A Travel and Lifestyle Blog

Social Media Adverts – How People Really Feel

November 24, 2019
what is travel and who decides
Cuppa and a chat

It’s time for a cuppa and a chat post, and I seem to have kicked the hornet’s nest over on Instagram this week! It was not intentional, but the strength of people’s opinions on it, were interesting and made me want to delve deeper! I am a curious person, I like to understand things, so I found it all very thought provoking. Grab your cuppa people, let’s have a chat about social media adverts, (and blog post ad’s) and how people feel about them. Buckle up, it’s a long one!

What is a Social Media Advert?

When you write a blog, or work on Social Media, sometimes opportunities arise. For many, it even becomes their full time job. Brands or companies may contact you, or you may have pitched to them, to see about working together on a collaboration. This could be in the form of cash payment, gifted items to review, gifted experiences, press trips, restaurant reviews etc. There are lots of differant ways of working with brands. Should you decide to work with the brand, there are rules about how you must declare this collaboration to your “audience”.

The ASA, (Advertising Standards Authority) have strict rules on what we have to declare, and how we declare it. One of the ways we have to declare, is to clearly put “Ad” (or a variation of) at the start of any post we make where we have received payment of any kind. The idea is that your audience know from the outset, that your review etc is part of a partnership with the brand. I should also point out that “influencers” are the main ones affected by this rule. Journalists for example do not have to declare like we do. So, they could be on the exact same press trip, selling the exact same thing, yet they do not have to state “ad”. That seems crazy to me, but it is what it is.

social media adverts
are adverts well received?

For me personally, it is not often that I do any “ads” on my blog or social media. I choose not to for lots of different reasons, but I of course have no issue with those that do. For many it is how they pay their bills, just like any job, (also, blogs are not free to run, so a little help with cost is always welcome)! However, I recently did post an “ad” post on Instagram, as I had been invited to review a restaurant that I have previously worked with. I declared it fully and clearly as an ad, and the post bombed! It performed less than half as well as my normal posts do. Now, I am NEVER one to chase likes, followers or any other vanity metric, (you can read about them in this post, Bloggers – Have you fallen into the vanity metrics trap), but it did make me curious. Do people just not engage with something that is an ad? Why? What makes people switch off from them? Why are blogger’s doing ad’s viewed so differently to other forms of advertising? So, in typical Kerry style, I asked! Simple as that! I have a question, I ask and hear it from the horses mouth.

Well, what a response I had! I literally could not keep up with the messages coming in. It seemed people had very strong views and opinions on this, and were more than happy to share them with me. I always welcome and appreciate honesty, so was so appreciative of how open everyone was. Quite a few fellow bloggers also asked me to share the responses. A lot of people now are looking to develop their blogs or social media platforms into their job or side hustle, so I think these points are good to know. So, I have rounded up the main points made, and compiled them into this post for you.

PLEASE NOTE – I am simply collating the information. This does not mean that I agree or disagree with what people have said. I am just delivering the feedback given (don’t shoot me, ok)……

social media adverts - what do people really think
social media adverts – your thoughts?

Social Media Adverts – How People Really Feel

The good news is, a lot of the responses were not dead set against ads. It seems that it is more how they are done, and how often that causes the most negative kick back. Quite a few people said they support ad’s fully, so that was good! Other people stated that they view them no differently to standard posts. Also good. Interestingly, my non-blogger followers seemed more switched off to ad’s than my fellow blogger’s. I do have quite a large portion of followers that are non-bloggers, so worth bearing this in mind.

Social Media Adverts – Seven Biggest bug bears

Not Declaring Clearly – This point came up in over half of the responses that I got. It seems that bloggers/influencers that try to “hide” the fact that the post is an ad, are viewed with suspicion. A few people even went as far as to say that it “pee’s them off”. Some things that were stated as hiding the ad were; not declaring at start of post, putting in tiny letters on Instagram stories, hiding the “ad” in hashtags, and undeclared press trips or invites. Many people stated that they have no issue with people running ads, but they want it declared clearly.

