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Published November 3rd 2022

How Influencers Use #Sponsored Posts on Social, and What Brands Can Learn From It

Learn about using sponsored posts on Instagram and Twitter, and how brands can get the most out of their brand-influencer collaborations.

Influencer endorsements provide a great way to engage your target audience and attract prospective customers.

According to Influencer Marketing Hub’s 2022 Benchmark Report, 90% of companies believe influencer marketing is highly beneficial in increasing brand awareness and sales. And when done right, influencer marketing can impact the business’s bottom line, becoming one of the winning strategies in the marketing arsenal.

Who are the influencers?

Contrary to popular belief, influencer marketing is not just about celebrities whose millions of followers are closely watching their every step, mimicking their behavior and habits, which often includes purchasing the same products seen in celebrities’ social feeds. 

More and more brands are turning to micro-influencers, who may not have a large following. Still, those followers are highly engaged around niche topics, which makes partnerships authentic on the influencer side and highly beneficial for brands in the space.

With some effort in place, everyone has an opportunity to become an influencer these days, and it’s never been easier to reap the benefits from sponsored posts for both influencers and brands. And more and more brands have started exploring the influencer marketing space. 

To ensure the authenticity of such brand-influencer relationships and their promotions on social, regulations have been put in place. And most platforms, including Instagram, require influencers to disclose the nature of their collaboration with brands, specifically identifying if those promotions are #ads or #sponsored.

There are many other ways influencers mark sponsored content to make it less obvious and commercial in the eyes of their followers. For example, they use hashtags such as #gifted, #collab, #[brand]collab, and #collabpost. But the rules around the appearance of sponsored posts on social media are clearly defined on the FTC’s (Federal Trade Commission) website. 

From the FTC: “Don’t use vague or confusing terms like “sp,” “spon,” or “collab,” or stand-alone terms like “thanks” or “ambassador,” and stay away from other abbreviations and shorthand when possible.”

#Sponsored Instagram posts: How to use them

When to post sponsored Instagram posts

In this section, we’ll talk about product placements in posts on Instagram marked with #ads or #sponsored, not paid advertisements created in Facebook Ads Manager.

To understand how sponsored content is used on the platform, we tracked posts on Instagram, indicated by the hashtags #ad, #spon, #sponsored, and #sp, shared between January 1 - September 1 2022.

According to Brandwatch data, Wednesdays have seen the most sponsored posts on Instagram within the studied period (America/New York). 

Knowing what time for sponsored posting works best could be beneficial when crafting a strong social media plan. We used our Brandwatch tools to find exactly what time of the day influencers tend to share sponsored posts on Instagram.

The rise of #sponsored posts on Twitter

Tweets promoted through Twitter’s advertising services are always labeled “promoted” on the platform. As for organic or non-promoted Tweets that may also contain paid advertisements, they, too, require disclosing or otherwise indicating the commercial nature of the content posted. 

Our research showed that consumers have been increasingly using #ad and #sponsored in posts on Twitter in the last three years.

When do influencers tend to share more Tweets labeled as #ads on Twitter?

Brandwatch data suggests that Thursdays, followed by Mondays, tend to accumulate the most posts indicating sponsored content on Twitter. And their frequency goes up between 10 am and 12 pm EST. 

We also looked at the volume of #sponsored posts shared on Twitter by hour.

We compared the posts on Twitter with mentions of #spon, #ad, #sponsored, and #sp to the similarly labeled conversation on Instagram, and here are the main differences that we’ve discovered: 

  • Giveaways dominated the conversations labeled with #ads and the likes on Twitter between January 1 and September 1 2022. And giveaways in conversations relating to NFT were especially popular. Gaming and gaming consoles were also frequently mentioned in posts regarded as having a commercial nature. 
  • On the other hand, the Instagram #sponsored conversation displayed themes such as fashion, travel, and lifestyle. 

Three steps to optimizing your brand-influencer collaboration

1. Finding the right influencer 

No matter your brand’s industry, someone is probably already building credibility on social media – potentially influencing purchase decisions. Therefore, finding and qualifying influencers for your sponsored post on social media is crucial in building an effective influencer marketing program. The right influencer already has an audience whose interests align with your product offerings, making it easier and faster to get them curious about a new product.

2. Managing the partnership

If you are working on a small, one-off campaign, you might be able to manage all efforts using a spreadsheet. But suppose you plan on expanding your influencer marketing initiatives. In that case, the administrative portion of the program can become somewhat of a nightmare, cutting into your team’s productivity and putting your relationships with influencers at risk. 

3. Measuring the results

Like with any marketing effort, measuring the results of your brand-influencer collaboration is vital to ensuring the success of your program. 

The process behind launching influencer marketing campaigns used to be labor-intensive and time-consuming. The marketer would need to find influencers on social media, manually add and maintain their records in a document (typically, a spreadsheet), and track campaign performance. The alternative would be very costly – if the brand brought in an agency. 

Today, there are many tools that can help marketers measure, optimize, and manage all their influencer marketing in one place, like Brandwatch’s Influence. And measuring and reporting on campaigns in real-time can be a game changer, saving your team days of work and providing valuable insights in a matter of seconds. 

Are you looking to improve your understanding of influencer marketing? The Waffle-Free Guide to Influencer Marketing will be your go-to resource for everything relating to getting your brand or product talked about on social. 

How can marketers use all these insights?

Going back to our discussion about the posting times, it’s tempting to go live around the time every other influencer does it because “influencers probably know better”. However, if you consistently post during the busiest times, even the best content ideas have a higher chance of getting passed by or overlooked. When working with influencers around sharing product-related content on social media, marketers need to be strategic and figure out the optimum time that works for their audience. Hint: Your own data is the real source of truth.

The same goes for social media platforms. While some topics and influencers tend to gather a bigger audience on one social network over the other, that’s not to say that all other social channels should be disregarded. 

With solutions like Brandwatch’s Social Media Management, your social media team will be fully equipped to analyze the conversation online, discover when the audience you’re looking to engage with is most active and where, and build these insights into your influencer marketing strategy. 

For more information on the best times to post on social media and why it’s beneficial to plan the content distribution ahead of time, you can read ​​What are the Best Times to Post on Social Media?

Looking to discover more industry benchmarks and best practices?Look no further: Read our latest mega report, The State of Social.

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