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10 Tips for Successful Social Media Contests & Promotions

2011 April 20
by Mitch Arnowitz

Contests and promotions through social media outposts like Twitter and Facebook are a great way to generate excitement and engage and involve your fans, friends and followers. It’s a key way to get people interacting with your brand, product, event or organization in a meaningful way while helping you to identify your most enthusiastic advocates.

Through our work with a variety of clients at Tuvel Communications, we’ve created and executed several successful social media contests & promotions. You can see some examples of our work, here, here and here.

Along the way, we’ve been able to refine our efforts to maximize results while creating excitement and having fun! By sharing some of our tips, we hope that we can save you time while driving the results that you want. With this in mind, we’ve created our Top 10 list of ways to ensure that your social media contests & promotions are successful:

Get peeps engaged! Don’t just broadcast promotions through social networking outlets. Rather, get folks involved with your brand or organization. We recently ran a Twitter promotion that asked folks to tell us, in 140 characters or less, why they should get a free conference pass. We also ran a promotion that required those interested to provide the contest answer as a comment on the client blog. Create something that allows people to interact directly with your brand – it’s key to getting traction and conversation going in your social media communities.

Have a there-there. Don’t just do a contest for the sake of doing a contest! All of our promotions have a specific purpose. While you want to create buzz and excitement, you also also want to think about the other goals you want to accomplish. Do you want to increase attendance, fund-raise, generate discussion, build an email list or deliver another metric?

Make it simple to participate. Complex games are fun (anyone remember the early days of scavenger hunts that included several websites?) but may attract less participants. It’s great to utilize the “flavor of the month” technologies out there, but keep your audience in mind and don’t make them do anything that will generate more perplexed questions than actual participation.

Create fun and excitement! People love contests and the chance to win prizes. Make ‘em interesting and people will play. Convey excitement through messaging. Make your promotion different and, of course, inject personality into it.

Follow best practices. We are careful not to get our clients or bloggers and others into trouble by promoting or creating a contest. Know the rules beforehand. In this game, you can’t beg forgiveness! You can find out more about the rules and regulations here and here.

Offer value and relevance. Find out what turns people on. We have executed many government related promotions. We’ve been told that government types aren’t interested in promotions. Not true! Most people are interested in a contest or giveaway, it’s just a matter of finding out what they like.

Leverage marketing partners. We typically approach client partners that have large followings (fans, friends, followers, subscribers). We then approach these folks so that they might create a special (client) promotion for their readers. Everyone wins in this scenario with partners being able to offer value and our client reaping the rewards!

It’s the total campaign that matters. Promotions are most successful when they are part of a larger, integrated campaign. Involve creative and promote on the website and through email. Our most successful campaigns are seamless and can be played through several social networking platforms.

Make it easy to pick a winner and fulfill. We typically create giveaways so that our clients can randomly choose winners. We also find prizes that can be fulfilled through an email address – gift cards are a good example – make awarding easy. Have you ever had to hunt down snail mail addresses for fulfillment? Logistically, it can be a painful process!

Don’t stop! Promotions help to create traction and momentum. Continue the conversation, get others involved and grow your supporters. In other words: be a smart marketer!


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