Evolve With Social Or It Will Pass You By 12th July, 2017

Social is soaring and it doesn’t look set to slow down anytime soon. The majority of online users are moving away from computers in favour of smartphones. Figures released by OFCOM show 66% of the UK own a smartphone, as do 90% of 16-24 year olds. It’s the latter group that makes brand sponsorship on social platforms very profitable to those targeting their content at millennials. Social media sponsored content is fast becoming the best way to reach out and inform a digital generation.

Brands generally prefer the  method of sponsored content as it differs from usual native advertising and its purpose is to inform and not necessarily convince its audience, keeping the brand message much more authentic.

A case study posted on the Instagram website claims that sponsored posts results in 2.8x higher ad recall than other online advertising. The soft nature of the posts and the tailored way in which Instagram integrates the posts are the likely reasons for the higher re-call rate. The company has also moved to close the gap between celebrity endorsements and sponsored posts by placing them under one umbrella. Snapchat has also introduced it’s sponsored filters campaign, where brands can sponsor a filter for a specific amount of time. With 150 million users daily it makes for a very lucrative opportunity.

Facebook has gone a slightly different way and created a unique sponsorship system, which  is now in high demand. The company allows brands to sponsor user activity instead of posts. Partner’s simply pay to highlight an action that users have already taken on the social network or within a Facebook-connected app.

Social platforms have created great ways for brands to capitalise through sponsored content and thus far, audiences have been receptive to this influencing method due to sponsorship’s credibility to not be so intrusive. With social media continuously evolving and creating new opportunities for brands, rights holders must ensure that they are constantly up to date with changes so that they too can offer relevant opportunities for brands. It is not enough anymore to offer Facebook or Twitter posts as part of a sponsorship package. Rights holders need to understand how brands will want to use social platforms to ensure maximum cut through.

App-led Sponsorship 23rd June, 2014

On Wednesday, Facebook embarked upon its latest attempt to corner the social media market with the launch of the aptly named Slingshot app.  To many, the launch was a response to Facebook’s failed bid for rival and burgeoning app Snapchat – an instant messaging app for sharing photos and videos with friends.

As of May of this year, users were sending up to 700 million photos and videos per day, while Snapchat Stories content was being viewed 50 million times per day.  The recent surge in apps such as these has engendered new opportunities for sponsors to develop more creative and diverse social media strategies. Yet despite the overwhelming usage of apps such as Snapchat, the platform is still relatively untouched by brands – as such, here is an overview of recent campaigns using these platforms.

Diet Coke & Taylor Swift

Last year, Diet Coke used the app as part of its sponsorship of Taylor Swift’s Red Tour. People who subscribed to Diet Coke’s virtual scavenger hunt received one picture a day for five days. Each picture revealed clues regarding location of that day’s item and those who collected all five items won a free concert ticket. Due to the success of this campaign, Swift was able to directly engage with Swift’s audience on a global scale.

Heineken & Coachella

More recently Heineken, through their sponsorship of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, created a Snapchat account called HeinekenSnapWho. Users received clues throughout the weekend about who would be performing and those who responded with the correct answer would get an early confirmation from Heineken.

Both of these activations demonstrate the extensive opportunity available for brands to generate their own content through these apps.  Furthermore, over two thirds of Snapchat’s 60 million users are mostly under the age of 25 meaning that Snapchat offers access to a very young demographic. This explains why Audi, through their sponsorship of Pretty Little Liars, have been Snapchatting exclusive content to users as it allows them to integrate their brand with their target demographic.


Of course, Snapchat isn’t the only app out there offering a platform for brands to get creative. Twitter’s video sharing service, Vine, has also attracted a number of sponsors due to the fact that the prerequisite of any viral video on Vine is creativity. In an article on digitaltrends.com, Meagan Cignoli, a Vine creator with over 300,000 followers, says that she is regularly courted by sponsors. Previous sponsorship deals having been agreed with Nike, Lowes and Rite Aid, allowing both the sponsors more social media coverage whilst she’s been able to extend the reach and authority of her own name by attaching herself to these brands. Therefore a ‘symbiotic relationship was created between a viral-hungry sponsor and Vine content creator’.

Vine has approximately 40 million users, 20 million less than Snapchat, however what they both share is a requirement for sponsors to be creative with their strategies. It is through apps such as these that sponsorship becomes so much more than just about the logo with more emphasis placed on integration, user generation and brand led content.

Promoted Posts – a decline of Facebook or a reflection of a shift in marketing? 21st November, 2012

In recent weeks Facebook has come under increased scrutiny over its introduction of charges on fan pages to promote posts. Charges on these pages – used by businesses to interact with potential customers – have caused widespread anger against the social media giant. From tech billionaire and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban threatening to leave the NBA teams fan page neglected to George Takai’s claims he will dedicate a whole chapter of his new book to the matter, Facebook has come under fire for their commercial shift. Is this profiteering?

