I heard a question recently on social media regarding content–specifically sponsored content. The question posed was “How is this content adding to someone else’s life?” Isn’t that a great question? It doesn’t only apply to sponsored content, but to everything you put out there for others to read/view/absorb.
How is this content adding to someone else’s life?
Of course, sponsored posts on Instagram or YouTube are common amongst influencers. A company will look at a person’s followers and decide they are reaching an audience that might potentially become customers, so they offer free merchandise in exchange for a review. That person might even receive a discount code to pass along to his/her followers as incentive to grab a few of those customers who might have been on the fence otherwise. Sounds like a simple exchange, right? Wrong.
More and more influencers are receiving a lot of negativity from their followers (which might result in people unfollowing) when they use sponsored posts. It feels cheap, like the influencer is getting free things for doing nothing more than taking a photo. It’s kind of like movie stars who get free clothes from designers–the publicity is priceless, but the star could afford it anyway. Maybe influencers don’t have that kind of cash behind them, but to their followers, the posts feel fake and out of place alongside the other content being posted. And no one wants to follow someone they feel is being fake.
It doesn’t matter if the sponsored items relate directly to a person’s regular content—a woman blogging about her children who receives handmade toys, for example—people are starting to loathe these types of posts. So, the question is, can regular content be considered in the same way? The answer, sadly, is yes.
If what you post is only about you, if it only says something to an audience of one, why are you posting it? Good content will appeal to a broad range of followers, and might even gain you new ones. That same mommy blogger might post a recipe her family loves, along with yummy, well-shot photos of the food. This is good content, aimed clearly at her audience (who we’ll presume are also mommies), and with the only intention being that she hopes someone else might find a meal to make that is different, or family-friendly. That sort of content is beneficial.
If you’re a writer, how can you post content that will benefit others? Maybe you have tips for people just beginning their writing journey, or maybe you want to share a short story you think others will enjoy. All of that is good content. It benefits anyone coming to your social media because it’s honest, and it is you. If a writer is gifted a new computer and then posts about all the great features of that device, is that still relevant, good content? Possibly. But the review must be honest. And it must include something for the follower other than envy. Start up a conversation about computers. Contribute to it. Ask people why they love their device over another. Debates are good. Engage. That’s what social media is all about.