The NFL is Making Millions in “Extra” Sponsorships with Twitter Amplify

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The NFL is Making Millions in “Extra” Sponsorships with Twitter Amplify

Via @adweek. The term “extra” sponsorship is present here, but doesn’t this demonstrate a shift in what a sponsorship destination Twitter has already become?

At this point, there is no other app or platform that can compete with Twitter for a second screen strategy.

Match Assets with Objectives

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One of the most common questions I’m asked is, “So, how are we doing?”. They’re asking about their social media efforts. I always reply with the same response, “I don’t know, what are you trying to do?”

Then they blink at me.

It used to be enough just to be active in social media, To have a Facebook page and Twitter following and watch those numbers grow. Then innovative organizations started dabbling in Instagram, or Pinterest, or Google Plus. I remember when G+ came out and I saw a number of sports teams launch a presence there – mostly just because they could.

There’s only really two platforms that don’t require an explanation for use in Facebook and Twitter. They are pervasive and have a reach beyond the platforms themselves (both are frequently discussed in other forms of media). No one’s gonna call you out for using them. But that’s where my point is stemming from…

Why are you using any social platform? What kind of content are you posting and to what end? Do you have an app – why? Do you sponsor an app – why?

Objectives first, assets second. Objectives should be tied to an over-arching marketing plan. There’s often a rush for Business Development teams to sell, for sponsors to be in the mix, for PR companies to commit the client’s budget – but to what end?

When you start with identifying objectives the rest of the path can become clear, as long as you know what each platform can do for you – but that’s a deeper dive…

How to Sell Social Media Sponsor Activations

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Many teams struggle with selling social media assets. In my opinion there are 2 reasons why:

  1. Cultural Issues
  2. Skill Gaps

A few years ago, I was a fairly lone voice in my position on selling social media assets to corporate sponsors.

Today, digital assets are premium buys and social remains the most dynamic property available. Trouble is, many teams are challenged in selling it (it’s a solution sell, not a transactional sale) and some sponsors think they need it but don’t know what to do or why.

One challenge that holds up sales teams is the classic QUOTA. The development or standardization of social assets means that quotas will go up, and sales manager/director targets go up in turn. This is a cultural issue – teams continually are looking for revenue stream development, yet some stand in the way of adopting this category of digital inventory. Broader thinking is required here…

The other problem is rooted in skill.

I mentioned that social is a solution sell – one that takes a different set of skills and discovery questioning. Often, sponsors need some guidance here to develop a social strategy for the deal. In this way, many web/technical resources have become “sales engineers” of a sort – as they better understand the platforms involved – and can lend good skill sets to these sales conversations.

Since some sellers struggle with how to sell social assets – here’s a list of questions to use in your own sales process to help uncover deals with social media activations:

  • What are your own goals with social media?
  • How does your company handle admin of your social sites?
  • How does social fit into the rest of your marketing mix?
  • What results will make a promotion/activation a success for you?
  • What , specifically, would you like to accomplish here?
  • Are they any examples of successful social campaigns that resonate with you?
  • What are your expectations of my team/brand?

What we’re trying to avoid here is “Do you want to buy some Facebook updates and Twitter posts? They are $X each – how many would you like?”. These are simply conversation starters to get your partners talking – there are endless ways to structure a promotion, but you need to start somewhere.

Here are some other tips:

  • Keep it high level (to start)
  • Bring ideas and facilitate brainstorming
  • Understand their goals and experience
  • Work to conceptualize with your internal resources
  • Present options that meet those needs
  • Be prepared to adapt/adjust

One last thing… both problems – Cultural and Skill – are very solvable for organizations looking to uncover the dollar. I can help with both.

Sponsor and Brand Impact: Photo Tags on Facebook

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Yesterday, Facebook announced that users can tag Pages in Facebook photos. This is kind of a big deal and can provide a profound effect on sponsor activations in the social space.

The first impact falls on your sports brand as fans can now tag your Page in their photos. Consider fans’ photos wearing team jerseys/apparel, or photos in your arena… the ability to tag your team Page layers a new level of visibility and engagement.

