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People Talk II - Social Media in Sponsorships

by Emily Taylor
29 06 2011

I rarely see people get ramped up about a subject like they do about social media.  I think it’s because it is so CLEARLY powerful, and yet really still in its infancy; so people realize there is potential behind its use that is far from being tapped out and we are captivated by it.  So few are experts in this topic of how to use it appropriately, that we as sponsorship professionals are frothing at the mouth for quality information on how to use it effectively to increase the value of our brand or property and the value of our partnerships.  I believe that we have entered a season where social media is moving from a nice cherry on top of the cake to fast becoming a nonnegotiable; a MUST in sponsorship activation and ROI measurement.  It cannot be ignored, and it is not going away.  So either be crushed by it, or harness the beast and use it to your benefit.

If you want a little pep talk on this topic, check out this video by socialnomics on YouTube: Social Media ROI.

By the way, as a side note, socialnomics.net rocks!  If you want to learn from a brand really passionately fired up about social media – this is a good place to go.  The first time I saw their social media revolution video (which not surprisingly went viral in no time), was at an IEG conference – everyone in the room was floored by the end of the video. Rule of thumb – always seek to learn from passionate people.

But back to the point – I made the point a few short weeks ago that people talk – and that talk is powerful; and that we should be both aware of the fact that it WILL happen, and use our resources optimally to provide outlets for positive chatter. “You can’t just say it.  You have to get the people to say it to each other.” – James Farley – CMO, Ford.

Let’s now dig in further.  One of the points the above video states is that company sales with the highest level of social media were up 18%, and the company sales with the least social activity were down 6%.  I realize the economy is rough, but we’re all on the same playing field here… clearly social media is making a difference in consumer sales, it can also make a difference in the way you market you’re your property/event/program/partnership.  Here are a few points to consider:

  1. Invest some dollars.  It’s a myth that quality social media engagement is free.  The resources and the environments you portray your brand/property on are free – but the engagement and interaction take quality and intentional marketing efforts.  You can’t just hire an intern to positively and accurately represent your brand to MASS audiences.  At least, you’re taking a big risk if you do.  Another quip from the video applies here: “25% of Ford’s marketing spend is on Digital/Social Media.  They are the only US auto company that didn’t take a government loan.” Wowsa!   25% of their marketing dollars is BIG cash.  And it clearly paid off…  Here at SponsorPark we allocate a portion of our marketing budget for social media as well – and the truth is that we participate in interactions of some sort daily with our efforts.
  2. Be consistently present.  I like to quote our social media consultant, Maren Hogan, on this one “the dirty little secret of social media is relevant and constant activity” (presence); and “it’s not hard to attract an audience; it’s hard to keep an audience.”  This means having a voice – if you tweet once a day at 7:00am CST, there’s a whole world who’s checking in an hour later that will miss you.  Use tools to be found in relevant circles – do you use the #symbol to be found by targeted groups?  If you don’t know what this is, do your homework on the twitter website; or better yet, hire a consultant or take a webinar and get some training.  But you have to hop on twitter/facebook/LinkedIn more than once a day for 5 minutes to establish this community.  And keep in mind that you must be authentic to retain a following.  Authenticity is another buzz word in marketing today.  Today’s consumer wants to relate to you; they want to talk to the brands that “get” them, and who practice transparency.  Use your smart phone to tweet between appointments, find relevant news feeds, offer incentives, encourage interactions in order to become a voice to be followed.  Do this throughout your day, and you’re bound to be noticed by influencers – your target audience.  Don’t have time?  Most of us don’t – hire someone.
  3. Use established communities to generate awareness and drive support for your efforts.  This marketing can go viral fast with the support of followers who care.  The Barak Obama campaign generated millions of dollars through social media and we know how that effort turned out.  Another video quote:  “Tweets for a Cause sent out a tweet from Atlanta to encourage support of Susan G. Komen for the Cure; retweets from @mashable, @G_man, @zaibatsu and others caused Atlanta Chapter to receive 11,000 visitors in 24 hours.”  Here’s the catch – if you send out a tweet like this on your own without establishing quality followers or using a credible mouthpiece to “toot your horn,” your tweet will die in its tracks.  The good news is that it has never been easier to locate and connect with like-minded influencers.  Identify keywords within your industry, use them in your interactions; identify the major influencers who could be your mouthpiece – connect, engage, share.  We have found LinkedIn to be one of the most effective avenues to connect to likeminded professionals.  You’ll have to discover for yourself what community is most valuable to you and your own efforts.  

The other great news is that you can literally use this fabulous resource in nearly all aspects of your sponsorship efforts.  Activation of your partnerships should be fully supported on your social networks – use those mouthpieces – fulfillment reporting should quantify just how much extra exposure was generated through you online presence, your blogs, your press releases, your tweets!  If you talk to any sponsorship service provider who focuses on ROI reporting, they will ensure you speak to your social media efforts. 

So gear up – and start some engaging talks… er, tweets!

Categories:   ROI | Social Media | sponsorship activation | tips
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The Future of Online Recaps Means Kicking It Up A Notch

by Kim Abey
22 06 2011

We at SponsorPark were impressed by a recent conversation with Cheryl Walters from Spotlight Creative who also happens to be the current manager of their new product, High 5; a state of the art, web-based reporting tool.  We spoke specifically regarding their research around ROI reporting and their direct response to the clear gap in the industry. We thought our readers might benefit from the same valuable information; so without further adieu, we have a guest blog brought to you by Kim Abey, founder of Spotlight Creative:

Let’s face it, the competition for sponsorship revenue today is fierce. In fact, according to the 2009 IEG Sponsor Survey, 51% of sponsor respondents stated that their companies’ spending would decrease from 2008 levels. How do properties attract sponsors – and perhaps more importantly – how do they keep them coming back when budget demands are tight?