They Worry – This one was quite a surprise to me. A few people (9) were honest and told me that it was me personally that the did not want to see running ads. Reasons varied. One reason was that they enjoy the fact that I do not have ad’s on my feed, so they know I have put my hand in my own pocket and spent my own cash on it. Another was because they had “seen it all before”, a feed starts with one occasional ad, quickly turns into a gazillion ads a week etc. Someone else also gave their reason that they think of me as a “normal” person (that one made me chuckle) so it surprises them when I do an ad.

Overkill – Many feel that blogs and Instagram have become nothing more than a sales platform. They switch off and feel totally unengaged with the content that is ad’s. Many also said they felt press trips were too curated and often felt un-relatable. (I assume they mean on stories for that point)

Un-relatable – I was really interested in this one as I am determined to always be relatable. It is so, so important to me to remain that way. A few people said that they cannot relate to someone that is often on “free trips” (their words not mine, I know the work is not free that press trips expect) or going to fancy restaurants they have not paid for. They said that it annoys them that people are advertising these things as “oh you must go/see/try”, yet have not paid the £££’s themselves for it. One lady said “I cannot relate to someone that is flogging a trip they have not paid for themselves, when I have been saving for 4 years to go on holiday”. She was not saying this from a jealousy point of view, more of a “can’t relate” view. I do actually understand this point, and it has been something I am incredibly conscious of.

social media advets and how people really feel about them
Image by Edeltravel_ from Pixabay

Distrust – Be it wrong or right, it seems that the general public do not have much trust in “influencer marketing”. Many stated that they question the integrity of the person writing the review if it’s an ad. I think this is sad and more a reflection on how suspicious we are as a society. I will not lie and say I do not have some degree of understanding of their point, but I do think it is a shame we have reached this stage. I also think that bad press and those that have no integrity have ruined it for others.

New Products Every Other Week – So this one is aimed more at the beauty bloggers. It seems that many are fed up with the way beauty influencers are declaring a different product as their “must have”, every other week. One lady said that she had unfollowed someone as in the course of a month, the person had claimed they “were obsessed” with various different brands skin care product’s in 5 “ads” throughout that month. She lost trust in the person.

The Ad not fitting niche – This came up a few times. People do not like it if someone randomly advertises something that they do not cover in their usual content. A couple of example were given, a fashion blogger advertising a bed, a beauty blogger advertising transport. Random! They said it feels like these sort of adverts are “freebie grabbing” and not relevant. They switch off and lose a little faith in the person.

And Finally…

Something else I found interesting was that there seems to be a shift away from over curated, over professional feeds. A few people said they feel bored by feeds that are “too polished” That the magazine feel is done to death. I am not too sure what “the magazine feel” is if I am honest, but I assume the very “editorial” type feel? I suppose an “ad” photo can often have that polished feel too keep a brand happy?

The Instagram algorithm was also brought up as a good point. Apparently, Instagram can play dirty with anything flagged as an “ad” and not show it up in feeds etc. I am not sure how that all works, (is anyone), but I can see why Instagram would do it. Let’s face it, they want people to pay to boost their post’s!

social media adverts - remain true to ourselves
Hastily snapped iphone pics

One last point that I thought was very valid, and came up a few times. It was mentioned that people want to see Me. As in, they prefer to see, and respond more, to photos of me as a person. For the love of God why people, why???? They gave the example, if I had taken a photo of me in the restaurant, holding a glass of wine or something, people may have enjoyed and connected with that more. They connect with me, even a dodgy iphone selfie, rather than a photo of delicious food.

It was actually suggested by one of my wonderful Insta buddies that I look at my stats to see what photos are most popular as proof to this point. They were dead right. My most popular pics have me in them. (It may be worth looking at your own stats out of interest) I genuinely, from the bottom of my heart have no clue why. I personally prefer a scene of beautiful landscape or buildings any day of the week! I do therefore, probably shoot myself in the foot as I will always remain true to me, and post what I like. I am not about to start filling my feed with photos of me no matter how much more popular they are! Not a chance. I hate over posed, typical Insta pics. But, I wanted to mention it in this post in the interest of full disclosure and honesty of what came up.

