What is the Right Balance Between Organic and Sponsored Content?
Being a successful influencer isn't just about creating great content. There are many skills that need to be perfected in order to ensure continued success. These include everything from how you interact with your audience to how regularly you post.
When you start to see some success as an influencer and start working with brands, it is totally natural to get excited. However, this also throws a new challenge your way - ensuring that your feed is well balanced between organic and sponsored content.
In this article, we give you some great tips on getting this perfectly balanced.
What is Organic/Sponsored Content?
Before we dive into how to get the best balance, let's be clear on what we mean when we use the terms ‘organic’ and ‘sponsored’ content.
Organic content is the majority of the content you find on social media feeds. This is the normal content you create as an influencer such as images, videos and blog posts. Organic content is not created in partnership with any brands or made with any financial incentive.
Sponsored content is the content you create when you partner with a brand. This type of content is usually funded by the brand in the hopes that you will create content which mentions their brand or products in a favourable way.
Many platforms offer influencers tools to highlight when content is sponsored, such as the ‘Paid Partnership’ feature on Instagram.
Why Does Balance Matter?
So, you’ve built an engaged following on social media and brands are begging you to partner with them. But why is it so important to get the balance between organic and sponsored content right? Firstly, getting the right balance will help you maintain the two things that get brands to notice you in the first place - engagement and trust. When influencers go all-in on sponsored content and fail to regularly post organic content they can lose the authority they have worked hard to build with their audience. This means your audience is less likely to trust the recommendations you make and can lead to them feeling like they are constantly being sold to.
Not only does maintaining engagement and trust by balancing your content help you keep your audience happy, but when you manage to do this you will become more attractive to the ‘big ticket’ brands that seek out high-quality influencers to work with.
Sure, you may be able to constantly posts sponsored content and still attract a steady flow of low-paying brands. But the big brands you really want to partner with have well-established processes of due diligence that weed out the influencers who treat their feeds like a ‘pay-to-post board’.
What is the Perfect Balance?
So, what is the perfect balance of organic/sponsored content?
One sponsored post for every four organic posts? Two sponsored posts a month? No sponsored posts at all?
The real answer is that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to achieving the best balance of content. Many factors come into play which differ from influencer to influencer. These include, but are not limited to:
Type of content
The brands you partner with
Your audience's appetite for recommendations
The social media platform you use
For example, an account that specifically makes recommendations on the best up and coming computer games would naturally be able to post more sponsored content that an account that focuses on how to fix your own computer.
Tips for Balancing Your Content:
In this section, we offer you some tips for finding the right balance between organic and sponsored content as well as some advice on what you can do to naturally increase your sponsored content without alienating your audience or brands.
Assess Your Niche
Start your assessment by looking at what others are doing in your niche. Find other successful influencers who publish content about the same or similar topics as you do to find what may be a good starting ratio for your own feed.
This is an especially helpful exercise if you are only just starting to work on brand partnerships.
Review Your Stats
Many social media platforms offer up insightful statistics on your profile and posts which can be valuable in helping find the right balance for your content. For example, you may assess the engagement levels you receive on your sponsored posts and increase or decrease frequency based on how well they are performing.
However, it is also important to take a long term view of engagement on your account - as your audience may initially be accepting of an increase in sponsored content, but grow frustrated with that increase over time.
Listen to Feedback
If you have built a high level of trust and engagement with your audience they are likely to feel comfortable with offering you direct feedback. Make sure you check your comments and DMs to gather positive or negative feedback on the frequency of your sponsored content.
Never try and trick your audience into thinking sponsored content is organic. Not only is this against advertising regulations, but it can also lead to your audience losing their trust in you over time.
Be clear when you are posting sponsored content. This also gives you an opportunity to explain why you have chosen to work with that brand - offering you an opportunity to further build trust with your audience and boost engagement.
When your feed is filled with competing brands and products it can make your recommendations look disingenuous. Instead, pick brands that you truly believe in and post about them with consistency.
Working with the same brands to promote products over time allows you to increase your consistency of sponsored content whilst maintaining your position of authority and trust.
Balancing Organic and Sponsored Content: Summary
There really is no perfect, set balance between organic and sponsored content for influencers. Using the tips we have highlighted above you will be able to find a balance that works for your own unique situation and the various factors which come into play.
However, maintaining that balance requires a consistent assessment and review, as new factors may impact how successful your mix of content performs.