Social media is powerful stuff. It’s created celebrities, introduced memes, and dropped that next viral piece of content right into your lap. Moreso, social media is an excellent tool for finding sponsors. How can you use it to beef up the sponsor list for your next event?
Here’s how to use social media to find sponsors for your event:
- Tap into your social networks
- Look at the kinds of brands your audience engages with
- Research potential sponsors on social media
- Track what your competitors are doing
- Post case studies, assets, and activations
As the list above illustrates, social media is a valuable tool for prospecting and connecting with sponsors. Keep reading for plenty of tips and information for using platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and more to find event sponsorship!
5 Methods for Using Social Media to Find Event Sponsors
1. Tap into Your Social Networks
The time has come to begin planning your next event. You want to branch out and obtain new sponsors this year (or perhaps none of the sponsors you wanted to renegotiate with were available, forcing your hand).
Where do you even start to find new sponsors?
Well, I recommend asking your current sponsors who they know when you two have a post-event meeting. Barring that, you can obtain referrals from your vast circle of professional contacts.
Start internally among your company or organization, then expand to your current and past partners and vendors. You should also put out feelers on social media.
If you want to reach the largest number of people, make a public post about your search for a sponsor. You can also keep matters more private by instant messaging or direct messaging contacts.
Someone usually knows someone, and all it takes is one viable lead for you to get the ball rolling.
If you find sponsorship prospects using this method, remember to mention the mutual connection when you initially contact the prospect.
This is like the other person vouching for you, so even if the sponsorship prospect didn’t consider responding to you before, that common connection might change their mind.
That doesn’t mean this prospect has to agree to a sponsorship deal with you. Not at all. They’re under no obligation to you this early on.
Instead, having a common connection just helps you get your foot in the door. You still have to do all the hard work to bring your sponsorship program to fruition.
2. Look at the Kinds of Brands Your Audience Engages With
Did you know you can use social media as a valuable prospecting tool? Indeed, you can!
Admittedly, some social media platforms are more useful for this than others. You need to use a platform that lets you review what kinds of brands your audience engages with, but you know, in a non-creepy way.
Instagram removed public likes a while ago, so I wouldn’t rely on that one anymore. Instead, you might use Twitter or Facebook.
Look at the audience who follows you on social media, going one by one. If they have public profiles, you should be able to see what kind they like and the pages they follow.
Write down the brands your audience enjoys. Continue doing this, and you’ll eventually amass a list of brands your audience keeps mentioning engaging with.
If you read my guide on prospecting for sponsors, this method should sound very familiar to you. Instead of using social media, I usually suggest surveying your audience and asking about the brands they use and enjoy.
You can still do that but augment your research with social media. You could come up with a whole new list of white-hot prospects.
From there, you can research the brands that advertise to fans of the original brands, then their competitors, expanding your prospects list even further.
3. Research Potential Sponsors on Social Media
Once you’ve collected your prospects list, you can use social media to dig further into your potential sponsors.
How? Just look them up on a few platforms. Watch some YouTube videos or TikTok clips, read through some Twitter and Facebook posts, and see what they post on LinkedIn.
A company’s social media presence is no less curated than what they post on its website, but it grants you a good opportunity to see more of the company. You get a much better feel for them than you would be reading an “about” blurb.
Why do this in the first place, you ask?
You don’t want to select a brand to be a sponsor and partner without knowing more about them. When you choose a brand out of the blue or select one based on its name value, you’re ignoring the potential that it might not gel with your audience.
Your event attendees want brands that resonate with them. If you can’t deliver that to them, it doesn’t matter how big of a brand you selected for your event. Your audience won’t care.
You typically don’t have to dig very deep to find inconsistencies between your brand and theirs. Cross off these prospects now, even if they are some bigger-name brands you hoped would bring your event acclaim.
The success of your event is completely dependent on your audience. They don’t necessarily care about the name brand value or star power of your sponsors. What matters more is having a plethora of appealing sponsors to engage with.
That’s what makes your event memorable!
4. Track What Your Competitors Are Doing
This tip might sound a little odd to you. How does looking at your competition help you find new sponsors?
Your competitors can give you ideas of which sponsors to approach or at least in which directions to look.
Allow me to explain. Your competitors host events of a similar size and scope to yours. You and they might have an overlapping audience, which you’d know from the results of your survey. Therefore, the kinds of sponsors they work with may be the types of sponsors you want to work with.
I’m not saying you should try to poach sponsors from your competitors. If your competition has publicly announced working with a sponsor, you can assume the two have penned a deal and negotiated terms.
You wouldn’t be able to book the sponsor right then and there anyway since that time is otherwise accounted for.
I’m not even saying you should necessarily work with the same sponsors, just that you should use your competitor’s sponsors to inspire your own.
For example, maybe your competitor has sponsors in a niche or industry that you wouldn’t have thought to break into.
That doesn’t mean you should blindly add sponsors in that niche or industry to your prospects list. Instead, you need to think about your audience and what they’d be most receptive to.
If you have detailed audience data, especially psychographics, you shouldn’t struggle to determine whether your audience would like a certain type of sponsor.
5. Post Case Studies, Assets, and Activations
I saved my best suggestion for last. If you want to find sponsors for your next event on social media and become a sponsorship magnet, it’s time to fine-tune the type of content you post on social media.
Although I’m not a marketer, I think like one a lot, as sponsorship is very much about marketing. One marketing tactic for spreading your brand on social media is to post high-value content.
If all you do is post about your event, that’s valuable to an extent, but the value only goes so far. No one wants salesy post after salesy post.
Think of why someone would follow you and what would make them stay. It’s a variety of content that piques their curiosity and connects with them.
Now think of what would make you stand out to a sponsor. That’s strong activations, assets, and case studies. That content also happens to be valuable and whets attendees’ appetites ahead of your event.
So why not make it the best of both worlds? Start posting those case studies from the sponsor you worked with during your last event.
If you don’t have a sponsorship history, surely, you’ve worked with vendors and other business partners, right? If so, write case studies about them.
A case study is a strong form of social proof that drives trust. Your audience reads a case study and realizes they’ve chosen a good company to spend their money on.
A potential sponsor reads a case study and sees how you’ve helped other businesses overcome their challenges. They can now envision what you can do for them to assist them in getting over their own roadblocks.
Showcasing assets and activations on social media is like free hype for your event but in a much more engaging, high-value fashion. Your audience will be very excited for your upcoming event, and you could even see an influx in ticket sales.
Your sponsor will see this kind of content, and again, they’ll begin envisioning what it would be like to work with you.
If you’re not using social media to find event sponsors, why not?
Platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube can help you connect with your target audience, do prospect research, keep an eye on the competition and what kinds of sponsors they’re working with, and drive up interest in your event.
I hope you use social media to grow your sponsor list!
- About the Author
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Chris Baylis is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Sponsorship Collective.
After spending several years in the field as a sponsorship professional and consultant, Chris now spends his time working with clients to help them understand their audiences, build activations that sponsors want, apply market values to their assets and build strategies that drive sales.
Read More about Chris Baylis