One of the highlights of SXSW for me was getting to catch up with my friend Tom Martin. Tom was also kind enough to interview me for his Talking With Tom series. If you haven’t heard about this, Tom started going around the country interviewing marketers. thought leaders and influencers in the social media space with just his iPhone, and he posts the interviews on his Talking With Tom site. A new interview each week.
A few weeks ago Tom was at an event recording interviews, when he talked to Emma and they decided to start sponsoring the site. For Emma, it’s a great move, as they get to have their name associated with some of the biggest names in social media, for the entire year. And for Tom it works as well, as Emma’s sponsorship money not only covers his travel to collect the remainder of the interviews, but he also gets compensated for his time as well. A true win-win for the content creator, and the sponsor.
But here’s what really got my attention: Tom got sponsorship dollars for something that he was going to do anyway. And instead of being obtrusive, the sponsorship from Emma helps facilitate the content creation. This is very similar to one of the main reasons why I was in SXSW to begin with, because of the 1st ever Live #Blogchat. 1680PR and Dell stepped up to sponsor the event, but the event was something that SXSW attendees have been wanting to see. Every time I have attended SXSW, one of the biggest complaints from attendees has been a lack of venues/events where we could all gather and have an actual conversation. It’s ironic that SXSW brings together so many brilliant people each March, but there are so few events created for the express purpose of letting these smart people connect with each other and have wonderful conversations. That’s exactly why I wanted to bring a Live #Blogchat to SXSW. As with Emma’s sponsorship of Talking With Tom, 1680PR and Dell sponsored an event that was going to happen anyway, and facilitated the event, and made it better (In fact if you are considering sponsorship of your event or content creation efforts, absolutely contact 1680PR and Dell to see if there’s a match. Both were fabulous to work with).
I think this also is a new and interesting spin on the idea of targeting influencers. Many companies are using services such as Klout to identify influencers and offer them products and services in the hope that these influencers will then promote the brand to the people that they have influence over. At best, this isn’t the most effective model.
But what if the influencer is also a content creator? Then one way that influencer could monetize the content they create is by accepting sponsorship dollars. The important distinction here is that the influencer becomes the gatekeeper and dictates which sponsors have access to his/her network, and on what terms. I talked about this a bit in the interview Tom had with me, but in this model, the influencer can be selective in which companies they accept as sponsors and make sure that the sponsorship creates value for the network. For example by accepting the Emma sponsorship, Tom now has the funds to attend more and better events, which means he can create better content for his network, and more of it.
In the end, the content creator, the sponsor, and Tom’s network that accesses the content all benefit. I think this is a far better model than giving away toys to influencers in the hopes that they will pimp the toys to the network that they supposedly have influence over. What do you think? Is this sponsorship model something that you as a content creator could benefit from? I think the key lies in making sure that the people you are creating the content for, benefit. Normally there’s a clear benefit to the content creator, then the sponsor, but the ‘audience’ often gets the short end of the stick. I applaud Tom for finding a win-win-win, and I would like to think that the Live #Blogchats work for everyone as well.
What do you think, would you rather companies target influencers directly, or have the influencers work with companies to the benefit of the people they have influence over?