Digital advertising revenue is expected to surpass $19 million by the end of 2022. As the second largest search engine platform, it’s no wonder that advertisers and marketers turn to YouTube to grow their audiences. After all, YouTube attracts one-third of all Internet users at any given time, making it likely that the subscribers you’re targeting align with the target market for many business ideas. In fact, 90% of users learn about a new product on YouTube.
If you’re interested in getting paid on YouTube, sponsored posts should be a part of your strategy. Sponsored content refers to content that’s paid for by a brand or agency. Anytime you promote a product and are paid for it, it’s crucial that you disclose it as a sponsored post. However, once you’ve built up a following, established yourself as a YouTube influencer, and agreed to work with a brand to promote their products or services, you have to start thinking about how you’ll actually present that content.
How you present your sponsored content can not only make or break the success of your campaign, but have a big influence on your partnership. Great content has the ability to perform well and get the results your partner is looking for. If they’re happy with the metrics your content has afforded them, they’re likely to continue working with you.
To inspire and guide you, the following is a list of ways you can present your sponsored content. Keep in mind that each of these options have their own pros and cons and it’s important for you to consider which would be best for the specific partner you’re working with.
Lastly, remember: each piece of sponsored content you create should be tailor-made and thoughtfully crafted to suit both the needs of your audience and the audience of your partner. With that in mind, it’s time to begin your brainstorming session:
Integrated sponsored content is when you seamlessly blend brand mentions into your video. The goal is to incorporate your paid partnership into your content naturally. Even though this method requires more careful thinking, scripting, and creativity, it’s one of the most authentic ways to fit paid sponsorship into your arsenal of content. This is ideal for YouTubers that don’t want to deter from their lineup of content. They can be anywhere between 30 seconds and upwards of two minutes, depending on the type of arrangement you have with the advertiser.
For example, travel vloggers “The Matneys” were sponsored by MoonShade to showcase their portable vehicle awnings. The Matneys integrated the product naturally into a video about how they survive hot days while traveling in Colombia. Also note how The Matneys gave a shout out to their sponsor in their video description:
According to a report from TechSmith, 53% of people reported watching two or more instructional videos per week. Tutorials are a great way for brands to help educate their target audience. This type of marketing collaboration involves influencers showing their viewers how to use a particular product. This is a solid option when you’re working with a brand whose products or services require educating the customer.
Instructional videos used to be solely focused on technology and design-related products. However, now you can find instructional videos in almost any industry. For example, you could even create micro instructional videos that focus on a simple, narrow topic.
The average tutorial is anywhere between two to ten minutes long depending on the complexity of the product. However, no matter what the product, there are some important things to keep in mind when it comes to creating tutorials. Here’s what you should keep in mind when creating tutorials:
Know your audience. Do they need a general understanding of how something works or are they looking for an in-depth understanding of how something works? Keep in mind that, if the product is complex, you can create a general tutorial and follow up with several smaller tutorials that hone in on specific features.
Write your script. You can’t teach someone how to do something on the fly. You need to write a script that outlines exactly how you intend to communicate with your viewer in the most effective and educational way.
Know your tools. There are plenty of different ways to film a tutorial, but editing and tools are very important here. For instance, check out different screencasting tools if your viewer will need to look at your screen to see what you’re doing. If you need close ups of your products, how you edit your video to include these close-up shots will be important.
A social media takeover is when a brand grants an influencer the right to log into their social channel(s) and speak on the brand’s behalf. Social media takeovers typically happen on Instagram or Snapchat and are mutually beneficial for numerous reasons. It allows both the influencer and the brand to increase exposure, grow their follower count, engage numerous audiences, and connect with dedicated fan bases.
Another reason social takeovers are so common with brands is that it allows them to share a different perspective with their followers. For example, as a clothing brand, it’s one thing to show your clothes on models, but entirely another to have an influencer takeover the brand Instagram for an impromptu fashion show in their bedroom.
Above: Travel and Leisure magazine had chef Silvia Grossi take over their Instagram stories to share tips on home-cooked meals with viewers.
If you’re planning a takeover, preparations are an important part of the equation. You need to start hyping up your takeover by promoting it across each of your social channels well in advance. You can take this a step further by asking your followers for ideas on how to smash your takeover and thrill viewers. Here are a few tips on putting together a winning social media takeover:
Introduce yourself. You can’t assume that the brand’s followers know who you are. Introduce yourself in a genuine and non-promotional way. In your introduction, explain your relationship with the brand, show your personality, and throw in a fun fact or two.
Be authentic. You aren’t taking over to be a salesperson. Take viewers behind the scenes and include other people in your content.
Start engaging. Ask your viewers questions, take polls and votes, and get them directly involved in your takeover.
