How Social Vote Campaigns Can Increase Sponsorship Value

#voicesave during advertisementsWhen NBC gave viewers of The Voice a five-minute window to Tweet to save their favorite contestant from getting booted from the show last year, it caught the attention of everyone in the television industry and beyond. Simply tabulating the results live on-air would have been an interesting and newsworthy experience.

But the network took it one step further: it alerted fans of the social vote right before a commercial break and then visualized the results in a lower third while advertisers’ messages played above.  That’s right – NBC kept fans glued to their TVs during a commercial break (and drove an impressive 385,000 #VoiceSave Tweets in 5 minutes). 

In an industry where every company is trying to create new ways to increase value for advertisers, television networks constantly face the challenge of integrating sponsor messaging into a social campaign while maintaining a truly authentic experience for their audiences.  Social voting has become a popular way to give fans a voice and empower them to determine an outcome (like saving Kat Robichaud on The Voice).  And, as NBC figured out, it can also be an amazing way to drive incremental value for sponsors when done right. 

Here are a few interesting ways networks have used a social vote to drive value for both sponsors and fans. 

Activate Global Fandoms

You’ve probably heard of the Directioners or Beliebers.  Or maybe Scandal’s #Gladiators or True Blood’s #Truebies.  Fans of a music artists, TV shows, and movies are incredibly passionate, and it’s almost guaranteed that if you give a fandom the opportunity to show their love, they’ll show up en masse, creating an incredible volume of buzz.

For example, MTV’s Hottest campaign and 4Music’s Tweet to Beat campaign both tapped into global music artists’ fan bases in hashtag votes which drove millions of conversations in social media. The MTV Hottest campaign generated 7 million page views on a sponsored page, and 4Music saw an 117% increase in viewership from the previous week. Any sponsor would be happy with that much exposure.

4Music Tweet to Beat

Use Commercial Breaks in a Clever Way

With time-lapsed and digital viewing becoming more of the norm, networks are creating new ways to entice fans to stay tuned into commercial breaks. Like NBC, the UK’s E4 network cleverly used a social vote during commercial breaks to keep viewers engaged and drive buzz around the launch of global superstar Ed Sheeran’s new album. 

E4 gave viewers the opportunity to see a performance of a song from the new album.  During several commercial breaks, fans were prompted to vote via hashtag for one of three songs, and Sheeran performed the winning song (“I’m a Mess,” for music fans out there) during the final commercial break.  By using commercial breaks creatively, E4 was able to create an authentic experience for their fans while helping the Sheeran’s record label drive sales. 

Bring Social to the Real World

Sports lovers may be even more fanatical than music fans. ESPN tapped into this fan loyalty with its #WhosGonnaWin campaign during last year’s Super Bowl in a first-of-its-kind, real-world way on one of the world’s most recognized buildings: The Empire State Building.  In collaboration with Verizon, ESPN put Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks fans in a head-to-head hashtag battle to predict who would win the Super Bowl.  Ultimately, the Seahawks triumphed and the ESB was lit up in blue and green.  

What’s the common theme in each of these examples? Each network used social voting to add value to fans’ viewing experience, while providing advertisers with a highly relevant sponsor opportunity.  When trying to come up with your next big idea, follow the lead of these media companies and you’ll be in good shape to keep both your fans and your advertisers excited.

Kyle Hoedl's picture

Kyle Hoedl

Kyle is the Media Product Marketing Manager at Spredfast. He joined our team after 3 years as the director of social media at Viacom International Media Networks in NYC. Originally from Kansas City and a KU graduate, Kyle is an avid Jayhawks basketball fan (Rock chalk!), loves to travel, binge watches as many TV shows as he can, and eats entirely too much Mexican food.