How to Promote Brands Without Compromising Your Authenticity

You did it! You landed a fantastic sponsorship deal that you’ve been after, but you had to offer more product callouts and promoted posts than you had wanted. Now you’re concerned that the message isn’t authentic to you or your brand. Sponsors are a fact of life for influencers, but there is a fine balance between talking up a partner’s product and looking like a corporate mouthpiece. Your audience is your biggest asset; damaging their trust with a clumsy sponsored post can have a devastating impact on your channel and compromise your credibility with your fans who trust you. To preserve your authenticity, follow these guidelines for organic promotion.

Only choose sponsors you’re honestly willing to recommend 

Followers will judge you based on the products you promote, so be sure you can genuinely support your partner brands. Test products before you agree to sponsor them. If you wouldn’t spend your own money on something, it’s not worth losing your followers’ trust by endorsing it. It’s important to consider the company behind the brand, too. Spend time researching potential partners for inconsistencies in their messaging or brand that may not align with yours.  Associating yourself with a company that your fans dislike will damage your reputation and may impact their trust of you. Finally, allow yourself enough creative freedom in your contract to speak with your own voice and provide a realistic picture of the endorsement. Your review will be more effective if you point out flaws as well as advantages. Fans don’t need everything to be perfect; they want to know they can trust you to provide an honest review.

Tag sponsored posts 

If fear of losing followers is holding you back from tagging sponsored posts, know that the exact opposite is true. Failing to tag or “hiding” sponsored content can damage your credibility among your fans. Full transparency is essential when promoting a product or brand.  While your fans expect you to have sponsors and are interested to know what products you like, they need reassurance that you’re more than just a mouthpiece. Being upfront about partnerships protects the creator-fan relationship and builds both trust and credibility. Eliminating tags can also get you in trouble with social media platforms. There are standard conventions for tagging paid content (#sponsor, #ad, etc.) that platforms require in their terms and agreements. Some, like YouTube, even have guidelines about what type of sponsored content may be shown. You don’t have to tag every single post where your sponsor’s items appear, but always tag sponsored posts. A warm mention of a partner at the end of a video is another way to organically disclose the relationship while maintaining your authentic voice.

Create compelling visuals 

Remember that you want every post, even sponsored ones, to look good and be on brand for your platform. Visually appealing content will be shared three times more than unappealing images, which is good for both you and your sponsor. A few notes:
  • Use the item naturally, in your own style that your followers enjoy.
  • Focus on features rather than labels. Followers don’t care about the name; they want to know how the product works.
  • Be sure to get action close-ups if the item is technical or hard to see.
  • Less is more when it comes to post-production (video editing, color touch-ups, etc.) on sponsored posts. Fix any glaring issues, but let fans see the product as it truly is.

Watch your ad-to-content ratio 

The Facebook Newsfeed algorithm ranks your content low if you have too many sponsored posts relative to original content, and other platforms are following suit. Make a rule that no more than 1 in 5 posts will be sponsored content. Don’t pack items into those posts to maximize their effect, either. Trying to include too many products will make your content look like an infomercial. Feature no more than one or two items unless the essence of the post is relating to a collection of cohesive products.

Get out and practice! 

Promotion can be intimidating, but like any skill, it becomes more comfortable over time. Keep these guidelines in mind, and you’ll be organically promoting brands like a pro! Looking for more options when featuring sponsors? With a custom app, you can use engaging visual ads as well as sponsored posts. Contact FanHero to learn how!

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