Will #ad and #spon kill influencer marketing ?

Is that little #ad on your influencers posts going to kill the effectiveness of your campaign ? Or will followers turn a blind eye to the sponsored disclosure?

The recent indsutry regulation in Belgium about stricter enforcement of ACC’s guidelines, which require influencers to identify posts for which they’ve received compensation, have brands considering the future effectiveness of these types of marketing efforts.

With legitimate questions from brands and agencies, such as “But isn’t engagement most important? Who engages with these ads?”, it’s important to ask ourselves what engagement looks like with traditional TV, print and social media ads.

The truth is that influencer marketing — and micro and nano influencer marketing in particular — due to its relatable and genuine nature, is way more effective at engaging people, even with disclosures. When done correctly, sponsored content can receive equal and, in some scenarios, more engagement than non-sponsored content !

The truth regarding sponsored content

While disclosures have been standard practice with bloggers for years, influencers on newer social platforms haven’t been as diligent about disclosures until recently. And they had no reasons to. But with the new regulations, they are beginning to understand the importance of being transparent about their affiliations with brands, going beyond Instagram and Facebook and even into Snapchat or Tik Tok.

Many brands have reservations about whether or not disclosing the fact that the post is sponsored will minimize follower engagement, particularly since there is a stigma attached to these posts, especially on Youtube. But recent studies, including one of our own, have shown that engagement with sponsored content might be more surprising than you’d think.

Non-sponsored posts and sponsored posts have nearly identical like rates, meaning that followers may not be as off-put by sponsored content as advertisers may believe.

The study, which analyzed approximately 86,000 influencers, found that followers tend to engage equally with sponsored and non sponsored posts across the different ranges.

In the 0 to 3000 range — the nano influencers — and in the 3000 to 100.000 range — the micro influencers — non-sponsored content performs higher than sponsored content, but there is a clear switch in the 100.000 to 250.000 range and above, where sponsored content received greater engagement.

The reason for this lies in how you tell your audience that your content is sponsored. When done correctly, the narrative does not hinder emotions and includes a call to action for followers to share their views and stories on the product / project. It also usually provides value to the audience through storytelling, discounts, tips on how to save money or have an unbelievable experience or a solution to a problem that many of the followers can relate to. It’s a way of presenting things that bigger influencers have mastered over time, as they are under more scrutiny from the regulators and their audience. But nano and micro influencers can achieve those presentation skills and continue to have the best results in the industry.

Quality is key for follower engagement with sponsored content

As it turns out, what drives us to engage with content is authencity and quality (thank you captain obvious). Not whether a post is sponsored or non-sponsored, but rather the presence of specific features that followers are either very receptive to or that deter us.

After analyzing the posts in the sponsored content study, we found that there were three content characteristics that fostered more engagement:

  • High-quality photography.

  • Unique and authentic content, featuring the influencer or their family within the post.

  • Natural, genuine product placement.

First and foremost, one of the biggest differentiators between “good” sponsored content and “bad” sponsored content is quality. Social media is visually stimulating, particularly with platforms like Snapchat and Instagram. Followers have set the bar high for content requirements as they have become accustomed to images and videos that feature quality camera work in an authentic way.

Second is Authenticity. Keep in mind that followers want to see posts that look like they fit naturally into the content flow. Posts that are visually more organic and casually integrate a product into the influencer’s every day activity enhance the value and credibility, as it seems like the influencer does like the product, with or without compensation.

That’s especially important for nano and micro influencers, for whom the bulk of their following comprises their friends and family. They should endorse a product or a project only if they genuinely like it, not because of the compensation. This way, they stay authentic and true to themselves, thus maintaining their engagement rate.

Only work with influencers that genuinely like your product.

Finally, followers prefer simple content that is easy to follow, again enhancing the visual appeal and authentic feel of the post.

The study may suggest at first sight that because of the new regulations, nano and micro influencers engagements rates will stumble. And thus to focus on the bigger, more traditional influencers. But that cannot be further form the reality. Even with sponsored content disclosures, engagement rates for nano and micro influencers are way higher than the ones of tradional, big influencers. And as disclosures become more and more common, followers will not care anymore.

Remember that followers turn a blind eye to the sponsored versus non-sponsored content debate. What they really care about is the quality and the authentic, genuine nature of the content — something nano and micro influencers are the best at. That’s why BeInfluence is betting on them and our clients have overwhelming success.

As always, if you want to discuss this further or have any questions, feel free to take a look at or to contact me on LinkedIn !