Wednesday, March 29th, 2017 | 11 min read
In the age of the connected and empowered consumer, brands use event sponsorships to increase their social following and organic reach, and therefore their share of the digital market – all as a means to accomplish the more traditional goals of earlier days. Just as social is now a core element of how businesses operate, it’s similarly a key part of event sponsorship.
To understand baseline levels of engagement, we compared data from March 1-9 with that from March 10-19.
Here’s what we found.
In the period before SXSW, Mazda was the most mentioned of the sponsoring brands. Once the festival began, Capital One dominated social conversation for a few days – before Pandora’s audience really started talking, and made them the most talked about in total during SXSW.
The week before SXSW saw chatter around Mazda’s free ride offering, #MazdaExpress. The shuttle service promoted a new vehicle, the 2017 CX-5, and provided free rides for the duration of the festival. Many were excited enough about the promotion that they talked about it on social.
— SXSW (@sxsw) March 6, 2017
— Vanessa Roman (@dailymelao) March 9, 2017
Capital One hosted music at Antone’s from the 10 through 13, which were the brand’s most successful days of the event in terms of social engagement.
Pandora hosted musicians from the 13 through 16, dates that – unsurprisingly – also saw the most social mentions for the brand. It also encouraged people to engage with their event hashtag, and eventually “won” the festival in terms of social mentions overall.
Of the companies we examined, The Austin Chronicle saw the highest growth in followers throughout the ten days of SXSW. The newspaper showed how traditional media outlets can thrive in today’s social landscape.
The Chronicle ran a regular cadence of articles about the music, film, and interactive events at SXSW, and created a specific Twitter handle to promote these pieces. Throughout the week, the paper’s primary Twitter handle, @AustinChronicle, shared many of the posts to get the content in front of as many people as possible, and expand the reach of SXSW-related content on the whole.
— Chronicle SXSW (@ChronSXSW) March 18, 2017
— Chronicle SXSW (@ChronSXSW) March 19, 2017
Esurance, which ranked second in follower count increase, was successful because it offered such a cool offline experience. Customers could enter sweepstakes to win additional access to the festival and trendy tech gifts by using the #EsuranceAccess hashtag on social. Some people won VIP stage passes, and others won Apple TVs.
— Jose Puentes (@SXSWEDU17) March 17, 2017
— Terrell Turner (@WebHeadedArtist) March 18, 2017
The social buzz around Capital One at SXSW led to the greatest increase in reach compared to pre-SXSW levels. The company promoted its venue, along with the speakers and performing artists who appeared there, and became a fixture of the general SXSW conversation.
The #EsuranceAccess promotional push gave customers a great reason to interact with Esurance on social. Because of this, Esurance saw the greatest percent increase in overall brand-customer engagement of the brand sponsors.
— Esurance (@esurance) March 18, 2017
Capital One’s earned impressions increased by over 1,000% during the week of SXSW because people were retweeting and sharing its content substantially more than in the period leading up to SXSW.
Capital One shared mixed media content quoting people who spoke at its panel events. It also showed off some fancy new credit card designs that drew excitement on social. The bottom line is that it created content that their customers were eager to share.
You don’t have to be mentioned by everyone, to be loved by nearly everyone who mentions you. Although Sonicbids didn’t have the most massive following or engagement levels of all of the brand sponsors, it did have the most positive mentions in relation to SXSW.
Capital One was the most improved in terms of total brand mentions from pre-SXSW levels of brand chatter.
Instagram was flooded with images of people partaking in various activities at the #CapitalOneHouse, where there were many photo worthy experiences.
From an interactive mural…
A post shared by Amy Markham (@amosnicholai) on
To a feel good marquee…
A post shared by Ashley (@texashley09) on
To really “homey” branding…
A post shared by Stephanie Raddock (@raddstagram_) on
…Capital One gave their customers reason to talk about it, and share those experiences with their followers.
Over the course of SXSW, Capital One had the most improved performance in all categories except one. Its strategy – to host not just panels, but also parties and concerts, was a clear success.
Capital One was followed by Esurance, Pandora, and Sonicbids in terms of social success at SXSW. Those three brands created incredible experiences for their customers – whether through hosting memorable concerts, or epic giveaways.
In the new age of brand sponsorship, customer experience cannot be emphasized enough. When a brand creates memorable experiences for enough people, a positive wave of brand love will ripple outward through the social space, and make an impression on everyone it touches.
This type of success, while once thought of as superficial, is inextricably linked to overall brand health. Social drives traditional business goals and is a useful indicator of a company’s ability to reach customers and potential customers alike.
Reach is the estimated number of users that have seen a post over the lifetime of the post, either directly through followers or through shares and retweets.
Total Engagements is a common metric that combines post likes, post comments, and post shares.
Earned Impressions are calculated as the number of social accounts that could potentially see a brand’s content from shared posts, such as re-posts and retweets.
Positive vs. Negative Sentiment is an automated metric from Sprinklr’s proprietary 8-layer Natural Language Processor (NLP).
Brand Mentions were calculated as a combination of mentions from Core Listening and Listening Explorer.
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