This story today from Fox News brought to light the not-so-secret practice of sponsors using their athlete’s social media channels to share a message. It’s a tactic that I’ve used with athlete marketing partners in the past in order to share news about an onsite event promotion or to try and drive website traffic or social media chatter around an online promotion. It’s great when it works – just about any celebrity is going to generate more positive buzz than just about any brand can get on their own online. However, it can also feel forced and inauthentic if not handled properly.
Here are three tips to keep in mind when drafting what we refer to as a “Social Media Run-of-Show”:
1. Encourage Collaboration: Look at the big picture for all of the potential celebrities, sponsors and partners that may get involved in your social media outreach activity. At a NASCAR event, for instance, that includes not just the brand, the track and the driver, but also the crew chief, pit crew members, team owners and associate sponsors. You can generate a lot more traction by keeping everyone informed and getting everyone involved. And, frankly, a partner re-tweeting a brand message can feel a lot more real than an original post that may be out of context.
2. Suggest Messaging, Don’t Dictate Language: While it’s much easier for everyone to follow a script, social media messaging can often come off as just that. Whenever possible, take the time to explain the strategy behind your campaign to the relevant partners and spokespeople that you’re coordinating with, and let them craft the messaging in their own words. Especially with athletes, posting a message in the voice of the sponsor feels fake. Telling the story in their own words feels real. It’s a balancing act for sure, but one worth considering for the sake of authenticity and a stronger connection to the fan. Speaking of the fans . . .
3. Invite Fans to Participate: A social media promotion is really designed to generate buzz. And that means two-way communication. Invite fans to share a message, and reward them for doing so. As a sponsor, re-circulate their content, surprise them with rewards for posting relevant content, and give them ways to get involved through live events (a Tweet-Up with other fans, Celebrity Meet-and-Greets and social scavenger hunts, just to provide a few examples). Making them feel part of the promotion can really help extend your social reach.
Remember, the key to successful social media campaigns is to create an aura of authenticity. Keep that in mind when working with athletes or other celebrities.
What are some of the most authentic athlete/sponsor social media campaigns you’ve seen?