It’s getting harder and harder to ignore the popularity of influencers with consumers. Whether they’re celebrity influencers with millions of followers or nano-influencers with audiences of 1,000, they have the world’s attention.

If you’re wading into the world of social media marketing and considering partnering with influencers, you might be wondering what a sponsored post is. You could also be pondering whether the ROI would justify budgeting for sponsored influencer posts in a social media marketing campaign.

Sponsored posts aren’t an entirely new concept. Similar to advertorial or native advertising, a sponsored post is content that a brand has paid an influencer to post. It doesn’t look like an ad, but instead appears similar to the content influencers typically create and post on their own.

Sponsored posts on social media or blogs can vary in format, appearance and purpose. They can range from an influencer’s review of a brand’s product to a promotion for a contest sponsored by the brand. A sponsored post might be a tutorial on YouTube or a photoshoot on Instagram.

The fact that influencers have loyal followings that trust them and value their content means sponsored posts can help boost influencer ROI. It’s one of the key reasons it’s estimated that the ROI of a sponsored post is 11 times the ROI of a display ad.

Sponsored posts have become so popular that in the first six months of 2018, Instagram’s sponsored posts grew by more than 40 percent. And in the first quarter of 2019, they jumped by 150 percent compared to the previous year. Instagram is one of the most popular social media channels for sponsored posts, with one billion users active monthly.

What Are the Benefits of Sponsored Posts?

Although similar in concept, sponsored posts are nothing like the flashy infomercials of yesteryear. Consumers now trust influencers more than they trust traditional advertising, so a sponsored post carries more weight than an ad does. This shift in consumer perception, especially among Millennials and members of Gen Z, results in valuable benefits for brands and marketers. They include:

Boost Success of Product Launches

Influencers are skilled at creating buzz around new products and services, making a sponsored post a valuable tool for a product launch. One way that influencers can get followers excited about new products is through sponsored posts about launch events and giveaways.

Boost Brand Awareness and Reach

Members of an influencer’s audience that weren’t familiar with a brand before the sponsored post now have the brand on their radar. A sponsored post can also give an older brand a fresh new identity among a younger demographic. That’s because an influencer knows the language, voice, tone and imagery that’ll resonate with their followers.

When an influencer’s followers buy the product and share their enthusiasm for it on social media, it can boost brand awareness exponentially. Not only has the brand reached the influencer’s immediate audience, but it has also reached the audience’s friends, family and/or colleagues.

Save the Brand Money

Because influencers typically create the content for sponsored posts, brands save money they would have spent on photoshoots and videos for ads. Repurposing a sponsored post’s content for other social media channels and for the brand’s website can bring brands and marketers further savings.

Grow Website Traffic

Sponsored posts stimulate interest in a brand, which sends the influencer’s followers to the brand’s website for more information about it. Brands often include pages with answers to frequently asked questions on their websites so consumers can get the details they need.

Boost Engagement

When a sponsored post prompts conversation among an influencer’s or a brand’s followers, it boosts the brand’s engagement. Consumers comment on and ask questions about the brand and its products on social media. They can also provide valuable input on a product, such as what they like about it and how they’re using it.

Grow Leads

Followers who show interest in a product or service because of an influencer’s sponsored post become qualified leads for the brand. Through a sponsored post, an influencer can do things like encourage followers to enter a contest to win one of the brand’s products. The contest generates leads for the brand when followers provide their contact information in order to enter the contest.

Increase Conversions

One of the best-case scenarios proving the value of a sponsored post is when the content prompts followers to buy the brand’s product. For instance, devoted followers of top lifestyle influencers see products the influencers use and endorse as the latest must-have items.

Boost Brand Loyalty

A sponsored post from an influencer who’s enthusiastic about a product can remind customers of the reasons why they love a brand. It can also get them excited about a brand’s new products and services, further strengthening their brand loyalty.

Provide Measurable Results

Fortunately, Internet technology makes it easy to prove the value of a sponsored post during and after an influencer campaign. Brands and marketers can measure influencer ROI thanks to tools like social media analytics, tracked links and branded landing pages.

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