Can Facebook and YouTube become sponsorship platforms?

By: Jackie Fast

Date: 14 July 2011

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 (such as 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.

Audience = cash

Sponsorship rights are valuable as they deliver an engaged audience — typically they are niche audiences with a specific set of demographics. The larger the audience and/or the harder they are to reach, the more valuable the sponsorship rights are (and the higher price they can be sold for).

If you build it, they might come

Not all brands or celebrities have the potential to become social media sponsorship platforms. A successful long-term social media strategy would be key in driving sponsorship opportunities. Without an engaging community, there is no audience on which sponsorship rights can be built. Furthermore, making money through social media should not be the primary goal — sustainable sponsorship revenue should be a long-term objective. An audience must first be built, then interacted with, and finally be loyal before introducing sponsors into the mix.

If you sell it, they might leave

The key to integrating sponsorship within social media platforms is to ensure that the messages fit within the context of the user experience you have built. Social media is based on sharing freely available content — plastering logos to your content will only create disengagement, and will eradicate your sponsorship value.

With advertisements already placed on Facebook and YouTube, creating additional branded media assets needs to be relevant.

Sponsored content on Facebook

Facebook pages are an effective way to create a dialogue between your brand and the consumer. Opportunities throughout Facebook could include jointly branded competitions for all users who “Like” your page, which can be posted on the Wall or sent via a direct message from the brand (though you must also bear in mind Facebook’s own rules and regulations for competitions).

Developing a sponsorship campaign that benefits both the brand and the sponsor is a good initiation of sponsored content for users. Hilton Hotels recently partnered with London Irish Rugby fans, using Facebook to run competitions for “money can’t buy” prizes such as lunch with the players.

Sponsored content on YouTube

As branded content already exists on YouTube, introducing more branding may be seen as too overtly commercial. However, there are product placement and screen branding opportunities that can be integrated within the content of your video at the time of filming. Simple messaging at the opening and closing credits can be an easy way to position the association, which can lead into jointly produced videos in the future.

These are just some simple ways in which you can use the audience you have built to create a new revenue stream. The key thing is to remember that your social network is only possible through the audience, so any sponsorship that you choose to integrate needs to add value to the users’ experience in order to be both successful and sustainable.

Jackie Fast is an expert contributor to Marketing Donut and managing director of Slingshot, a specialist sponsorship agency.

You can read more about opportunities for sponsorship in our dedicated section.