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Becoming an event sponsor allows brands to form meaningful relationships with specific causes and further connect with the target audiences likely to attend the event. (Consider this fact: Last year, for the second year in a row, B2C marketers [PDF] rated in-person events as the most effective marketing tactic.)

For example, a company that sells energy-efficient cars may choose to sponsor a music festival or concert in an effort to reach a younger audience with matching interests.

Most marketers see event marketing as an opportunity for increased brand recognition, but unfortunately, the impact of event marketing is difficult to directly measure. So, event sponsors are left with a very vague idea as to how many people saw their ads, signage, or related paraphernalia, because there are minimal ways to decipher whether inbound traffic is a result of event marketing efforts.

Despite the lack of assurance and targeted analytics, the opportunity to engage with consumers face-to-face cannot be ignored.

Using Social Media to Improve Your Event Sponsorship

A whopping 93% of consumers say that events and experiences are more effective than TV commercials.

This customer value can come with a steep price, so brands need to make the most of their event sponsorship investments and take full advantage of the potential offered by incorporating social media.

Social media offers several new opportunities for live and digital fan interaction as well as the unique ability to measure the reach of brand messages. By using social in the right way, sponsors can harness the genuine, real-time consumer experiences that events provide and use those experiences to reach more individuals in a measurable, cost-effective way.

Here's an in-depth look at why brand sponsors and event marketers should be using social media at events to further their brand's reach and cultivate loyal supporters.

Generate the Right Kind of Buzz

Until recently, event marketers were bound by their physical limitations. But social now allows event marketers to amplify their sponsorships beyond their physical location.

Promoting an event sponsorship through earned social channels is a great way to excite new fans and raise greater awareness of the brand and sponsorship.

The more exposure created around an event sponsorship, the more successful a brand's impact will be. A recent study by Beevolve says the average Twitter user has 208 followers. Now, imagine if only two event attendees send a tweet to their followers about the event. That's an automatic extra 416 sets of eyes potentially seeing the company's sponsorship—at no extra expense!

Similarly, Pew Research Center found that the typical adult Facebook user has an average of 338 Facebook friends. If brands can employ Facebook at live events, they could amplify their reach significantly beyond just their event attendees.

However, to truly develop real-time, online buzz for an event, marketers must seek out genuine, nonintrusive ways for the brand to be included in the event content being shared to social. This means marketers need an event marketing strategy that taps into existing social habits of the audience. 

Here's an example: Some 350 million new photos are being posted to Facebook each day, so brands can use this insight at sponsored events by implementing photo activations.

Empowering consumers to share branded, visual content direct from the event is an effective way for sponsors to authentically and effectively broadcast their sponsorship. The event guests will be instantly spreading the sponsorship message to their friends, family and followers (i.e., your potential new consumers and supporters).

Because the content is branded, the event attendees become your brand advocates, helping you reach new networks of targeted potential customers in an organic, word-of-mouth, one-to-many way.

Almost all nationally recognized brands are already taking advantage of social media to expand the reach of their sponsorships. Brands that neglect the potentials offered by social media at sponsorships are only hurting themselves. After all, why choose to sponsor an event without maximizing brand exposure?

Measuring Social Media and Applying It to Event Marketing Strategies

Digital has proven to be a much more cost-effective form of marketing for brands. Content-focused online marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing efforts and generates about three times as many leads. That's a huge opportunity for brands to increase their reach and share their sponsorships with new consumers without having to shell out the extra marketing dollars.

Social media gives brands an opportunity to not just augment the reach of their sponsorship in a cost-effective way but also to better measure it (which has always been a challenge for conventional event marketing efforts).

When measuring social analytics, the first step is to determine your key performance indicators. For most brands, these are typically impressions, growth in fans/followers, engagement rates, leads captured, and/or click-through rates. Key metrics for measuring engagement usually include likes, comments, and shares.

Having the aforementioned social insights will carry significant weight as marketers develop out future event marketing strategies.

Knowing what exactly drives engagement within your specific audience allows you to carve out tailored event activations that result in maximum consumer engagement and brand exposure. For example, if consumer photos are driving social actions, marketers may want to encourage more photo activations at their events. If your audience reacts best to contests and incentive-based promotions, marketers should create on-site and social integrated sweepstakes.

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Finding the right social strategy to promote sponsorships is essential, and social media provides an easy way to capture and analyze consumer behavior to make informed decisions.

Social media significantly improves the reach of events and boosts the ROI of sponsorships. If you're spending the money to invest in sponsoring an event, you should make the most of it. Don't let your company logo hide on the back of a pamphlet or on a T-shirt in a swag bag! The time to augment your event's reach and engagement in a measurable way is now.

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image of Joe Matthews

Joe Matthews is CEO of Tagkast, a social amplification platform that turns event photography into branded content.

LinkedIn: Joe Matthews