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A Social Media Manager’s Lens For Successful Sponsored Content

sponsered_content_blogThe unwritten part of a social media manager’s job is to be an undercover psychologist. Social marketing is a function of understanding what makes your audience tick, what doesn’t, and how you can capitalize on that knowledge. This is where data and measurement become essential components to your social media strategy.

Recently, I came across a study that tapped into this concept, looking to get an understanding of how consumers respond to sponsored content. While many of our readers don’t handle the paid activities for their brand, the insight here is just as applicable.

Among the many juicy statistics from this iab./ Edelman-Berland’s latest sponsored content research study, these percentages hit me especially hard:

  • 86% of consumers feel that online advertising is necessary to receive free content online
  • 60% are more open to online ads that tell a story than ones that simply sell a product

These stats tell me that people have now, by and large, accepted the fact that there’s no such thing as free lunch — in order to get the type of rich experience we’ve become accustomed to from our social networks, we must accept exposure to advertising in the online space.

But do you want to produce social content that folks suffer through, or social content that becomes such a seamless part of user feeds that they welcome and even look forward to your sponsored content?

Let’s dig into the report to find out.

How Ad Types Are Perceived  

Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 2.19.18 PMIt’s not surprising that people like in-feed sponsored content they can scroll by more than they like obtrusive pop-up ads that interrupt their user experience more aggressively. But, acknowledging this gives us a compass that will help determine our direction:

  • Imbue your in-feed content with news-provider spin. Use a “Fun Fact” or “Breaking News” theme, but only if it actually is breaking news, since building your brand’s trustworthiness is of utmost importance (more on that later). People like receiving information they didn’t have before, and this is also a chance to give your audience your unique voice and perspective on what’s happening within your industry.
  • Conduct research to ensure your in-feed content looks like the typical posts on your target audiences’ feeds. This makes it so that your ideal user doesn’t have the time to put up that “It’s advertising. I automatically don’t trust it” psychological wall.
  • Consider video ads. Surprisingly, those surveyed reacted to video ads neutrally. There is a great opportunity for growth here. It’s up to you to create media that boosts video perception from okay to awesome, especially since video sharing is at an all-time high 

Relevance, Relevance, Relevance

Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 2.36.44 PMSend out content that’s relevant to your brand. If you’re Nike, posting a Buzzfeed article about the latest Kardashian romance seems spammy, and there’s nothing people hate more than spam and click bait that doesn’t deliver. Try to:

  • Give ’em an inside look. Your sponsored content is a good place to show the world what’s going on inside your company and processes by linking to your brand’s blog. If you were to employ this tactic, you could title a post “Losing Followers and Don’t Know Why? 5 Ways To Lower That Twitter Attrition Rate” and include a link to your blog. This both addresses a likely user question or need and also points to your brand or brands’ content as the answer to that question/need.
  • Make content for each vertical but be sure to relate it back to your the value your brand provides. We are done with the model of “Let’s just throw it all at the wall and see what sticks.” Can we agree on that? Thanks. Good. It’s time to target. Whether you’re using targeted Facebook ads or Twitter’s ad solutions, make sure you’re not advocating ’49ers love in Seattle (Seahawks country and, ahem, recent Superbowl winners, may I remind you).

Make the most of fertile ground

Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 2.42.44 PMIn-feed content can dramatically increase users’ favorable view of the brand. You have the chance to transform user perspective on your brand, for the better. Your audience is open to the possibility.

  • Go for the trifecta. Make a checklist for each piece of in-feed sponsored content or non-sponsored content y0u produce to ensure it fits all three criteria: relevance to your target audience, fitting into your field of expertise, and exhibiting integrity and clarity (a.k.a. building your brand’s trustworthiness).

What’s your biggest learning from this report?

Will you think about changing any of your tactics due to these findings? What surprised you? What was totally expected? Let me know in the comments below!
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Lucy Hitz

I’m the Head of Marketing Communications here at Simply Measured, where I'm responsible for our content program, social media marketing, PR, and comarketing ventures. I love yoga, The X-Files, peaty scotch, hiking, and poetry. If I were a social media channel, I’d want to be Instagram, but I think I’m Twitter.

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