Social media is everywhere, and the world’s heavy use of it could equal a major revenue source for your next conference or event. Here’s how to make social media work for you, according to Alex Plaxen, president and founder of Little Bird Told Media and host of a recent Visit Alexandria webinar entitled, “#Money: Sponsorship in the Age of Social Media.”
Sell the hashtag
Hashtags can be categorized on different levels, especially when it comes to an event. While the primary hashtag calls out your main event, it is the secondary categories that you can sell to sponsors, providing them with distinct exclusivity tied to your event. Let’s say our primary hashtag is #AlexMeetUp – a conference for meeting planners in Alexandria, Virginia. Secondary hashtags can take several forms:
- Tribalization: a hashtag connected to a specific segment within the group such as first-time attendees (#AlexMeetUpFirsttimers)
- Customer service: a help desk or service (#AlexMeetUpConcierge)
- Campaign: a specific campaign, like a membership drive(#AlexMeetUpMembers)
- Future events: Next year’s conference(#AlexMeetUp18)
There are six important steps to take when creating and using a salable hashtag.
- Search it: make sure no one else is using it. Search social media and the web as well, so you don’t miss a recent or intended future use.
- Advertise it: get it out there. More eyes = more use = more money.
- Use it: don’t just advertise it, use it yourself. But always in conjunction with the main event hashtag.
- Track it: set up tracking services to gather data.
- Quantify it: use the data to determine who used your hashtag and how often.
- Assign value: Determine what your hashtag is worth.
You can also make money by selling your activations and activities that already naturally occur at your events. Put a sponsored hashtag on all your activations and track usage. Examples include:
- Selfie spots: attendees want to show where they are. Find those spots where they will want to take a selfie—a cool back drop, big sign—and sponsor the selfie spot with a giant floor sign.
- Social media lounge: provide the perfect place for attendees to hang out and for a sponsor to connect with attendees.
- Social media team: create a team of folks to wander the floor and answer questions. Sponsor their T-shirts and you have roving billboards!
- Social media command center: maybe you have an area where a team is monitoring and answering attendee’s posts. If so, sponsor it.
- Tweet walls: showing off what attendees are posting? Sponsor it!
- Charging stations: a must to offer at any conference and easily sponsorable.
- Snapchat geofilters: very easily trackable and you can pick the location and time when you want it available. The best news is that Facebook and Twitter will soon have similar functions!
If you really want to make money selling social media, you need to be able to show your sponsors ROI. In determining ROI it helps to understand what possible sponsors want to achieve, what action sponsors want their audience to take and what measurement can you use to prove you delivered. Social media is innately salable because unlike standard forms of advertising, it is distinctly measurable.
Placing a value on posts is a relatively simple process. To do so, you need administrative access to the profiles on our social media channels so you can determine:
- Average reach for various post types including link posts, video posts and image posts
- Average various boosted-post budgets to determine approximate reach per dollar spent
- Average cost per view/reach
- Multiply average reach by average click through (industry standard for click through is 10%)
- Multiply average engagement by the approximate click-through cost (Industry standard for click-through cost is $1)
- Note that if boosting posts, you can charge more
To be a good partner to your sponsor, meet their goals and provide true ROI you need to understand and utilize certain analytics when creating a sponsorship opportunity:
- Audience profile: look at your demographic data to determine your audience. Make sure your audience is relevant to any sponsors you approach.
- Audience size: is your audience large enough for the sponsor? Tracking your growth rate can also help. Even if your audience is not large, if it is growing quickly it may attract a sponsor.
- Content analysis: know what content resonates with your attendees. If link posts are not popular with your group, don’t sell link posts as part of the sponsorship.
- Competitive benchmarking: look at what is working for your competitors.
- Community responsiveness: is your team quick to engage? Responsiveness is an attribute you can sell.
- Sentiment analysis: if attendees have a positive sentiment towards your brand it is certainly more salable. Point that out.
- Traffic: know how many people are clicking through and create a unique link for each social media platform to better track which platforms work best for you.
- Reach and engagement: both are valuable, so measure each.
Utilizing the above analytics can help you understand and sell your strengths as well as avoid your weaknesses. Lastly, when you go to sell, package it up. Bundle a set number of different types of posts and activations to give the sponsor varied, trackable visibility. With the right hashtag, targeted posts, strong activations and a plan to prove ROI, you are all set to create a money-making sponsorship opportunity for your next event.
To learn more, listen to Alex’s full webinar here.
Insider Tip: Make it easy! Download Alex’s social media sponsorship valuation template here.