the second most popular social media platform after Facebook. It’s interesting to note that 75% of users take some action after coming across a sponsored post and 60% use the platform to explore new products. That in itself is reason enough to consider creating sponsored content on Instagram.
Brands would earlier work with high profile influencers for a mini-campaign or a single post and they would charge a high amount. The trend, however, is shifting to micro influencers who have a following somewhere close to 100,000 instead of those with millions that brands used to chase earlier.
Brands are also giving more freedom to influencers and allowing them to create their own content in sponsored posts. Original posts garner a higher engagement rate by banking on the trust factor that we have talked about previously. Creating sponsored content via Instagram stories is also a trend that brands should not be ignoring anymore.
Niharika Datta is a Content Writer at Vidooly. She started her career as a Human Resource professional but is now pursuing her love for writing. Though she writes about a myriad of ideas, her personal favourite is writing about the latest trends in the content and digital marketing world. An ambivert by nature, she likes to grab a snack with a warm cup of coffee in the company of a good book or a close friend.