Sponsored content can be broken down into three buckets, each of which comes with its own strengths and weaknesses.

That includes sponsored content, branded content, and sweepstakes and promotions.

Sponsored Content
High frequency, low value

Sponsored content is the most visible type of content due to its high frequency (number of posts). Sponsor integration is largely limited to a brand watermark, thus providing brand visibility but limited engagement.

Sponsored content includes starting lineups, game recaps and other content that teams produce, regardless of a sponsor being attached.

Custom Branded Content
Low frequency, high value

Branded content comes in many forms, ranging from behind-the-scenes insights, humorous digital shorts and exclusive content. The content is typically developed in conjunction with a sponsor.

Branded content has significantly lower frequency than sponsored content but significantly higher engagement.

Sweepstakes and Promotions
Moderate frequency, moderate value

Sweepstakes and promotions are used to promote and amplify sponsor promotions. The content typically includes a call-to-action for lead generation. The posts have moderate frequency—campaigns should last no longer than three weeks.

Below, five examples of sponsored content, branded content and sweepstakes.

Sponsored Content: Carmax Quote Of the Night

The Portland Trail Blazers promote Carmax on Carmax Quote of the Night. The post  provides broad visibility but limited engagement.

Sponsored Post: Carmax Quote Of the Night

Sponsored Content: FedEx Air and Ground Touchdown

The Minnesota Vikings tag FedEx in the FedEx Air and Ground Touchdown. The sponsorship highlights FedEx’s shipping and logistics expertise.

Sponsored Content: FedEx Air and Ground Touchdown

Sponsor Sweepstakes: Dallas Mavericks

The Dallas Mavericks ran a sweepstakes with the North Texas Ford Dealers that offered consumers the chance to win suite tickets. To enter, fans had to post a photo of themselves standing as the “I” next to large letters that spell out Dirk Nowitzki’s first name at the American Airlines Center.

Sponsor sweepstakes: Dallas Mavericks

Sponsor Promotion: Portland Trail Blazers

The Portland Trail Blazers in 2014 ran a promotion called “Create the Moda Court” that allowed fans to design the Moda Center’s center court.

The goal of the campaign: generate leads for Moda during a critical period in the company’s business cycle and authentically connect with fans through a compelling co-branded activation.

More than 19,000 fans submitted designs, while more than 5,000 opted-in to be connected to Moda. The program generated 3.5 million impressions.

Sponsor promotion: Portland Trail Blazers

Branded Content: Chicago Bulls

The Chicago Bulls this year teamed with BMO Harris and the Second City comedy shop on a Snapchat content series.

The series included four pieces of content, one of which featured an “whodunit” murder-mystery theme. The video featured Chicago Bulls cheerleaders and the team’s mascot, as well as the BMO Harris mascot and subtle sponsor branding.

In addition to promoting a long-time sponsor in an innovative way, the content series gave the team exposure in front of the young Snapchat audience.

Chicago Bulls cheerleaders branded content