It's getting harder and harder to reach social media users with ads: people flip through them without even reading to the end. This is why brands are now using a different tool, namely native advertising. In this article, we'll talk more about this type of content and show ideas for its application on social media.
Native advertising is a marketing tool that literally draws the audience's attention to your product in a natural way. It's still the same old advertising, but with one difference: no one sells anything head-on, no one pushes you to buy anything, and there are definitely no aggressive triggers. Of course, this approach looks less in your face and therefore sparkles your customers’ interest. Even if after seeing this kind of advertising a person won’t immediately rush to place an order, the information received will be imprinted in their memory.
Native advertising is quite common. You probably saw it more than once, watching videos on YouTube, reading interesting articles, and even relaxing on the couch and watching a soap opera. Yes, yes, remember that awesome Starbucks cup appearance in an episode of the Game of Thrones show? And the Audi sightings in the Transporter movies?
These are great examples of product placement, a type of native promotion. Admit it: while watching these things, none of us had a sudden urge to rush to the nearest showroom and buy a new car. Instead, they’ve unobtrusively shown us the car’s advantages. Even though you’ll hardly have the desire to do car stunts in your town, the fact that it’s safer to drive an Audi will be carved into your mind.
Of course, non-obvious advertising has several advantages over direct sales. First, since it’s skillfully embedded in the context, it’s often perceived by the audience as a natural extension of the content they are viewing.
Secondly, this type of promotion increases engagement. Statistics show that, compared to the standard types of promotion, native advertising offer 9 times more clicks, and the desire to make a purchase increases by 20%. In addition, since the ads are integrated into the content, which no one will remove without good reason, they will bring in customers on a regular basis. This means that the return on investment will increase, as will your income.
Thirdly, this tool allows you to not only mention products but also talk about companies that make them. This way, you raise brand awareness and can present it from different perspectives. For example, let’s say everyone knows you as a food product manufacturer, and then suddenly people find out that you are also involved in charity. They mention this piece of information casually, which means that the credibility of this fact will be much higher. This increases the loyalty of potential customers.
Fourth, native ads are less likely to be blocked and are rarely removed from platforms. This is a great way to make yourself known to those who work in niches where you have to promote in a very veiled way so as not to violate the rules of social media platforms. Take YouTube, for example. People often watch YT videos in the web browser and can switch on an ad blocker, so they can’t see the embedded ads at the beginning or in the middle of the videos. There's also YouTube Premium, where ads can basically be turned off. So for many entrepreneurs, the only way to reach their customers is to sponsor native advertising.
Fifth, casual and unobtrusive marketing creates the right brand image. And when someone at some point sees a regular ad for a service or product, they are more likely to respond to it positively because they've already heard something about you.
Types of Native Advertising on Social Media
A familiar format for most users that makes it very easy to integrate brand or expert advertising. A content creator generates content in his or her own style, such as writing a song, making a short video, or creating a comic strip, and mentioning a brand, product, or service along the way.
The post can easily match the general theme of your blog. Let’s say you have your own repair and construction team and plan to cooperate with a real estate agent. Write a post about renovated apartments and what to pay attention to when buying them and let the real estate agent publish it on their feed. As an expert or assistant, mention your profile name or name one of your experts. For example, "As Sasha, the designer at StroyDom says, it's important to pay attention to...".
It’s important to understand that the content you post should be useful and easily understandable to the audience. In the screencap below, you can see a post in a large online community in honor of Valentine's Day. It’s about love and mentions a new song. Thanks to this format, the content that’s familiar to the community’s audience and is popular with it includes a mindful piece of advertising.
If you can and want to get creative, you can publish humorous posts. Most people go to social media to relax, so they will check out a funny meme with interest and even forward it to their friends if they find something they can relate to there.
A quick memo on how to do something is a great way to make yourself visible to potential customers and therefore remind them of yourself on a regular basis. If your visual tutorial proves to be really useful, people will come back to it. This affects the level of customer loyalty to your products.
Infographics are probably the universal format for presenting information. A lifestyle blogger can put together a memo with their recommendations based on personal experience. For example, someone has signature cooking recipes that are interesting to most users. Create a graphic description of the step-by-step cooking process and publish it.
It's important for an expert to emphasize his or her knowledge, which means creating an instruction or a manual will come in handy. Choose the most in-demand, but not too hyped topic. For example, if you go to Pinterest and search for things related to fitness and weight loss, you'll see a lot of similar infographics with some basic rules. There's not much use for such information. But if you try to offer answers to a problem that hasn’t been properly discussed before, this method will be much more effective.
Similarly, you can make short summaries of your courses or other information products. Quality content always makes people want to save it and share it with friends. Take an example from publishers. They often write book synopses to pique their readers’ interest and encourage them to buy their products.
