Almost everyone uses social media, which is why it has become the main advertising channel for companies. But gone are the days when brands' posts produced generous organic reach and engagement on social networks and this can be attributed to a number of reasons.
Now, businesses have to fight with their competitors, but also with news pages, closed and open group posts, and friends' photos and videos if they want to get users’ attention. Plus, people don't like being bombarded with brand ads all the time, which explains why more than 40% of Internet users block ads. Moreover, since its start, every social media platform has gone through multiple algorithm changes, making it even harder for companies to deliver their message to their target audiences.
Fortunately, the introduction of social media sponsored posts, allowed companies to get back in the public's eye, standing out from all the noise present on socials. It's no secret that TikTok and Instagram sponsored posts are popular, but contrary to popular belief, there's more to paid promotions besides working with influencers. Let's explore the options together!
What Are Sponsored Posts?
Sponsored content is a type of paid content created by a business to promote its products or services on any social media channel through its own brand account or with the help of influential people. If a brand wants to increase its exposure or reach a specific audience segment, they have a better chance of doing so with various types of sponsored posts. Social networks have several ways for brands to endorse their products, from image and video ads to branded hashtag challenges, Sponsored Stories and LinkedIn sponsored posts and InMails.
How can social media sponsored posts benefit brands?
Increased brand awareness: Since sponsored social media posts blend in with organic content, there's less ad fatigue or frustration from the audience. Steady regular exposure boosts the chances of people recognizing your brand.
Targeted audience: While organic content reaches many non-interested parties, with branded posts businesses can target specific age groups, locations or people very likely curious about their services and products.
Expanded reach: Brands can reach a larger audience, including non-followers who based on their interests, demographics, and content consumption habits can be interested in their products.
Boosting organic content: Businesses can boost an existing post that's doing well. By amplifying quality content, they can get more engagement and visibility.
Competitive advantage: A sponsored post can give brands an edge over their competitors, and make their message stick out.
Testing: Businesses can test diverse copies, images and CTAs, and refine their targeting options to achieve better results.
Control: Along with text and images, companies can control timing, spend, and optimize advertising strategies based on these factors.
Invaluable data: As a final bonus, brands can also measure the effectiveness of their promoted posts and learn more about their audience. In this way, they can tweak their tactics to generate more conversions or increase engagement rates.
Various Sponsored Content Options on Social Media
Brands have a bunch of options for precise targeting, increasing engagement and reach on social media with sponsored content. Here are the most popular ones:
The simplest way of paid advertisement on social media is by amplifying best-performing organic posts. But how can you boost content? Simply pick an existing post that gets a lot of likes and comments, then set the demographics of your audience, the budget, and the duration of the promotion.
With boosted posts, you can increase your brand’s visibility beyond your account’s followers and measure reach and engagement metrics. Boosting your posts is relatively easy and quick to set up, even for beginners, and is more cost-efficient compared to regular paid ads. However, they have their own set of limitations:
Less customizable: Although it offers basic targeting optimization, it's still not as detailed as full-blown paid ad campaigns.
Limited objectives: While boosting content is great for increasing reach and brand awareness, it's not as effective for getting leads and growing conversions.
Competition: Your branded content will be seen by more people, but due to limited targeting, it may not surpass the impact of paid posts.
Restricted analytics: While you have access to more data than organic posts, it is still much less than paid ads. It makes performance evaluation and campaign optimization harder.
Social media advertising
Since 2005, social media platforms have introduced paid advertising features that let brands run targeted promotions and reach highly engaged audiences. In 2007 Facebook Ads was launched and 4 years later the first Facebook sponsored posts - officially known as Sponsored Stories - emerged on the platform. Other platforms quickly followed Facebook’s lead. As Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Snapchat became more accessible, businesses began to write sponsored posts.
Before they build their advertising strategy, however, businesses should think about what kind of audience they want to reach, what channels their intended customers use, and what content they consume. Through paid ads, brands can accomplish a lot more than just increasing visibility and followers on social media, like generating leads, driving traffic to their website, and increasing conversions.
As well as the advantages mentioned in the previous paragraph, companies should also consider the disadvantages of social media advertising, like:
Oversaturation: Competition is fierce in every industry. Almost all companies use paid advertising these days.
Algorithm changes: Platform updates can affect previously well-constructed campaigns and decrease their impact.
Privacy concerns: Data tracking and targeted ads can raise privacy concerns among users.
Paid partnerships with influencers
Your third option is to involve content creators or online celebrities to promote your products or services on their social media accounts. Influencers have grown exponentially with the rise of social media, enabling brands to target audiences more precisely and advertise more effectively. Millennials and Generation Z have different shopping habits. They're tech-savvy, distrust conventional advertising, and gather as much information as possible about products before even getting them. This process includes learning about the goods' quality and usability from other users, their friends, and other trusted sources, like influencers.
Many creators have built a name in a niche and amassed tens of thousands to millions of followers who trust their opinions. With their strong connections to their followers, influencers can engage them in a more playful and relatable way.
Sponsored influencer posts offer similar benefits to paid advertising. Besides these, you can use the influencer's expertise and authenticity to enhance your own brand authority and credibility. You can reach very specific, narrow markets through them. You can also capitalize on the social proof offered by influencers in your influencer marketing strategy.
Nevertheless, influencers are not mind readers or magicians. Pay attention to the following to ensure the success of your influencer marketing campaign:
Communication issues: Identify who and what you want to reach and communicate clearly.
Influencer selection: There are a lot of ways to find influencers, but you want the ones who know your industry, identify with your brand values, are scandal-free, have engaging content, and have real followers.
Too much or too little control: It is hard to balance the two extremes. You need to ensure brand consistency in influencer promotions while letting them do their thing creatively.
Ethical and legal compliance: Influencers have to disclose paid or sponsored collaborations.
Measuring ROI: Measuring return, especially if your goal is brand recognition, can be tough. You need multiple approaches to establish creators' contribution to success.
Ready to Use Sponsored Posts? Consider These Before You Try Them!
Thanks to Google, paid ads have been available to everyone since the early 2000s. As social media exploded and new customer groups appeared, these platforms also developed paid advertising solutions. The latest digital marketing trend, which more and more companies use is sponsored influencer posts. They have all the advantages of paid social media ads, as well as the added benefits of strengthening reliability and building trust.
Regardless of the type of sponsored post a brand chooses, they should consider these things:
Set clear goals.
Determine the target audience's demographics as precisely as you can.
Get to know your target audience's content consumption habits.
Establish a budget.
Choose the right platform for their brand's image, goals, and audience.
Find relevant influencers and research their audience, content, brand affinity, and performance.
Compliance with legal and data protection rules.