Event Sponsorship Strategies
Using live social media on digital screens, along with the techniques described earlier, you can craft an engaging event experience for your attendees. Your sponsors will want their message to be a part of that experience, as it’s a prime place to reach their audience.
So how do you mix in sponsorships without ruining the organic nature of your increased social media engagement? It generally comes from 3 different areas: (1) Digital signage (2) Sponsored Giveaways, and most importantly (3) New Real Estate – digital screens, mobile phones and websites are now the latest way to integrate sponsors.
Integrate Sponsors Into The On-Site Digital Experience
You can interweave images or videos from your sponsors with the social media experience. Here are a few key considerations when planning out your digital interstitials:
- Number of brands to feature
- Ratio of screen-time you allocate to sponsors and to user-generated content
- Time each branded message will show on the screen
- Variety of brand messages
Number– Depending on your sponsor lineup and goals, you can sell the social media experience as a single premium sponsorship spot, or you can carve it up into several shared spots.
I prefer wrapping it all up into a single branded experience, because the more messages you include on your screen, the more diluted your audience’s experience will become. You’ll lose your audience if you have too many varied brands pushing their message on your screen.
Ratio– I recommend allocating 25% or less of the time to sponsors, ensuring that your user-generated content is the primary use for the screens.
Time– How long you show each branded message may depend on the content itself, particularly if you’re using videos because you need to allocate enough time for the entire video to run. In general, I recommend using images that are easy to understand, and showing them for 60 seconds so that the screen stays fresh but enough of your audience has time to see the message.
Variety– The more variety you have in your branded content, the better. It keeps the screen fresh. Each time an attendee looks at a screen, it should be showing something new, which keeps their eyeballs coming back. At the same time, your audience will need to see a branded message more than once to internalize it; therefore, the varied content should have a central theme to it.
Here’s a simple example. Let’s assume you have a single sponsor for your digital displays, if you allocate 25% of the screen-time to branded messages and show each message for 60 seconds, then you have 15 spots per hour. I would request 15 unique pieces of content from this sponsor, either images or videos, that will be seen handful of times throughout the day. Your sponsor should love this — it gives them 15 opportunities to convey their message in unique ways, or an opportunity to show 15 different messages. It’s a full brand experience.
Sponsored Giveaways Rewarding Social Posts
Rewarding your audience for posting is one of the most effective tactics available for driving social media engagement. Ask sponsors to support your social media efforts by offering the incentive for you.
Example: the Boys and Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) offered the chance to win back-to-school shopping gift cards when parents shared pictures of their kid’s first day of school using #myfirstday. They offered $50 gift cards for back–to-school shopping at JCPenny and Staples.
BGCA benefited from all the social love and were able to offer a lucrative prize. JC Penny and Staples received valuable attention from a coveted audience with kids returning to school, creating a win-win for everyone during the back-to-school shopping season. Work with your sponsors to make sure the incentive they offer is lucrative for your supporters and helps show the sponsor’s value as well.
Here are three simple ways sponsors can incentivize your hashtag:
- Run a sweepstake – ie “Enter for a chance to win.” Sweepstakes have the advantage of encouraging the most posts in exchange for one large prize. Sweepstakes can reward users for using a specific hashtag or for checking in at specific locations. Turn your sweepstakes into a “Scavenger Hunt” by including numerous check-in locations around your event.
- Run a contest – ie “Best post wins” Contests encourage high-quality submissions – but you may receive fewer posts than with sweepstakes, since some contributors may refrain from competing. If your sponsors are relevant “industry experts,” offer them the chance to judge the contest and select their winner. For example, if a camera brand sponsors your photo contest, let them select who wins the DSLR they’re offering as a prize.
- Small incentives for every post – ie “Use this hashtag to donate a dollar”
Ask a sponsor to offer a minor incentive for every post that uses a predetermined hashtag.
Tip: If you aren’t running a hashtag for your event or campaign, give sponsors recognition with a hashtag dedicated to them. For example – “#ThanksPepsi.”
Create “Social Real Estate” That Can Be Sold As Native Ad Space
The minute you organize your own social content into one location, you own valuable advertising real estate. Whether on a large screen at a live event, or on a web page, create a place where sponsors can pay to mix their message with the social content that is relevant to them.
Tip: Offer this native social “advertising” to sponsors as an alternative (or a supplement) to the traditional static sponsor logos printed on banners, which is oftentimes forgotten. Set the posts to “repeat” intermittently throughout the social hub, while linking the native ads back to your sponsor’s website.
Measuring your #social event sponsor results
What’s the best part about the #social event sponsorship strategies? They’re measurable and actionable, not just some fluff integrated into a beautiful report.
I recommend drilling in on the following metrics:
- Total interactions– How many posts total were tagged with your sponsor’s hashtag?
- Unique users– How many users posted at least once using your sponsor’s hashtag?
- Total reach– How many followers potentially saw posts containing your sponsor’s hashtag, according to the number of followers each user had at the time of posting? Including reposts, retweets, etc.
- Engagement– How many likes, retweets, shares, etc were there of the posts containing your sponsor’s hashtags?
- Top users– Certain users may engage above and beyond the call of duty. Your sponsors should re-engage with these users after the event.
- Best posts– You can aggregate and share the top tweets, Instagram photos, etc with your sponsors. This will give qualitative proof of the effectiveness of their sponsorship. They may even be able to use the user-generated content in future campaigns and will thank you for the assets.
- Social network segmentation– If you’re supporting multiple social networks, you should tell your sponsors which platforms performed best for them. Did they receive significantly more engagement on Twitter than Instagram? That’s valuable information for their marketing team.
Build Packages That Appeal To Sponsors
Now, it’s time to take what you’ve learned about your sponsor personas, as well as the sponsorship market, and create irresistible sponsorship packages comprised of well-priced, thoughtful offerings.
You will want to create a selection of standard packages that compete directly with what other events are offering. This allows your prospective sponsors to choose something more innovative, or something that’s more “tried-and-true,” like integrating it with a brand logo sponsorship on event collateral. Make sure that you clearly articulate what you intend to include in each package or as a la carte offerings.
Inspiring visitors to organically share their experiences is hard to do. Next time you need to sweeten the pot to close a bigger sponsor, you should remember to inspire your audience as a part of your event sponsorship strategy.
Download our “Official Social Media Sponsorship” sales deck at the below link. Feel free to use the slides to incorporate into your own sales deck. If you have any questions please contact us so we can help you land that perfect sponsor.