Behaviour targeting

Effective in January, promoted posts work in conjunction with wider changes made by Facebook regarding what users see on their newsfeed. Facebook has created an algorithm to filter the content that reaches people. This behaviour targeting reacts to how people engage with posts and other people and will feed marketing and behaviour information accordingly.

Promoted posts

Promoted posts provide the new option of paying to promote specific posts. This change bypasses the behavioural targeting mentioned above to guarantee a certain amount of a targeted audience (and at a price, their friends) are guaranteed to see a specific post. Payment for this service is scaled.

The advantages – Business

While many are outraged at this new model, there are a number of commercial advantages for brands:

  1. Analytics – when a post has been promoted you are now able to receive a breakdown of post views and viral capabilities.
  2. Fan Appz – provides instant measurement of any advertising campaigns in real time and works to help you convert fans into advocates.
  3. Affordable – the scaled system of payment means promoting posts is a viable option for all sizes of business.

The advantages – Consumer

  1. Better creative – payment to promote posts forces brands to consider the quality of their advertising far more. While before pages could churn out posts with little thought for content quality, the introduction of charges should encourage companies to be more thoughtful in their approach.
  2. Targeted information – as internet users currently fight a war on noise receiving millions of marketing messages online, targeting ads ensure that you are served ads that are relevant to your purchase behaviour.

A wider shift

While Facebook’s promoted posts for many will always appear part of its wider decline since capitalisation, it in fact marks a larger shift among social media companies into being viable businesses. From Twitter’s ‘Promoted Tweets’ to Tumblr signing agencies to bring in advertising revenue, Facebook’s model both fits a growing trend while offering clear advantages for both business and consumer.

Beginner's Guide to Social Media for Small Businesses 27th February, 2012

Social media is a topic we often cover, both with clients and the sponsors we manage.  So we thought we’d provide some more insight into the most recognised platforms and more specifically how it relates to small businesses.

From a sponsorship rights holder’s perspective, providing the opportunity for potential sponsors to integrate with you on social media is as important as ensuring that those channels are also engaging the audience.  And the same can be said for small businesses.

Small business owners should not expect immediate success throughsocial media.  A survey from the Chartered Institute of Marketing has revealed:  34% of 1,500 marketers questioned deemed their social media activity in 2011 was ‘not at all effective’, while only 13% said it was ‘extremely effective’.   However, small business owners should take note that the majority of those polled saw it as a tool of engagement (37%), or as support to other channels in a campaign (46%).  Having a presence on Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin is unlikely to result in immediate sales.  What social media does allow you to do is promote your brand to an audience who is interested in hearing from you.

Engaging with your customers is not going to be easy and it certainly won’t happen overnight.  But if you put in an hour a day and approach it correctly you will be rewarded with subscribers, friends, or tweeps who understand who your company is, what it does and potentially why they should engage with it – hopefully leading on to them becoming brand advocates.

Whilst every company can benefit from some form of social media, not every form of social media will fit your company.  It is therefore important to choose the platform where your audience is, not the platform that may get the most press.  The main platforms small businesses are currently using:


Set to hit 1 billion users in August, Facebook is undoubtedly the king of social media.  With the average user spending over 15 minutes generally surveying their Facebook terrain, you would think it was the perfect tool for smaller companies to engage with their target audience.  Yet a quick look and you’ll find countless business pages with 50 likes and fewer comments.  Sarah Orchard, from Orchard Marketing Associates, makes the point that:

‘Facebook is a social space, so users are not as receptive to business-orientated messages.  The question you have to ask yourself is: “is my business one that can tap into the emotional side of people’s lives?”

If your business fits this criteria then really try to make your Facebook page an interactive, enlightening and most importantly a worthwhile experience for the user.  If you put on an annual music festival, comedy show or quiz night in the local pub, get attendees to sign up to join your Facebook page as they leave. Then, use your page as a hub for anything interesting related to your event to create publicity.

One stand-out example of utilising Facebook and making each visit exciting is one of our newest clients: Croatian-based music festival Outlook.  Only 5 years old and Outlook already has 54,000 likes on their Facebook page.  With the build-up to festival season already under way, Outlook will  continuie to use their Facebook page as an ideal marketing tool hosting DJ competitions, posting reviews of artists scheduled to play and uploading videos from last year to create a buzz around the event.


With much more focus on business networking, Linkedin is a great tool tokeep in touch with former colleagues and find new prospects.  The Q&A function is a great way to both highlight what your company does and how it does it, as well as gaining useful advice to better run your own business.  Being a member on Linkedin also allows you to start, join and participate in group discussions.  If you provide unique insight on a given topic on a consistent basis you will become an authority on your area of interest – (you can even become a Linkedin designated ‘expert’!).  A potential client may be looking for information on your area of expertise, stumble across a post of yours that really connects with them and contact you as a direct result.


