In the age of branded content, it can be hard for influencers to find the balance in making sure their sponsored posts capture the essence of the brand being promoted while remaining true to their point of view as a creator. And while many influencers are known for shooting their outfits and travels in picturesque locations, they have also needed to apply their same discerning approach to content creation on a smaller scale — enter the product post. From flat lays to #thingsorganizedneatly, today's article will dive deeper into crafting this particular post and share a few examples of influencers who have created product-driven posts for brand partners in a way that aligns with their usual aesthetic.
The Art of the Product Post
From fashion to technology, sponsored product posts can come to life in many ways. By definition, these posts typically feature a brand's product in a way where it is the central focus of the content — this usually applies to both the image and caption. With that said, below are a few considerations to think about when putting together a sponsored post in which the product is front and center but not necessarily overpowering your point of view as an influencer.
Consider the Product
The best place to start when putting together the creative is to consider the product you're going to featuring. Is it a pair of shoes? A phone? A wellness or food product? It's important to think about this from both a visual and functional standpoint as this will play into the narrative you create. Some products are naturally just more photogenic than others and will be a natural fit to integrate without interrupting your feed's usual aesthetic. However, in the instances where this is not the case, this presents a unique challenge to really demonstrate how the product aligns with your values as an influencer even if its "look" doesn't. A few quick fixes around this include styling the product with other ancillary props that bring out the colors that are present throughout your feed or by placing the product in a setting that aligns with your other posts (i.e. if you have a minimal aesthetic, set the product on a photogenic surface like a marble table or neutral surface). For example, if we look at Erica Choi of @eggcanvas, it's easy to see the consistency amongst her posts (both sponsored and not). Erica has truly mastered the art of the product post in that the subtle details including similar lighting, photo angle, and visually-aligned props (which include flowers, coffee table books, and interior objects), helps to establish Erica's POV creatively while also telling the story of her partners in a visually engaging and on- brand way. At the other end of the spectrum, it's equally important to consider the function and uses of the product itself. For instance, if the product you're posting about is from a food brand, this presents an opportunity to get creative regarding the look and feel but also tell a more robust story in the caption (rather than just a one-liner about the product with the usual #ad or #sponsored tag). Many influencers have taken more creative liberties with their captions to tell a story that further helps to contextualize the product in a way that is unique to their usual posts. Sophia Roe (@sophia_roe), a leading wellness influencer and chef, does a fantastic job at this. Despite the nature of her sponsored posts, Sophia has mastered the art of storytelling in a way that genuinely engages her audience and tells the story of the product while also tying back to the usual themes she explores in her regular content. She is an excellent example of someone who has been able to integrate her values in a way that is honest to her personal brand while championing her brand partners.
"The best place to start when putting together the creative is to consider the product you're going to feature."
Consider the Brand Guidelines
Once hashing out the creative details, it's important to make sure that your content integrates your aesthetic as an influencer but also considers the brand guidelines and objectives. When it comes to the product post, some brands prefer that an influencer's creative focuses solely on the item being promoted without including the influencer in the image (even if it's consistent with the influencer's aesthetic). This term can often present a challenge for the influencer who may be used to shooting content in a particular manner, so it is equally important that the influencer and brand keep the lines of communication open to create a collaborative post that is authentic and represents the POV of both parties. Let's take a look at a recent example featuring @DonnaKaran. Earlier this summer, the brand rolled out an influencer campaign for their newly-launched deodorant #CashmereMist. If you look at the hashtag, you'll come across posts from leading fashion influencers throughout the United States. The content is consistent in that that the posts feature a similar composition (many include a clean, minimal flat lay with similar golden lighting, etc.), and a concise caption that describes the product attributes. Despite these overlapping details, you'll notice that each post is still very reminiscent of what is usually shared on each of the participating influencer's feeds (both visually and copy-wise). This is a perfect example of a campaign that considers all of those involved in that it doesn't interrupt the flow of the influencer's feed and provides the brand with beautiful product imagery while getting the necessary details about the product across in a socially-friendly way. It's important to note that this is just one example out of the many scenarios and industries. With that said, when it comes to brand guidelines and objectives, it's also equally important to consider the technical uses of the products you're posting. Be sure to check in with the brands regarding any disclosures about any necessary information about the product that may affect its users (like allergy warnings, side effects, and other pertinent details). Given the nature of sponsored content, knowing this information is especially important as you don't want to mislead or represent brands or items that you don't necessarily align with entirely!
Consider the Medium
With these points in mind, one of the last things to consider is that not all product posts necessarily need to follow a similar format. This is where your POV as a creator comes in to play. There are a ton of influencers who utilize different content mediums that inevitably make their product posts stand out. If you have the green light from the brand, consider using different kinds types of media (like video, illustration, or film photography) to set yourself apart. One influencer who has managed to do this seamlessly is Rachel Nguyen (@thatschic). Known for her creative storytelling on both YouTube and Instagram, Rachel has amassed a loyal following thanks to her artistic vision which translates across channels. With this article in mind, Rachel's ongoing partnership with Adobe has presented her with a unique challenge of posting about the product in a more contextual way. These particular product posts are two-fold because rather than taking a photo of Adobe packaging, she instead demonstrates the after-effect of the product in real life — in this case, how it enhances her work as a creator. In turn, this particular partnership also provides Rachel with more tools in how she visually tells the story of Adobe's impact on her creative content (i.e., through collages, video, editing software, and more). All-in-all, if you look at some of Rachel's other sponsored content with brands like Canon and Glossier, she proves that sometimes showcasing the product in use (whether it's on a model or in a setting) is necessary for getting the point across in an engaging way. Camilla Ackley (@camillaackely) is another example of creative possibilities that come with experimenting with different kinds of media. The London-based blogger and micro-influencer has remained consistent in her outfit and lifestyle posts over the years but has evolved her overall feed to include illustrated embellishments on each of her photos. These fun and unexpected details add a punch of personality (especially for product posts) and demonstrate Camilla's humor and point of view. Adding these kinds of elements into your creative is one way to attract brands who are looking to push the boundaries in deciding on who to partner with and how they can tell stories about specific products in new and unexpected ways.
"One of the biggest takeaways is to make sure that your product post considers the needs of the brand."
When it comes to crafting the perfect product post, as an influencer you have so many directions they can go in — but perhaps one of the biggest takeaways is to make sure that your product post considers the needs of the brand. By keeping the lines of communication open, these partnerships can yield beautiful content that does more than selling a product but also further reinforces the many incredible products that brands all over the world are creating. For even more insights, you can discover a ton of tips and tricks on how to elevate your social content as an influencer here on the blog. Also, feel free to reach out to our team directly for questions and comments around all things influencer marketing!