Ads vs. Organic Content…And The Fine Line That Separates Them

If you’re an influencer, you know about ads. If you’re not an influencer, you still know about ads.

Just a few years ago, ads weren’t really a thing. Back in the day (aka pre-Instagram), you really only saw bloggers writing and sharing things they felt like their readers would want to know. If you did “work” with a brand, it would typically be in the form of exchange of product and blog post shares.

Now? Well, I think we know what’s going on.

Every single time you scroll through Instagram, or open up Bloglovin’, you’re pretty much guaranteed to see an ad. Whether it’s home goods, furniture, hair care, apparel, or even CoolSculpting, brands and companies are working with influencers now more than ever. As a content creator, it’s pretty cool that brands are looking to work with people like me, and people who aren’t like me…from all over the world. I do think that there is a fine line between becoming a sell out (for lack of a better term) and taking on the right partnerships. As if we needed another thing to worry about, right?;)

Regardless of how you feel about about influencers or ads, they’re a thing, and they’re here to stay. Not only are influencers now making a lot of money by signing contracts with brands, but they also are the new way of marketing.

Why you should support ads

I see a lot of influencers that say they swear their #ads don’t do as well as their organic content. Some days I feel like this too. But who knows if people aren’t liking ads because they genuinely don’t like them, or because maybe it’s not as strong as our typical content. Whatever the reason is, I honestly think we need to do a better job at supporting sponsored content on Instagram — if it’s done correctly. If you notice some of your bloggers doing sponsored posts, you should engage with them. More often than not, influencers give 110% when it comes to sponsored content because they’re being paid by a brand or company. I’ve found some really great products thanks to influencers doing sponsored posts (I know the Olay sponsored content is insane right now, but those facial mists? I never knew I needed it until I purchased it after seeing influencers post about it).

Over the last year or so, I’ve only taken on partnerships that really fit my brand and image.  I wrote about being guilty of taking on partnerships that might not have been 100% on brand, and since then, I’ve really felt proud of the sponsored content I’ve been putting out there. Not only is there tremendous pressure to brainstorm and produce great content for your readers/followers to love, but also pressure to make sure that the post performs well. If the post doesn’t perform well, then the partnership wasn’t 100% mutually beneficial between you and the brand or company.

I always try to make sure I’m supporting my favorite bloggers and influencers with their sponsored content. It might be easier for me to do this since I know just what goes into these kinds of posts. I’ve only started following and loving people whom I really trust. For example, I know I could always count on Krystal, Grace, and Jenn for authentic sponsored content. I swear by Grace’s skin and wellness recommendations, always follow Krystal’s fashion advice, and appreciate Jenn’s honesty when it comes to brands or companies.

Our followers are smart

It’s 2018. To the followers who may not be influencers, we know you’re smart AF. We (for the most part) know that you can see right through content that isn’t authentic. I know my followers are smarter than this, which is why over the last year or so, I’ve really made sure to tailor my sponsored content to fit my reader’s lifestyle. I know my readers and followers fairly well by now, so I never want to try and be sneaky and take on unauthentic partnerships.

I always want my readers and followers to know that everything I’m producing, I’m producing because I either: a) Really love the brand, or b) Really want my followers/readers to know about a new to me brand, product, or service. So if you see something that isn’t necessarily “on brand”, it’s because I still felt like this was a cool opportunity to introduce you to something new (like my recent Bumble BFF partnership).

How I try to remain consistent

Now that I have a manager, it’s a lot easier for me to weed through potential partnerships. Back between 2014-2016, it was a lot easier for me to just take on every partnership that came my way (there wasn’t a ton, but they weren’t always on brand). Now, I need to be smart when it comes to sponsored content. Sure, money is tempting, but at the end of the day, I want my brand to remain consistent. I try to have between 25-30% of my Instagram feed as sponsored content. The rest has to be organic.

Occasionally, there are deadlines that intertwine, or content needs to get pushed out due to product shipment delays, and I need to do some “damage control”. I like to be super upfront with my followers and readers, and I like to hop onto stories to let them know that an influx of sponsored content might be coming there way. I’ve actually only had positive responses to things like this…which makes me realize how damn lucky I am to have amazing people following along!

photos by allie provost


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