Updated February 6, 2017. Izea recently published a report titled “2015 State of Sponsored Social” in which there are some interesting findings. One of the most remarkable things reported is how quickly sponsored social content has gone from an obscure experimental form of content marketing to one of the top and most influential ways to reach your target audience. According to the report, sponsored social is in the top three most influential types of content. Here are some other interesting findings highlighted in the report:

  1. Sponsored social is the third most effective way to reach audiences, behind content marketing and experiential marketing
  2. Sponsored social is more effective than radio ads, TV ads, and magazine ads
  3. Of the marketers using sponsored social, more than half feel better about it than did a year ago
  4. Content creators are spending LESS time creating content
  5. 72% of content creators are using sponsored social at least once a month or more
  6. 52% of marketers have a standalone sponsored social budget
  7. “Snackable” short form content is the most used form of sponsored social

As the lines continue to blue between advertising and social media content, marketers who want to try their hand at sponsored social should keep a few things in mind. Let’s start with what constitutes sponsored social content.

What is ‘Sponsored Social’ and Should You Use It?

Sponsored social is content that a content creator posts to endorse a product or service in exchange for something of value. That value can be cash, rewards, merchandise, a gift, or anything of perceived value. Some marketers have given vehicles, trips, or other expensive gifts to bloggers in exchange for a review or an endorsement.

If you’re wondering, such an arrangement is not illegal. However, the FTC does have strict guidelines about a content creator’s relationship with the company sponsoring their posts. You have to disclose your relationship in a place where consumer can find it.

Seeing as how sponsored social is becoming ever-more popular and influential, it’s hard to ignore it. If you decide to use it, you should set a budget, and you should make that budget for sponsored social a part of your overall marketing budget. Also, don’t just rely on one form of content marketing. Mix it up. In other words, you can add sponsored social to your content marketing plan, but add it to the mix; don’t just replace it for everything else.

Finally, make sure you have an end goal in mind. Define your target audience and make sure you are choosing partners that are compatible with your brand goals.