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How effective is product placement on social media?

Product placement has always been an important marketing activity for brands and companies. In the digital age, that’s no different!
Now more than ever, brands are turning to social media ‘influencers’ to help promote their products to new audiences.

But is product placement on social media an effective way to boost sales and improve brand perception? Our marketing intern Meg looks at the evidence in this Ubiquity blog.

 

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Product placement seems like an easy way for brands and companies to boost sales. You simply pay an influencer with lots of followers to promote your product and then the sales come in.

But it’s not actually that straightforward. There are lots of brand considerations to make, especially when you ask the question, does your brand fit with the influencer and their followers?

Finding the right influencer is probably the trickiest part especially when so many young people look up to celebrities as their role models. As soon as they become associated with a brand, their followers may form connections with that brand which may be unhealthy for them to do so.
 
For example, take Kim Kardashian. Her recent product placement on her Instagram account of 114 million followers showed her promoting weight-loss lollipops that suppress appetite. Many of her fans shammed her for encouraging young people to lose weight which could cause eating disorders. Despite the awareness the product received, its negative backlash shows how perhaps in this case, product placement on Instagram wasn’t the right form of advertisement for the company to do.

Boosting your brand image and increased brand awareness can be gained if the appropriate celebrity is selected to promote your product. This is a lot to do with trust. If a celebrity has a loyal following that is your target audience and would add to the credibility of your brand, they are probably a good choice for gaining optimum product exposure.

Many people don’t like obvious product placement on Instagram as it can often cause confusion among their followers as to whether they are being genuine or not. New products would be best suited to this style of advertising as people have no opinion on the product, often resulting in sales from curiosity.

Selecting the right ‘influencer’ to promote your product is a risky stage as the image of an influencer can alter at any time. It can be extremely expensive to pay ‘influencers’ to promote your product. For big brands that want the Kardashian’s to promote their products, they are looking at over £700,000! Obviously, this is out of reach for smaller brands, however, it can still be costly for influencers with a few thousand followers and may not result in a return on investment. Companies need to be careful when considering social media opportunities, thinking if it will result in a return on investment considering there are so many fake accounts out there.

My opinion

In my opinion, if it’s executed correctly, subtle product placement on social media can be effective in increasing awareness as many ‘influencers’ have the power to reach very large and varied audiences. However, I think this is entirely dependent on if the ‘influencer’ matches the product and if the product is right for this style of advertisement in the first place. Products such as fashion and beauty are best suited to this style as moral issues can interfere with promoting some products such as health and appearance altering products. With the increasing rise of vloggers and reality stars of shows such as Love Island, I can only see product placement on social media increasing, although there may come a point where brand reputations plummet when consumers tire of seeing constant products being shoved in their faces.