What Reports Do Your Sponsors Currently Receive?

The one statistic from this survey that resonates with me is that 50% of participating sponsors made it crystal clear that they view post-event recaps/fulfillment reports as the single, most important property-provided service. Based on my experience and conversations with properties, a typical post-event recap includes some type of printed report – either professionally printed and bound, or printed and bound in-house – along with an in-person meeting that may include a PowerPoint presentation. Overall, the recap is usually a restatement of what the sponsor received for their support.

What Do Sponsors Really Want?

With this in mind, I have two questions for properties:

  • Do your current recaps provide enough information to ensure a need for renewal?
  • Do your recaps engage your sponsor by presenting not only the stats but the branded presence, relationship and return on objectives?

Increasingly, I am in contact with property representatives who realize that in addition to reporting how many eyeballs saw a sponsor’s product or service at their venue, their recap needs to effectively communicate outcomes that matter. 

Online Recaps Are A Natural Extension To A Printed Version

Online reporting provides an interactive experience for the sponsor that allows the use of imagery, graphical data and audio/video footage to be viewed and shared from wherever the sponsor is located. The real-time updates of online reporting allow sponsors to communicate sponsorship benefits immediately to their stakeholders and management. The opportunity for immediate feedback and interaction between the client services rep and the sponsor has far-reaching benefits.
This format is also a “green-friendly” option for those organizations and causes who prefer to work paperless as much as possible.

Expand Your Reporting Options

When designed and leveraged well, your recaps become an experiential reinforcement of your brand, and will extend your position as a forward-thinking leader. Look to an online recap as an extension to your existing reporting deliverables and you’ve entered into an exciting world with endless creative opportunities that will help you secure more renewals.

For more information on how Spotlight Creative can help you kick your sponsor recaps up a notch, contact us at 281.970.3800.

Categories:   ROI | Sponsorship resources
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People Talk

by Emily Taylor
15 06 2011

We live in a day and age that is more connected than ever before.  We’ve globalized, mobilized, and vocalized in ways that we never would have thought possible just 10 years ago.  This can be a tremendous asset to a brand or property, or it can be its worst nightmare.  A person can voice their opinion about any given topic or experience in the moment.  You don’t even have to wait until you get home to your computer to post on Facebook or twitter anymore; you can do it right from your smartphone in your back pocket after purchasing tickets or before you even leave the event.  People in your audience’s circle of influence know IMMEDIATELY what they think of an experience.  If word of mouth is the most powerful form of marketing, it’s your job to enlist this not so new, but newly gargantuan asset.  It’s more important to strategize your activation efforts in such a way that you enable your target audience to spread the word about why you’re the next best thing to sliced bread, or why you might have provoked a few “lol’s.”  If you’re not sure what that means, it’s time to get a social media consultant hired…  If you agree with this concept, but you still hear yourself saying “I hope our audience talks well about us,” you’ve become hopeful but not proactive.  I would strongly encourage your team to sit down and discuss how you can make this kind of positive viral marketing easy for your audience.  Here are a few questions to ask:

What about your efforts are newsworthy?  We just had our first child 6 months ago.  As a new parent I’m starting to recognize the joy and excitement of having a child that used to baffle and bore me just a few years ago.  Pretty sure I was ready to send out a press release when he smiled at me for the first time, or when I found out that he thought peek-a-boo was hilarious. I sometimes think that property owners are the same way with their “baby” as a parent.   When you put your whole heart into something it’s easy to think that every little thing you do is going to be equally as exciting to your audience and sponsors as it is to you.  It takes more time to sit down with your partners and brainstorm something that’s really going to pleasantly surprise your target audience – but it’s worth it.  Once you’ve identified your distinguishers, you can then strategize tactics to make those experiences go viral.

What can people use to go viral?  Inventory the possibilities.  Cell phones, social media communities, texting, videos, blogs, etc.  There’s no way I can capture the custom options here in this blog; but the draw to be vocal stays the same – people love talking about themselves, people love a good story, and people love convenience.  Do you have a photographer at the event?   Perhaps you’re driving an interaction that begs to be recorded or announced.  There’s the tools that people automatically have access to which can be used to go viral, and there’s the tools you make available and attractive to them.  There is a t-shirt website that blew up almost overnight.  They gave t-shirt designers the ability to post their unique designs on the website, and the one who earned the most votes won 1,000 dollars.  They did this quarterly. The result was that these designers posted and then had incentive to drive traffic to the site to vote for their design.  The cherry on top was that people could also purchase a design if they liked it and the brand who owned the site would ship it to the customer.  Things went viral real fast, mostly because of our next point:

What incentives can we offer to promote this experience?  Give your users incentive that personally benefits them to speak positively on your behalf.  You can only do this if you first know your ultimate goals out of what you want your audience to take away from their experience with you. Then you activate to make it happen, and you incentivize the client to spread the word.  I believe the description mentioned above is a great example of providing incentive to act.

This is just a start.  There’s a million ways to make your benefits go viral; the important thing to remember is that this is now a critical part of your activation efforts – let’s give em something to talk about! 

Categories:   Marketing | Social Media | sponsorship activation
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