The ability of sponsoring brands to engage in credible conversations, and produce relevant content in real-time around their properties, is a definite requirement, rather than a nice-to-have. It should be a big element of your leveraging mix, whether South Africa is behind in the social media mix or not.
Last year saw the major international sponsorship players really tap into the potential of live events, and the platform they provide in producing social content. If we learnt one thing from THAT Oreo 'Dunk in the Dark' moment, it was that it's all about speed, and putting yourself out there.
As this sponsorship tool gets more refined, we've witnessed some great work of late. Our friends at Synergy in London have been executing real time social campaigns with superb results across a couple of brands, most notably for RBS sponsorship of the Six Nations. A campaign that was quite simply world class, with the results to prove it.
What becomes clear is that live events provide the best opportunities for branded social content. Sport in particular has the perfect ingredients for live social interaction and content - the thrills and spills of live sport create opportunity for reactive content that will really resonate with consumers, provided it is credible. Social media gives the sports fan the perfect platform to interact around something they're passionate about. But you need to do it right.
This is why we are the first sponsorship agency in Africa to have launched our real time offering - 'Levergy Live', where we will be able to deliver in-play content for brands, by way of dedicated teams whose sole purpose is to create real-time content for brands to publish through their social channels.
You need to understand the fans
The first point to consider is that it's not about brands pushing out content and hoping it resonates - something that unfortunately happens most of the time when traditional digital agencies attempt to engage with sports audiences. The problem is that these agencies don't try to understand these sports fans, nor the properties to which they are attached. They are only getting the brand part right, leaving out the other two (and in this case the more important) elements.
Locally, capitalising on social media platforms by sponsors has loads of room for improvement. The key to getting it right is in understanding the insights about the way sports fans interact during live play and how brands need to react in order to make an impact with these fans.
Speed is essential
Without understanding what comes across as credible and what comes across as merely a brand trying to sell itself using sponsorship as their soapbox, you're not going to make any progress. I'm seeing a lot of 'look at us' and 'we sponsor this' type of stuff, as well as attempts to stimulate conversation where it falls short because it's not coming from an informed perspective.
If you're able to provide audiences with real-time stats, opinions and additional content that is both credible and relevant, you're on the money. Such content that is appropriately created and seeded by brands is a powerful tool in engaging fans authentically.
Bear in mind, real-time content means just that - rich content that you're generating at speed, getting the right message and image out within minutes of it happening and cracking the sweet spot that is socially shareable.
That doesn't include bland replicated commentary and score updates. Unfortunately that's what is currently the norm in South Africa and it needs to change fast. We're busy pushing on with that change here at Levergy. So if your sponsorship mix doesn't have a significant focus on real time social, ask why.