Sometimes the presence of your product in the frame is enough for advertising. Large companies use this technique to remind customers about themselves over and over again. For start-up brands, it’s full-fledged advertising. For example, it’s not uncommon to see videos where creators talk about their purchases. In the comment section, people start asking where they bought the things they talk about. Then influencers share a link to a website or an online store and it’s a win-win situation: creators get their commission from sales and business owners get new customers.
Don’t go overboard with this method: it stops being native advertising if it’s in your face. The line, in this case, is very thin, and people really dislike it when they are being told that the content is totally not sponsored but it is in fact nothing but product pushing.
A great option for native advertising is to talk about several companies, including yours. Of course, you shouldn't mention your direct companions first or even in the same line. Instead, it’s better to create a useful list or compilation. For example, "10 Tools Every SMM Pro Needs", a list of the top most useful sites that can help SMM professionals in their work. Include your own company and mention your services in a special way to emphasize its benefits.
It can also be a simple listing of products, without reference to any brands. Let’s say you sell electronics and among them, there are baby monitors. Write a post on products that all young moms need to buy. When you mention your products, simply provide a link to your online store without mentioning its name.
This is perhaps the most familiar format of native advertising because it's used in almost every podcast and video on YouTube. It's not uncommon for bloggers to add “Sponsored” to their content description, and that's how their audience knows they are about to see some ads but in the format they enjoy. The kings of the genre are standup comedians who manage to talk about products in a humorous wayt. But if you haven’t yet achieved a similar skill and you don’t have the budget to hire a popular stand-up comedian, there are standard but no less effective formats that come to the rescue.
Check out the example below. The article discusses a rather interesting issue: why the English language is still in demand. The author is not a staff member of the online newspaper but the head of the methodological department of a popular English school. It’s easy to turn this kind of material into an interview, and then we get a live conversation, which unobtrusively advertises the expertise of the school’s staff.
You can easily apply this method on social media. For example, you can collaborate with a blogger by organizing a live stream. It’ll look natural if influencers occasionally do live streams and invite guests over. Become one of them! Offer your voice as a guest expert on some podcast or YouTube stream. Yes, it doesn't come cheap, but your reach and your brand awareness will increase many times over.
People rarely trust reviews that have too much praise: they sound fake and paid for. To prevent this from happening, order some native advertising. It contains fewer value judgments, and the entire narrative is built on a demonstration and description of your product's features.
A great example of this type of material is this post on the new VK creator's accounts. The reviewer doesn't try to criticize or praise the developers. Instead, he focuses on how this update will benefit content creators and shares his own experience. Since this post was published in a public SMM group on the platform, it's obvious that a large portion of the audience is the platform’s users and doesn't mind learning more about the new tool at all. Of course, they understand that what they read is advertising but it remains in the background because for them, the useful information is what’s most important.
Case Studies & Testimonials
Any testimonial is brand advertising. It can be positive or negative, but as they say, bad publicity is still publicity. However, we still recommend publishing positive feedback. Here everything is as simple as possible: you don’t praise your product or service, but other people do. Audiences see it as more attractive than direct marketing.
Case studies are a more interesting format because you can use them in two different ways. First, a portfolio is a great advertising option that will constantly and effortlessly increase sales. All you have to do is showcase your actual completed projects on social media: pin them at the top of your feed or make regular updates.
Secondly, case studies can be published in topical communities and resources and that way advertise your brand. Let’s say you have your own online marketing agency and can boast extensive experience in managing HoReCa-related social media profiles. The best way to attract new customers is to share your experience and show how you can solve their problems. An article or interview with an intriguing headline such as How We Doubled the Attendance of an Asian Cafe by Spending Only $1000 will definitely interest some business owners. Surely they have an extra thousand to make their business grow and don’t mind increasing the number of visitors.
Write the case study not as an SMM agency owner but as a pro who shares the secrets of the trade. In that case, they won’t see it as advertising but as a recommendation from a trusted source. In conclusion, you can mention that it's all the result of the complex collaboration of several people, which took a certain amount of time. If this topic is relevant to people, they’ll probably want to know more about you and your services.
Native advertising is a great marketing tool for making sales natural and more sustainable. Remember that good native advertising always matches the tone of voice of the platform it’s published on and never stands out from the rest of the content. That's the secret of its effectiveness. Of course, before you choose a creator to collaborate with, you should make sure they have your target audience among their subscribers. Also, make sure influencers know how to make native advertising work and won't turn your sophisticated pitch into a cookie-cutter call to action. Let the examples we offered in the article inspire you to test a new kind of advertising. Thanks to this approach, your promotion on social media will become more effective.