The site allows users to post images of your company’s product and link themback to your website. It acts as an online catalogue, except that images can be (much like Facebook) commented on and ‘re-pinned’ to other user’s boards.   It may be relatively new – the site was launched in 2010 – but Pinterest is already being touted as the most valuable marketing tool for smaller businesses on the web.  There are already 7 million registered members on Pinterest with a report from Shareholic claiming that more traffic is driven to company websites and blogs than Linkedin, Google+ and YouTube combined.  The major drawback of the site is that if your company’s product or services are not particularly visual, you may struggle to get across exactly what you offer.  On the other hand, it gives you a chance to be more creative, using evocative images that intrigue other users into finding out more about your company.  Here are 15 of the most popular pictures on Pinterest.


Twitter is a great way to keep people interested in your business or project and remind them of what you are doing.  Your followers will be able to see your tweets on their ‘twitter-feed’.   The great thing about this is that they do not have to consciously go to your page for you to get your message across to them and already have chosen to be receptive to your messages by actively following you.   With clear and informative tweets you have the power to reach your client-base and build up a picture of exactly what your company does, which creates brand exposure.

Business Blogs

Business blogs are a no-frills way of sharing your company’s expertise and knowledge with a wider audience.  The software is incredibly easy to use (e.g. WordPress, Blogware etc.) and cheap (and in most cases free) to run, meaning you don’t have to learn HTML or spend huge amounts on a web designer.   If you post interesting content, people will return to your blog, retweet it or share it on Facebook.  A couple of great examples of blogs giving real value to the business are Gizmodo (gadget magazine) and Stony Field Farms (Organic Dairy Products).

And of course do not forget to sign up to the Slingshot Sponsorship blog so you can keep up to date on great tips just like these!

Do Social Media Benefits Really Benefit Sponsors? 15th September, 2011

Social media has not only changed the way an audience can interact with a sponsorship property, but also with how they can interact with the sponsors of that property and vice versa.  Without fully understanding social media for the organisation in question, it would be impossible to try and deliver value to a sponsor associated.

Here are some top tips and questions to ask yourself before you consider integrating sponsorship benefits within your sponsorship proposal.

Do You Have an Online Audience?

Many sponsorship proposals include social media activation with their audience for prospective sponsors; however, this is typically even before they’ve even set up the account.  Many rights owners do not realise that it can take a significant amount of resource to develop and manage social networks so make time to do your research before you promise brands something you aren’t able to deliver at the point of signing the contract.

The benefit of social media is that it is instantaneous, but if you haven’t developed your social network before you offer the rights over to a sponsor, you aren’t offering much of anything.

Is Your Social Network Engaged?

Once you’ve built your social network, you need to ensure that the users are engaged with your content.  If you don’t have an engaged audience then there is no benefit to a sponsor of your property because their message will be falling on deaf ears.

5 Tips to Creating Engaging Content:

  1. Be relevant
  2. Provide insight
  3. Offer competitions or money-can’t buy benefits for engaging with you
  4. Provide exclusive content they can’t find anywhere else
  5. If possible, try to be genuinely funny

Does Your Social Network Want to Hear From Your Sponsors?

Your network is important and needs to be treated with care.  Do not sign them up and then bombard them with messages that they do not want to hear.  This rings true for any and all communication, but especially with social media as it far easier to individuals to block messages online than it is through the post.

Make sure to listen to your audience and provide them content that they find valuable.  As long as your sponsor’s messages fall in line with these guidelines you can ensure that you are truly delivering the benefits you are offering.

To connect with Slingshot’s social networks sign up to our Blog or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Social Media and Sponsorship: Can Facebook & YouTube Ever Become Co-brandable Assets for Brands? 19th May, 2011

I recently was asked to write a guest blog for Content & Motion – a fantastic social PR agency with some great clients.  They wanted some insight into whether or not their area of expertise could be used to create sponsorship opportunities for brands.  It is a question I get posed often and it was a great opportunity to put some thoughts together.  The blog looks at developing online audiences and how access to these audience could be turned into sponsorship rights.  It also looks into specific opportunities that could be built within Facebook and You Tube.

And in the nature of social media – we’ve just launched our Facebook page where you can get a backstage pass (photos, quotes, vox pops, and competitions) for all of the events we are involved with!

Excerpt from the Content & Motion blog:

With brands utilising and recognising the power of Social Media to drive revenue, such as @DellOutlet attributing $3million in sales to its Twitter account, it’s no surprise to learn that brands are trying to monetise the audiences they have built.Although the majority of social platforms already have built in advertising functionality (i.e. the Video Targeting Tool powered by Google Ads on YouTube), there are additional opportunities to create new media assets within your content as long as it is not intrusive to the audience experience…

Check out the full sponsorship & social media blog post here.