The Basics of Running Social Media Contests

Social media contests, while often designed to improve ROI, are not conducted in a way that enables marketers to do so. Inherent flaws — such as connecting the number of followers to sales projections — lead to the downfall of many of these contests.

Three key ways to effectively put together a social media contest involve having specific goals, figuring out the target audience, and offering the correct prize, says Justin Palmer, a web marketer interviewed on Mashable.

First off, followers do not equal sales. Prior to launching a contest, many marketers think that increased follower counts will lead to an increase in the number of people interested in their company, says Palmer. However, interviewer Curt Finch writes, “Followers gained from contests alone are unlikely to have much interest in the business beyond the prize.”

Secondly, marketers must know the target audience. To demonstrate that target marketing works well in contests, Finch brings up Volusion, a site that was trying to appeal to mompreneurs. It ran a contest where these mompreneurs were invited to share their stories, and the one with the best story won the prize. The site ended up gaining followers and clients because of its strategy.

Lastly, the prize must appeal to the developed audience. For example, a mountain resort prompted visitors to upload pictures of themselves onto its site to win a season pass. “This was effective because their target audience already loved the business, and it encouraged winners to return again,” says Finch.

For Twitter-focused social media contests, The Social Penguin blog suggests creating hashtags for your campaign, sending out “taster tweets” that build excitement and count down to the contest’s start, and making it easy to enter (a retweet, perhaps).

Social media contests raise visibility for brands and have the potential to increase sales when done right. Whatever social media channel your company decides to run a contest on, make sure you have clear and reachable objectives and give your audience what they actually want.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Alyson Hurt

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