As many social media platforms seek to restrict the organic reach of businesses, it’s natural to wonder whether paying for sponsored social media posts is a valid marketing strategy. IZEA recently surveyed 1,000 Americans to determine the answer to that question. While many respondents continued to point to TV advertising as one of the more effective marketing channels, they conceded that sponsored social posts were quickly becoming TV advertising’s equal.

In fact, the top five most effective marketing tactics identified by respondents to the July 2015 survey included:

  • Periscope sponsored messages – 61%
  • Snapchat sponsored messages – 58%
  • Instagram sponsored messages – 56%
  • TV commercials – 56%
  • LinkedIn sponsored messages – 56%.

Notable platforms missing from the top five include Facebook (51%), Pinterest (51%), Twitter (52%) and YouTube (50%). Of course, at least half of the social media users surveyed believed sponsored content on these platforms to be effective, so it’s not quite time to count them out. Whereas, only 36% of respondents viewed banner ads on websites and print newspaper ads as effective.

Although B2C content marketers expressed doubts about sponsored social posts in an October 2015 poll by the Content Marketing Institute, Marketing Profs and TrackMaven, 61% of respondents were ultimately pleased with the effectiveness of sponsored posts, up 14 points from last year’s survey. Additionally, more than three-quarters of B2C respondents regularly use this type of post as part of their marketing.

Of course, the effectiveness of sponsored social posts can depend largely on the execution. When IZEA asked social media users what criteria makes sponsored posts effective, they answered:

  • Whether it’s clear the post’s author has ever used the product – 60%
  • Credibility of post’s creator – 60%
  • Previous experience with post creator’s recommendations – 59%
  • Level of detail provided about brand and product – 59%
  • Post’s creator’s knowledge about the brand or product – 58%
  • Their level of respect for the post’s author – 57%

This clearly shows that delivery method of sponsored social content is every bit as important, if not more so, than the content itself. It also bears mention that the fame of the post creator was only considered important by less than half of the respondents.

The study also revealed that social media users see about three sponsored social posts each day, with some social media platforms providing more sponsored content than others. When asked how many sponsored posts they noticed on the various sites each month:

  • Facebook – 42
  • YouTube – 33
  • Twitter – 28
  • Instagram – 27

Note: In order to be considered a social media user for purposes of the IZEA survey, respondents had to visit at least one social media site each day and spend 15 hours online for purposes other than checking email. Respondents ranged in age from 18 to 70.


eMarketer. Are Sponsored Social Posts the Most Effective Marketing Channel? November 18, 2015.

MarketingCharts. What Drives Sponsored Social Messaging Effectiveness for Consumers? November 17, 2015.