In this Sponsorship 101 series so far, we’ve looked at how to get a sponsor and how to promote said sponsor at blog conferences. Now let’s look at ways you can promote your sponsor online before, during, and after attending the blog conference.
In all honesty, most of the ways you will promote your sponsor will be via social media and blogs. Utilize your influence and voice to increase exposure for the company by using various social media platforms and creative marketing concepts. Think outside of the box for ideas and start believing in the fact that you have something to offer companies.
Promoting Sponsors Online Before and After Conferences
- Ad space: Offer advertising on your blog for a determined amount of time. Be specific regarding size and placement of this ad, keeping in mind that advertisements above the fold (i.e space you can see without scrolling down) are usually more valuable than those below it. Also make sure they are in accordance with the IAB Ad Unit Guidelines. Determine the length of time the ad will be placed based on the sponsorship amount. Therefore, if you’re receiving a full sponsorship, that ad would obviously be up longer than if you’re receiving partial sponsorship. (Note: If you belong to an ad network, be sure to check with their guidelines regarding hosting private ads as some networks don’t allow it).
- Twitter and Facebook: Bloggers usually think of using these social media platforms when considering how to increase exposure for their sponsor, and rightfully so because they are excellent avenues to accomplish this. However, it’s important to take the thought of being authentic one step further. It’s not only important to be authentic with your sponsor, but also to be authentic with your community. Spamming your subscribers/followers on Twitter and Facebook with constant messages about your sponsor will most likely result in the complete opposite of your goal and turn people off. Instead, a handful of authentic tweets and Facebook mentions about the company, their products, and gratitude for their sponsorship are generally received better and more effective. You can specify the number of tweets/Facebook messages you will send out up front in your pitch.
- Posts on Your Blog: You can write posts about your sponsor and their products and/or include a note at the bottom of posts with conference-related content that states the post was sponsored by the company (i.e. sponsored posts). Inserting a “Thanks to ____ for sponsoring my attendance” and link to their site in your post is a natural fit when writing about the conference you’re attending. Again, remember the goal is to promote without spamming your community, so don’t try to work your sponsor into every post you write! You can specify the number of posts you will write about them/that include reference to them up front in your pitch.
- Posts on Their Blog: Many companies now have blogs on their website. Offer to write a post or two for their blog about why you enjoy their products, how you/your kids utilize them, or anything else relevant to the content on their blog.
- Sponsorship Page on Your Blog: Once you’ve found sponsorship, use your “sponsorship package” page on your blog to highlight your sponsor(s) via a list.
- Host a Twitter Party: This option is a bit more complex, but can be a great way to highlight your sponsor(s). The theme of the party could be to discuss your sponsor(s) products/services, how they would benefit people, etc. To execute this, you’ll need to create a personalized hashtag for your sponsor(s) or themed party for people to follow and join the party. You will also want some products (or even a conference ticket) to giveaway during the Twitter party. If you’ve never run one before, chat with someone who has hosted one before to find out how to have a Twitter party. I also strongly suggest checking the Twitter party calendar so you don’t plan yours at a time you’d be competing with others (note: not everyone uses this calendar, so you will most likely find another party happening around the same time anyhow, but using it helps decrease chances of overlap).
- Vlog: Just because you’ve never done a vlog before doesn’t mean you can’t! Break out (or buy) a webcam* or hand-held video camera* and vlog about your sponsor instead of posting. People enjoy vlogs because they feel connected to the blogger, so use this method to show your sponsor’s products, how you like to use them, and anything else you feel will increase exposure and interest in the company. This is often an option that people forget about.
- Company Logo on Twitter Page: You know how people have background images on their Twitter pages? Why not post the company’s logo as your background image for a specified time period to help increase exposure? You can also add their website URL to the bottom of your Twitter avatar or do that instead of using their logo as the background of your Twitter page. (Note: Whenever using company logos, remember to get permission before using it in any capacity).
Promoting Sponsors Online During Conferences
- Run a “Live” Giveaway or Contest: If your sponsor has items or services you can giveaway (or a blog conference ticket to future conferences), think about running a live giveaway while at the conference. An example of this was when BookieBoo asked attendees at a recent conference to find her for the chance to win a ticket to that conference in 2011 and also extended that option to those at home following on Twitter. But if you choose to use this method, be sure you don’t spam the conference-specific hashtag and don’t overtweet about it. People will most likely retweet for you anyhow and excessive tweeting about your promotions will only annoy people. Consider coming up with a personalized hashtag for the promotion and/or your sponsor instead of just using the conference-specific hashtag.
- Live Blog or Tweet: If you’re one who said they like to bring a laptop to blog conferences (although you can just use your smartphone), consider keeping your readers/followers updated on the info you’re learning with real-time tweets and blog posts. If you’re live-tweeting, insert the occasional thanks to your sponsor (i.e. a few times is plenty!). If you’re live-blogging, post information sometime during the conference, again thanking your sponsor for helping you attend. But before you decide on this promotional method, think about the implications it may have on your ability to stay present and really absorb the information during sessions.
- Take Videos or Pictures For Company: If you do decide to hand out promotional items (in non-conference areas), take videos and pictures of people using the item for your sponsor to use on their website or just as a source of information. Ask people to sit for a short video telling the brand what they think about their products. Again, this is hard to execute due to the busy conference schedule and the inability to do this within conference areas, but you may be able to orchestrate this in your hotel room or other non-official conference area.
Final Thoughts On The Topic….
There are other ways to promote your sponsors online, but hopefully these ideas have sparked some creativity and have you thinking. Sponsorship is about relationships that are mutually beneficial and many times, fabulous promotional ideas come to mind when you sit and think about how you and the potential sponsor are a great fit.
Remember to stay true to yourself, your blog, and your blogging philosophy. Don’t sell your soul or commit to things too far out of your comfort zone to get a sponsor because it will leave you feeling uncomfortable, the company feeling unfulfilled, and people thinking you’re extremely desperate just to get sponsored by anyone regardless of fit. Also remember to respect the conference personal sponsorship guidelines and the general rule of blogging: no spamming.
The next post in the Sponsorship 101 series will look into other ways to work with your sponsor that doesn’t include promotions.
What are your thoughts on promoting sponsors online?
What other methods have you come up with to do so?