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Running a social media contest? Our top five tips.

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By Susan Linning

SusanLinning_001 rt2So you want to run a contest on social media??  Isn’t that interesting.  Everyone else wants to do the same thing.  And they want their contest to be way more successful than yours – producing more likes, higher engagement, increased brand recognition and awareness and more…well…sales.

What’s the value of running a Facebook contest? How will a contest help a business market itself? How do I make my contest different?  How do I make it stand out in a sea of rhetoric? 

We hear it over and over. Business owners know the importance of having a solid social media presence, but many are still trying to understand the benefits of running contests.

Review our top five tips, below, and get your brand’s contest to the top of the list, with the highest engagement, traffic and likes/new fans/followers. 

 1.      Choose the Type of Contest that Meets Your Goals

What kind of contest best suits your goals, objectives and target market?

 Sweepstakes  - Anyone can enter by simply by liking your page and/or supplying their email address.  These contests quickly build likes and your email distribution list (marketing’s holy grail). They also provide a huge boost to brand awareness. Prize is critical.

Vote Contests - Get consumer feedback. Let your fans/followers choose your next product tag line, product offering, logo, t-shirt design or just enjoy the increased engagement with fans voting on a fun idea. 

Photo Caption Contests - Ask entrants to caption an image you choose. This is a simple, engaging way to get people talking and sharing your photo and it also increases brand awareness and page likes. 

Essay Contests - Get specific feedback on your products and/or services.  Require entrants to write a few words on a topic you choose (i.e. Why would your mother love spending Mother’s Day at “Her Favorite Beauty Bar”?).  This provides a better understanding of why clients come to your spa/salon, what they value, etc.  Prize is critical, as the entry method is more complicated and time consuming. 

Photo Contests – Increase user generated content by asking entrants to submit a photo of themselves using/wearing/trying your product, or before/after images of the use of your product/service.  The entries to this contest can later be used for blog material, website information, etc.

 2.     Contest Prize is Often Key

The contest prize often determines the contest’s success.  Most people will first determine if the prize merits the time and energy required for entry.  If you have a high-value prize (over about $300), the more you can require from contest participants.  If your prize is lower-value ($50 - $300), the contest requirements must be simple and entry must be easy.

If your prize is on the less expensive end, it is wise to have the contest run over the short-term (no more than two weeks).  For a high-value prize, your contest can run for weeks and even months.  

It’s beneficial to your business and brand to make your prize brand-related.  That means giving away gift cards for your products or services.  And while the retail value of the prize might be $500, the cost to you is obviously far less. This isn’t true for those contest prizes that are third party purchases (iPad, AMEX gift card, air travel, etc.).

3.     Make Contest Entry Simple

Complicated entry process = guaranteed fewer participants.  Make your contest stupid-proof.  Advice you can take to the bank:  most people are impatient and don’t want to spend much time thinking about your contest.  Dumb down the contest entry to make it achievable for a kindergartner.  ;)

 4.     Promote the Contest

Spread the word about your contest. Use Facebook promoted posts, FB ads and ask fans/followers to share the contest on their personal pages.  Add a contest promo banner/cover image on FB, TW and G+ pages.  Cross promote the contest on all social media platforms, websites and through dedicated email blasts.  Create a unique hashtag for your contest (critical for Instagram contests):   #JumpingJackFlashContest  #BoiseGreatGiveaway

 5.     Post Contest Follow Up

Send an email that includes all entries to those who participate in the contest.  Later, post and email an image of the winning entry or a photo of the prize.  Follow up with posts on all social media platforms showing winner receiving prize or the gift certificate being mailed, etc.  Post teasers for future contests to keep momentum going and fans/followers engaged. 

 Why run a contest anyway, you might ask?  Here, we give you the skinny:

1. Get more fans, followers

2. Increase brand awareness

3. Generate new emails and leads

4. Develop user-generated content (UGC)

5. Crowdsource your product development

6. Impact sales

7. Launch a new product or promote an event

8. Obtain greater insight into your fans’ and followers’ preferences, opinions

9. Drive more traffic to your ecommerce store

10.  Exposure.  Exposure.  Exposure.

Susan Linning is president of ECHO SOCIAL MEDIA + MARKETING of Miami, which develops and executes social media and integrated marketing strategies, creating custom content and maintaining pages on social media platforms. ECHO also provides blogging and copy-writing services.

Search this blog for past columns by Susan Linning.

 

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