Monetizing social media: 4 tips from 4 media industry leaders

"How do we make money from social?" If you've walked through the halls or sat in a digital strategy meeting at any company recently, you've probably heard something like this. Everyone is talking about social media monetization, but it's especially important for media companies as they try to build new revenue streams and create additional value for sponsors across all owned and earned platforms. 

But, as most of us who work in media have learned, monetizing social media platforms and audiences is a challenging thing. How do you remain authentic to your audience while providing value to your sponsors?  What is the best way to integrate an advertiser?  How should sales teams and social teams work together?

Last month, some of the most brilliant minds in TV joined us at the Spredfast Summit and provided great insights on how media companies are monetizing social audiences.  Here are our four favorite tips from four media insiders:

  1. Always put the audience first.

Creating an authentic sponsored experience in social starts with the fans.  If you aren’t bringing value to your fans through the sponsor’s content, then you should rethink your strategy. 

 “It’s truly about trying to find the best experience for the viewer and the user incorporating the brand into that. The brand should always bring value to the viewer and the user.” - Derek Dodge, Senior Director, Digital Programming, Discovery Channel

  1. Use data to determine which platforms and content make sense for your audience and your sponsor’s audience.

Data is key to making sure that you are making the right decisions in how and where you engage your fans with sponsored messaging.  

“Measurement is what gives us the tools to know what’s authentic to a given platform, where our audience engages, and where they don’t.  Where they’re engaging with us today maybe not be where they engage tomorrow…We need to help our brands be aware of that.” - Nick Freeman, VP, Sales Integration, FOX Sports Digital 

  1. Social sponsorships should be a team effort.

Everyone on your team has specific expertise. If the sales, integrated marketing, and social content teams work together to create a sponsorship package, all stakeholders can come out on top by ensuring that packages are valuable to fans, the sponsor, and your brand.

“The more inclusion of the content people in the business discussion, the more likely you are to get a program everyone is happy about.” - Gabe Goodwin, Coordinating Producer & Senior Director, Social Production, ESPN 

  1. Social sponsorships should be social by design. 

The true value in a social sponsorship is allowing a brand to be fully integrated into an authentic social experience or destination. Simply placing a logo or “sponsored by” message onto a webpage pales in comparison to creating a custom, interactive, social experience that incorporates a sponsor’s content and brand while remaining authentic to your audience. 

“We’re building a bridge from our clients to our fans…We are taking a purposeful approach to delivering custom campaigns that are social by design.” - Sarah IoossSenior Vice President, Partnerships & Client Strategy, Ad Sales, Viacom

Keep these four tips in mind and you should be on your way to creating successful social sponsorship packages with your advertising partners.

This post was inspired and informed by moments at the 2014 Spredfast Summit. Want more ideas to inspire your social programs? Download our Top 10 Big Ideas from Leading Social Marketers.


Spredfast's picture


The world’s best social software platform. We deliver smart social software that makes every consumer touch point better.