So, there we have it. Finally we are at the end! I hope this has been helpful. I know I am a bit of a Nerdy McNerdy Pants, but I genuinely found it interesting how people think. I like the psychology behind it. I have never, ever thought of myself as “an influencer” and spoke more about that in this post, Why I work for free. Genuinely, I am just that old bird Kerry who likes to try to give you a bit of inspo for your next trip! I know more than most how important it is to make memories with loved ones. I adore writing my blog with every ounce of my being, so for me, Kerry Life and Loves is a labour of love.

However, it does cost money to run a blog, so I do relish and accept the opportunities that I feel fit well with my blog and ethos. It helps to keep my costs low. I will always remain authentic and relatable though. That is never, ever going to change. I think it is a shame that blogger’s posting adverts is viewed so negatively, but perhaps over time that view will be turned round. The new rules regarding declaring ad’s could help with that as it is all clear and upfront. Transparency can only be a good thing in my view. What do you think?

I would absolutely love to know what you think about all this. Whether you agree with the points that came up, and if you have any others to add. How do you view adverts? What your own thoughts are when you scroll through social media feeds that are mainly ads etc. As ever, the Cuppa and a Chat series is about discussion. Respectful and grown up discussion. I know from the response over on Instagram that people have strong views on this, so a difference of opinion is fine, but do not shoot the messenger…..!

Other blog posts you may enjoy in the “blogging” topic;

What does your version of blog success look like?

A Controversial topic – Are bloggers bribing people?

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26 responses to “Social Media Adverts – How People Really Feel”

  1. Alex Grace says:

    This was really interesting to read Kerry & hear all of the feedback you received. Each to their own I say, like you, I stick to my lane & my values, which I won’t compromise on – I think I would be much further along if I did, but then I would lose faith & love in what I do xx

    • kerrylifeandloves says:

      It was so so interesting Alex, but genuinely exhausting trying to round it all up. People have such strong views, which I love. I have had some really fantastic conversations about it all the last three days. My eyes have been opened to how people think and feel. I think its incredibly sad there is such distrust of the industry, but I also understand it a little. I have really enjoyed chatting about it with people.

  2. Bejal says:

    Thanks for collating this post Kerry, it’s pretty insightful! I personally like to mix my stuff up but always only if I’ve tried it and I fully endorse it! Always honestly but with positive feedback as I’m not out to discredit businesses. I get a lot of PR requests onl a weekly basis but only stick to what I think the readers would like from me. A reason why I do more of my own content than ads! Regarding disclosing ads, I have no problem with this but have forgotten halfway through a story if it has many frames even if I’ve added it to the first couple frames!
    It’s actually a really interesting topic and liked reading your feedback!

    • kerrylifeandloves says:

      Hahaha Bejal, I think we have all forgotten our disclosure on stories in the past! Although, a friend of mine recently got in trouble for not declaring on stories a couple of weeks back. Apparently someone complained! Scary stuff. I thought it was so interesting to hear peoples honest views. I think it is always useful. In my business, we would always get client feedback forms completed every year, so I suppose this is a similar thing! Thank you so much for reading, and adding your view. I do love to hear what people think xxx

  3. Sandra Burski says:

    I agree. I like to see pictures of you in them. I don’t mind ads and like to learn and read about new places and items.

    • kerrylifeandloves says:

      Ahhhh Sandra, you are too kind. Im a rambling old woman most of the time, nothing of interest in my face haha! xx Thank you xx I appreciate your thoughts too, so good to hear what people think xxx

  4. As always… I love you and your honesty and really found this a fascinating read!!!! Xxx

    • kerrylifeandloves says:

      Awww you, thank you xx. Isn’t it interesting though? Makes me curious as to what people actually want from social media. Is it just a rambling old woman like my stats suggest hahahah! I love it, how people think, I wish I had done psychology at college!

  5. Well, as I’ve said before, I’m not on Instagram, but here are my thoughts anyway.

    I see blogs a bit like magazines – you expect to see a few ads in magazines, and that’s ok, but once the whole thing is one big ad, it feels like one of those free magazines you get that are just for the adverts. That’s not what I’d call quality writing and not something I’d want to read.

    So, yes, I think balance is a big thing. I don’t do that much sponsored content at all. I would, if the right opportunities came up, but readers have to know that there is other content on my blog – opinion pieces, things to try and help people without getting them to spend their cash, or things that I’ve liked and am not being paid to promote. If you get the idea someone only ever writes about things when they’re paid, they’re just basically renting out their space online for ads and I unfollow people like that.

    Relevance is also a big one. Everyone has brands or types of products that they talk about more, and if an ad then comes up that fits in with the blogs general vibe and values, I don’t think anyone is surprised or bothered. But if it’s all over the place and feels like just a way to make money, readers can feel short-changed. Ok, that’s harsh when you are talking about a free product – you don’t pay to read people’s blogs – but you are giving your time, affiliate clicks, social media shares, page views etc. I’ll give mine gladly to people who I think are being true to themselves, but not to people who’ll only get themselves working on content when someone is paying them to do so. If you’re going to live from paid content, I believe you still need to offer people something more else as well if you want to stay relatable and credible.

    • kerrylifeandloves says:

      Ohhh Kirsty I love some of the points you have made here! I absolutely love the magazine analogy. It sums it up perfectly. When we think about that point, magazines are dying a death, in part, because of all the ads. People feel that they don’t get value for money. I can understand therefore if people switch off from blogs that are a lot of ad’s. You make a great point! I love what you say about it simply renting out their online space too. If that is what they are happy doing, more power to them, but they cannot be surprised if people start turning away can they. Ohh you have given me even more to think about. I blooming love all this discussion, thank you xxxxx

  6. Susanne says:

    It was so interesting to read people’s thoughts on this! I agree with quite much of it, especially the “I’ve seen it all before” and that people start with one and then all they do is ads. Also regarding random ads that don’t fit with the content and how that makes one think they’re just desperately accepting any offer.
    Personally I have a problem with those perfect polished picture blogs. Actually, when I look for blogs to read, the super professional photos is a turn-off – simply because that kind of blog usually is too full of ads. I once read an interesting article about how blogs have changed, going more into the perfectly curated fashion magazine look, and I was totally in with the opinion that when I choose to read a blog instead of a fancy magazine, it’s because I’m looking for the more personal touch and “normal people writing” rather than professional writers, professional photos, everything perfect. The charm with blogs is (or used to be) that anyone can write them and that they are/used to be a bit imperfect, something more ordinary that you can relate to. If I want something perfect, I’d read, well, magazines. This is probably not the case with most blog readers these days, but as you know I’m an oddball.

    I’m generally very very tired of the amount of ads everywhere, and actually this is why I’m so random on Instagram nowadays. Every 3rd or so post is an ad, and I’m not speaking of people I follow that do sponsored posts, but I mean the Facebook ads. If my friends would also start making ads, which could turn the entire feed to an ad gallery, I would most likely stop using Instagram. I’m generally sick of social media because like someone here said, it’s all about advertising these days and that bores me to death.

    To me, I believe my problem with certain ads is that I don’t use social media to see products being promoted, but for the social part of it, and ads usually clutter up the feed.
    How I see them depends on how they are made. It’s possible I didn’t see your ad post, or you did it well, because I didn’t even notice. I think if you make an ad, and it looks like your usual content and doesn’t totally scream AD other than in your statement, then no problem. Then it fits in with your content. But when the ad really is different and screams out advertising, then I’d be less likely to like it. In the past, when people starting blogging for money, the case was most often that there was this nice and interesting blog, then they got some paid opportunity, and the paid posts would be something different than their usual blog content that had made me read the blog in the first place. And the blog would change into something else than what made me like it.

    As for your sponsored posts on this blog, they still fit your niche and the rest of your content.

    One thing that puts me off very much is when a sponsored post for a product is that “everything is awesome”. Of course, sometimes a product is all awesome, but not every single one. If a blogger is awesome about everything in every single post, that makes me think she/he isn’t honest, writes what the company wants to see, etc.

