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All Abuzz With Social

Dawn Turner's picture

While attending this year’s National Sports Forum meeting I noticed the emergence of social media as a hot topic. Questions were raised about its importance to brand partners, strategies for making social presence successful, if it should be a focal point or one piece of a program, etc. As I listened to these conversations take place between properties, agencies and brands, it became apparent that social is indeed important so I wanted to touch on a few important points in this month’s column.

First of all I want to point out that attendees in sessions I listened to all agreed that social should be viewed as one piece of the overall sponsorship marketing plan (as opposed to a standalone program). On its own social can be fun but ends up being a one-off, quick-hit activation, however when used to support an overall activation plan social serves a complementary function that amplifies the success of the overall program.

One example of this is an activation our promotions team recently executed with one of our properties. The overall program included interactive elements on-site pregame for attendees, during the game for select fans chosen to participate in a contest, and in social media for those fans unable to attend the game in person. All three programs rolled up to the same theme and had special prizing for winners. In this case the social program helped the brand create a buzz in their social channels, and when the team was able to repost/retweet our message it made the overall impact even bigger with fans outside of the stadium.

Which leads me to the second point – brands want buzz outside of the stadium. Stadiums and arenas can only hold so many fans, however the number of fans that live outside of the stadium can be exponential (and influential). It is this pocket of fans that brands are interested in reaching as an extension of the work they are doing during events, and what better way to connect with them than social media!
What is the best way to incorporate social into the mix? Property attendees said their brands are constantly asking how they can be involved in their social channels. Teams and leagues are trying to figure out how to do this appropriately so they can accommodate everyone and don’t lose any partners/revenue, but everyone realizes that space is limited and messages need to be organic rather than a forced commercial.

So where do you begin? From the team side I suggest educating brands on your social media strategy so they can better understand your approach. I would then suggest leading your brand partners down a path that showcases how social can enhance the other programming they have planned. This will help ensure messaging is succinct and organic to help with scheduling and preventing a loss of followers.

One other area to explore is incorporating your partner brands into messaging that makes sense. All brands love proactive partners that offer some bonus inventory, so if your team is drinking a certain drink or using a certain vehicle, why not give your brand partners a shout out? Of course if you are flying on an American Airlines charter it wouldn’t hurt to post a shout out like, “Thanks for the ride @AmericanAir!” (Shameless plug, I know, but good example, eh?).

From the brand side I suggest making sure the property has a good understanding of your social media objectives. Is it to get more followers? Demonstrate a positive affiliation with a property? Both of these and more? Whatever the reason, it is important to share the information with the property. This way both parties can have a solid discussion around the best way to incorporate a social component into your activation plans. This also allows a forum for the team to share their social strategy so you can better understand their perspective and work through any challenges that may arise.

What if you have legacy contracts? I do hope that brand and property partners review contractual elements for each new term. Does something no longer work? Replace it with something else. Was social media popular after a contract was signed? Switch it out for something less important.

We all know there is always something new entering the marketplace as the next big thing. Digital/Social is the current buzz. What is next? I wish I had the answer, but now that you are in the process of mastering social you will be ready!
Please send topic ideas to me via twitter @dawtrnr

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