Every once and a while, I will see some posts or stories circulate around Instagram that talk about #sponsored posts. The gist of these posts are the following:
- As a non-content creator, you probably don’t understand that we don’t just do sponsored posts to be annoying on your feed. It’s actually, in fact, because we are trying to make money!
- Please like and comment on my post so I can make more money.
- Please and thank you!
Usually, I see these posts and I commiserate, I’m all like, “Yea girl, PREACH!” because I too participate in doing sponsored content with companies and brands and like these other men and women I want to do the best job I can for a brand and they determine my ROI by reach and impressions and likes and engagement. The better all of that is, the more brands want to work with you and the more you can make money.
Add in the drama of Instagram algorithm that might hide your post from your community and doing brand partner posts can be really stressful. Let’s not start on the algorithm. Another post, another day!
I saw a recent Instagram rant though that phrased her frustration a little differently. It basically said, you know those posts you see that look “a little too perfect with a product prominently displayed and the captions that often feel fake?”, you should like and comment on them, it’s how we make money. She went on to say some good points about supporting that person because this is their job and it doesn’t take long to like or comment on a photo if you enjoy their content. Then she goes on to say, “Sponsored posts can be annoying, but if you can look past the cheesy caption and awkwardly placed product you’ll see a woman working hard.”
OK, here’s my issue. We as content creators keep putting this blame of not getting enough likes or comments on the follower/our audience. What if instead of creating content that looks “too perfect” or using “cheesy captions” that might feel authentic, we decided to try something new? What if we took the fewer likes or fewer comments as a kick in the ass to be like, “You know what, maybe I need to try some new things (poses, locations, colors, angles!), see what content my audience wants to see more of, take it up a notch!”
Again, let’s take the Instagram algorithm thing out of the equation because I see really creative, unique content out there that is getting suppressed and unfortunately it’s an issue but it’s a different issue than the one I’m trying to address today.
What I’m trying to say is that we as content creators need to take responsibility for that content we are creating and then ultimately how it performs. Creating content and doing sponsored ads is marketing. Marketing is a lot of trial and error and then strategy and execution. As owners of our brand and content, we should be constantly testing out new things in small doses, see if it works and if it does implement that across our strategy. If it doesn’t work, stop doing it or adapt it slightly and see if that affects your follows/likes/comments.
If you look back in the deep dark depths of my Instagram posts you will see a lot of trial and error that I did. For a while, I took a lot of black and white photos because I liked that aesthetic on other accounts I followed, but I quickly realized it didn’t lend itself to my personality. I am color, I am loud, I am opinions and the community that followed me could see that and wasn’t really engaging as much with the softer, quieter tones I was playing with.
Too often I feel like I see bloggers or content creators doing the same thing when promoting a product. 20 different bloggers doing the same pose, the same background, the same colors, using the same caption. If our content looks like the rest of the content for that same campaign, then how are people setting you apart from the crowd? Why would they want to like or comment on it if it’s seemingly inauthentic, tired and fake?
I have a lot of blogger friends who I give a lot of credit because they are constantly strategizing with their photographers or sounding boards (aka boyfriends or friends or colleagues) about creative and unique ways to stand out from the crowd and trying to cut through the crowd with their own authentic voices.
Their product placement makes me intrigued and that’s the whole point, right? I want to see something and be intrigued enough to not just like a photo, but also to swipe up or click that link in that bio! We may be content creators, but we have to be marketers first. That means knowing your audience, engaging with that audience, figuring out what works and what doesn’t from your metrics and then course correcting if needed.
That’s not to say you can’t have AMAZING content and it still doesn’t get likes or views (bc algorithm but again another post, another day), or that you sign a contract with a brand and they have very strict guidelines that you have to abide by which might limit how you can talk to the product or pose with the product or style your photo so I do get those limitations. I’m just encouraging us all to think about this process from the viewpoint of the client and our audiences because sometimes I think we lose sight of that obligation.
And it also doesn’t mean that the woman who wrote the comments above isn’t right. I agree it’s not hard as an audience member to like a post and support another woman trying hard to compete for business. Support, support, support. But let’s also as content creators not become complacent and keep adapting and doing things to deserve that engagement and support.
NOTE: I am not perfect. This doesn’t mean I haven’t done the things mentioned above. I definitely have taken a similar shot as someone, posed in the same way as someone, used a caption that wasn’t that creative. We all do it! Sometimes that’s what feels most authentic to you and you always gotta do you.