Social Media and its impact on sponsorship

I read today’s IEG with enthusiasm today. I was looking for some inspiration, some excitement. Something beyond the “how to get more business” articles that myself and thousands of others are writing right now.

Everyone is writing those articles because it is definitely top of mind. What do we do to stand out? How do we engage our attendees and sponsors in new and exciting ways? I think we are all clear, it’s not enough right now to “have a great event”. IEG published an article today about social media and its impact on Sponsorships. Now, I love IEG’s articles, they are relevant and to the point. Here’s my frustration, most of the examples it used of properties making the most of it were large sports entities (Phoenix Suns, Tostitos Fiesta Bowl). It was a little myopic in that it focused largely on one piece of social media: owning your proprietary website with social networking opportunities. But the social media opportunities are not limited to the big dogs – in fact, social media and it’s opportunities are perhaps the most democratic marketing vehicles out there. Whether you are a property with 50,000+ attendees or a monthly networking event, you can – and should – utilize social media.

There are so many ways to capitalize on social media to create revenue for your property, large or small. Let’s look at a couple of practical, start-right-now things you can do.

Use LinkedIn – If you haven’t already, start a group for your sponsors-and sponsors only. Utilize this forum to encourage them to work together and find new ways to partner with each other using your property as a launching pad. LinkedIn lends itself to business professionals and has a well developed tool for business communication. Make sure that you are regularly engaging them about industry up dates, event information first. Make this THE online destination to be for your sponsors. The Group mechanism for LinkedIn allows you to approve members, so you can always be sure this group is exactly who you want it to be.

You can also use LinkedIn to connect your attendees and Sponsors in yet another group. Partner with other industry “groups” on LinkedIn to offer some reciprocal promotion and arrangement.

Engage the LinkedIn community by becoming an industry expert. Ask and answer questions.

Use Facebook – While you are at it, start a group for your audience as well. Facebook is particularly well suited to maintaining a relationship with your audience/attendees. You can engage them regularly with invitations and updates and start question and answer dialogues. Use Facebook to drive your audience to your website to view new info, exciting announcements and relevant blogs from people your audience wants to hear from. Using Facebook as a community and invite forum will drive traffic to your website and enable you to make the most of your website as a revenue generator.

Use and Monitor Twitter – For real-time, honest assessments of the audience experience, watch the comments on Twitter. Also, be sure to keep the energy alive about your event by posting news and updates on Twitter regularly, and even more often as the event gets closer and closer. Keep it relevant, keep it fun, keep it short and people will subscribe.

Remember, using social media doesn’t take a lot of money, its time consuming, but may very well be worth the brand and marketing awareness. However, if you want to turn it into cash, you really have to be prepared on your website to be offering content that people will want to hear about. Make your website more than just pages and pages of unsearchable, old, information.

If you are considering some major upgrades, ask yourself, how can I keep the attention of my online guests? What do they want to see? Do I allow them to create an online “identity”(avatar), how important is that to my audience? Can they “share” the info on my site through other social media networks, Facebook, Delicious, etc. How can I offer my sponsors a place without traditional advertising? What online “experiences” exist which tie-in to my event? How do I ensure that my sponsor’s message is relevant and not just visible?

Social media audiences will want to be able take it all the way. Have fun with them. Offer your sponsors a way to reach this active, networked crowd. Whenever you can connect sponsors with audience in a relevant, engaging way, you have potential business on your hands. THERE IS YOUR NEW BUSINESS. There is the way to grow. Now, go get ‘em

Psssttt.. you can find me on LinkedIn and on Twitter and if that’s just not can use good ole’ fashioned email: