Marketers, and especially sports marketers, in my opinion are vastly more educated in social media than the majority of other professions. 99% of the talk about social media, however, is on how it can be used to market to consumers. Are there social media tips and tricks sponsorship pros can use to better support their sponsorship case to potential corporate buyers? You bet… and they’re constantly evolving. Let’s rundown a few and feel free to add your own at the bottom.
1. Don’t assume your audience is the same. You likely provide consensus demographics for on-site and broadcast. Okay, that’s great, but are you also considering the variance between your audience on-site and your audience online? Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or a number of other sites, presumably you’ll be finding ways for your sponsors to interact with consumers on these platforms too. The audience profile may vary dramatically from on-site (for better or for worse). As technologies mature, your on-site audience will likely more closely mirror your social media audience, but until then it’s wise to keep in mind the variance across your consumer touch points.
2. Encourage sponsors to tailor activation to the medium. Each network has its own merits, but that doesn’t mean you can treat each medium the same. Would it make sense for a B2B event/sponsor to activate on MySpace or Facebook? If you want direct dialogue, your sponsor’s activation tactic might be better suited to Twitter than LinkedIn’s cluttered message boards. But you only have 140 characters and sponsor backlash can spread like wildfire on Twitter, while more insulated on a message board. Does your sponsor have an iPhone app? Great, but how tech savvy is your audience? Make sure you consider the nuances of each individual platform, and tailor your social media activation accordingly.
3. Manage sponsor expectations. As Skittles found out the hard way, social media can be cultivated, but it cannot be controlled. Make sure your sponsors know the difference. If you’re a property and you host an activation where the sponsor gets flamed, you want to make sure that your sponsors are fully aware of the risks.
4. Leverage networks for sponsors leads. Are you fully grooming your social and professional networks for sponsor leads? Networks like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook make it easier than ever to see who knows who. In a relationship biz, there’s nothing better than a personal introduction. Your existing contact might not be the perfect fit for a sale, but you should also be examining their networks for second degree sponsor leads. Of course, this only applies if you’re willing to give as much as you get. If that’s you, then don’t be shy!
5. Expand your marketing platform. You may not have an event or broadcast this month, but social media provides the perfect medium to keep in touch with (and allow your sponsors to tap into) your fan base during seasonal lulls. If your event is one weekend a year, make sure that your sponsors know that your social media efforts can expand their consumer interaction well beyond those 48 hours.
6. Call to action. Pretty much every sponsor loves a good call to action opportunity that translates to sales. Unlike other sponsor assets (Premiums, TV, Print, etc.), social media by its nature allows for sponsors to learn, be flexible, tailor and adapt their activations to shifting business conditions. Be nimble and let sponsors time their activation to seasonal business conditions, specific inventory conditions, new locations and more.
7. Measurement. Make sure that your sponsors know how to properly measure (and credit you for) the social media tactics that they’re incorporating into their sponsorship platform. This, of course, is highly dependent on determining what the sponsor’s specific objectives are in the first place, but don’t fall short on measurement by simply counting a sponsor’s direct interactions (i.e. followers) with your fans/consumers. Digital Royalty’s Return on Influence (ROI) formula is a great place to start learning about social media measurement, for you and your partners.