    • kerrylifeandloves says:

      Ahhhh Susanne, I love your full and well thought out answers, thank you xx I had never thought of the magazine analogy, someone else said similar, but it really does make sense. Like you, I am a long term reader of blogs, and have seen them morph into something unrecognisable from what they was. I have no issue with progress, its a good thing, but I agree that some can lose the personal touch. I think balance is the key here. When people have allowed their blog to become out of balance, it makes us disconnect a little. I also think the bad press that blogging has got recently doesnt help. The whole “freebie grabber” thing is totally unfair, but I do feel it has been damaging. As always, lots for me to think about and add to the pot from your comment. Thank you so much, I really appreciate it xxx

  7. Susanne says:

    I forgot to say thank you for posting about the rules regarding ads too.. it’s something I’ve needed to look into but didn’t know where to start. Do you know if this is European or UK rules? While I write my whiskey blog I’ll need to learn more about it!

    • kerrylifeandloves says:

      I believe it is UK, but don’t quote me on it! I do think the rules regarding declaring might help make everything more transparent, which in turn, I hope, will bring back a little trust withing the bloggosphere! x

  8. Laurie says:

    Some interesting responses here and I’m really glad you touched on this topic Kerry. I think Instagram was not playing with your AD post. Like you say, if you don’t pay they wont show it so much. The same thing has happened to me xx

    • kerrylifeandloves says:

      Hi Laurie, I think you could be right. I suppose in a way I should be grateful to them then as it inspired some great discussion haha xx

  9. The feedback was very insightful to read. I actually don’t mind seeing bloggers and influencers advertising products as it allows me to discover new stuff. As always, your content is always well written. Thanks for sharing. xx

    • kerrylifeandloves says:

      Thank you so much for reading Indrid, it was so interesting to hear what people thought. It was almost like doing a customer service survey haha! I think the key is balance do you? I got the overall impression that people are just a little fed up with constant ads, but a mix is ok. Thank you for your compliment too, I really appreciate it xxx

  10. Such a SUPERB post, really lays it all out. I agree with the increasing lack of reality and the posiness of Insta, but surely there will be a backlash at some point? People like seeing a slightly more realistic view, which is I suppose why stories are so popular. xx

    • kerrylifeandloves says:

      Hi Lisa, thank you for reading! I think you are right, stories have become more popular as people are craving the “real life” of people they follow. They want attainable inspiration instead of just aspirational. It is such an interesting topic I think. I was quite surprised at how strongly people felt. xx

  11. This is fascinating Kerry and well done you on putting a post together to showcase what people have been saying. I love you for that and your honesty and I wish more people were as upfront as you are. Interestingly, I have also noticed that my best performing pictures on Instagram are ones of me. How funny is that? I much prefer to fill my feed with travel pictures or my latest interior buys but they don’t get half as many likes or comments. I wish they would but it seems like it’s not what people want to see. Difficult when I love blogging about places I’ve been and homeware accessories I’ve seen and all that…

    • kerrylifeandloves says:

      You are so welcome Lauretta. I am so pleased that you found it useful! I really enjoyed curating the feedback, as I found it really eye opening. My attitude towards the photos I post is, (and I am sure you already know this), I will post whatever I personally like! I am master of my own ship haha! I feel like this was an unintentional customer feedback survey, but so interesting! Thank you for reading lovely lady xx

  12. (You keep on doing what you’re doing Kerry! It’s a fab (and intriguing) read xx

  13. isthismutton says:

    Interesting post and feedback! I noticed I lost quite a few followers on Insta when I flagged “ad” about a product I had been gifted, and was reviewing. I felt this was a bit harsh because I’m always very objective in my reviews. If I don’t like the product or it doesn’t work, I say so – and I refuse to review beauty products until I’ve used them for at least 2 months. I turn down most collaborations now because it takes so much time to do all the research and photography, and there seems to be a growing backlash against bloggers buying or showcasing “new” clothes and/or fast fashion. Sometimes it feels like we can’t win.

    • kerrylifeandloves says:

      Thank you so much for joining in the discussion. I really appreciate it. I think you are right about the fast fashion thing. I have seen that too. I think we have a responsibility to be careful in promoting over commercialism, and of course adding to the worlds eco problems that we all know are at critical levels. Unfortunately the fashion industry is one of the worst for adding to the problems, so this is why perhaps people get frustrated? I think balance is the key, that seems to have come out from the feedback. It is a strange beast isnt it! I am not sure I will have it figured out any time soon hahah

I love reading your comments x

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