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Some Tips for Brands Who Want to Optimize Sponsored Posts

Sponsored posts are our bread and butter here at Sway Group, and I have to say that I have mixed feelings about this. From a financial perspective, my feelings are positive. I love that my bloggers are making revenue, and I love that Sway Group is in the black. HOWEVER, I do think that the entire industry needs to proceed with caution when it comes to sponsored content. There are right ways to do it, and wrong ways to do it. My hope is that by making sponsored content as amazing as possible we can keep it around for a long time. If we don’t optimize this stuff, readers are going to revolt (imagine opening up your blog reader to find just ads – not good), and the blogosphere risks losing its relevancy and integrity. (Yes, i’m being dramatic, but you get my point.)

So, while we will continue to push our clients towards creative blogger work including spokesperson gigs and sponsored online video content, we will also do everything we can to elevate the sponsored posts we sell. To that end, we asked the bloggers on our Facebook page to offer up their tips on sponsored posts. Here’s what they had to say:

- Cat Davis of 3kidsandus suggests sharing a clear schedule and expectations. “Be specific about links [and] messaging, provide assets, contract and what the brand hopes to accomplish.”
(Ed. Note: This is so vital. We work with our brands to get this information up front and then send out ridiculously explicit guideline emails to our bloggers.)

- Ana Flores, Sway Group blogger and co-founder of Spanglish Baby wrote, “Know and understand my audience before you approach me. Once visit to my blog and you know what we would be excited about and what we would reject. Or be open to get creative with us because we’re really good at finding the right angle that will work with our niche.”
(Ed. Note: I love this tip. It’s really hard sometimes for brands and agencies to let bloggers run with something, but while it’s vital to provide clear guidelines, it’s also vital that one of those guidelines be to adapt the content to best meet the needs and expectations of the blog’s audience. Each blogger know her audience best. Trust this knowledge.)

- Niri Jaganath of Mommy Niri and Mommy Niri Cares wrote, “If you want me to promote something, be clear – don’t pretend you want a sponsored post on a theme and feel disappointed people did not sign up for your program.”
(Ed. Note: This is so tricky, but for brands who handle this well, it can have huge pay off. No one wants to read paid content that reads like paid content. Let’s say we’re talking about a tire company. A post about the mayhem that ensued following a flat tire, sponsored by Acme Tire Company ┬áis WAY more compelling than a paid post expounding the benefits of tread depth. Right?)

One final comment that I would like to share following years of putting these programs together is that biggest key is to keep it simple. I see so many sponsored post programs that have a ridiculous amount of elements to track (comment here, link there, post this, post that, tweet three times, spin around, etc. etc.). If bloggers have to create a checklist to make sure they have fulfilled their obligations, your program is too complicated. And if your program is too complicated, your ROI will suffer.

Anyone else have tips to add? What did I miss?

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