Contests have been around for a long time and they have taken a new form with the growth of the internet.  It engages your target audience in a sociable and fun activity and they also gives you a lot of customer data and feedback you can use to improve your link building and marketing strategy.

Social contests is an effective way to gain brand exposure, community, social followers and links as well. There are a lot more of the benefits of holding a contest online so I thought I might go over some of the benefits first before we tackle some ideas and tips for your social contest.

Why Should I Include Social Contest Marketing Strategy?

Building a strong social follower base is very important to a brand’s survival (especially for small businesses). Many of business owners rely mostly on Google’s organic traffic nowadays and forgot to include Social Media as part of their marketing strategy. Now Search is going Social with Google+ posts being indexed in Google’s Search Results Page and a strong social following is also contributing to organic rankings. It’s time for you to get social and build that social following by holding a contest.

There are lots of benefits you can get by running a contest listed here are some:

It Gains Brand Exposure

A contest provides a means to deepen the connection from your audience thus giving your brand a positive impression. Run a user-generated contest (photo or video submissions) to build relationship and to help spread the message for your brand.

It Lets You Engage with Your Audience

A contest taps into people’s drive to compete and it provides an opportunity for everyone to experience and share their story leaving you lots of room for engagement. Comment, Like and Share if need be. This enhances your brand socially. Engagement is very important when running a contest because it lets your audience know that your brand does not only sell but also interacts and gives importance to their consumers/customers.

It is a Great for Building Fan Base and Following

Running a contest for your brand offers a proven and tested way to increase the number of social following. I have seen some brands go from 100 to 5,000 likes in a span of days or weeks during the contest run. This number will increase more if you have planned on how to implement your contest (prices, procedures and end goals). The numbers you’ll get on your following is one of the metrics to measure the power of promotions so make sure to record every metric of your contest success for future use.

It provides a lot of Data

Attract your audience with a bait of prices to be won; many of the people online are willing to share information with you as part of the entry process. Don’t forget include some questions for the entry process because it is very important to gather data (i.e., email address, age, sex, location). In addition to collecting data as part of the entry process, you can also gather data just by listening from the interaction and conversation that takes place around your contest.

It Lets Your Consumers to Market for You

Include a voting element for your contest; users will be motivated to share through their social profiles to gain more points ahead of everyone else, asking their friends and family to support his/her entry for your contest. It is very important to have a marketing plan that includes various social marketing channels to help spread and amplify your message by hundreds or thousands of your fans.

It’s Been Done Before

The concept of running a social contest for your brand has been done before in a various ways. It’s also been done successfully by a lot of great brands and businesses. Here are cool examples of social media contests.

Tips for Effective Social Media Contest

  • Set Your Goals – Social contests must have a defined goal in order to generate value. The generated value can be anything from finding a new target market for your small business to increasing the number of fans or followers on your social profiles. The catch to this is being specific and having an fundamental business goal to attract customers.  What good is increasing followers for your company’s social media profile if you have no means to measure meeting your goals?  Be very specific so development can be measured.
  • Pick Your Prize – Most social media contests involve prizes.  You have to reward the participants and that’s what they aimed for at the first place. Most contests feature a prize that can best be described as expensive. It can be the latest gadget, your brands product/service, or just money. Marketers presume that most people will be drawn to this, and they are in fact correct.

Before you start a contest make sure to familiarize yourself with regulations. Do some research to make sure your promotion/contest legal.

Do you have any experience with running online contests? Let me know in the comments.