How Consumers Really Feel About Sponsored Influencer Content

The relationship between an influencer and their audience is one that rarely exists between a brand and their consumers. The relationship is built on trust. Influencers don’t ask anything of their audience – they simply write about something that is personally interesting.

But sponsored content is a natural next step for influencers who want to monetize their content without stuffing ads onto their websites. Any influencer who engages in marketing campaign must be very careful not to break the trust they’ve built with their audience.

Understandably, brands want to know the long-term implications of sponsored influencer content marketing.

How do consumers really feel about sponsored influencer content?

This is what we found:

People trust influencer recommendations (Both sponsored & organic)

Once a follower trusts the opinion of an influencer, sponsored posts are assumed to be a genuine endorsement too, because good influencers wouldn’t risk their reputation to promote a product they didn’t like.

People trust influencers because they have been satisfied with their past recommendations. According to a study people are using blogs specifically to find recommendations for products:
“Almost half (47 percent) of U.S. blog readers tap into blogs for finding new trends or ideas, 35 percent for finding out about new products, and one in four for help with making a purchasing decision.” – Business News Daily
Influencers are also more likely to publish a more realistic product review than what their readers would see from a brand-made advertisement.

Influencer content drives people to purchase products

“According to a joint study by Twitter and analytics firm Annalect, around 40 percent of respondents said they’ve purchased an item online after seeing it used by an influencer on Instagram, Twitter, Vine or YouTube.” – Adweek
*The public research did not indicate whether there was a difference between how organic content was perceived as opposed to sponsored content.

However, the study shows that whether the product was sponsored or not, it still encourages purchasing behavior. That would imply that people don’t mind if influencers publish sponsored content. It has no negative impact on their interest in the product.

Consumers feel betrayed if sponsorship is not disclosed

Being lied to is often worse than the lie itself.
It’s in the influencers best interest to disclose when a blog post is sponsored content because it maintains transparency between themselves and their audience.

There’s also strict rules in place from the FTC that protects consumers from being duped.

In 2015, the Reuters Institute conducted a study that explored consumer attitudes toward sponsored content on news sites. They found that dishonesty led to distrust:
“A third or more say they have felt disappointed or deceived after reading an article they later found had been sponsored.” – Reuters Institute
Influencers know about how deceived their audience would feel if they later found out about their content being sponsored, so to protect their reputation, they disclose.