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3 Tips For Engaging Consumers Through Sponsored Content

10/24/2016 03:11 pm ET

With the rise of digital and social channels, consumers are faced with an enormous amount of content each day. We're spending a tremendous amount of time checking out tweets, snaps, pins, Instagram posts, etc. - 20% of total online activity in the U.S., desktop and mobile combined - that the brands that advertise to us have begun to take notice to where our attention has shifted to.

There used to be a negative stigma toward sponsored content, claiming consumers didn't want to engage with these types of posts because they recognized they were being shown an ad and it didn't feel natural. One article went as far as to say "Stop with the sponsored posts - consumers are not buying it. They see right through it as another attempt to sell them something."

Well, guess what? That attitude is shifting drastically as consumers have actually come to appreciate sponsored content. We recently completed a data study on Instagram to see just how people were reacting when shown sponsored content in their feeds. The results? Data showed that sponsored content, whether a social post, a blog, or a video, is actually engaged with equally in comparison to non-sponsored content, when done the right way.

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The key here is "when done the right way." There are plenty of brands making simple mistakes that drive people away from their sponsored content rather than encouraging them to engage with it. Here are three tips for creating engaging sponsored content.

Natural product placement. Most folks would think a close-up of a product would be the best way to showcase the item on social media. Most folks would be wrong. Your consumer is more likely to relate to the product if they see it naturally in the influencer's element. If it's an item of clothing, just wear it. If it's a food or beverage item, have it as part of a broader photo. Make your photo feel less like an ad and more like a natural, every day moment that just happens to include a product.

Take good pictures. This is likely stating the obvious but it's startling how many influencers post poor pictures to their social feeds. You don't need the most expensive camera in the world to ensure you are taking crisp, clear photos that are properly cropped. Utilize an HD camera to ensure the best visual quality that you can, and consider using a small tripod to ensure a stable shot. A clear photo does wonders for the legitimacy of the post.

Let your photo do the talking. Far too often we see great photos that are ruined by an overlaid logo or text. You aren't creating a meme, so keep the text off of your photo. Keep the text limited to your caption, and use a couple of hashtags - but not too many - as that can also make a post feel too spammy and result in decreased engagement.

If you create high quality content, you will see engagement with your sponsored content - the data doesn't lie. When your content quality is poor, your consumer will likely look the other way. But if your content is properly placed, utilizes sharp photography, and feels native and organic, you have an advertising tool that is statistically proven to generate results for your brand.

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