Everyone loves Buzzfeed, right? The eclectic online media platform has become a cultural phenomenon that has achieved incredible staying power over the years, which is not an easy task in the age of fleeting viral sensations. With its wacky quizes, addictive lists, GIF-filled editorial and surprisingly solid long-form articles, Buzzfeed has become an online powerhouse. It’s that one site millions of people click on every day just by habit.
While the incredible share-ability of its articles deserve much of the credit for Buzzfeed’s success, there’s another strategy the site has used and elevated to great effect during its rise to the top that has allowed it to grow and thrive; sponsored content.
While sponsored content (the practice of allowing companies to post online content, such as a blog post, to a platform in return for money instead of the traditional approach of blatant advertising) is nothing new, Buzzfeed has surely embraced the strategy more than most and has been successful with this model. Posts like “9 Things That Have Changed In The Last 20 Years” and “Sunbathing: Expectation Vs. Reality” (sponsored by Motorola and Cancer Research UK respectively) are just two examples of this sponsored content or native advertising.
Sponsored content isn’t purely the domain of big-time online media platforms. Here are five reasons your association should consider implementing a sponsored content strategy for its social media efforts.
Brings In Revenue
This one is a no-brainer. Your association is already pulling in sponsorship money by giving companies a forum to promote their products at events, in your magazine and on your website. With sponsored content, you can add another way for companies to get their point across to your members. It’s a win/win situation in which the association gets another revenue source and more money to invest in member benefits.
Provides Value To Sponsors
Your sponsors are super important. They give a lot of money to your association, which in turn can be used to fuel the organization’s ongoing efforts and new projects. However, sponsors want to see a return on their investment as well. If associations fail to highlight the value of sponsorship, that money won’t be flowing through the door for very long. Generating sponsored content for your association’s online platforms allows the association to analyze the response to the content even better than traditional media. You can show sponsors valuable performance indicators such as clicks, views, read time, etc., that highlight the increased engagement between members and the sponsor. Going into a meeting with a current or potential sponsor armed with this data is a powerful strategy to receive and hold onto sponsorship dollars.
Gives More Information To Members
While sponsored content may seem like nothing more than hiding an advertisement inside some hastily put-together paragraphs, if you plan right and put in the work with your advertising partners, this content can really help your association’s members. The companies paying for these sponsored content slots often have a beat on the newest trends, innovations and thoughts in the industry and can shed light on the information members value most. Create some guidelines for the companies you are working with or have a brainstorming session with them to ensure the content they push out via sponsored posts fit with the needs of members. This will help get members more engaged as well. Remember, sponsors have a reason for creating solid, engaging content as well; they want eyes on their content!
Gets You First Dibs On Exclusive Content
As we said in the previous section, sponsors are usually businesses that are in tune with the needs, wants and views of members and have the resources to introduce innovative solutions to their problems. Giving these companies a platform on which to introduce these products to their target audience (your members) allows them to promote new products quickly in a forum their demographics trust while also building up the perception of the associations among members as an organization that is on the cutting-edge and exhibits the most current developments in the industry. This way, when your members are thinking of where to look for all the latest news, they will think of your association first.
Promotes Events, Services And Initiatives Better
Sponsored content is a two-way street. Once your sponsor has created content and paid for it, it makes sense for them to get their money’s worth by spreading that content everywhere, from Twitter to Facebook to their own website. Usually, their target audience is your audience, so casting a net this wide will inevitably increase awareness and exposure of your association among the people who matter most to the organization. Depending on the type of content in the sponsored post, this can lead to more attention for your association’s next big conference or a new opportunity for members created by the association, which can then lead to more revenue.