Some brands feel the need for product placement to reach a wider audience than they may otherwise showcase their products to. Others use it as a way to reinforce their market dominance, with the likes of Coca-Cola, Nike, McDonald’s, and even FedEx putting their products front and center in Hollywood movies.
However, not every company has the budget or the basic brand awareness to feature their products in popular media like films and TV shows. That doesn’t mean that product placement is completely off the table for small and medium businesses though. Real-world product placement is also achievable and, if done correctly, it can work wonders for brands.
How does real-world product placement work?
Social media users are bombarded with advertisements from the moment they open videos on some platforms. After a while, people become numb to the effects of this type of advertising and they are often eagerly awaiting the moment they can skip the advert.
Unless they get an unforgivable ‘unskippable’ advert, which might just make them think a little bit less about the company or brand forcing them to watch their commercial. But, companies continue to advertise on social media, suggesting that it is still getting through and having an impact. Perhaps a better way to get noticed through social media marketing, however, is product placement which can be effective for all business sizes.
Product placement, in a nutshell, is when a brand is referenced or used as part of a promotion in a media presentation. It originates from films but in modern social media practices, product placement is typically done through influencers.
Ways to achieve product placement
There are a few avenues to explore for brands to achieve product placement. They can spend the big bucks to get their product in huge productions like movies and TV shows. It’s also possible to feature products in music videos and even video games. Vans enjoyed a 7,800% sales boost to its white slip-on sneakers following product placement in Netflix’s popular drama, Squid Game.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater is a great example of product placement in a video game because it uses real-life skateboard and merchandise brands; exposing people to them who may never have heard of them otherwise. The video game franchise continues to use product placement, expanding these in-game adverts to use billboards, bus stops, and even trash cans as marketing opportunities.
Social media has changed how companies market themselves and it is also an effective way to use product placement but in a real-world setting. Allowing influencers to use and review products gives brands greater exposure as they may not have the same amount of followers as the social media personality.
Can product placement be effective?
Product placement allows brands to showcase their products to a global audience who are unlikely to switch off when watching engaging content. Unlike a social media advert, where 74% of users think there are too many, product placement allows a more engaging experience. This shows the apathy toward ads while influencer marketing impacts differently with social media users.
Being shown as a viable product by a favored influencer helps to normalize brands and make them household names to that particular audience. It can also help to build brand loyalty as social media users aspire to be like the influencers they follow.
Ultimately, if product placement (or influencer marketing as it’s often called), didn’t work then brands wouldn’t be doing it. Research by Tomoson indicates that customers acquired through influencer marketing are 51% ‘better’ for a company than those acquired by other means.
Practical ways brands can embrace product placement
Reaching out through social media requires a strategy to be in place first. Brands must know their target audience to ensure they find the right social media platforms to place their products on. That knowledge of social media stretches to identifying the right influencers to put their name to your product, ensuring they have a significant following and that they really speak to your intended market.
Reaching out to influencers via agencies
Many influencers can be approached directly through their social media platforms. But, as you can imagine, they are often inundated with messages and comments from fans and other brands.
If you don’t have much success reaching out, perhaps using an influencer marketing agency that works with social media stars is the way to go. These agencies are cropping up all over the world and no matter where your business is based you can find an influencer to help promote your brand.
Payment to influencers for sponsored posts
Some lower-level influencers may be willing to accept your products as payment for placing your brand within their content. However, most influencers take their role more seriously and will demand payment for the service they are providing you.
How much companies must pay for an influencer varies depending on their follower count. Nano influencers may require as little as $10 to $100 per post, while at the opposite end of the spectrum, mega influencers with over 1 million followers may demand upwards of $10,000 per post.
Social media product placement
Social media product placement is a more affordable way to get your brand out there in the open. Some brands choose to take up the mantle of doing real-world product placement themselves to show off in their own style. For example, parkour influencers, STORROR, regularly wear their branded clothing and merchandise while shooting their content for social media. Real-life product placement like this shows athletes road testing their products and proving that they are perfect for the sport. This approach by companies to combine product placement and exciting content provides great brand awareness to the target audience.
Sponsored posts allow social media influencers to showcase certain products naturally but they should declare if their content contains paid promotion. This allows their users to understand that this is essentially an advertisement. But this isn’t always the case and a sponsored post can slip under the net and appear perfectly natural.
Whether it’s morally right is a question for social media channels, influencers, and brands to address. In general, it’s best to ‘take the high ground’ and ensure your product placement is declared on all social media posts.
Social Media Stories
Most social media apps now use some form of short-term video that expires after a certain time. Perhaps the most popular is Instagram Stories but other forms include Facebook Stories, Twitter Fleets, YouTube Stories, Snapchat, and even LinkedIn Stories.
A good example of product placement in this format is unboxing, where an influencer receives a bundle from a brand and creates a video for their followers where they open it up and look inside. This helps to create an intriguing sense of anticipation and buzz for a product.
Product placement considerations
It’s not as simple as just giving the reins to an influencer to showcase your product to their followers. They might be the wrong fit for your brand, causing their followers to be disengaged with the product.
There is also no 100% guarantee that social media product placement will work. That’s why identifying social media channels that align with your brand’s voice are essential when strategizing.
Typically, product placements are subtle and they won’t be beating viewers over the head with marketing. Instead, it’s up to the product to do the most of the talking and ensure that it piques the interest of the right people. For that reason, product placement is a long-term strategy to help build brand awareness.
Why opt for social media product placement?
Social media product placement gives brands the reach they may not otherwise have thanks to placing their products in front of influencers and personalities. The benefits are clear in terms of exposure but it also allows for dynamic and engaging content that puts your product at the center.