Social Media has changed the game for business marketing. No longer are advertisements and promotions strictly for TV, radio and print, the Internet is now an essential media platform for companies to reach their target market.
If you’re interested in bringing more traffic to your website, increasing sales and customers, launching social media contests can dramatically improve your online web presence. If you’re launching an online contest, I recommend using Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest.
Why a contest?
People are attracted to contest with the hopes of grand rewards and minimal effort. A simple click of the mouse and you get a chance to win a new iPhone. Why not? Visitors are willing to spend a reasonable amount of time for a shot at something unlikely (opportunity cost). People also tend to ignore the odds and concentrate on the prize. Holding a contest for a new iPhone costs $199 whether 10 people enter or 10,000 people enter.
Contest or Sweepstakes?
Online contests and sweepstakes have a few subtle differences. Sweepstakes generally have no competition. Online users just need to submit their entry and the winner will be raffled off or picked at a random. Contests, on the other hand, have the aspect of challenge. Contestants compete with one another and the winners are chosen either by judging based on a criteria or by majority vote. I suggest going the contest route. Participants tend to solicit support through their social networks; increasing awareness and participation.
Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest?
Facebook now has over 1 billion active users and is a market that can no longer be ignored. Facebook is my favorite platform for a contests due to its flexibility. You can engage your community with fun photo contests, polls, captions, trivia and more. The ‘like’, share and/or ‘tag’ contest is also a favorite because people can win big prizes with little effort… and everything is shared making the impact exponential!
If you want your readers to visit your website, create an online treasure hunt contest where you post a question and the answer can be found anywhere within your website. This encourages your fans to go to your website and browse through its pages. Remember that Facebook requires businesses who run a contest to use a third party application. This app will also help you in meeting FB’s set regulations for promotions and contests.
The concept of Twitter is simple. Broadcast a short message (144 characters or less) that will be received by all of your subscribers (followers). These small bursts of information are great for updates during a campaign or contest. Twitter also pioneered a new a new form of tagging called hash tags #. Hash tags can be used to organize similar information or trending topics. When Microsoft launched Windows 7 they launched a contest and used the hash tag #WinWin7. Recommended contests for Twitter are guessing games, follower milestones, sweepstakes, re-tweet to win or create a Twitter poll.
Pinterest is a relatively new social media site but it has a phenomenal following with over 15 million users (dominated largely by women). So, if your products or services are geared towards women, better start pinning away on Pinterest. Some contest ideas are sweepstakes, re-pin to win, submit a photo, picture puzzle and photo scavenger hunts.
Know the Rules
Promotional contests are regulated. Make sure that you check with your state or your country for any law that governs holding a contest. Generally, small online contests are not closely monitored, especially if the prize is under $500. If the value of the prize is less than this, winners don’t need to pay taxes on their prize. If there is a pot of money involved, an official registration may be required from the authorities.
Before you launch a contest you should create strict rules and regulations. Create contests rules and mechanics to map out who is eligible to join the contest, what prizes to give away, contest period and how winners will be selected. Make your mechanics short and easy to understand.
Branding and Measuring
Your online contests and campaigns should coincide with what your brand stands for. Know what your marketing goals are. Is this contest gearing for brand awareness or a sales push? It should have a relevance to what product or service you sell. Keep in mind that the key objectives of a contest are to promote, advertise and eventually, create sales out of the online exposure it generates.
Online contests are serious marketing campaigns. As such, you should measure it with precision to gauge whether it is a good tool for promoting your brand. You can make use of analytics software (ex. Google Analytics or Facebook Insights) to track where and how people share your contest.
Launching your Contest
Once you are all set and all details of your contest are ironed out, prepare for the big launch. Specify a date for your launch. Days before the contest send out teasers like, “Stay tuned for a chance to win $100 worth of XYZ merchandise.” Promote your contest as much as you can. Blog about it and encourage your readers to spread the word. Remember that a successful contest is not about how big the prize is but how well the audience participates.
Remember, simplicity is key. People are busy and keeping their attention is difficult. Complicated rules will make them hit the “back” button as soon as possible.