As social media hits the next phase of maturation, a critical point of engagement will be driving revenue through social sponsorships. To really grow revenue, it must grow beyond sponsored posts, pre-roll ads/messages and promoted tweets. The next steps are:
Integrating a brand seamlessly into an entire content program
Driving interaction and participation to make a campaign truly social
Latching onto an old media partner to help drive awareness and participation
What? Collaborating with old media? Why can’t social media alone be enough to drive awareness and participation? It is not just the future but also the present of sharing information. YouTube has over 4 Billion view per day and 60 hours of video is uploaded each minute, Twitter averages 340 million tweets daily from over 140 million users and the Facebook has over 526 million active daily users. Isn’t that large enough scale to subsist on its own for a compelling sponsorship play?
Just this past week ESPN and Twitter announced a partnership that would allow sponsors to associate themselves with a program where participates send in their best Gamefaces via Twitter to ESPN. The winning photographs will be revealed on NBA Tonight and on ESPN.com by host JalenRose twitter account with over 650,000 followers and @NBAonESPN with over 280,000 followers. There is also thought to include SportsCenter into this campaign as well to increase overall reach. That, ladies and gentleman, is the lynchpin – the access to an old media platform for both promotion and participation. The sponsor is paying for a partnership with twitter but they are really paying for a link to an old school television show with Twitter sprinkled on top for a new spin/flavor of the day.
This is not the first time ESPN has married old school media with new school social media. It first engaged in this strategy with a campaign called YourHighlight sponsored by @ATT. When it was launched it was the most successful UGC North American Campaign that YouTube had ever engaged in. Over 2,000 entries were submitted over a 6-week period of time. People went through their archives to pull out old and recent footage of themselves or their children doing something cool on the sports field, with a payoff of seeing themselves on TELEVISION – the mothership of ESPN programming – @SportsCenter. That was the motivating factor. There is one thing to be a YouTube star, but it’s a whole other thing to be a star on SportsCenter. We noticed that even though we received 20-30 video entries per day through online marketing, our entries would reach into the triple digits after it was promoted on the Thursday morning SportsCenter. There was no denying the impact of old school media on the success of this program – both in activation and monetarily. And that is where ESPN has mastered the inclusion of social media into the ad revenue space. They understand that social media on its own can be a very powerful force, but combined with old school media, in a smart and impactful way, it can be a much greater campaign. They repeated this successful play again with SportsNation a year later. I will not be surprised if this Twitter program is a hit as well as it encompasses a much easier interaction by the consumer (uploading pictures on twitter as opposed to video on YouTube) and includes a well known influencer with active fans to push out the campaign. Other brands and media companies would be smart to doing more of this interaction as they try to utilize the power of social media. I mean I am all ready to post my picture for “GLEEK of the Week” for @GLEEonFOX Facebook page next year. You wait and see.