Learn from the pros. Take a look at some of the most successful social media takeovers for inspiration on how other influencers have executed their plans.
Creative skits allow you to have fun with the brand you’ve partnered with. This type of content is unique, fun, and engaging. It’s a great way to overtly promote a brand without coming off too sales-sy. This is a common tactic for brands whose products are deemed boring or are difficult to make entertaining, such as care insurance.
Having the ability to make comedy out of otherwise boring or sour topics can put you in a unique position to create viral content and attract relevant brands. This is exactly what Elsa Majimbo did—and ultimately how she attracted brand partnerships and scored a sponsored deal with Rihanna’s fashion brand, Fenty.
Majimbo started off creating relatable skits and monologues about everyday life. Many of her videos went viral, but it was her style and comedic skills that captured attention. Similarly, Caleb Glass, who runs a channel called CalebCity, partnered with Devour Foods to create a comedic skit that highlighted the home-cooked tastiness of the company’s frozen food meals.
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Dedicated videos are when you create content dedicated entirely to spotlighting the sponsored product in question. When you create a video that’s dedicated exclusively to promoting a specific product, expect an extended content planning process. This type of content will make the advertiser happy, but it’s important that you execute it carefully. If you create content that appears to be for the sole sake of making money on YouTube, you could inadvertently end up alienating your audience. Keep this in mind as you start brainstorming ideas. As you’ll see in later sections, dedicated videos can sometimes be tutorials, reviews, or unboxing views.
Shoutouts are fairly simple and straightforward; as the name implies, a shoutout video is when a YouTuber mentions the brand at some point in the video. Although they don’t put as much emphasis on the product as some of the other methods, it still comes across as authentic, and in the majority of cases, the YouTuber includes a link to the product or a more detailed explanation in the description. This type of content is typically reserved for high-level branding. Another way to offer a shoutout is by incorporating “brought to you by” messaging.
Alternatively, you can use unpaid shoutouts in your videos from time to time to attract sponsored opportunities. For example, if there’s a particular product you use and enjoy often, you might mention the brand in your video. Later, you could reach out to that brand with a pitch that says something along the lines of:
“Hey, my name is XXX and I’m a big fan of your brand. I use your [name of product] quite often, and even mentioned it to my viewers in one of my vlogs. Would you be interested in partnering with to create content that further illustrates the benefits of your product? Here are a few ideas I had in mind…”
Lastly, you can present your content in one of the most popular YouTube methods: video reviews. Many companies work with popular YouTubers to build brand awareness and exposure using the power of reviews.
YouTube video reviews can be broken down into two types; traditional reviews and unboxing videos. In the former, you simply review a product in depth, discussing its features, use cases, first impressions, viability, and more. Unboxing videos focus on first impressions by allowing the viewer to join them as they open the product for the first time.
Unboxing videos might be an ideal option when you’re partnering with a brand whose product involves multiple parts, has recently released a new product, or whose product(s) involves surprise elements.
For example, subscription boxes have an inherent element of surprise, which makes them ideal for unboxing videos. These videos are so popular because they allow the viewer to live vicariously through the unboxer as they experience a product for the first time. And of course, just as with traditional review videos, it helps them to weigh their options and make a more informed decision. These types of videos can have a large influence on the viewer.
Next, we have traditional reviews. There are several things to keep in mind if you choose to create review-style videos. For starters, you need an ideal review set-up and stage. This means a solid table, good lighting, and still background. When you’re showing other people a product, you need to do it in a way that highlights everything you have to offer. Take the time to describe the product in careful detail and discuss your purpose for the review.
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While it’s important for you to take your time giving your viewers a descriptive review, it’s also important that you don’t lengthen your view for the sake of having longer, ad-enabled videos. Remember: you’re competing for your viewers’ attention and if you take too long getting to the point, they might just try to find the information they need/want elsewhere. There’s a thin line between building suspense and dragging it out.
Lastly, show the product in use when possible, even if it’s just for a few seconds of your edit. For certain products, it might be difficult to gather an accurate sense of product usability in a single sitting, but try not to focus on this. You can always offer a two-part review and go in depth with a second video after you’ve had the opportunity to use the product for a while.
As you can see, there are numerous ways you can present sponsored content. How you decide to work with your partners depends on your audience and the type of videos you already enjoy creating. However, it’s important that you keep in mind that no matter how you decide to frame sponsored products, you always work with brands whose products would matter to your audience.
One of the quickest ways to alienate your viewers is by making videos that feature and promote products they wouldn’t be remotely interested in. For example, if you focus on the beauty niche and want to create unboxing videos, you should consistently stay in that subset. If you suddenly start reviewing tech products, you could come across as unorganized and unsure. Always remember that, like the companies you work with, you’re your own brand as well.