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Events and social media go together like Instagram and foodies. Digital screens featuring live social media posts have become an increasingly popular fixture at events. Surprisingly, many event marketers overlook the killer role these screens can play in their sponsorship strategy.

How can you make sure you’re making the most of your sponsorship opportunities? I’ll explain how you can attract the best sponsors with compelling promotional opportunities.

Consider your best sponsors and their needs

Nearly all events are paid for in part by corporate sponsors. As an event marketer, chances are you’ll start planning for and identifying strategic sponsors on day one. You’ll spend months wrangling them. So when you design your sponsorship strategy you need to get creative and sweeten the deal with unique opportunities for your big-ticket partners, or else they won’t bite. And if they don’t bite, you won’t have the funding you need for your event.

Perhaps your end goal is to sign Target to sponsor your local community fundraiser (did you know they give 5% of their profits to the community?). Or maybe you need Coca-Cola and GoPro to pay for your concert. Either way, you need to understand their needs and be prepared to deliver on those needs. You can’t attract the best strategic partners without the best promotional opportunities.

target-logogo pro event sponsorcoca-cola-event sponsor

The best brands want an effective promotional opportunity. For some, this means a positive and measurable return on investment. For others, this means generating measurable buzz for the money they put in. Make it easy for your partners to see the impact of their sponsorship on their marketing goals. Don’t make your partners do the work to figure out if their money was well-spent, particularly if you want them to return in future years.

Effective event sponsorships

How do you make your promotional opportunities effective? You need your sponsor’s messages to strike the sweet spot of the audience’s attention. We all have this spot. It’s the moment when our brains are most susceptible to processing an advertisement. When promotions are shown at the wrong time or place, they hit our blind spot. Blind spots are the result of ad blindness, an effect brought about by decades of over-zealous, ill-placed advertising.

Enter digital displays

As an event marketer, one of your most versatile tools will be your digital displays. Digital content can show anything and adapt during your event, unlike your static pre-printed event badges, banners and flyers. When done right, enticing screens can attract thousands of eyeballs. Once you’ve drawn attention to a single screen, it’s the perfect time for a top sponsor’s message to enter and reach the sweet spot of the audience they paid for. It’s an incredible effect, and yet most event marketers surprisingly still don’t get digital displays right.

So how do you make your digital screens engaging? You could spend tons of resources on custom creative content. Or, you could let your attendees do it for you. Research shows that digital screens and social media are a match made in heaven. Our own experience at Enplug validates this. After installing social displays in nearly 1,000 locations across the world, we’ve seen an average immediate increase of 500% in social engagement. Most importantly, we’ve seen users of all ages share a photo on Instagram or message on Twitter just to have it show up on a screen in public. Perhaps best of all, a significant portion of users engaging with our social displays created an account on Instagram or Twitter just to share at that moment. It turns out an incredible number of normal people, tech-savvy or not, want the thrill of their message showing up in front of others. It’s a rare moment of fame.

enplug social media for events

Inspire your audience to engage

You need a digital experience that inspires your attendees to share their experiences. Many events use simple “social walls” that feature selected tweets. These have flaws. From the audience’s perspective there’s no guarantee when you share that your post will go up on the big screen. If it does it’s usually featured alongside several other posts. As an event marketer, that won’t give you the results or experience you need for your sponsorship strategy because the audience isn’t adequately rewarded.

This is what I’m proud Enplug does right. Most digital display software isn’t designed with the user experience in mind. Ours is. We drive massive uplift in engagement by rewarding users who share their experience. With good digital display software, your audience owns the screen one-at-a-time as posts are displayed instantly. Each person receives immediate gratification and gets their own moment of fame on the big screen.

Side-by-side comparison:

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Your attendees are motivated to share their experience when they receive immediate gratification. They’re proud when their message and face is featured alone in all its glory to their peers. This rewarding experience is the reason why so many people are inspired to share on Enplug displays.

You should use a display platform like Enplug to craft an engaging event experience where your attendees, young and old, are inspired to share their experiences on social media to your live screens. The more engaging your experience, the more happy your sponsors will be to pay to take part in the action.

