“This is a #Sponsored Post”: How Brands Can Benefit from Social Media Influencers with Product Placement

Recently, I went on vacation to Spain. While I sipped on sangria and soaked up the sights in Madrid and Ibiza, I also used this trip as an opportunity to show brands the best ways to use an influencer. Influencers are always looking for ways to leverage their status as an influencer because, let’s be real, the hustle never ends, fam.

If you’re like me, you probably love to travel but hate the price tag that comes with jetting off to distant lands in search of new adventures. One easy way to lower the costs associated with being a world-class traveler is to identify budding brands looking for influencers to showcase their products or services. Know the #sponsored and #ad tags that you see on some Instagram accounts? These hashtags indicate that the post you’re seeing features a product placement. In other words, the person who posted the picture you’re seeing was paid to post on Instagram (or Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, etc.).

It may seem intimidating to contact an influencers to ask them to post your product but this is par for the course in today’s social media marketing landscape. In fact, what you’re doing is offering them to be a brand ambassador for the company. This means they get paid — in cash money or clothes, beauty products, supplements, flights, etc. — to promote your goods on the ‘gram. The great thing about this type of marketing is that “it steers clear of blatant promotions. Brand ambassadors never push their followers to buy products; instead, they lead people to a lifestyle page or blog post to gently introduce their tribe to the advertiser’s message or brand.” These are the words of Robert Mandelberg, author of Product Placement Has Come to Social Media, which is a great read with a more in-depth explanation of how product placement works.

But before you start offering your products to a brand ambassador, make sure the influencers have a stellar social media presence and a decent following among the target audiences for your products or services that you want them to sponsor. By curating content that reflects your unique brand and posting polished images with a common theme, they will set your product apart from the crowd and be able to cultivate a large, authentic following on your various social media accounts. Brands should go beyond simply posting pictures or status updates and meaningfully engage with your followers. Brands do not just focus on followers look at the influencer’s engagement because remember people can still purchase followers. Once you’ve established this solid foundation, you’ll be able to find the perfect influencer for your brand.

In the lead up to my vacation in Spain, I was able to leverage my influencer status in order to get free gear for the trip. For example, I knew I needed more t-shirts, so I reached out to companies that caught my eye on Instagram in the past. Fly Dope, a clothing company based in the South, gave me a couple of cool t-shirts that were designed to keep travelers fresh while in flight. That’s just one of the many perks that come with being a sponsored brand ambassador!