How Social Media Is Impacting Sponsorship, Part 3

By Lesa Ukman Apr 20, 2010

The opportunity presented by digital is huge in terms of access to new markets and audiences, deeper fan experiences through leveraging digital technologies and longer event access through distributing new content in fresh ways.

Social media plus sponsorship gives people a reason to share brand messages. For example, Colgate’s Facebook application called Smiles languished for months, until Colgate recast the tool, offering donations each time users shared Smiles. The result: The widget was shared 500,000 times in five weeks.

Similarly, Target’s "Bullseye Gives" invites users to choose from a list of 10 charities to which Target donated $3 million. The social twist: After voting, users are invited to broadcast their selection to their Facebook friends via their news feeds. In less than a week, Target tallied 40,000 votes, which translated into tens of thousands of peer-to-peer impressions.

The new sponsorship paradigm leverages brand equity, the ability to communicate across multiple channels with consumers and the value of the property.

IEG Insights and Recommendations

Create communities worth joining. See what Nike has done in running and Carlsberg’s Part of the Game platform as good examples.

Offer access, content and apps worth sharing. Lenovo’s Voices of the Olympic Games promo around the Beijing Games offers a great model.

Leverage content. MLB is getting some $200 million from subscription revenues for its digital offerings. Virtual communities make it easier to create niche networks.

Sail.TV and Cycling.TV created IPTV channels around these communities. Other examples include Iveco Rugby Radio, Bacardi BLive radio, etc.

Use mobile technologies. This year, to help attendees keep their fest to-do lists in order (and save them the trouble of lugging around printed schedules), the Sundance Film Festival debuted its first official iPhone app. Designed by Vancouver-based mobile marketing company QuickMobile, who pulled it together with the assistance of a grant from Telefilm Canada, the application offers users a comprehensive list of screening schedules and events, as well as maps, updated press articles and Twitter and Facebook links.

Other examples: IBM’s Seer at Wimbledon 2009; Kangaroo TV at Formula 1 races.

Invite participation. NFL sponsor and Super Bowl advertiser Doritos invites fans to create its ads through its Crash the Super Bowl campaign, while others vote on their favorite user-submitted spots. Six finalists each win $25,000, and instead of airing a single contest winner, the top three submissions are aired.

Doritos allows comments (furthering fan engagement and collecting consumer research), as well as prompts voters to share their vote via Twitter and Facebook.

Reward participation. Each time a Facebook user passed a virtual Coke to a friend, Coke donated $1 to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. Budweiser offered first view of its Super Bowl ads in exchange for Facebook fans.

Design for youth. The youth audience creates content and uses it as social currency. The right social media presence will draw younger markets.

For example, while TV viewers of the Olympics are aging, 32 percent of the visitors to London 2012’s YouTube channel are between the ages of 13 and 17.

Go where fans are. Half the online conversations surrounding Vancouver Olympics happened on sites like Twitter. That’s a major word-of-mouth opportunity missed. If the Olympic committees had used Twitter as a channel to connect versus a channel to push content, the interactivity and conversations that stemmed from that two-way relationship might have spread outside the confines of the Internet, increasing overall attention and interest.

Adopt alternative and emerging platforms. Beyond Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, think Tumblr, Dailybooth, Ustream and Foursquare, the latter of which is a mobile social networking platform, city guide, gaming application and friend finder that lets users “friend” other users and “check-in” to establishments in exchange for points and badges based on the depth of their experiences.

Measure objectives not eyeballs; turn outputs into outcomes. Attitude and awareness shifts and actions taken (signed the petition, played in the fantasy league, watched the video, etc.) are easy to count but do not reveal what sponsors ultimately need to know, i.e., loyalty, shareholder value, etc.

Leverage content across all social networks then engage in each conversation that follows:

  • Tweet blog posts and cross promote on Facebook
  • Repackage through content marketing site in industry specific LinkedIn group
  • Pair press release with video, images and audio
  • Everything should be shareable; nearly all should be Tweeted
  • Demos beat descriptions
  • Multimedia conveys excitement
  • Get syndication partners

Assess involvement and engagement via actions and participation:

  • Commented/reviewed/rated
  • Voted/signed
  • Tweeted/Retweeted
  • Registered/opted in
  • Became a friend/fan
  • Played/competed
  • Shared/forwarded
  • Watched the video
  • Submitted content/video

Integrate sponsorships and social media. If the tone is right, sponsors can include promotions in their Twitter stream, Facebook page, Flickr page, YouTube channel, etc. Pepsi is doing this around Refresh. Odwalla is doing it around its festival sponsorships.

To promote its sponsorship of the 2010 Cannes Film Festival, Stella Artois created a character, Jacques d’Azur, dubbed the King of Cannes, and used social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Flickr to host multimedia content about his glamorous life. Participants could win a trip to Cannes and experience the life of d’Azur. On site, Stella Artois had a lounge for film bloggers to use as a base to post updates.


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