What is the Role of Social Media in Sponsorship?

OK, so it is an ongoing question. What role do social media and digital marketing play, if any, in sponsorship? You cannot negate the fact that social media and digital marketing are everywhere. You cannot live without them. Either you are engaged, or at the very least, you are being reached by it. Otherwise, you live under a rock.

Basically, as Sean Moffitt, co-author of Wikibrands, will tell you when he presents at the Western Sponsorship Congress (www.sponsorshipcongress.ca) later this month, there are over 1.3 billion social media networkers out there. There are 640 million people on FaceBook with an average of 130 friends each and 1000+ fans per page. Canadians are spending 82% more time on social media today than they did last year. In his session, Sean will show you how out of step business is with consumers. He will show that business is failing to follow the trends of mobile, digital marketing and social media at the rate that consumers are adopting them. He will show you that Wikibrand organizations’ sponsorships are ones that are linked like the overall cultural change. Their sponsorships communicate with customers, not at them.

So, what is the role of social media? In my mind, it is one of further integration and involvement of the consumer with the brand. Typical poor sponsorships are ones where the banner simply gets hung up. Well-run sponsorships make it experiential. It may be with banners and logo inclusion, but it also may include hosting and hospitality, or sampling. Perhaps, it is demonstrations or one-on-one interaction. My belief is that social media takes it one step further. Social media allows you to “meet” consumers before the event, and follow and interact with them in a way that they want to be connected afterward. It is more than a sales call follow-up on a lead. It is more than a mass email blast to “all delegates” or “attendees” with an offer that may not be applicable. Social media integration into sponsorship means that consumers come to you. They interact with you. You now have qualified leads that are engaged in what you have to offer. The “prospect list” may not be as long, but it is more qualified and engaged.

The final step is measurement and ROI. Can you measure results? How do you know social media is working? In my opinion, you can, but the metrics are not traditional. What is traditional is that you need to have set objectives at the front end. As a property, you cannot say, “I am going on Facebook and want to let people know about us” or “We need to be there because everyone else is there.” You need to determine if you are going there to raise brand awareness (and how will you measure that?), raise money, sell sponsorships, or what? Then you need to say, “I want to sell $20,000 in sponsorships” or “raise $1500” through this process. Then you can determine success.

Some chartered accountants have “determined” some values for social media. As the CMA magazine noted, “One firm estimates the average value of a FaceBook fan is $136.38.” Have you seen substantial growth in your web site visits, length of time spent on your web site, new unique visitors or repeat visitors as a result of your social media integration into your sponsorships? Are you activating at sponsored events to drive traffic to your website or to have people follow you on Twitter? My question is “why?” If you are not doing anything on Twitter to keep people engaged, why do you want them to follow you? Because everyone else is doing it and we thought we’d better do it too?

I believe that social media and digital marketing are essential to today’s sponsorship programs, both on the sponsor side and the selling property side. Our Foursquare interactive program at the Western Sponsorship Congress™ will allow you to connect with colleagues at the Congress and win prizing. Sean Moffitt will deliver a social media workshop and Jim Button of the Evans Hunt Group will moderate a social media and digital marketing panel with the San Francisco 49ers, WestJet, Molson-Coors, and The S.W.A.P. Team, which will be highly enlightening.

And by the way, remember to follow updates on the Western Sponsorship Congress™ with Twitter hashtag: #WSCongress.

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