How To Use Social Media To Drive Sponsorship Value Year-Round

Aug 16, 2021 Innovation Analyses

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Sports sponsorship is a great way to increase brand awareness and drive sales through brand exposure and audience engagement, which no longer must be constrained to the season. Thanks to the always-on nature of social media, fans can stay connected to their favorite teams and players throughout the year, and engage with the content they create. The off-season provides an added opportunity for teams to integrate their partners, announce new signings and launch new campaigns to benefit their partners before the season starts.

While rights holders drive significant value from match days and on-site activations, social media provides an added source of value that properties must utilise properly in order to maximise value for brand partners year-round.

Social Media provides partnership benefits that cannot otherwise be achieved through other sources. These benefits include:

  • Ability to deliver 365 days of value: Whether it’s in between matches, or even in-between seasons, value can be driven across the social platforms at any time.
  • Ability to go viral: From wonder goals to big wins, large fan accounts and news sources post content that can drive significant value for rights holders and their partners.
  • More control for rights holders: Through branded content campaigns and an effective social media strategy, teams can post highlights or interact with fans in ways that help drive value for their key brands.

For the following analysis, Relo Metrics evaluated the sponsorships' performance of 6 football clubs across the Premier League, Serie A, Primeira Liga, and Belgian Pro League throughout 2021 to gain an understanding of how much sponsorship media value rights holders were able to drive for partners via social media specifically, prior to the first whistle. The analysis tracked social media value generated across all assets performance starting 3 weeks prior to the season in each league, until a week after the final match.

On average, almost 9% of a full season’s sponsorship value was generated before the first match. All below values come from social media:

Chart showing the average media value from social media for 4 European football leagues

Sponsor value can be created in unique and engaging ways.

Outside of football's regular season, rights holders and brands can get creative to keep fans engaged on social channels while driving brand exposure and engagement.

Effective types of campaigns can include:

1. Social posts from owned property accounts: When a team creates their own branded content, they have more control to choose which partners to feature using different types of campaigns and posts.
    • Nottingham Forest FC announced their upcoming season fixtures featuring a row of their key partners, and as a result, drove around €5.0K in media value, evenly amongst those 6 partners.
    • Manchester United FC instead focused attention strictly on their Home & Away Shirt partners, and in turn, drove €355.3K in media value for both TeamViewer and Adidas during their announcement of Jadon Sancho.

Example of how to increase brand awareness on social media


2. Teams & Brands creating content together: These campaigns work well because teams and brands can work together to create engaging fan content with optimal logo and product placement. The use of video content that incorporates brand logos for the full duration is a best practice that drives a high media value.

    • Earlier this year, Crystal Palace FC worked with their partner Rexona to deliver a recap of the season in a post that received over 4,000 views, while Borussia Dortmund’s title partner 1&1 posted this Instagram carousel featuring the team in pre-season training, generating over €2.5K in media value from their logo presence.

Example of how Borussia Dortmund increased brand awareness on social media


3. Transfer-hype from other sources: While rights holders have a clear desire to drive the best value for partners via their owned channels, there are other sources such as player and media accounts, which can help brands reach an even wider audience.

    • Everton FC had a highly successful transfer season in the lead into the 2020/21 English Premier League and drove 15% of their full season’s media value before their first match. Instrumental to their success was the signing of player James Rodriguez, whose social media post drove over €573.2K in media for Everton’s partners Cazoo, Hummel and USM.
    • Media account 433 also drives significant value around transfers, with the power of the account visible in this post from 7 August 2021, which has already generated €806.8K for Lionel Messi’s respective club.

Example of how PSG increased brand awareness on social media using Lionel Messi

How top-performing teams are using data to deliver partnerships that renew.

The start of the 2021/22 football season across Europe has seen a raft of new partnership announcements for key assets such as the Front of Shirt. From Inter's major new partnership with blockchain provider Chiliz, Manchester United’s deal with TeamViewer, and Hertha BSC’s partnership with Autohero, new partners have come on board, who will be eager to know whether their sponsorship spend is paying off throughout the season.

1. Measurement should be done as events occur, not just at the end of the season:

  • With significant value coming prior to the start of the season, rights holders and brands should be able to understand how activations are performing in real-time in order to learn what is and isn’t working and constantly optimise to drive more brand exposure and fan engagement, which will ultimately help partners meet broader partnership objectives.
  • Relo Metrics’ Auto Collections tool will help you optimise your strategy for branded content across owned accounts, and work with your partners to make sure the season is an even greater success. This will allow you to set it and forget it when looking for insights into how to improve your methods.

2. Provide frequent reporting to partners:

  • Frequent reporting to both new and existing partners is vital in achieving a strong relationship and will help drive greater long-term success. Relo Metrics’ Auto Reports feature will help you both share numbers internally and present them to external stakeholders at the cadence you require.
  • “Thanks to Relo’s auto-reporting feature, we’re able to measure the value and weight of each sponsorship deal with our current partners in only a few clicks. This feature enables us to present insights and opportunities to partners instantly while providing valuable data on how to optimise these partnerships and where to seek after incremental value.” Alper Can, Digital Marketing Lead at KRC Genk. 


Get a free platform demo so you can start making smarter decisions about your sponsorship investments and learn more on our blog post page.  

Written by Harshad Kale



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