How to Use Contests to Your Advantage in Social Media Marketing

by Christina Jones on June 17, 2013
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Customer engagement should be a top priority for small-business owners looking to develop a successful social media marketing strategy. One of the most effective — and lucrative — ways to get people to interact with your brand is to offer an incentive, such as prizes in a contest. According to a recent study by the market-research firm Ipsos, 52 percent of consumers are motivated to stay connected with a brand by “contests or [being asked] for their input about current or new products.” So, how do you use contests to your brand’s advantage? Here are three basic tips to help you get the results you’re looking for.

1. Begin with the end in mind. What do you aim to accomplish with your contest? More fans and followers on social media? A higher conversion rate? Increased traffic to your site or blog? Brand loyalty? Establish clear goals before developing your contest strategy to achieve the highest engagement.

2. Develop a well thought-out strategy. Decide where will you host the contest. Consider where your target audience hangs out — Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, etc. You can promote your contest across all social media; however, choose the primary platform as the place you’ll collect data. Be aware of the legalities with social media-related contests before you begin to avoid pitfalls later on. For example, read Facebook’s guidelines to understand what you may and may not do with the entry process. Third-party apps such as Wildfire and Strutta are an easy way to avoid violating the rules. Keep the barrier to entry low to gain the highest volume of participants. Take, for example, Frito Lay’s Do Us a Flavor contest on Facebook. The company simply called for suggestions for its next chip flavor. The top picks were then voted on for a chance to either win $1 million or 1 percent of the new flavor’s net sales. Two runners-up won $50,000 each. The contest went viral and received a lot of media attention — not to mention more than 3.8 million submissions.

3. Gather data and measure success. How well your contest performs will depend on your established goals (see #1) and your ability to gauge results. Use social media analytics tools to determine how many fans and followers you received as a result of the contest. If you decide to go the route of a third-party app, they often provide analytics and reporting as well. Using tools such as Google Analytics can assist you in tracking both conversions and traffic to your blog or website. How often users are interacting with your brand through retweets, likes, pins, etc. is a great way to measure success. Those who have become more loyal to your brand will reveal themselves as brand advocates as they talk about and refer people to your products and services. The data you collect and analyze could prompt you to shift your perspective on your product or service, marketing strategy, or overall customer engagement. Or it could verify that you’re on the right track and help you connect more deeply with your target audience.

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