Top 5 Ways To Make Your Sponsored Ads More Authentic

Written by

Andie Schilstra
Top 5 Ways To Make Your Sponsored Ads More Authentic

In 2016, there were 9.7 million brand sponsored influencer posts on Instagram. That number is projected to reach a total of 32.3 million in 2019. With the rise of influencers posting sponsored ads on Instagram, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has cracked down on advertisement regulations.

The FTC guidelines state that influencers must notably disclose their sponsorship in any post that urges followers to try a product or service. They said, “The disclosure should be easy to notice and read in the time that your followers have to look at the image.” Most influencers use #ad or #sponsored at the beginning of their posts to disclose the fact that they are getting paid for the promotion of that brand or product. It's an easy way to disclose your sponsorship without having to dive into the details of your collaboration with brands, and it doesn't take up room on your posts.

All the FTC wants is to make sure Instagram users are clearly aware that someone is sponsored to promote a product, and that it doesn't appear to be hidden deep in a post (or not disclosed at all). The FTC said, “We’re not necessarily saying that “#ad” has to be at the beginning of a post. The FTC does not dictate where you have to place the “#ad.” What the FTC will look at is whether it is easily noticed and understood. So, although we aren’t saying it has to be at the beginning, it’s less likely to be effective in the middle or at the end. Indeed, if #ad is mixed in with links or other hashtags at the end, some readers may just skip over all of that stuff.”

So, it's important to disclose your sponsorship at the start of your post in order to ensure your followers know you're being compensated for promotion certain products. Many Instagram users say #ad posts can come off as fake and tend to distrust a lot of sponsored reviews that they don't believe influencers are truly passionate about. Since the new FTC rules are really strict in regards to posting ads, we looked into a few ways influencers can avoid breaking these rules and keep their reviews genuine while posting sponsored content.

Why Sponsored Ads Can Be Distrusting

They Aren't Genuine

Consumers are reading into fake sponsored posts and can easily tell when an influencer is being genuine or not. If an influencer posts a review of a shady product, or is clearly out to get paid for reviewing something they don't stand for, consumers will be aware and immediately not trust the product. Keeping your reviews genuine is the best way to gain the trust of your followers. If you promote a product that you don't actually like or that doesn't work well, your followers will be able to see right through you. Sponsored ads tread the line between genuine suggestions and positive reviews that are paid for, so be sure to actually like a product before telling others to buy it.

More Like Celebrities

Social media influencers are turning into actual celebrities these days, gaining millions of followers and being treated like famous people. Due to that unrealistic pedestal influencers are put on, their intimate relationship with their followers is somewhat lost. Micro-influencers tend to be more trusted with sponsored reviews, because they are notably smaller and people know that they aren't making a huge fortune or public living off of that one post. These micro-influencers also get to connect to their audience more often, because they have more time to answer comments and questions they receive. Huge influencers, on the other hand, make a lot of money for doing sponsored posts, and consumers know that they gain a lot of publicity for speaking out about a product or service. Being a large influencer makes it more difficult to come off as trusting and genuine when posting sponsored reviews.

Not In Your Niche

When an influencer reviews a product or service that has nothing to do with their personal brand or niche, consumers can immediately tell they aren't being genuine. If you are a makeup influencer and you post about a random hotel service, a lot of your followers will assume you're only promoting that hotel to get money from the promotion. On the other hand, if you post about a new makeup brand that makes amazing lipsticks, chances are your followers will take your review more seriously and trust your positive promotion of that brand.

Not Disclosed

Some influencers are shady when posting sponsored content, and try to make it seem like they aren't getting paid for posting a positive review of a product or service. They do this by not including #ad or #sponsored in their post, or they write a huge caption for their post and hide the fact that it's sponsored within all that text. Making it clear that your post is an ad at the beginning of your caption is important, so that consumers immediately know that your review is being paid for. Some influencers also have fake followers to make themselves seem more influential (or they are part of a pod) which makes their reviews less valid. The most important thing is to keep it real with your followers, so they trust your opinions and don't think your sponsored reviews are only for the money.

5 Ways To Keep It Real

Personal Connections

Come up with a personal connection to the product to help your promotion come to life. Whether it's a funny story or an emotional anecdote, having some real life connection to a brand or product helps sell your positive review and makes your sponsored post a lot more genuine. Readers want to know why you actually like a product, so reading about your life and parts of your personality that correlate to a product is the best way to keep it real with your followers.

Use The Product

A lot of influencers receive free products for writing sponsored reviews instead of just getting paid. When you receive a product, it's really important to use it properly and truly test it out before writing your review. Not only will you seem more knowledgable about the product or brand, but your review will be much more genuine if you have first-hand experience using the product on your own. Consumers love knowing why you personally like the product or what it did to help you, so figuring that out before posting a review is an important step to keeping things real.

Show The Product

When you post your sponsored review, make sure you have a photo or video of you actually using or interacting with the product. Some influencers just post a photo of the product to show it off, but then your review only comes in the form of your caption. If your photo or video shows you using the product or interacting with the product, your followers are able to see you genuinely getting something out of it. If you only post a photo of the product itself, viewers may think you didn't like it enough to use it, but you still want to get paid for posting about it. Use the product, get to know the product, and show your followers how much you like it to really make them trust your positive reviews.

Don't Do Too Many

It's entirely up to each individual influencer whether or not they do any sponsored content at all. Influencers are aware of the stigma behind sponsored posts and how they're seen as disingenuous, so a best practice is to keep the posts to a minimum. Getting paid by brands is important, but remaining real and retaining your followers is just as important. If you only post about products you truly like, as well as products that are in line with your personal brand, your followers will more easily trust your reviews. If you post sponsored content all the time and don't follow any tips on how to showcase them properly, your followers will get tired of seeing your posts, knowing you get paid for making them. So, in order to keep your sponsored posts relatable and genuine, don't do too many.

Properly Disclose Sponsorships

Going back to the start of it all, one of the most important parts of doing sponsored posts is disclosing that they're sponsored. When influencers try to hide their #ad at the bottom of a post, or don't include a note about their sponsorship at all, consumers immediately distrust an influencer's entire brand. Being open and honest about receiving compensation for a post let's your followers know that you are not afraid to show off a sponsorship, and that you'd only post one if it were genuine. Influencers can use hashtags on their posts, or even promote a post as a partnership with a brand. It's better to be honest and let people unfollow you if they don't like sponsored posts than to hide the fact that you're getting paid by a company, and have your personal brand tarnished if you're caught lying about your sponsorships.


There will always be a blurred line when it comes to sponsored posts, but the best practice for influencers is to disclose their sponsorship and only post genuine reviews of products that pertain to their personal brand. Keep it real with your followers and let them know about products you truly tried and loved, instead of posting just to get paid. If you're looking for more opportunities to work with brands on creating sponsored content, check out Dealspotr's influencer marketplace! We currently have over 350 live campaigns from merchants that are looking to work with influencers on sponsored reviews. Find the brands you'd be interested in working with, apply to their campaigns, and share your (disclosed) sponsored reviews with all of your followers!

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This guide was published on January 16, 2019, and last modified on January 16, 2019.

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