Research shows that influencer marketing can sway the opinions of today’s consumers more effectively than traditional advertising. According to Nielsen, recommendations from people consistently tops the trust rankings across all generations, beating out websites, TV ads, newspaper ads, and editorial content.

As a result, brands and agencies are increasingly turning to influencer marketing, a tactic that enables them to reach their target audiences using trusted sources – their peers. However, in order for influencer marketing to deliver real results, the influencers must create sponsored content that inspires their audiences to take action.

The top performing sponsored content always includes the following four elements:

  • Engaging Stories/Anecdotes. Ask influencers to tell a story or share a personal experience. According to memory researchers, information stays in our minds longer if it’s consumed in story-form. Influencers are experts at telling stories, having amassed their audiences because of their ability to emotionally connect with their readers through engaging, relatable stories. The most successful influencers create sponsored content that feels just as authentic and natural as non-sponsored posts, seamlessly weaving in the value of the sponsoring brand, product, or service without skipping a beat or feeling forced. Maintaining authenticity is paramount for cultivating and preserving a strong, engaged audience that, in turn, is more inspired to engage with or take action as a result of the content.
  • Compelling Visual Content. Include photos, videos, and/or GIFs in the program requirements. Content that features relevant images get 94% more views than imageless content. In fact, the top performing sponsored posts include four or more photos from the program. But photos aren’t the only type of visual content that grabs audience attention. Marketers are also seeing positive results from the use of GIFs and videos in their programs – including videos on a landing page can increase conversion rates by 80%.
  • Actionable Call-to-Action (CTA). Give the audience a clear CTA. The best performing sponsored content includes CTAs that are short, direct, and actionable. Offer consumers something they need then drive them to the next step in the process. A strong CTA compels consumers to take further action, whether it’s visiting a landing page to get more product information, signing up for a mailing list, entering a giveaway or sweepstakes, downloading a coupon, or making a purchase.
  • Clear Disclosure. Ensure proper disclosure is present in all sponsored content. The FTC requires that all influencers disclose sponsorship as close to the beginning of the content as possible. Sponsored social media posts must include the hashtags “#sponsored”  or “#ad,” before any links leading back a brand’s landing page. In a blog post, the disclosure statement must come before the affiliate link and above the “fold” or “scroll.” Influencers also cannot use tiny fonts or pale colors in an attempt to disguise sponsorship disclosure. For videos and audio content, there must be either audible verbal disclosure at the start or written disclosure on a clearly legible title card at the beginning of the video.

When used strategically, influencer marketing programs delivery significant more value than display ad campaigns and can even make your social advertising more effective. Before launching your influencer marketing program, double check to ensure your program and content requirements include engaging stories, compelling visual content, actionable CTAs, and clear disclosure.