The second impact falls on your sponsors. Activations can now involve your Page tagging a sponsor’s Page in a photo – situations like this provide:

  • A passive social marketing opportunity
  • An increase in using images of/with sponsors
  • A greater focus on product placement
  • Cross page promotions – Sponsors tagging your Page on their photos

Up to now, most sponsored activity on Facebook has been located in status updates or tabs. Photo tagging presents a new opportunity to include images as an important asset to include in your social media kit.

Social $ales Visibility

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One of the big challenges that teams are facing when selling social media sponsorships is dollar visibility.

The rapid rise of activations in the social space has teams building deals/packages with social elements, but without a breakdown how these items are priced out. Now, that’s a good problem to have – but teams need to be careful as they are setting standards and precedents on how their social inventory is valued and priced.

Some teams have hundreds of thousands of fans/followers – this is a premium buy for a sponsor and should not be treated as a value add activation. Innovative sponsorships look to position the social element at the core of the deal and then build in value adds around it. If you are suddenly “throwing in” custom tabs and contests on Facebook, you run the risk of having to justify any increase in this area down the line. Teams need to be aware of how social sponsorships can factor in renewals, and how this is positioned against new business.

Beyond that – social $ spend is a number that teams need to be tracking. If their in-house/CRM systems are not set up to track it, then there needs to be some sort of excel sheet that accounts for what % of deals or entire social deals that are being quoted and sold to your corporate partners.

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Minnesota Wild Corporate Partner Summit

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I was invited to speak at the Wild‘s Corporate Partner Summit this week on the topic of social media. The event was held in the Xcel Energy Center and used the scoreboard as the presentation screen – which was a cool idea.

My topics ranged from:

  • Getting started and setting objectives
  • Customizing platforms for differentiation
  • Monetization and e-commerce integration
  • Trends and forecasts

The attendees were the Wild’s corporate sponsors – which is a great value add that the team provides it’s partners. Other presenters included Tom Reutter of Scarborough Research who presented some great data on Wild fans and social media, and  Dewayne Hankins / Michael Brinkman of the Wild’s internal DIG group (Digital Interactive Group) who presented on the Wild’s social presence, successful promotions and future direction.

Thanks also to Anna Johnson and Kathleen Borschke of the Wild’s Corporate Services team for all their work in preparing for the event.

True to social media form – some attendees were tweeting during my presentation – which I think is an effective way to measure engagement:

A corporate partner summit is a good way to offer value for any team – and it’s great to have the opportunity to see what your audience is picking up on. As I have mentioned many times, along with many other voices in the social space – one of social media’s key benefits is the opportunity to listen.

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Facebook… Like It

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Facebook launched some potent new tools yesterday and I will start to break down what it means for sports marketers…

You may have heard/seen that recently Facebook changed the term “Fans” from its Pages to simply, “Like”. So now, your Page doesn’t have fans, but people who like it (too bad – “Fans” was a perfect fit for sports teams). Now, the idea of “Like”ing something gets a whole lot more engaged.

Social Plugins

If you are familiar with Facebook, the ability to “Like” something is not new. But through the use of social plugins - check them out here – the “Like” button can show up anywhere, on any website – even your own.

Here’s an example from NHL.com with Alex Ovechkin.

What this means is that now, Facebook can be pretty much anywhere. The web is increasingly semantic and social. Furthermore, “Like”s can dynamically alter a Facebook users profile, and the act of “Like”ing something can create a long-term communication between the user and NHL.com. Whenever there is an update on Ovechkin from NHL.com, the “Like” will update the user on the Facebook platform. Pretty neat stuff.

Ok – Now What?

So now that you have an idea of what technology is in place – here’s what to start doing with it.

  • Every team site has a roster page – get some Like buttons up there for the players (like the NHL.com model) and tell your fans to get clicking
  • The viral nature of all this “Like”ing should help grow your Page population as well, be ready to track this
    • NHL.com integration increased the NHL Facebook Page by 3.2% (>9000 Fans)  overnight after this launch
  • Consider partner/sponsor brand synergy – what kinds of sponsors would be a good fit for social plugins?

I will be thinking/blogging more about the last bullet – in the meantime, more to come on Facebook’s new tools and how to best put them to use.

If you have some ideas or some other great examples/models to look at, please leave a comment and let us all know…

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