The Next Marketing Tactic: Contests

Most people love to enter contests. The concept of winning something will set a person’s blood racing when they think about the prizes. Just imagine how they’ll feel if they actually win.

To make everyone feel as if they have won in some way, online contests can be structured to provide many people with some reward for taking the time to enter. The person running the contest wins the right to place the entrant’s name on their list to be used for future promotional efforts. The goal is to create an avid follower and eventual buyer.

Setting up Winning Contests on Social Media

There is quite a bit of set up needed to make an online contest work smoothly and provide the results you need. Once you’ve completed the set up, the rest is usually smooth sailing!

Consider the following options for running a successful contest on social media:

Know the Rules

Contest rules, either because of legal regulations or the social media site’s rules, can be strict. One of the most important rules is that you must receive permission to place someone on your mailing list (which is the goal of having anyone sign up for your contest.)

A “double opt in” is the best, most secure way of doing that. The contestant would agree to your terms on your contest or website, then allow you to send them a notice to their email for them to approve their addition to your list. Once that’s completed, you can keep them on your list, unless they later asked to be removed. If you tell them that the winner will be announced by email, it is likely they will want to be on your list.

Don’t run afoul of these particular rules because you could be thrown off the hosting site and lose your ability to use the social site forever. Facebook guidelines are strict, but understandable.

Give Yourself Time to Do It Right

Especially the first time, give yourself time to develop the contest, fine tune your rules, decide on prizes, network with others to gather secondary prizes, and, if the prizes require shipping, how you’ll take care of that. If you can provide the prizes electronically, even better.

Build Your Contest Prize List

The next time you are networking with other business owners, ask them if they would like to be mentioned in your contest. Perhaps they offer a coupon for anyone who enters in the next two hours or they offer the second through fifth winners a prize. You can work that out at any prize level.

The idea is to have additional prizes so everyone believes they have an opportunity to win something. If the top prize is a day long pampering at a local spa, perhaps someone who lives far away would want to trade that for another option. Authors of any types of book can offer a free e-book, which has perceived tangible value, but little outlay on the gift provider’s part.

Evaluate Where You Want Your Contest to Be Held

Facebook can be a good place for contests because everyone likes to share on that site. And, the further you can share news of your contest, the better for your successful outcome. Consider when you want to start the contest, how long it will last, and how you will decide on the winners. If you receive thousands of entrants, you’ll want to use some electronic format for choosing the winner or winners so you can be perceived as fair.

If you have a blog making money already, then use that as another bonus place to hold your contest.

Promote Your Contest to Win an Audience

Get your snappiest copy ready to go out on all of your social media sites. Announce to everyone you know that your contest will be something they won’t want to miss. Share the list of prizes. Prepare an image to be used as the “face” of the contest. Announce “limited time only” to promote urgency to entering. If it’s only one entry per person, make sure people know that.

All ready to begin? Be prepared to field questions on your site. Remember, the Internet goes everywhere, so you’ll want to have help to be timely with your responses.

And, when the contest is over, make sure the winners are announced on your social media site. (No need to show their pictures or personal info. (Send the prizes as soon as you can!)