My Thoughts on Paid Product Promotion
My Thoughts on Paid Product Promotion
If you watch my Instagram Stories you know that I recently duscussed a pretty controversial topic within the blogging world; paid product promotion. I felt it was important to educate my followers that it exists and encourage them to understand that there’s an entire business behind that one Instagram Story or post. I thought this was valuable information because there was a time when I had no idea this business existed. Before I started Annie Rose Clothes I used Instagram to share personal and family photos. I didn’t realize it could be as lucrative as it is for some Influencers because of paid product promotions and brand deals.
As you can imagine my Instagram inbox soon became flooded with direct messages from both Influencers and regular Instagram users. I had a couple heated conversations with Influencers that were defensive because they felt I was trying to discredit them and I had constructive dialogue with other influencers that could honestly see both sides of the story. I also received over 100 messages from regular Instagram users that had similar feelings and appreciated my discussion around the topic.
So what are my thoughts on paid product promotions, you ask? I find them to be inauthentic. In my opinion (let me be clear this is MY opinion) how can you objectively review a product and the value of that product if it was gifted to you. I strongly feel that if you haven’t spent your own money on something you have no ground to stand on when reviewing whether or not that product is worth that money. It was very clear to me that I am not the only Instagram user that feels that way. A large majority of my followers responded with the same concerns which prompted me to do a little research and ask a few more questions.
I spent way too many hours last night reading articles from news outlets and content strategy consultants on this topic. The general consensus is that engagement around sponsored posts and paid product reviews is extremely low. Take a minute to scroll through your favorite Influencer’s Instagram feed and it likely won’t be hard to pick out a sponsored post based on low engagement. Don’t get me wrong, Instagram’s algorithm is making it harder and harder to generate engagement but it’s highly likely that the engagement on a sponsored post is maybe half of their average engagement on non-sponsored posts. This sends one very clear messages, readers don’t trust it.
How can we change the stigma attached to paid product promotion?
Paid promotions and brand deals can be and often are a very large portion of an Influencers income so lets talk about how we can change the stigma surrounding paid content. I think one of the best ways is to be transparent about how brand deals and paid content work within an Influencer’s business. I’ve seen Influencer’s that write articles about how it works and welcome open discussion and questions and I’ve seen influencers that hide their #sponsored hashtag in with 25 other related hashtags. I follow a food and travel blogger named Liz from The Lemon Bowl. and she does a great job explaining how her paid content works. I’ve linked her article as a reference. It’s refreshing to read and immediately banishes all questions of credibility I would ever have about her product reviews.
Like I mentioned earlier I had some constructive conversation with a few Influencers that explained that they are recently being required to buy the product and then compensated for their review and the purchase price after 30 days of use or something similar to that. As much as it’s still paid content, as least there is some personal commitment. To me, this would generate a more objective review. Either way, at least this is a step in the right direction.
In short, the reason I even approached the topic was to educate my followers. If every Influencer is completely transparent about paid content I strongly believe this wouldn’t even be a topic. In the midst of all the discussion it as suggested that I believe Influencers shouldn’t get paid for their brand work. That is completely inaccurate. I believe that Influencers should be invested in a product and give an authentic review and then paid for that work. There is quite a bit of work fthat goes into a blog post and if that is brand work is should certainly be compensated. But only after an Influencer has invested their money in the product and given an authentic review.