That doesn't mean you won't have success with promoting your content on Facebook, Twitter, or other social platforms (in fact, the release of Facebook's Instant Articles just may make that a thing of the past) but currently, those platforms are better known for targeting B2C audiences.
These are networks that take yout content and display it alongside related pieces on major publications like:
For the purposes of this discussion, our tips will be geared towards sponsoring content on social media as this is what we do most frequently for our clients, but many, if not all of the tips, are
2. Be Relevant
Like all inbound marketing tactics, your sponsored content should be targeted towards your buyer persona and the platform at hand.
Most people don't like to be directly marketed unless they've opted-in to their email list or expressed interest in their product or service in some way so sponsored content is a valuable alternative.
As always, the key here is that the content is relevant to your buyer persona and the product or service that your business offers. To ensure relevance, consider using the three-step plan below.
Three-Step Plan for Sponsored Content That Converts
Identify a problem that you persona is facing that's relevant to your business.
Create a piece of content that helps them solve that problem and links to other relevant content on your website. This encourages them to stick around, get to your brand better, and see more of what you offer.
Include a call-to-action at the end of your sponsored content to a gated eBook or some other premium content that's relevant to the topic.
While entertaining content may get you more initial clicks, if it doesn't solve a problem, people are likely to get their fix and leave without converting. Try to put yourself in your buyer's shoes and deliver a solution that they won't be able to turn down.
3. Act Like a Native (Optimize Your Formatting for the Platform)
The best sponsored content feels native to where it's being posted (i.e. a beautiful image on Instagram or a clever list on Buzzfeed).
You want your piece to fit seamlessly into your audience's feed so it doesn't stick out like a sore thumb or appear spammy as traditional banner or sidebar ads would. Here are a few examples:
Example of LinkedIn Sponsored Content
Examples of Instagram Sponsored Content
Example of Facebook Sponsored Content
While this will vary depending on the network, you want to fully optimize the format of your content to ensure the best results.
Here are the three main areas that you will have to tackle on most platforms:
Content length -- Since your sponsored content is likely to take people away from what they were doing initially, you want to keep your message as concise as possible, but don't cut it so short that you aren't providing any real value. When it is an option, link to more in-depth articles on your blog to provide additional value and to keep readers on your website longer.
Type of post -- Need ideas for what type of post to create? Here are 30. "Listicles" are great options for platforms like BuzzFeed or Facebook, but the posts that convert most highly are those that solve a problem immediately.
Imagery -- The image and headline in your sponsored content will be the biggest determining factors of how many clicks it gets (especially on Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook), so be sure to choose an eye-catching, high-quality image. It's always best to go with an original photo or graphic, but if you must use a stock photo here are 10 free websites that don't suck.
Overall, make sure that you know the platform you're sponsoring on, inside and out. You want your content to make the medium's unique features work in your favor, not against it.
Also, don't be afraid to think outside the box and sponsor video content, webinars, podcasts, or any other format that you and your persona enjoy. Breaking out of the typical written mold just may give you the edge on your competition that you need.
4. Don't Ask For Too Much Too Soon
Unlike typical PPC ads that sends people straight to a landing page, you want to take a more subtle approach with sponsored content.
The content should be primarily focused on providing value to the reader and building awareness, not necessarily making the sale.
Remember, one of the reasons that sponsored content works so well is because people don't want to feel like they're being sold to. They don't want to be sucked into a sales pitch or cheesy ad. They want to feel like they've gotten something in return for their actions.
With that in mind, instead of outright promoting yourself in sponsored content, plant seeds. Briefly mention how your product has helped a business out or share how your business accomplished a respectable goal by showing the reader how to do it.
There's a time and a place for the hard sell, but this isn't it.
By giving more upfront, you allow your persona to become more comfortable with your brand, return to it in the future, and slowly be more receptive to promotion. Think of the big picture and in the long run, you'll be more likely to see an immeasureable ROI from your sponsored content.
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