Event sponsorship strategies

Using live social media on digital screens and the techniques above you can craft an engaging event experience for your attendees. Your sponsors will want their message to be a part of that experience, as it’s a prime place to reach their audience. So how do you mix in sponsorships without ruining the organic nature of your increased social media engagement?

1. Digital event sponsorship strategy

You can interweave images or videos from your sponsors with the social media experience. Here are a few key considerations when planning out your digital interstitials:

  • Number of brands to feature
  • Ratio of screen-time you allocate to sponsors and to user-generated content
  • Time each branded message will show on the screen
  • Variety of brand messages

Number– Depending on your sponsor lineup and goals, you can sell the social media experience as a single premium sponsorship spot, or you can carve it up into several shared spots.

I prefer wrapping it all up into a single branded experience because the more messages you include on your screen, the more diluted your audience’s experience will become. You’ll lose your audience if you have too many varied brands pushing their message on your screen.

Ratio– I recommend allocating 25% or less of the time to sponsors, so that your user-generated content is the primary use for the screens.

Time– How long you show each branded message for may depend on the content itself, particularly if you’re using videos because you need to allocate enough time for the entire video to run. In general, I recommend using images that are easy to understand, and showing them for 60 seconds so that the screen stays fresh but enough of your audience has time to see the message.

Variety– The more variety you have in your branded content, the better. It keeps the screen fresh. Each time an attendee looks at a screen, it should be showing something new. This keeps their eyeballs coming back. At the same time, your audience will need to see a branded message more than once to internalize it so the varied content should have a central theme to it.

Here’s a simple example. Let’s assume you have a single sponsor for your digital displays. If you allocate 25% of the screen-time to branded messages and show each message for 60 seconds, then you have 15 spots per hour. I would request 15 unique pieces of content from this sponsor, either images or videos. In doing so, most people will see all of the content only a handful of times throughout the day. Your sponsor should love this — it gives them 15 opportunities to convey their message in unique ways, or an opportunity to show 15 different messages. It’s a full brand experience.


live social media feed for events


2. #Social event sponsorship strategy

My favorite strategy is to invent a new hashtag as a part of your sponsorship package. If your event is called the “Fitness Conference 2015” and your target premier sponsor is Nike, make your hashtag #NikeFitnessConf. Attendees will see this hashtag as the call-to-action on your live displays and be inspired to share content using the #NikeFitnessConf hashtag to get their message, photo, or face onto the screen. In doing so, they’ll also be sharing both Nike and your event with all of their friends outside of the event on social media. How’s that for word-of-mouth marketing?

If you want to keep your hashtags simple, you could use two distinct hashtags as your call-to-actions. You could require that users post with either #Nike or #FitnessConf2015 to get their message on the screen. Either way Nike’s name will show up in the social media of the event, and they’ll be happy.


instagram hashtags for events


Measuring your #social event sponsor results

What’s the best part about the #social event sponsorship strategies? They’re measurable, and they make for beautiful reports.

I recommend drilling in on 7 metrics:

  1. Total interactions– How many posts total were tagged with your sponsor’s hashtag?
  2. Unique users– How many users posted at least once using your sponsor’s hashtag?
  3. Total reach– How many followers potentially saw posts containing your sponsor’s hashtag, according to the number of followers each user had at the time of posting? Including reposts, retweets etc.
  4. Engagement– How many likes, retweets, shares, etc were there of the posts containing your sponsor’s hashtags?
  5. Top users– Certain users may engage above and beyond the call of duty. Your sponsors should re-engage with these users after the event.
  6. Best posts– You can aggregate and share the top tweets, Instagram photos, etc with your sponsors. This will give qualitative proof of the effectiveness of their sponsorship. They may even be able to use the user-generated content in future campaigns, and will thank you for the assets.
  7. Social network segmentation– If you’re supporting multiple social networks, you should tell your sponsors which platforms performed best for them. Did they receive significantly more engagement on Twitter than Instagram? That’s valuable information for their marketing team.


social media analytics software

If you’re using software like Enplug, you’ll have built-in tools for analyzing and reporting on the activity for your sponsorship strategy. If not, you should set up social listening software like HootSuite beforehand.



Inspiring visitors to organically share their experiences is hard to do. This is Enplug’s specialty. Next time you need to sweeten the pot to close a bigger sponsor, you should remember to inspire your audience as a part of your event sponsorship strategy.