So, you’re producing an endless stream of high-quality social media content that your audience loves and consistently engages with? Congratulations; you’re living every social media manager’s dream. But now you’re wondering: “How can I find opportunities to monetize this content and drive more revenue through my social media performance?”
Answer: Branded social content.
Branded, also known as sponsored, social content leverages a popular social handle to push out posts for a paid advertiser by integrating their brand, messaging, or logo into anything from an existing series, popular personality, or something bespoke in the publisher’s voice.
Take this simple example: A popular lifestyle network has a strong following on social. Ahead of their upcoming cooking show, they sell a piece of branded content with the star where they showcase the best recipes you can make with their pasta. The videos feature the logo of that pasta brand in the top corner and the star only cooks with products from that brand in the videos. That series is a branded content campaign done in partnership with the top pasta producer to broaden their reach to the lifestyle network’s audience.
Branded content can be very engaging to an audience. According to a recent brand lift study conducted by Facebook, across Facebook and Instagram, the average video completion rates for entertainment branded content video ads are higher than non-branded content video ads for shorter video lengths of 15 second to 30 seconds.
Now that we’ve defined the terms, let’s talk about how social media managers can monetize content through branded content and sponsorship opportunities. This article dives into five key steps to consider as you build out your branded content campaigns and highlights the data points you need to maximize the value of your social channels.
Evaluate your inventory
How do you decide what kind of content to offer up to potential sponsors? It’s important to be able to articulate and quantify the value of running campaigns on your social footprint. There are many ways to approach this, but it’s important to have an idea of what you’re willing to supply before you begin conversations with potential sponsors as well as what will provide them with a strong ROI. To do this, you should evaluate your inventory to understand who your audience is and what type of content resonates most strongly with them.
Identify your top performing campaigns: Take a look at what content performs well on your handles. Does your audience react well to heartfelt stories? Are your funny videos the most shared? If you have successful video series that consistently deliver high numbers of comments and shares, you can offer that to a sponsor who is looking to boost audience engagement with their brand. The metrics you’ll want to look for will vary depending on the goals of each sponsor, but here are a few goals and metrics to consider:
- Brand Awareness: Impressions, likes, video views, overall reach, audience size
- Content Engagement: Shares, comments, engagement rate, mentions
- Audience Growth: Audience size, follower growth, demographic data
Know your audience: A good social analytics platform can help you get a deep understanding of the demographics, interests, and behaviors of your audience. So if you know you have a strong female, sports-obsessed following, perhaps developing a content campaign around their interests can be a great way to gain sponsorship from sports companies whose target market resembles your audience. That way you know you can reach the audience they’re looking for and the content is tailored specifically to that group for higher engagement.
Find expansion opportunities: If you’re already engaging with a sponsor on another part of your business, consider expanding the scope of that engagement to include a social media campaign. Sponsorship campaigns can be more effective if they are integrated across various touchpoints and channels, amplifying a coordinated message and strengthening brand association. The sponsor benefits from additional exposure and you can increase the size of your sponsorship deal and your incremental social revenue.
Establish your rate card
Once you understand your inventory’s value, it’s time to determine how you price these opportunities. While pricing can vary across companies and industries, there are a few things to always consider:
- Audience details: What does your audience look like? Are you able to segment your social media audience and create content specifically tailored to each of those segments? Sponsors want to know that the target market they’re trying to reach is one of your key audience segments.
- Average delivery benchmarks: Do you know how your content typically performs? Having benchmarks to give sponsors an idea of the immense value you can deliver makes a massive difference in the structure and pricing of sponsorship deals. If you have a proven track record of stellar performance, sponsors will recognize that value.
- Integration plans: How will you include the sponsor’s brand in your content? Will there be a logo? Product placement? Will the series title feature the sponsor’s name? It’s essential to have a plan for sponsor integration to ensure that the engagement develops brand value for the sponsor but also so that the content authentically aligns with your brand’s voice and personality.
Having the right data will make the process of establishing your rate card much easier. If you don’t have a clear picture of your average content performance or audience data, you’re making pricing decisions with limited information on what you can actually deliver. Without the right data, you can potentially undervalue your content and lose out on additional revenue opportunities from branded content.
Understand how you perform against the competition
If you’re already armed with the right performance data, audience insights, and content plans for potential sponsor conversations, you’re in a great position to land those deals. But there’s another key area to consider when prepping for sponsor conversations: your competitive advantage.
While you’re out having conversations with potential sponsors, you can be sure your competitors are also exploring those opportunities. You might even face competition from folks who aren’t your direct competitors. For example, if you’re a pro basketball team, you can assume you’re competing not only with other teams in your leagues, but also the baseball, hockey, and soccer teams in your area. Sponsors are looking for the right partner with the right audience for their content.
So how can you prove to sponsors that you can deliver more value than your competitor?
Here are a few things to consider:
- Audience breakdown: We’ve already touched on the importance of understanding your audience and the various segments within it, but it’s just as important to understand what audiences you serve that your competitors might not. If sponsors know you have a strong relationship with their target audience, they might be more inclined to engage with your brand.
- Reach: Just how big is your audience? Often in sponsorship deals the sponsor is looking to grow their brand exposure and recognition. So, if you can prove you have the widest reach compared to competitors, brands will know you can deliver more brand exposure.
- Performance benchmarks: Do you have an idea of how your content typically performs compared with your competitor’s average? It’s essential to prove you can consistently outperform your competitors on the metrics that matter most to sponsors—engagement rate, video views, likes, and share. You need comprehensive social performance data to demonstrate that your content can beat out the competition.
Conviva Social Insights offers leaderboards to measure and benchmark your social media performance against competitors. With leaderboards, you can comprehensively track competitor’s social performance and identify strategies to increase your share of engagement on social media.
Execute and optimize
So the time has come to execute your branded campaign. While content is scheduled and running, it’s essential to keep a pulse to the performance of your social content to identify opportunities to optimize performance.
With Conviva Social Insights, you can create unique campaign reports to drill down into the performance of your sponsored content campaigns as they’re running. Our content tags allow you to set specific rules for the type of content Social Insights automatically pulls into campaign reports. You’re able to set rules based on key words, platform, content type, emoji, and logo. Our logo detection functionality utilizes AI to scan through your social content and identify logo placement within any image.
Campaign reporting enables you to monitor campaign progress during and after the campaign and make any needed content strategy adjustments mid-campaign. That way you can ensure you’re delivering optimal performance for sponsors and creating content that is engaging for your audience.
Report on success
Once the campaign has run its course, how are you sharing your successes with sponsors? Developing comprehensive campaign reports is essential to demonstrate generated value and convince sponsors to potentially engage in further partnerships with your brand.
Conviva’s campaign reports provide the in-depth, actionable insights you need to concisely show sponsors just how valuable your partnership was for their business. Reports show a comprehensive, cross-platform view of campaign performance to highlight successes and key performance metrics across all of the platforms your campaign ran on. With that rich performance data, you can provide some insight into the messages that resonated most with your audience and identify new opportunities for future partnership.
Plus, reports are exportable and can be shared with sponsors periodically throughout the course of the campaign. Mid-campaign reporting can also demonstrate to sponsors that the campaign was delivering on your agreed upon goals from the very start of the campaign.
Branded campaigns are a great way to strengthen brand partnerships, expand your social media content offerings, and increase incremental revenue generated through social. The key is to have a clear plan of what you can deliver and gather the data to demonstrate the value that was generated through your partnership.