Sports and Social Media - Why Should Sponsors Care?

Today is the last post in a series with thoughts from some pretty smart folks to try to answer the question of why people should care about the intersection of sports and social media. You can see the first eight posts below:

Even if you already know why this is important, I hope you enjoy getting a variety of perspectives on this subject. If you have bosses, colleagues or friends that still don't get it, maybe they'll find some value in this series if you share it with them.

Today's topic is sponsors. Sponsors should care because social media can help them increase the effectiveness and reach of their programs and activation efforts. Social media can help them achieve their goals and reach fans in interesting ways at the stadium and beyond it. Everything online is measurable, so sponsors can see what is driving actions/activity they're interested in.

See below for a few thoughts from other smart folks about why properties should care about sports and social media.

Jackie Adkins - Social media gives sponsors a whole new medium to reach fans. The catch is the sponsors have to completely rethink how they approach fans in this medium. Talking at them isn’t going to work, so sponsors have to figure out how to start conversations with the end-consumer in a non-intrusive manner that leans more towards a conversation than it does advertising.

Dennis Allen - Social media provides sponsors a way to eliminate layers between them and their consumers. The real time assessment of their brand, product and strategy is invaluable in today’s world of global competition. Social media also affords them a way to be more personally involved with their audiences. As well as a method to get out in front of potential negative branding issues before they cause irreparable damage.

Anthony De Rosa - Sponsors, like properties need to connect organically on social media. They have to be here because that's where the audience is.

Brian Gainor - Sponsors should care about social media because it serves as an additional channel to deliver and reap value from their property agreements. Sponsors can utilize social media as a cost-effective, engaging means to drive awareness for programs/promotional offers, drive traffic to microsites and URLs, stimulate discussion about products/team affiliation, capitalize on new inventory (owning social media channels), and seamlessly align with athlete endorsers (to name just a few). Properties are still in the early stages of developing and valuing their social media channels, so sponsors looking to make a huge splash with limited activation dollars should seek out this inventory now!

Lewis Howes - Sponsors should be looking at new ways to use social media in their campaigns in place of the traditional advertising methods. It's no secret that people are becoming less trusting of companies and want to trust and interact with "real" people today. Sponsors should capitalize on that and come up with sponsorships that are personable to their consumers.

Ash Read - Social media allows sponsors to build up relationships with sports fans. Rather than just broadcasting their message they can provide interesting content, interact with fans and really build their brand through sponsorship. If a sponsor really wants to make the most from their sponsorship they should look into the possibilities of social media and digital activations. Sponsors shouldn’t try and use social media as a way to broadcast their brand name though, they should look to provide content that fans will appreciate and become a part of the community.

Brian Reich - The economy of eyeballs has been undermined by social media -- its not enough to deliver a message, a brand now has to make a strong case for why their product is worth buying, address questions that consumers might have... and explain how their connection to an athlete or team can translate to an individual's life. Sponsoring a sporting event and having your ads appear in the stadium or between segments of the broadcast won't be enough. Fans get information from a variety of sources, and they look for more information than what is simply put in front of them before deciding to make a deeper investment. Sponsors make it possible for sports leagues to exist and games to be played, but social media gives them both an opportunity - and I would argue an observation -- to add more to the fan experience, and the quality of the sports offering as well. They can use sports sponsorship as a venue to deliver a message about their commitment to a serious issues -- and mobilize action among fans to respond and support a worth cause. They can add data and insight, through a lens that promotes their products or services -- and in doing so demonstrate the value of their offering and commitment to creating a valuable experience for the audience. But they have to do something different if they want to realize a return on their investment.

Trevor Turnbull - Social media is all about building relationships. The success of a sponsorship agreement can be directly related to how closely tied their brand is to a team, athlete or event. Social media allows sponsors the opportunity to directly associate themselves to a sports team, athlete, venue or event. The influence that these entities have over their fan base can be directly attributed to the connection consumers might inevitably have with a sponsor.

Brendan Whilhide - Social media is a unique opportunity to reach your audience directly. Also, when done well, marketing via social media can have incredible results. See the recent Old Spice viral YouTube campaign as evidence of that.

Joseph Yi - To an extent, social media has changed the way that sponsorship deals have developed. No longer are online assets limited to banner placements and pre-roll advertisements on videos. Rather, sponsors are looking for ways to tap into the large distribution opportunities that social media provides. Because of social media's sharing capabilities when sponsors look at areas like impressions, visibility, and the distribution networks that are possible, the opportunities are endless.

Now it's your turn - why do you think sponsors should care?

It's been a lot of fun putting this series together. Hope you enjoyed it as much as I have.

*photo credit -