Sponsored content tips are sometimes hard to come by, especially with Influencer Marketing still being in its beginning stages regardless of its rapidly growing popularity. Influencer Marketing and Content Marketing on social media are only now starting to be regulated and built upon by the likes of the FTC and governments to provide more transparency for audiences to identify what content is sponsored and what is content created by Influencers on their own. Platforms like Instagram and Facebook are slowly implementing features for Influencers and brands to clearly identify their relationships to users for example.

Our first big tip for those who work often with sponsored collaborations and either have a blog or website is to have a disclaimer section on your about page where you quickly mention your frequent collaborations and sponsored content. You can then refer your audience to this section be it in your bio, individual Instagram posts or to close out any sponsored blog posts. We’d be sure to include that some of your collaborations are both paid and unpaid, and that you’re always sharing your honest feedback to keep your audience trusting your opinions.

The Types of Sponsored Content

For Influencers it’s important to understand what falls under the classification of sponsored content so that you can take the steps to inform your audience. The most obvious form of sponsored content is a paid post, where brands are actually paying you for posts on your Instagram feed or Instagram Story; they may even request time in your Instagram link space within your bio. Regardless, if a brand is paying for you to create the content or post something provided by them you owe it to your Instagram audience to identify it. You can if you want briefly mention in your caption that you’re collaborating or working with the brand, but we alway say keep your written content within your post as organic as possible by sharing your review and feedback of the brands product or service, or mentioning how you incorporate whatever you’re promoting in your life. We do however strongly suggest to always use #Sponsored, #SponsoredPost within your caption or even better #Ad, seeing as it’s paid to us we feel this is the millennial method of advertising.

Another form of direct payment sponsored content is when Influencers are paid a commission on sales made during the brand collaboration, be it from a link or discount code the Influencer shared. You as an Influencer will know about this directly as the brand will ask you for payment information such as your PayPal. These collaboration are usually the most formal as they will involve contracts in most cases. In this case, we suggest you always use #Sponsored, #Ad or even #Partner as you are receiving a part of the profits from your sales.

We often get asked what to do when product is gifted to you by brands. Some brands will request you use similar hashtags like #Sponsored and in rare occasions #Ad, whereas others will request that the content be “organic in tone” and avoid those transparent hashtags. Any Influencer really looking to make a business out of their content might want to avoid not disclaiming the partnership so here is how we recommend that you approach it.

If you and the brand have worked out specific terms and post requirements during this partnership in exchange for products or services to us this is no different than a paid partnership, especially if the value being exchange in high. Most brands will more or likely require you to use some sort of tags as regulations begin to be set in the industry but in the cases that they don’t and you personally prefer the disclaimers, here are a few ways you can approach this. First, you can politely explain to them your position and mention the expectations in the industry is beginning to place on Influencers with regards to their responsibilities with sponsored content. In cases where it’s just products or services exchanged, you can stick to #Sponsored as there was some sort of monetary exchange, although you were not formally paid. Some brands will rather Influencers used the term #Gifted which is one we don’t love as gifts usually aren’t given in exchange for work but the industry does seem to accept.

In the cases where your PR contacts at brands and agencies are sending you media promo packages at random, without solidifying any post agreements there is some flexibility to an extent. If you have been asked to do a post, but it’s not necessary, and you choose to share it on social media, we would still lightly considered that sponsored and worrented of a #Sponsored tag. Some brands and agencies do not want the use of this disclaimer as their claim is that it was not paid for, but this is something to be debated. As we mentioned above, if you have a sponsored content disclaimer on your website you can easily point to this section in these cases. If you were sent product or invited in to experience a brand and weren’t asked to post content but are choosing to share your experience, we think it’s still important to be transparent about this. In these situations you can for sure in this case mention that you were simply sent these products or invited to these services or events by the brands or representatives to experience the brand for yourself.

Sponsored Content Tips

Now that we’ve hammered out the types of sponsored collaborations you might be given the opportunity for as an Influencer, it’s time to get to creating content that feels organic, because even in advertisements who wants to feel force fed? Here are some easy tips to keep your visual content organic and your Instagram captions authentic

  1. Create sponsored content that is true to you. As much as it’s out there that you’re working with the brand on sponsored content, you don’t want to collaboration to come out of left field. This means, sticking to brands and products within your niche that you’d actually incorporate into your real life. Don’t capture things or moments that you wouldn’t actually experience and this includes avoiding working with brands that you wouldn’t purchase or use.
  2. Keep it looking natural. The one thing we can’t stand is when Influencer share content that is unrealistic or just not relating to the product or tone. Promoting a sunscreen? Try an image with sunglasses, outside with sandals be in a picture of you or a flatlay. Working with a food company, would you stage the image in the bathroom or kitchen? See the trend here? Keep whatever props and scenes you choose to use for your content on theme with the products or brands you’re creating for!
  3. Keep any testimonials or reviews you include in your caption honest but not pitchy. You want to ensure that your followers understand what the brand and products are without sounding like you’re pitching on QVC. The best format we like to stick to is: initial thoughts + 1-2 facts on the brand or product + question or call to action. You’d look at including any discount codes you may have at the end of your question or call to action to finish it off.

We know that these sponsored content tips seem a bit overwhelming and hard to follow but as you work with brands and build your own brand and tone sharing these collaborations with your audience will come more naturally and effortlessly to you in no time! You’ll notice as you work on the overall tone of your collaborations more people will be intrigued and more importantly, more brands will want to work with you. Looking for more ways to help your content stand out? The Wolf Global blog is your spot for all things Instagram!